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Erin Moore

Erin Moore, energy outreach coordinator for Facilities Services.

Colleague network groups build community

Erin Moore, energy outreach coordinator for Facilities Services, sees her job at Cornell as a "one-of-a-kind opportunity to grow and engage with different people across campus," but she had trouble feeling at home in Ithaca at first.

"I learned Cornell and Ithaca really push you outside of your comfort zones; you can sink or swim," she says. "In order to get out and meet people, you really have to step out or fail on your own. That's empowered me to find more opportunities in my community."

At North Carolina State – which Moore describes as "a predominantly white school"– she was the fourth woman of color to graduate in her field, meteorology and environmental science. "So I'm used to being represented in a smaller contingent of color," she says.

Moore's hometown of Greensboro, N.C., is more urban than Ithaca, so she had a larger community to draw from and "had lots of opportunities to engage with people socially," she says. At the university in Raliegh, she joined the multicultural sorority Theta Nu Xi. "That exposed me to a whole different genre of diversity and the opportunities you have if you're open to different cultures," she says. "You never know who you can meet or what doors are open to you."

Moore says she's made social and professional connections since she arrived here last year. "My job deals mainly with engagement," both on campus and off, she says; she does community outreach on energy initiatives and serves on the Ithaca Energy Action Plan advisory committee.

She credits a Women of Color Colleague Network Group (CNG) at Cornell, which "really helped me connect with people I wouldn't have otherwise."

A university resource, CNGs are designed to provide faculty and staff with opportunities to engage on and off campus and "give each group a collective voice to address workforce issues, take part in developing a solution and lessen feelings of isolation," says Cassandre Pierre Joseph, director of diversity engagement for the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity.

Each group advocates for a specific demographic among Cornell faculty and staff to aid in recruitment and retention, and improve the climate for the community as a whole.

Joseph started the first CNG, for veterans, about three years ago. Since then, LGBT, Men of Color, Women of Color and Disability CNGs have been formed; and Joseph refers young professionals at Cornell to Tompkins Connect, a local United Way initiative.

In her group, Moore says she has met people who "have become part of my support system, both socially and professionally. ... I don't know how long I'm going to be in Ithaca, but I do know I want to make the most of it."

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