Allegra Laing honored with prestigious national DEI award

Laing, associate director for Global Diversity and Inclusion, was awarded with the NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in International Education.

Associate Director for Global Diversity and Inclusion Allegra Laing has been named the recipient of the NAFSA Award for Impact in Diversity, Equity and Inclusive in International Education.

Allegra Laing, associate director for global diversity and inclusion

“It’s very humbling to receive this award, particularly in light of what the country and the field of international education has experienced over the past two years,” Laing said. “There’s so much work left to do. But to be recognized by an organization that I devoted so much time and energy and love to, I feel seen and that’s a very good feeling.”

The annual award honors a NAFSA member who has shown sustained commitment to the association’s mission, vision and values by advocating for the interests and improving the recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations. The award recognizes those who also incorporate diversity or anti-oppression training in international education programming.

A statement on behalf of NAFSA congratulating Laing said, “Allegra embodies the spirit of this award. She has advocated for students of color across all socioeconomic backgrounds to engage with our global community, developed innovative programming to support that goal and advocated for the entire campus community to strengthen their professional development in access, diversity, equity and inclusion. We congratulate Allegra for her leadership and look forward to her continued impact on the evolution of our field.”

Laing is just the second person to receive this award from NAFSA and added to an impressive list of accomplishments since she joined Elon in March 2016. In 2021, she was the recipient of the North Carolina Association of International Educators Marth Fitch Trigonis Individual Award. A year prior, Laing was a 2020 finalist for the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award by Diversity Abroad.

As associate director for Global Diversity and Inclusion, Laing serves as the team lead for developing a targeted approach for integrating inclusive excellence into all aspects of the global engagement process and spearheading initiatives geared toward underserved populations in global engagement.

“I think the award is a way to celebrate the work that Elon has been doing with Inclusive Excellence, particularly for our outbound students,” Laing said. “It acknowledges the efforts that we have been advancing in the field toward diversity, equity and inclusion.”

During the 2019-20 academic year, the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC) developed a 52-point, five-year DEI strategic plan to enhance inclusive excellence within Study Abroad and Study USA at Elon. Working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, GEC has currently completed 12 of the 52 goals.

“Some of the larger points are revising our identity-based resources on our website for Study Abroad students. We are also looking at having a more intentional process of collecting and highlighting stories of historically minoritized students who do study away programs,” Laing said. “We’re moving forward, piece by piece, despite the disruption that COVID has brought.”

Laing will be recognized for her achievement during the NAFSA 2022 Annual Conference and Expo in Denver, Colorado from May 31 through June 3.

NAFSA is the largest and most comprehensive association of professionals committed to advancing international higher education. The association believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals and builds leadership for the global community.