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Two honored with 2017 Presidential Diversity Awards

January 26, 2017
group portrait of university administrators and award winnersDebora McDell-Hernandez (second from left), curator of engagement at the Memorial Art Gallery, and Gina Cuyler (second from right), primary care physician and assistant professor of clinical medicine, are the recipients of the 2017 Presidential Diversity Award. They are pictured with Vivian Lewis, vice provost for faculty development and diversity, and President and CEO Joel Seligman. (University photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The recipients of the 2017 Presidential Diversity Award are Gina Cuyler, primary care physician and assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Department of Medicine; and Debora McDell-Hernandez, curator of engagement at the Memorial Art Gallery.

The awards were created in 2009 by President and CEO Joel Seligman to recognize faculty, staff, students, units, departments or teams that “demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multicultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities, or other initiatives.”

This year’s winners were chosen from among five nominees who were recommended by their colleagues. Each award includes a $2,500 prize. Individual award winners receive half and designate half to support the budget of a program or department of the winner’s choice; team award winners designate the entire $2,500 prize to the program or department of the team’s choice.

More information about the award is available at

Gina Cuyler
As an alumna and faculty member at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Cuyler is a powerful advocate for diversifying the face of medicine and providing culturally informed and sensitive care to patients from all backgrounds and cultures. She cofounded the Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester and has facilitated greater visibility and engagement of the black physician community as mentors and role models for Rochester’s youth.

She mentors students who are a part of the Student National Medical Association, Association of Minority Residents and Fellows, and Healthcare and Technology and Youth Apprenticeship Program. She also collaborates with Gerhardt Neighborhood Outreach Center and Roc City Sicklers to provide school supplies annually. Cuyler is a role model to all healthcare providers in her commitment to improving the diversity in the Rochester medical community and providing excellent medical care to all patients.

Debora McDell-Hernandez
Building relationships, building community, and being welcoming and inclusive are a way of life for McDell-Hernandez. Because of her work, the Memorial Art Gallery has connections with a diverse array of people from the community.

Referring to herself as a “human bridge,” McDell-Hernandez’s energetic and civic-minded nature continues to develop and oversee innovative programs, such as the MAG’s Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair. She has also been instrumental in increasing community engagement by establishing African American, Asian, and Hispanic volunteer community councils. That work has also connected people to art through cultural events like Asian Pacific American Heritage Family Day and Kwanzaa Family Day.

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