In celebration of Women’s History Month, Centre Foundation proudly presents the Mimi Barash Coppersmith Women in Leadership Award to a woman in our community who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in many capacities. Dr. Nalini Krishnankutty is this year’s award recipient.

Nalini is a first-generation American who traveled from Mumbai, India to attend graduate school at Penn State University 35 years ago. She earned her master’s degree and doctorate in Chemical Engineering while simultaneously teaching Women’s Studies courses at Penn State, demonstrating her commitment to empowerment through education. Nalini currently works at Penn State as the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Program Manager in Penn State Human Resources, and in this inaugural role, has been instrumental in leading several DEIB initiatives, including launching Employee Resource Groups. As a writer, speaker, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) practitioner, she champions inclusive communities and organizations across Pennsylvania.

Beyond academia, Nalini’s impact is extensive. She serves on the Mid-State Literacy Council board of directors, contributed as a commissioner on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, and helped found the local PanAPIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans) Circle. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in establishing the State College Community Oversight Board (COB) as an ad-hoc committee member and was elected the first chair of the COB in 2021.

Nalini was appointed to the State College Borough Council in June 2022 and elected to Council in November 2023. As the sole woman on the council, she also holds the position of vice chair of the Finance Committee of Centre Region Council of Governments. “I am inspired to continue my advocacy and efforts to work toward removing barriers to increase the participation of women, especially women from underrepresented groups, in all our endeavors and leadership positions,” notes Krishnankutty.

Dr. Krishnankutty’s passion for inclusivity and equity drives her every action. With this award, Centre Foundation celebrates her remarkable journey and her commitment to empowering women and driving change in our community through leadership.

The Mimi Barash Coppersmith Women in Leadership Fund was established in 2017 by Barbara Palmer in honor of her dear friend and fellow philanthropist, Mimi Barash Coppersmith, as a tribute to her mentorship of local women in leadership roles. The awardee selects a local nonprofit organization of her choice to receive a $2,500 grant from the fund. Dr. Nalini Krishnankutty selected Mid-State Literacy Council, which brings all forms of literacy to adults in Centre and Clearfield counties so that everyone can access a life of safety, realized goals, and community participation.