Strategic Plan

Director’s Statement


Dear CIRES colleagues,

CIRES is working to enact diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice among our core values. We choose to do this because it is the right thing to do and is a matter of integrity, and because doing so is a cornerstone of our continued success. 

We are committed to doing the work it will take to enact these values, which will require commitment and effort across the institute and at all levels. We pledge to ensure that CIRES is a place where the talents of all individuals are cultivated, recognized, and appreciated, which requires a hard look at our processes and outcomes. 

As Director of CIRES, I am personally committed to this effort because to me, diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, are far more than words that capture important concepts; they are values - values we should not just try to live up to, but commit to achieving and surpassing. 

This CIRES DEI plan includes strategic intentions meant to ensure that our culture is one that supports and enhances our ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, and our ability to establish meaningful powerful partnerships. We commit to transparency throughout the process, and we always welcome your feedback on our plans and your thoughts on how we can do better.

Please join us in promoting DEI efforts at CIRES, in whatever capacity is appropriate for your role. We all have a greater sphere of influence than we know. 

Thank you for your active support of these efforts, and your commitment to the principles that drive them. 


Waleed Abdalati


Anonymous Feedback Form

This plan was developed by a strategic planning committee, led by Susan Sullivan, CIRES Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Michael Murray, CU Boulder Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives. The mission, vision and strategic imperatives were reviewed by the CIRES DEI Community of Practice and CIRES-wide. The draft plan was reviewed by expert external reviewers, by CIRES Leadership and is now being reviewed CIRES-wide.

Michael Murray

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives

Department of Human Resources



Hazel Bain

Research Scientist

Space Weather Prediction Center


Joost de Gouw

Professor of Chemistry

CIRES Council of Fellows


Janet Garcia

Visa Coordinator

CIRES Administration/Human Resources


Leslie Hartten

Research Scientist

CIRES/NOAA Physical Sciences Laboratory


Gabrielle Petron

Research Scientist

CIRES/NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory


Neesha Schnepf

Postdoctoral Associate

CIRES/NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI)

(now at Maxar Technologies)


Chris Torrence

Software Development Manager

CIRES/National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)


Christine Wiedinmyer

CIRES Associate Director for Science


Christina Williamson

Research Scientist

CIRES/NOAA Chemical Sciences Laboratory

As of May 2022, Research Professor, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland


Susan Sullivan

CIRES Director of Diversity and Inclusion


Our science, our communities, and our people thrive when we include, value, and advance a diverse workforce. Nonetheless, our disciplines have not sufficiently attracted, retained and advanced under-represented and marginalized people. To strive for greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, CIRES commits to the vision and mission below.

Our vision is what we will work to achieve within five years. Our missionintroduces the strategic imperatives we will pursue over the next 1-2 years. The plan, the imperatives, and the strategies we use to achieve our vision will be assessed regularly.


Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are core values at CIRES. Our lived commitment to these values shapes our work culture and is essential to how we practice excellence and integrity in environmental research.

CIRES Diversity Mission


CIRES will advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in these ways:

  • Continue to build an inclusive, respectful culture that recognizes and embraces the diversity of our communities.
  • Increase CIRES’ ability to successfully seek, hire, and retain a diverse workforce.
  • Increase partnerships with organizations that serve underrepresented and marginalized groups in environmental sciences.

Core values: The principles that guide an organization’s behavior. Core values form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. To be core, a value must be embodied throughout an organization’s systems, practices, and policies.

Justice: The consistent and systematic fair and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to groups that have been denied such treatment

Equity: The practice of taking action as needed so that equality can be achieved. Examples include providing employee resource groups (groups that support employees with shared identities or goals)  or identifying and rectifying systemic compensation issues.

Diversity: the range of human differences. At CIRES these include but are not limited to the CU Protected Classes: race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, political affiliation, and political philosophy. We recognize that all individuals embody multiple dynamic visible and invisible intersecting and intersectional identities

Inclusion: Organizational practices in which different groups or individuals are accepted and welcomed and treated equally. In an inclusive culture all people feel a sense of belonging and are valued and respected for who they are.

Communities: We use the plural “communities” to recognize that there are multiple overlapping groups of people who work at CIRES and to describe the people we work with through education, service and research

Culture: The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

Underrepresented groups: An underrepresented group is any group holding identities which are present in lower proportions than occurs in the general population.

Marginalized groups: Any group holding identities which have been systematically excluded from full participation in environmental sciences and scientific research and education.

