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Woman in purple outfit standing at a rail in front of a canoe

Danushi Fernando

SUNY ESF Appoints New Chief Diversity Officer

SYRACUSE, New York – May 9, 2023 - The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), one of the nation’s premier colleges focused exclusively on the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable future, appointed Danushi Fernando to Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

Fernando joined ESF on April 17 to promote and advance the College’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) goals and objectives. She will also serve as ESF’s Affirmative Action Officer and Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

“The CDO role is critically important to help us create a welcoming and inclusive community at ESF for people from every background,” said ESF President Joanie Mahoney. “Danushi will put an emphasis on developing personal relationships, building trust, and empowering others to make positive changes.”

Fernando’s experience includes more than a decade in DEIA management in higher education settings, including Director of the LGBTQ+ Center and the Women’s Center at Vassar College; Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion at Clarkson University; and founder and chair of the Campus Life Diversity Initiative at Farleigh Dickinson University. She also is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and has experience with Title IX investigations and discrimination law.

Outside of work, Fernando is an active volunteer with HarborLAB, an environmental non-profit based dedicated to increasing access to the New York City waterfront for underserved populations through kayaking, canoeing, and educational activities. For the past 10 years, she has been the volunteer and intern manager.

Fernando holds three Master of Arts degrees (in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling; Creative Writing and Literature for Educators; and Corporate and Organizational Communication, with concentrations in Conflict Resolution and Crisis Communication) and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Farleigh Dickinson University.