Cornell ILR School’s Hertzog: Driven by a Sense of Public Service
From the moment Laura Hertzog finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird at age 8, she knew she wanted to practice law. “I’m a pretty decisive person, plus my parents instilled in me a strong sense of public service,” says Hertzog, whose mother is black, father is white, and was raised in a family with three adopted siblings. “My parents were a doctor and a social worker, who I saw doing huge amounts of community service as I was growing up in New Jersey.”
Although Hertzog ended up earning her J.D., cum laude from the University of Michigan Law, her career path within the profession hasn’t been linear. Starting as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind and moving to other prestigious private firms, Hertzog became less enthused by the law-firm world and more attracted to teaching law, at Brooklyn Law, New York University, and then Fordham. Eager to take on new challenges, Hertzog stepped up to the plate in 2000 as the first-ever Director of Global Diversity at Credit Suisse First Boston, before moving back to academia as Dean for Diversity and Compliance and Special Assistant to the President for Campus Relations at Hunter College, CUNY.
“My experience in banking, law, and education allows me to see life from different perspectives and prepared me for what I’m doing today,” says Hertzog, currently the Director of Diversity & Inclusion Programs in the Manhattan office of Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
The only Ivy League school to offer diversity-management certification, Cornell ILR gives classes in Manhattan and, most recently, Pittsburgh. Hertzog is responsible for developing and updating course materials, teaching, and supervising instruction in more than a dozen areas, including recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, maintaining EEO compliance, managing a diverse workforce, running diversity councils and employee-resource groups, and using metrics to measure success of diversity strategies. New this spring: a course on how to use change management strategies to support diversity initiatives.
Hertzog and her team of about 15 adjuncts will also go on-site to provide instruction, such as the diversity-management “boot camp” diversity leaders of the University of Tennessee recently completed. “Seven people in 11 days went through our entire diversity certificate program,” she says. “What’s great is they’re now all speaking the same language.”
To help keep the coursework relevant in the evolving D&I profession, Hertzog utilizes research of Cornell faculty who are published in areas such as HR and diversity. “I’m so proud of what we’re doing here,” says Hertzog. “I routinely hear from participants who went back to their employers and made a significant difference. Cornell ILR ismaking a tangible difference in workplaces throughout America.”
In addition to her work at Cornell, Hertzog is a founding advisory board member and Champion at the International Society of Diversity and Inclusion Professionals. She also served on the boards of NYC Court Appointed Special Advocates and the New York Women’s Foundation and is Vice Chair of the Montclair, NJ Civil Rights Commission.