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Black women are making strides in academic leadership and challenging the status quo in the process. Dr. Cindy Crusto recently made history by becoming the first Black woman professor in Yale School of Medicine’s psychiatry department.

Crusto’s work sits at the intersection of clinical psychology and community. She examines how socioeconomic barriers have an impact on the well-being of families from marginalized groups. Her journey at Yale began over two decades ago with a doctoral internship in Clinical & Community Psychology and from there she charted a path towards examining diversity within clinical work and the importance of community-focused research. Dr. Crusto has been a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion. She’s spearheaded several D&I-focused initiatives at the Ivy League school including the Department of Psychiatry’s Diversity Committee and Anti-Racism Task Force. She serves as the co-chair of the Yale School of Medicine Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion and is on the Yale School of Medicine Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine.

Her milestone is just another step in the right direction towards diversifying leadership within the Connecticut-based school. Dr. Crusto says she stands on the shoulders of those who came before her and wants to pay it forward by empowering individuals to step into spaces where they are underrepresented. “There were many people who came before me who worked just as hard or harder than me, and so I have complex feelings about my accomplishment,” she said in a statement. “I know I worked extraordinarily hard to develop and carry out my career plan, and I am immensely proud. I was fortunate to have had mentorship, sponsorship, and advocacy, but at the same time, I have to remember we’re in this system that does not provide that for everyone, especially women and racial and ethnic minorities. I do feel an immense responsibility, and I’m thinking of what I can do daily to help someone else get to this point.”

Her milestone comes as there is stagnancy surrounding diversity in academic leadership at Ivy League schools.

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