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2008 Laurita Thomas Diversity Champion Award Winners

Name: Anna Ercoli Schnitzer

Position/Department: Librarian/Health Sciences Libraries (Taubman Medical Library)

Years Employed at UMHS: About 26

What does diversity mean to you? I believe that opening one's mind to everyone's differences and embracing each individual for his or her unique qualities is the key to diversity, because there are so many different kinds of diversity. Diversity comprises ethnic and racial backgrounds, age, physical and cognitive abilities, family status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religious and spiritual values, ways of thinking and philosophizing, national status, and geographic location.

How do you demonstrate your commitment to diversity at work?
I simply try to be friendly and understanding to everyone around me on a daily basis. I think a good start is to smile and greet each person, acknowledging his or her humanity, and then go on from there. I believe that everyone should "expect respect" and I believe on ACTING on this perspective.

Other activities include: UM Council for Disability Concerns (Chair of Neubacher Award Committee for the past 4 years) (Investing in Ability Subcommittee); AT Commons Committee; E-Portfolio Design Committee; Integrated Disability Management Advisory Committee; former member of and continuing advocate for Voices: Benefits, Health and Well-Being.

What drives you to make this effort toward embracing our differences? I saw blatant discrimination when I was a little child, which caused me a great deal of pain; I did not like discrimination then, and I don't like it now. I think that people should be good to other people. Unless we reach out to others and attempt to understand and accept their differences, we cannot make this a better world for everyone. I would like this to be a better world.

What others are saying about Anna: is a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable in our society. She seeks protection for the disabled, she wants to champion the abilities of the disabled and she works to promote awareness of issues facing the disabled. Anna has a wonderful spirit that should be celebrated and rewarded for all that she has accomplished for the disabled community.