Carnegie Mellon University
August 03, 2021

The Heart of a Champion

By Emily Payne

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS

When asked what the driving purpose behind the work that he does is, Sebastian Lacy had an immediate answer: for the uncounted to be seen and for the voiceless to be heard.

This purpose, along with his own lived experience as a diverse individual, is what inspired him to pursue a career in human resources.

“I wanted to address the inequities, biases and discriminatory practices that hinder underrepresented populations from accessing employment, promotions and workforce engagement,” Lacy said.

For the last seven years, he did that and more as the Mellon College of Science’s global capital human resources manager. He oversaw all employee practices from onboarding to retirement for graduate students, faculty and staff.

Outside of his HR duties, Lacy could be found orchestrating MCS’s annual Staff Recognition Awards, chairing multiple committees on Carnegie Mellon University’s Staff Council, captaining the United Way staff campaign for MCS; leading the university’s Implicit Bias Awareness Courage Conversation training; and serving on several diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) panels and committees.

In every way possible, Lacy has fostered better experiences for CMU and MCS employees — from light-hearted matters, like planning the annual MCS holiday celebration — complete with a handpicked 20-plus-foot holiday tree — to advocating for systemic change in the university’s policies. 

Through Staff Council, Lacy was the inaugural founding committee chair for the All-Gender Inclusive Restroom Committee, which has worked tirelessly to address “the social inequity and plight of trans, non-binary and non-conforming staff, faculty and students.”

And as a member of Staff Council’s Benefits Committee, Lacy played a key role in the university’s adoption of its new parental leave policy, which instituted paid parental leave options for birth mothers and all new parents.

The best part, Lacy says, is the efforts he’s been most passionate about at CMU are now his full-time role. In January 2020, Lacy became MCS’s first DEI Program Manager.

“I wanted to address the inequities, biases and discriminatory practices that hinder underrepresented populations from accessing employment, promotions and workforce engagement.”

The main facets of his position include increasing the number of underrepresented minorities among staff, graduate students and faculty and helping to develop strategic DEI initiatives that will make MCS a more welcoming place to learn and work. 

His reach in the role is expansive.

He works with consultants Wendy Greene and Y’Nesha Schaffer to coordinate diversity dialogues that have explored topics on racism, colorism, allyship, privilege, inclusive leadership and more. He interfaces with departments and leadership to increase cultural awareness, address inequities and biases and support employee resource groups.

Outside of campus, he’s forging relationships with historically black colleges and universities and STEM programs to increase underrepresented student and faculty candidates and partnering with community advocacy groups and local government agencies to address social inequities that impact diverse populations.

In recognition of his impact across campus and the wider Pittsburgh community, Lacy was presented with Staff Council’s new Champion of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging certificate. This first-time award was presented to eight staff members on behalf of the newly formed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee.

“Sebastian is very special,” said Liz Fox, CMU Staff Council Rewards and Recognition Co-Chair. “He takes on projects and initiatives and doesn’t stop until they are completed. He has had an impact on staff benefits, non-gendered bathrooms, staff grievances and making Carnegie Mellon a better place to work for everyone.”

Lacy has certainly shown how one voice can uplift many more.

“It was wonderful to be recognized for my passion and commitment to equity and belonging. Being able to leverage my lived experience, human resources background and DEI knowledge and skills to advocate for the unheard, underrepresented populations has been a profound inspiration for me,” said Lacy.