Changemakers: A Rising MBA Program Joins Prestigious LGBT+ Group

The Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in New York City has become the 71st fellowship member of Reaching Out MBA, the premier LGBT+ MBA organization

Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business has a mantra: “Business with Purpose.” In the past year, the school has made significant moves to back up that philosophy.

In the same month the Gabelli School announced that its full-time MBA program had been designated STEM — a move designed to diversify its graduate student population — the school has joined the premier international organization for lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender MBAs, Reaching Out MBA. As ROMBA’s 71st partner school, Fordham’s B-school will offer competitive awards worth tens of thousands of dollars to qualified MBA applicants.

“Diversity is one of the Gabelli School’s greatest attributes,” says Lawrence Mur’ray, senior assistant dean of graduate admissions and advising. “We are excited to announce our status as a Reaching Out MBA partner school and to join their mission ‘to increase the influence of the LGBT+ community in business by educating, inspiring, and connecting MBA students and alumni.’”


Donna Rapaccioli, dean of the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University

Fordham Gabelli is currently ranked 51st in the U.S. by Poets&Quants and 64th by U.S. News (the new U.S. News ranking is due March 29). But the small school with 76 full-time MBA students in its most recent cohort keeps making news from its New York campus. Last November, when Bloomberg Businessweek released its annual ranking of the top MBA programs, it also announced the results of a survey gauging student, alumni, and employer views of B-schools’ efforts in three areas: fostering teamwork, incorporating ethics, and emphasizing CSR, or corporate, social, and environmental responsibility. In two of those three areas, Fordham excelled, ranking second in adherence to ethical principles, and first in CSR. In the latter, Gabelli — part of a network of Jesuit schools that extol service to the needy and action to address social dilemmas — scored a perfect 7.0 average from survey respondents.

Now, following the establishment of a STEM MBA, Gabelli is joining an elite network of schools that very publicly partner with and support the LGBT+ community — a group that includes Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

“Today’s business landscape requires business schools to prepare students for the workplaces that they will encounter, lead, and advance,” Gabelli Dean Donna Rapaccioli tells Poets&Quants. “At the Gabelli School, we pride ourselves in fostering inclusive environments that reiterate the importance of diverse spaces and amplify the voices of those who have often been marginalized.”

In addition to ROMBA membership, Fordham’s B-school as a whole has made intentional changes to the Dean’s Premier Scholarship, which includes full tuition, a housing stipend, and executive mentor and global immersion stipends, as a way to center students from traditionally underrepresented populations.

“We are so proud to make updates to our Dean’s Premier Scholarship criteria,” Rapaccioli says, “and work with organizations like Reaching Out MBA to ensure that we can continue to champion meaningful discussions in our classrooms, and compassionate leadership in the field.”


Reaching Out MBA is a 24-year-old organization dedicated to promoting the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer graduate business students. The group has more than 300 Fellows from B-schools and corporate partners, the latter of which number more than 100; it organizes multiple national and regional events annually, capped by the ROMBA Conference, at which hundreds of students and others attend. This year’s conference is scheduled for October 6-8 in Washington, D.C.

At Fordham Gabelli, ROMBA Fellows will receive a $30,000 scholarship and access to exclusive leadership programming, including an all-expenses-paid weekend retreat in New York City in July, as well as access to several other events throughout the year, such as the ROMBA and Out Women in Business Conferences.

“Building upon a holistic review process grounded in the Jesuit ideal of developing scholars and leaders who will share their talents with the world for the common good, we will leverage our ROMBA partnership to recruit high potential candidates who have an exemplary record of academic and professional achievement, strong leadership skills, the ability to put ideas into action, character and integrity that define their personal and professional lives, and a demonstrated commitment to service, community, and society,” Lawrence Mur’ray says.

Thomas Story, one of the Gabelli School’s first two ROMBA Fellows, praised “the steps Fordham University takes to promote diversity.”

“I have been very impressed by the work ROMBA does to promote LGBTQ representation in the business community,” says Story, who plans to continue his career in healthcare with an emphasis on marketing. “After learning about the ROMBA Fellowship, I was particularly drawn to the program’s networking and career-building opportunities.”


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