Partnerships: An arrangement by which two or more parties agree to develop, manage and operate an enterprise and to share equitably in the costs and benefits of the enterprise.

Environmental sciences: We are using environmental science as a shorthand to signify all activity at CIRES, including environmental sciences, geosciences and geophysics, space sciences, social sciences, environmental education, policy, communications, administrative support, and all other related disciplines represented at CIRES.

Environmental research: This is also broadly defined for these purposes and includes research, education and education research, assessments, monitoring, operations, and all other related activities at CIRES.

Indicators: The qualitative and quantitative means by which we assess whether or not we are achieving our goals as anticipated

There are at least two lines of reasoning which support CIRES’ investment in DEI; drawn from a commitment to scientific integrity and to scientific excellence.

Scientific Integrity

Attention to DEI is part of scientific integrity and geoethics, concerned with the responsible conduct of science (AGI, 2015; AGU, 2017; Mogk, 2017). Investing in a more inclusive workplace culture serves scientific integrity in its highest sense.

  • In an inclusive culture all individuals belong, are respected for who they are, and are valued, including individuals from groups that have not historically been afforded that treatment. Marginalized people working in historically majority-dominated workplaces experience disproportionate barriers and burdens to their well being unless that workplace is made intentionally and systematically inclusive, just, and equitable.
  • Our work has implications for the coupled human and natural systems, in which some communities are disproportionately affected by environmental issues and are often overlooked within environmental sciences research.
  • We participate in the University of Colorado educational mission through our outreach, teaching, service and training activities. The CU student body, including graduate students and other trainees, is increasingly diverse. Our students and trainees have better outcomes when CIRES supports inclusive education and mentoring.

Given these realities, it is only right to develop a workplace in which DEI is realized through our operations and our mission. While there is a strong scientific excellence case for DEI as described below, the case for scientific integrity precedes because developing an equitable and inclusive workplace is its own common good regardless of whether or not doing so leads to more citations and funding.

Scientific Excellence

CIRES understands that successful DEI progress supports our scientific achievements.

  • Diverse perspectives lead to better problem solving and innovation (Antonio et al, 2004; Herring, C., 2009; Larson, 2017; Hong and Page, 2004; McKinsey, 2015). Diverse author teams have more scientific citations and publish in higher impact journals (Freeman and Huang, 2014) .
  • The student body in environmental sciences and geosciences in the United States is increasingly diverse (American Geosciences Institute, 2020). Universities and institutes who want to attract and retain an increasingly diverse student body pay attention to representation and an inclusive culture.
  • Our ability to secure sponsored funding is increasingly dependent on our ability to demonstrate an inclusive culture, conduct projects with diverse teams and inclusive management, and to engage diverse stakeholders in our work. Our primary partners (NOAA 2020; University of Colorado, Boulder, 2019) and funders (NOAA, 2020; NSF ; NASA, 2016) all have diversity and inclusion as part of their expectations.
  • Equitable partnerships with communities will allow CIRES to conduct more innovative and impactful research. Through partnerships and community co-development we can transform our existing research relationships so that we are able to better address the issues being faced by those who disproportionately face environmental risks.


As organizations develop along their DEI journey, their activities become more integrated, sustainable, systematic and well-understood. Organizations can assess their progress using a DEI maturity model.

Our initial maturity model is primarily based on the Korn Ferry DEI Maturity Model, with contributions from the Meyer DEI Spectrum Tool and the NOAA DEI Maturity Model. All of these models describe DEI maturity as an organizational development activity, which becomes operationalized as essential to the mission. As organizations progress, responsibility is held throughout the organization, resources are available throughout the organization, and actions are prioritized and decided upon based on evidence. CIRES may choose to adapt our model in the future as our understanding of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within a research institute improves.

While the full model is laid out in a linear fashion, progress may be non-linear and the paths of each subunit will have variations unique to that group. Progress towards a consistent and mature state requires systematic action across the Institute. View the full maturity model at the link below.

Cires Diversity Maturity Model

Figure 2: Success depends upon developing a mature organizational approach to DEI, in which commitments and resources are strengthened across the institute in all strategic intent areas. Link to the full maturity model description.

This first CIRES DEI strategic plan is built around three imperatives. These imperatives were the top three goals identified by the strategic planning committee during their 2020/2021 meetings. Each strategic intent is elaborated in the following sections, along with a description of indicators of success.

