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Man on a Mission
Travis E. Rodgers, Rising Ground’s New Senior Vice President of Diversity, Fairness, and Belonging, Takes DEI to the Next Level
January 26, 2023 — Rising Ground CEO Alan Mucatel has announced that Travis E. Rodgers has joined the nonprofit human resources agency as Senior Vice President of Diversity, Fairness, and Belonging (DFB). Rodgers formerly directed DEI for the Teacher Licensure division of the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service, impacting 50 states, and recently served as the Chief Equity and Strategy Officer at Partnership with Children.
“We are very excited to welcome Travis to our team, where he will lead DFB internally and externally to better meet the diverse needs of the people we support, as well as the staff and volunteers who deliver those services,” Mucatel said. “This role is one we’ve sought to create for some time but wanted to make sure we hired the right person. Our search committee met with many fine candidates, but it was Travis’s depth of knowledge, personal experiences, and leadership in this field that impressed us most.”
In his new role at Rising Ground, Rodgers said his goals are “to develop internal work processes and turn them into true external outcomes for employees and those we serve, and to make the DFB policies come to fruition. Ultimately, we want to build out future leaders and empower the people we serve to truly thrive in the community.”
Travis E. Rodgers, Rising Ground’s New SVP, Diversity, Fairness, and Belonging, Takes DEI to the Next Level Similar to DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), DFB is the acronym Rising Ground adopted last year to more accurately reflect the work and makeup of its 1600-member staff who annually provide programming for 25,000 children, individuals, and families — mostly people of color.
“I am thrilled to fill this new role at Rising Ground and help continue its historic commitment and connection to New York,” said Rodgers. “A large part of Rising Ground’s success has been its transformational leadership that often asks the question, ‘What more can we be doing to help repair the world around us?’ Today, we understand the answer begins with how we treat our employees and the people around us. It requires taking a long, hard look at ourselves first before we promote the broader DFB framework to others. And in this area too, Rising Ground has set a benchmark.”
Born and raised in the Baltimore, Maryland, region in one of the poorest school districts in the nation, Rodgers experienced the worst that early education had to offer. He said his future didn’t look very promising until he met Roland Handy, a Black 5 th grade English and Social Studies teacher who had a great influence on many students. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers’ life and future career goals took shape, especially when Handy encouraged Rodgers to pursue higher education. Rodgers attended the University of Michigan, where he garnered a BA in Political Science—focusing on race, culture, and its intersection with policy and social justice. After earning his BA, he received an MSW at the University’s School of Social Work, where his focus was on community organizing and children and youth, and a law degree from Northeastern University.
Following a brief stint at a large Boston law firm where he found the pro bono work more satisfying than corporate litigation, Rodgers pursued his true calling and returned to the path his 5th grade teacher set for him, creating better opportunities for kids in poor school districts. Besides directing DEI at Educational Testing Service, he supervised strategies and efforts that addressed teacher diversity and opportunity gaps for people of color, LGBTQIA educators, migrant students, and other vulnerable populations. Soon after his arrival at Rising Ground, Rodgers remarked that he was impressed by all of the DFB work the organization has already achieved and looks to the future with hope.
Married to Torsten Hombeck, a CFO of a bio tech company, the couple live in Hell’s Kitchen with their two Portuguese Water dogs, Zoe and Lyvia. An avid volunteer and civic minded, Rodgers serves on Community Board 4, is a member of its Health & Human Services committee, and also enjoys engaging in local cleanup and advocacy work.
Adam H. Brill, Harrison Edwards PR