February 27 | 2 p.m. | Mitchell Hall

Join the College of Engineering for Leading While Black, an event that will examine leadership development and experiences of Black professionals and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in society. COE Dean Levi T. Thompson and University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines will share how personal experiences have shaped their careers.

President Pines will then join a panel discussion with UD Trustee Joan Coker, MD; Cedrick Johnson (EG95), president of Airport Design Consultants, Inc.; and Kara Odom Walker (EG99), MD and executive vice president and chief population health officer at Nemours Children’s Health. The panel will be moderated by Michael L. Vaughan, Vice Provost for Equity and will include an audience Q&A session.

A reception to meet the panelists will follow the event.

Co-sponsored by: UD’s Center for Black Culture and COE’s RISE program.

Schedule of Events

2 p.m. Fireside Chat

2:45 p.m. Panel discussion

3:45 p.m. Audience Q&A

4 p.m. Meet-and-Greet Reception

Video & Photos

Fireside Chat

Darryll Pines

Darryll J. Pines

University of Maryland, College Park

Darryll J. Pines became UMD president in July 2020 and serves as the Glenn L. Martin Professor of Aerospace Engineering. He arrived on campus in 1995 as an assistant professor, then served as chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering from 2006–09 and for the following 11 years as dean and Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Continue reading about Darryll J. Pines

As dean, Pines revamped teaching in fundamental undergraduate courses; encouraged participation in national and international student competitions; emphasized sustainability engineering and service learning; and expanded innovation and entrepreneurship activities. Pines made diversity a hallmark of his tenure, increasing the number of faculty and students from underrepresented populations. With his leadership team, he secured a historic $219.5 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation in 2017 to fund need-based scholarships campus wide, as well as graduate fellowships, faculty positions, infrastructure and other initiatives.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Pines focuses his research on structural dynamics, smart sensors and adaptive, morphing and biologically inspired structures as well as the guidance, navigation and control of aerospace vehicles.

He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Institute of Physics; chairs the Engineering Advisory Committee for NSF’s Engineering Directorate; and sits on the Board of Trustees for Underwriters Laboratory not-for-profit arm. Pines received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Levi T. Thompson

Levi T. Thompson

Dean, College of Engineering
University of Delaware

Levi T. Thompson is Dean of the College of Engineering and Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering. Previously, Thompson was the Richard E. Balzhiser Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and director of the Hydrogen Energy Technology Laboratory and the Michigan-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.

Continue reading about Levi T. Thompson

He is an award-winning educator and is internationally recognized for his research to design and synthesize nanoscale materials for catalytic and energy storage applications. Thompson earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at UD in 1981 followed by master’s degrees in chemical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Panel Discussion

Joan Coker, MD

Dr. Joan Coker

Physician in Private Practice
University of Delaware Trustee

Dr. Joan Coker, Otolaryngologist Head and Neck Surgeon with ENT and Allergy of Delaware.  She is a proud graduate of Tuskegee University.  She completed her surgical internship at Howard University Hospital, and her Otolaryngology Residency at the King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.  She went on to do a surgical sleep fellowship with Drs. Richard Goode, Nelson Powell, and Robert Riley at Stanford University in Palo Alto California.

Continue reading about Joan Coker

Dr. Coker is a proud member of Academy of Otolaryngology, National Medical Association, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated since Fall of 1985 Gamma Kappa Chapter Tuskegee University.   She is a Trustee at University of Delaware, and President of the Wilmington DE Chapter of The Links Incorporated.  She recently stepped down after 10 years serving as Board Chair at Kuumba Academy Charter School in Wilmington. 

Dr. Coker was recently awarded the Congressional Black Caucus Co-Chair Phoenix Award at the recent 50th Anniversary celebration.  The Delaware News Journal just named Dr. Coker, One of the most Influential Persons of 2022 in Delaware. 

During this pandemic she got involved early as an advisor with Testing for America, where they performed testing on students and staff at DSU at no expense to the University, and several other HBCU’s.  The success of this twice weekly testing protocol is currently published in JAMA and serves as the protocol to safely reopen in the pandemic.  Along with her colleagues at ENT and Allergy of DE they performed nearly 13k vaccinations and assisted in getting nearly 4k inmates vaccinated in the Delaware.

Recently I traveled to Guatemala with the Osborne Head and Neck Institute.  We were a team at MLK Hospital in Los Angeles together and welcomed the opportunity to reunite for an incredible cause.  We performed 38 cases in 5 days.  It was life changing, and I am grateful for the opportunity.  Special thank you to everyone who donated to this effort.

