CEHC’s Bennett Gayle Selected as Fellow of the SUNY Black Leadership Institute

DeeDee Bennett Gayle, associate professor at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, stands inside the ETEC atrium.
DeeDee Bennett Gayle, associate professor at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. (Photo by Brian Busher)

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 7, 2024) — DeeDee Bennett Gayle, an associate professor at the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC), has been selected for the inaugural class of fellows for the new SUNY Black Leadership Institute (BLI).

Announced on Tuesday by SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr., the BLI is modeled after the nationally recognized Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI), to support, retain and foster the success of emerging and current leaders.

The inaugural class of fellows was selected based on their proven leadership and administrative experience, and their pursuit toward a higher education career in administrative and leadership roles within SUNY. 

Fellows will be guided through leadership assessments, interactive online and in-person workshops, and professional mentoring sessions designed to advance leadership skills.

"SUNY's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion informs all that we do in support of student success,” said SUNY Chancellor King. “Coupled with the Hispanic Leadership Institute, SUNY is ensuring emerging leaders across our system benefit from rigorous support and training to expand their career at SUNY.”

“I am honored and excited to be a member of the inaugural cohort for the SUNY Black Leadership Institute,” said Bennett Gayle, who is part of CEHC’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “Programs like this are necessary to address the woeful underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education leadership. It is encouraging to see the level of investment SUNY has put into BLI. I anticipate this fellowship will enhance my leadership skills, craft my leadership voice, and further expand my network.”

Bennett Gayle’s primary research areas are emergency management, marginalized populations during disasters, emergency communications, disaster policy and mobile wireless communications. She also directs CEHC’s Extreme Events, Social Equity and Technology Laboratory.

Last October, Bennett Gayle was announced among 31 women scientists by the National Science Foundation to serve as “Ocean Decade Champions.” Each of their work focuses on coastline and community research that integrates natural, social and technological processes toward a mission of coastal resilience.

Among her current research is a $20 million collaborative National Science Foundation project, funded through the CoPe program and led by Rutgers, that aims to create a Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub that is focused on improving the climate resiliency of coastal communities. She is also an advisory board member for the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management.

BLI was championed by New York State Senator Lea Webb and Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre. Funding for the program was enacted in the New York State Budget during the 2023 legislative session.