Cooper Receives the VA Secretary's Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cooper Receives the VA Secretary's Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award

Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Quality of Life Technology Center, was honored on August 23 with the Veterans Administration (VA) Secretary's Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award during a special ceremony at the Human Engineering Research Labs (HERL) in Pittsburgh.

Winners of the Diversity and Inclusion award must strive to build a diverse, high-performing workforce that reflects all segments of society; to cultivate a flexible, collaborative, and inclusive work environment that leverages diversity and empowers all contributors; and to facilitate outstanding, culturally-competent public service and stakeholder relations through effective leadership and accountability.

According to Georgia Coffey, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in VA's Central office, Dr. Cooper was selected based on his commitment to mentoring students with disabilities and to enabling the VA and the University of Pittsburgh to better support Veterans with disabilities.

QoLT's Lead Education and Outreach Coordinator, Mary Goldberg, nominated Cooper for the award, citing the following accomplishments:

  • developing a transition program for Veterans (ELeVATE), which pairs Veterans with disabilities with professional mentors;
  • creating the Fabrication of Assistive Technology program (FATe) for Veterans interested in machining; and,
  • helping to build a diverse workforce by filling the educational and training pipeline by establishing creative, formal and informal curricula and training initiatives for students as young as middle school.

"While creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce rests with employees at all levels within the organization, VA employees look to their leaders, particularly those managers and supervisors they see and work with every day to serve as models for their own behavior," said Coffey.

VA facilities nationwide nominated employees for this award. This year, there were three categories: manager/supervisor, nonsupervisory employee, and team. Dr. Cooper is the winner in the manager/supervisor category.

Cooper is a founding director and VA senior research career scientist at HERL which is a joint partnership between the VA Pittsburgh Health System, the University of Pittsburgh, and the UPMC Health System.

Visit VA Pittsburgh's Flickr website to view photos from the award ceremony.

Source: VA-PHS

By: Michael Lain,, 412-822-3663