It has been my honor to serve as President of the Wilmington (DE) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated for the past three and half years.  I believe the intervention was divine, and allowed me to educate and vaccinate our members, as well as our community.  I have served on the executive committee as Treasurer, as well as corresponding secretary for the prior 8 years.  I am so incredibly proud of the work we have done to move our chapter to a place of impact in our community.

Cedrick Johnson

Cedrick Johnson

President, Airport Design Consultants, Inc.

A proud graduate of University of Delaware, Class of 1995, Cedrick Johnson is a Co-Founder and President of Airport Design Consultants, Inc. (ADCI). He is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in 21 states and has been involved in airfield design and construction for his entire 28-year career. Cedrick has held a significant role in high-priority projects at dozens of airports across the country, including Baltimore/ Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Los Angeles International, Ronald Reagan Washington National, Washington Dulles International, Philadelphia International, and John F. Kennedy International. Cedrick’s leadership has enabled ADCI’s growth from just five employees in 2006 to nearly 70 employees today, with an established reputation as one of the top aviation design firms in the industry.

Continue reading about Cedric Johnson

Cedrick’s formula for success has always been IOU; Initiative + Ownership + Understanding – he applies this formula to all that he does, and it is one of the many reasons why his entire Team views him as a Leader, not just a boss. In his “free time”, Cedrick is a proud father to two accomplished young ladies, he enjoys watching sports and never passes up the opportunity to learn something new and give back to his community.

Cedrick has served on both the University’s College of Engineering Advisory Council and the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Advisory Council for several years. He is and has been on the Board of directors with the Greater Baltimore Urban League, BWI Partnership, and Meals on Wheels Central Maryland. He was selected for the Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement at UD in 2014. He also has an engineering student scholarship named after his parents, “Raymond and Alma Johnson,” as well as helping rising small local businesses through the Mentor Protégé for Mentorship Program at BWI Airport.

Kara Odom Walker, MD

Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS

Executive Vice President and Chief Population Health Office, Nemours Children’s Health

Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS is Executive Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer of Nemours Children’s Health. She leads the Nemours Children’s National Office of Policy and Prevention, the Value-Based Services Organization and related advocacy and public policy, as well as all aspects of population health strategy, research, innovation, and implementation. Prior to joining Nemours Children’s Health in 2020, Dr. Walker served as Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services under Governor John Carney’s first elected term from February 2017 through 2020 where she launched first-in-the-nation paired healthcare cost and quality benchmarks.

Continue reading about Karen Odom Walker

She was previously the Deputy Chief Science Officer at the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, faculty member at University of California-San Francisco, Department of Family and Community Medicine and is a board-certified, practicing family physician. Dr. Walker is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Walker holds a medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University, a Master of Science in Health Services Research from UCLA, and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

Fatima Conley, Esq

Michael L. Vaughan

Moderator, UD Vice Provost for Equity

Dr. Michael Vaughan serves as University of Delaware, Vice Provost for Equity and works to advance the University’s academic mission and goals in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and human rights by leading efforts to define, assess and cultivate equity as both an institutional value and an academic priority. He is a senior adviser to the Vice President for Institutional Equity/CDO and the University Provost on matters of equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice and collaborates with campus leaders and others on initiatives designed to support UD’s overall academic equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice efforts.

Continue reading about Michael L. Vaughan

With over 30 years of academic administrative experience at UD, Dr. Vaughan most recently served as Interim Vice Provost for Diversity & Inclusion and as Associate Dean for Engineering Undergraduate Education, where he managed the overall college-level undergraduate academic infrastructure and processes by developing and implementing policies, programs and interconnections to promote successful undergraduate student outcomes. He also holds a secondary faculty appointment as an Instructor within the College of Engineering.

On and off campus, Dr. Vaughan is and has been involved with many committees, professional associations and boards which focus on the success of students and others. For example, Dr. Vaughan serves as a member of the North Carolina A&T State University Chancellor’s Roundtable Advisory Committee. Dr. Vaughan is the Co-chair of the UD Task Force on Historic Commemorations and Building Names and former Co-chair of the UD Campus Compact Council. In addition, Dr. Vaughan is a former President of the Board of the National GEM Consortium and former Treasurer and Chairman of the GEM Investment Committee. 

Dr. Vaughan received both his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware.