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CLASP director honored for fostering positive environment for all

  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Global Development
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Annalisa Raymer earned the 2020 CALS Kathy Berggren Diversity and Inclusion Award for significant contributions toward creating and fostering a positive environment for people of diverse backgrounds.

Raymer, lecturer in the Department of Global Development and director of Community Learning and Service Partnership (CLASP), was recognized for a range of initiatives and leadership roles that promote diversity. Along with CLASP, she was touted for her education and mentorship initiatives in local and international communities and recognized for a dedication to community work that empowers individuals. 

“Annalisa is an ‘unsung hero’ in CALS, having an unflinching commitment to improving the lives of the underserved,” said Marvin Pritts, professor in the Department of Global Development and School of Integrative Plant Science. 

Raymer’s efforts “provide students with an education that will make this world a better place,” said Pritts, who lauded her work on the advisory council for the CALS leadership minor as well as her work with CLASP.

CLASP, which Raymer joined in 2014, is a mutual learning opportunity for Cornell employees and students to work together in learning partnerships. The course connects undergraduates with adult learners, and teaches valuable lessons about “soft skills” such as communication, people skills and emotional intelligence.

Judy Liu ’21 joined CLASP in spring 2020 and was paired with a woman who works in a campus dining hall. Liu, an education minor from New York City whose parents immigrated from China, said the class stressed communication and created a diverse, welcoming environment for all.

CLASP promotes dialogue and the sharing of experiences, according to Liu. Raymer fostered a trusting relationship among the students and learning partners, and was invested in gathering input from students and hearing from them, Liu said. That personal connection proved especially strong when classes moved online in response to COVID-19.

“She’s really invested in her students and lifelong learning, and that really comes out in her teaching,” Liu said.

Christine Johnson of United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 2300, which represents more than 1,100 Cornell service and maintenance employees on the university’s main campus in Ithaca, credited Raymer with rejuvenating the program and helping union workers learn new skills.

“A program that helps Cornell's students and our members participate in direct and meaningful partnerships aimed at learning at every level of society will not only benefit Cornell's students and staff, but also our community and world,” Johnson said.

The award committee recognized Raymer for a host of initiatives and projects.  As one of the founders of the North American Learning Communities Alliance, she is collaborating with the Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organizations and others to seed the UNESCO Learning Cities movement in the United States.  In collaboration with Tess Wheelwright of  the Cornell Prison Education Program, she connected students and formerly incarcerated individuals to design skills workshops for those re-entering the community after release. Raymer was also recognized for her efforts with the International Partnerships for the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education. In this role, she works in collaboration with the educational associations of other countries to expand opportunities for lifelong learning for people of all ages.

Since 2015, when she was selected as a Global Learning Education Faculty Fellow, Raymer worked with Cornell’s Southeast Asia Program. Thamora V. Fishel, associate director of the Southeast Asia Program, applauded Raymer for contributions to K-12 teacher training workshops and for integrating international experiences into curricula for Syracuse University, SUNY Cortland and Ithaca College as well as Cornell.

“One of the hallmarks of an engaged scholar is an openness and willingness to learn from others,” said Fishel. “It is clear that Annalisa Raymer is deeply committed to community-engaged teaching, learning and research.”

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