Carnegie Mellon University

What we believe…

cartonerasWe believe that the transformational power of the arts, humanities, and social sciences can create change in our lives and communities. 

We celebrate the knowledge, resources, talent, and power that each student possesses. We embrace that we can learn with and from our students. We know that students’ time and experience are valuable and therefore compensate participants in the LEAP program.

What we do…

three-circles.jpgLaunched in Fall 2021, the LEAP program features:

  • Year-round mentoring from CMU staff and faculty. Students are given individual guidance to achieve their personal, academic and professional goals. Whether writing a letter of recommendation for college, discussing student artwork, or introducing internship opportunities, the LEAP team is there to support students. 
  • A week-long intensive academy on CMU’s campus. Students spend full days in workshops focused on breaking down educational inequity through the lens of the arts, humanities and social sciences. They create art, think critically, and engage in dialogue with one another.

  • Monthly gatherings with staff, faculty, mentors and Pittsburgh community members. Students guide the learning process by sharing what they are passionate about. In these gatherings, students can suggest areas of focus, lead workshops themselves, or open themselves up to learning about new subjects and expanding their horizons.

  • Public events created by LEAP students. These public events are opportunities for LEAP students to showcase their learning and directly address issues of equity that they are passionate about. 

  • Regular assessments through pre- and post-participation surveys and journaling.

Who we are...


Ayana Ledford
(Advisory Board Chair)

Executive Director of PROGRESS and Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at CMU’s Dietrich College

Nico Slate
(Faculty Director)

Professor in the Department of History at CMU and Faculty Director of LEAP

Sarah Ceurvorst
(Program Director)

LEAP Program Director, Dietrich College Academic Pathways Manager, Art21 Educator 

Jhanvi Udani
(Workshop Assistant)

LEAP Workshop Assistant 

Justine Mikell
(School Coordinator)

Learning support teacher at City Charter High School

Mark Barga
(Advisory Board Member)

Education design specialist at Kay-Twelve

Dara Ware Allen
(Advisory Board Member)

CEO and Principal of City Charter High School

Angela Welch
(School Coordinator)

Education Director of City Charter High School

Marlene Williams
(Advisory Board Member)

Director of Operations for the Center for Shared Prosperity at CMU

Elizabeth Keller
(Advisory Board Member)

Associate Head of School for CMU's School of Art

Miguel Alvarez
(Advisory Board Member)

Associate Director of Admission and head of the Access and Diversity Initiatives team in the Office of Undergraduate Admission at CMU

Mike Mayer
(Advisory Board Member)

Board member of the COPD Foundation and former leader at General Electric, Honeywell (formerly Allied Signal), and the Aramark Corporation

David Lehman
(Advisory Board Member)

Partner, K&L Gates LLP