Cooper receives VA Diversity & Inclusion Award

On August 23, 2013, Dr. Rory A. Cooper, founding director and VA senior research career scientist for VA's Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), received the VA Secretary's Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award.

According to Georgia Coffey, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in VA's Central office, Dr. Cooper was selected based on his commitment to mentoring students with disabilities and to enabling VA and the University of Pittsburgh to better support Veterans with disabilities.

Each winner of the Diversity and Inclusion award must strive to build a diverse, high-performing workforce that reflects all segments of society; to cultivate a flexible, collaborative, and inclusive work environment that leverages diversity and empowers all contributors; and to facilitate outstanding, culturally-competent public service and stakeholder relations through effective leadership and accountability.

VA facilities nationwide nominated employees for this award. This year, there were three categories: manager/supervisor, nonsupervisory employee, and team. Dr. Cooper is the winner in the manager/supervisor category.

"While creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce rests with employees at all levels within the organization, VA employees look to their leaders, particularly those managers and supervisors they see and work with every day to serve as models for their own behavior," said Coffey. 

Dr. Cooper was specifically nominated, in part, for the following accomplishments:

  • developing a transition program for Veterans, which pairs Veterans with disabilities with professional mentors
  • creating the Fabrication of Assistive Technology program for Veterans interested in machining
  • helping to build a diverse workforce by filling the educational and training pipeline by establishing creative, formal and informal curricula and training initiatives for students as young as middle school.

Michael Moreland, FACHE, Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network 4, Veterans Health Administration, presented the award to Dr. Cooper in a 1 p.m. ceremony at HERL's Bakery Square facility in Pittsburgh.