On Thursday, American Airlines hosted its 10th annual Earl G. Graves Award for Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion Luncheon. The honor recognizes the airline’s employees who advocate for diversity and inclusion in the company and in their communities.
During the event, American presented Morgan State University with a $10,000 education grant. Morgan State is the alma mater of Earl G. Graves, the founder of Black Enterprise, and for whom the award and Morgan State’s school of business is named. Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., President and CEO of Black Enterprise, and Donna Howard, Development Director at Morgan State University accepted the award from American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker.
“We are grateful to American Airlines for making this generous gift possible, and to the diversity champions in this room today, for bringing the Earl G. Graves legacy to life through your leadership and commitment to help build a diverse, inclusive, global organization where individuals are valued and mutually respected,” said Howard, in a released statement.
From a press release, the 2018 Earl G. Graves Award for Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion honorees are:
-Alessia Giovannotti, Premium Customer Services Representative, London
In May, Alessia assisted in starting the Professional Women in Aviation Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) chapter in London. In just four months, the chapter has grown to more than 100 members. Her firsthand experience working in diverse locations and interacting with different cultures sparked her interest in creating a local chapter. Alessia believes diversity is a key factor in improving the work environment for team members and customers. As a Premium Customer Services Representative, her responsibility is to provide exemplary service to all customers, ensuring all their needs are met.
“Our diversity makes us unique and bringing our diverse perspectives together is what makes us strong.” — Alessia Giovannotti
-Sonia Lopez, Reservations Manager, Lima, Peru
Sonia has worked in the airline business for 44 years. She says her passion for service, respect for others, and understanding diversity can only add to the whole were imprinted in her by her parents at a very early age. Sonia’s desire for equal possibilities, for everybody in her community, drove her to lead several projects in different parts of Peru, including providing electricity and water to a school located in a shanty town, collecting and donating unneeded spare metal aircraft parts to shops that made prosthetics for disabled children, and constructing a dining room for Arie, a hospital for handicapped children. Sonia often quotes Francis of Assis when asked about her endless efforts, both personally and professionally: “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
“It is never about you and me; it’s always about us.” — Sonia Lopez
-Syed Masood, IT Senior Project Manager, Fort Worth
Syed understands the important lessons of inclusion and diversity are taught in classrooms. This year, he pioneered a joint venture between his two favorite organizations: Islamic Circle of North American (ICNA) Dallas and American, and successfully executed an annual recognition program to honor the contributions of public school teachers in the DFW area. His goal is to acknowledge the value these teachers have added in the lives of the increasingly diverse students within their classrooms. Due to these collaborative efforts, ICNA Dallas recognized and awarded American as “The Best Employer” in 2016 for community engagement and outstanding efforts for inclusion and diversity.
“Inclusion means I can be completely who I am and will have the same chance to be involved in any and all levels at American. It means I don’t have to change to someone else’s version of me to be accepted at American.” — Syed Masood
-Steven Sherrill, Facilities and Project Administration Manager, Fort Worth
Steve is the primary liaison between Corporate Real Estate and Supplier Diversity. He has been involved with EBRG’s since 2002, when he became a charter member of Spectrum, one of the first groups of its kind at US Airways. Since then, he has been active in the Pride EBRG, including serving as president of the DFW chapter of Pride for the past three years. Steve was recently elected to the Diversity Advisory Council as one of the global leads of the Pride EBRG. Also, he is working to establish a North Texas LGBTQ Corporate Roundtable, where local corporations collaborate to promote community service projects and mentor corporations on establishing EBRG programs.
“Embracing and celebrating the pillars of inclusion and diversity is essential to the success of any individual, team, and global organization.” — Steven Sherrill