Strategic Imperative #1: build an inclusive, respectful culture that recognizes and embraces the diversity of our communities.
Improve and value supervision and mentorship
Enable and encourage DEI work/training
Improve the safety and inclusion of spaces and language
Strategic Imperative #2: Increase CIRES’ ability to successfully seek, hire, and retain a diverse workforce.
Increase and scale use of best practices hiring strategies
Continue and enhance recruiting efforts
Partner with and support campus affinity groups and employee resource groups
Leverage CIRES and CU programs and mechanisms to increase the diversity of hires
Monitor the outcomes of our recruiting, hiring, and retention efforts.
Strategic Imperative #3: Increase partnerships with organizations that serve underrepresented and marginalized groups in environmental sciences.
Develop meaningful strategic partnerships with minority-serving institutions (MSI) as part of our NOAA recompete proposal
Promote collaborations through exchange of seminar speakers with minority serving institutions and other relevant organizations and events

Table 1: Summary of strategic imperatives.

Each strategic imperative is further elaborated below, along with a description of the metrics we will use to assess our progress and the people and groups involved.

Strategic Imperative 1: Build a culture of respect and inclusion that recognizes and embraces the diversity of our communities

Strategic Imperative #1: build an inclusive, respectful culture that recognizes and embraces the diversity of our communities.
Improve and value supervision and mentorship
Define and develop competencies for inclusive supervision Documents exist, Professional development (PD) exists, % supervisors trained on competencies CIRES HR, CU HR, D&I
Establish assessment mechanisms for inclusive supervision Policies exist, new assessment mechanisms enacted, follow-through is documented. CIRES HR, CIRES Leadership, D&I
Build capacity for inclusive mentoring New practices enacted in policy, professional development exists, evaluation results, culture survey results CIRES Mentoring Program, Fellows, CIRES HR, D&I
Establish mechanisms to value inclusive supervision and mentoring New policies and resources are in place CIRES HR, SMT
Enable and encourage DEI work/training
Recognize DEI effort as part of performance management, promotion, and recognition requirements. DEI criteria enacted in policy and communications, application and committee expectations, % inclusion in Annual Summary of Achievements (ASA) CIRES HR, CMC, Fellows
Continue and expand DEI training at CIRES % who attend, scope, and sequence publicized, assessments, culture survey. Presence in workplan(s), prompt exists in ASA workplan D&I, CIRES HR, Unit leadership, PIs
Include CIRES-specific DEI content in onboarding % new hires who participate, % existing employees who use content D&I, CIRES HR, Unit leadership
Consistent, widespread communication of CIRES DEI efforts Web statistics, track activity D&I, Comms, IT, Unit leadership
Ensure spaces and language are safe and inclusive
Review and improve website accessibility and inclusive language Report on findings, new practices/policies IT, D&I, Comms
Assess and continue to build a culture of civility and respect Culture survey, pulse surveys. CIRES HR, D&I, Unit leadership
Assess and improve accessible and safe physical spaces Assessment findings, disaggregated culture survey Facilities, SMT, D&I, Unit leadership, Campus leadership

Table 2: Strategic Imperative 1: Objectives, tactics, indicators and participating/responsible parties.

Strategic Imperative 2: Increase CIRES’ ability to successfully seek, hire, and retain a diverse workforce.

Strategic Imperative #2: Increase CIRES’ ability to successfully seek, hire, and retain a diverse workforce.
Increase and scale use of best practices hiring strategies
Systematize and require use of CIRES Best Practices Hiring Guide % adherence, work products CIRES HR, Hiring managers,, D&I
Assess and communicate applicant and hiring metrics Open vs targeted search, applicant/hired demographics CU HR, CIRES HR, D&I, Hiring managers
Continue and enhance recruiting efforts
Continue to exhibit at minority serving science conferences (NABG, SACNAS, AISES) # engaged, # CIRES employees participating, anecdotal outcomes where systematic assessment does not exist D&I
Continue to maintain external communications and relationship building Website redesign and update, information interviews, external mailing list # and engagement D&I, Comms, IT
Promote campus affinity groups and employee resource groups
Promote and support inter-institute affinity group(s) Demonstrable actions D&I, Inter-Institute Committee
Regularly communicate about and support participation in campus affinity groups and ESG. Culture survey, demonstrable actions D&I, Comms, Supervisors
Leverage CIRES and CU programs and mechanisms to increase the diversity of hires
Leverage existing CU mechanisms to increase diversity (e.g. Advance Preview, VFP, FDAP, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Scholars, etc.) Description of advances, demographics Fellows, PIs, CIRES HR, SMT
Increase connections between CIRES recruiting efforts and entry into partner programs (e.g. departmental admissions, NOAA internship opportunities) # applicants/placements Partners, D&I, PIs
Monitor the outcomes of our recruiting, hiring and retention efforts.
Monitor and communicate Institute metrics with attention to privacy and safety Communicated metrics (e.g. civility, demographics, applicant pool demographics, retention), DEI dashboard SMT, D&I, CIRES HR, CU HR, Comms, IR
Identify and address any systematic equity issues. Findings and actions CIRES HR, CIRES Leadership, Unit Leadership, D&I

Table 3: Strategic Imperative 2: Objectives, tactics, indicators, and participating/responsible parties.

Strategic Imperative 3: Increase partnerships with organizations that serve underrepresented and marginalized groups in environmental sciences.

Strategic Imperative #3: Increase partnerships with organizations that serve underrepresented and marginalized groups in environmental sciences
Develop meaningful strategic partnerships with minority-serving institutions (MSI) as part of our NOAA Cooperative Agreement (CA) proposal
Draft CA proposal with collaboration of Cooperative Science Centers (CSC) DEI included in CA proposal D&I, SMT, partners
Establish co-advising and fellowship/internship opportunities Programmatic elements exist and are being used. D&I, CIRES Researchers, Partners
Promote collaborations through exchange of seminar speakers with minority serving institutions and other relevant organizations and events
Provide opportunities for CIRES employees to present at minority-serving conferences Number of employees who participate SMT, Supervisors, D&I
Arrange site visits, exchanges and speaking opportunities # visits, exchanges, talks D&I, Seminar leaders, Partners

Table 4: Strategic Imperative 3: Objectives, tactics, indicators and participating/responsible parties.

To succeed in achieving our mission and vision over the next two to five years will require a concerted effort, which will take participation and leadership within every level of CIRES. Every person at CIRES has a sphere of control and influence, which is often larger than one imagines. Roles for people at every level are described below.

Roles Responsibilities
Senior Leadership Ensure that organizational systems, policies and practices support CIRES DEI vision and are integrated into CIRES operations.
CIRES D&I Program Oversee CIRES DEI plan, annual report and performance measurement. Manage DEI projects at CIRES programmatic level. Advise CIRES leadership and support subunits to achieve these Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan goals. Establish policies and procedures that directly support plan objectives.
CIRES HR Provide direction and support in achieving DEI Strategic Plan goals, to include: leading workforce planning and analysis; hiring; talent management (e.g., training and onboarding); processes; and policies.
Hiring managers and search committees Comply with diversity hiring and selection principles, work with CIRES DEI/HR and CU HR to recruit a broad and diverse talent pool and employ techniques to interrupt bias and promote fairness.
Advisors and mentors Serve as a resource for students, peers and employees. Follow inclusive mentoring practices to help mentees thrive.
Supervisors Follow inclusive performance management and supervision principles. Participate in and apply the principles within CIRES and CU best practices training.
Every CIRES Team member Individually advance CIRES’ diversity and inclusion goals by cultivating a respectful culture, following and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion principles, and recognizing and interrupting implicit biases.

Table 5: Roles and responsibilities within different roles at CIRES

CIRES’ success will be supported by our ability to implement this DEI strategic plan. The CIRES D&I Director, in partnership with CIRES HR and other CIRES Leadership will lead the implementation.

CIRES Leadership will engage the CIRES workforce as appropriate to advance these objectives, and will provide support and resources to achieve results.

This document is a living plan. The execution of this plan may be influenced in response to our changing understanding and opportunities. We will monitor our progress toward our objectives and regularly share our progress towards the strategic intents in this plan.

This plan will be further elaborated as we progress. CIRES employees and students may provide feedback at this link, which will be received by the CIRES D&I Program Director.

Successful implementation will lead to a workplace in which our scientific excellence is matched by our excellent inclusive culture.


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ASA: Annual Summary of Achievements

CIRES: Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

CGA: CIRES Graduate Association

CMC: CIRES Members Council

Comms: CIRES Communications Group

CSC: Cooperative Science Centers

DEI: Diversity, equity and inclusion

D&I: Diversity and Inclusion, also CIRES Diversity and Inclusion Program

Facilities: CIRES Facilities Lead

Fellows: The CIRES Council of Fellows

HR: Human resources

Inter-Institute Committee: The CU Boulder Institutes JEDI Committee

IR: CU Institutional Research

IT: CIRES Information Technology Group

JEDI: Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

PD: Professional development

PI: Principal Investigators

SMT: CIRES Senior Management Team