Sumi Pendakur // Aligning social media with social action, living in integrity and addressing the real horror of the hit film “Get Out”

Meet the Bollywood Bond girl of higher education Dr. Sumun Pendakur – or at least in this episode we laugh she could be. She aims to meld the political, personal, family, and professional – challenging listeners to stake a claim in this world and put power, voice, and a purpose especially for marginalized communities. As the Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity at Harvey Mudd College, her words match her deeds every day on and off-campus. Scroll through her Facebook or Twitter you’ll find the same – and maybe even feel more convicted to action that you did before. Sumi is a role model in digital leadership, calling out systems of oppression and injustice. Sometimes this is even through entertainment, as we discussed the hit movie Get Out. She accomplishes all this with an ethos of love, laughter, and genuine authenticity.    

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Notes from this Episode

NASPA | Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education

NASPA Western Regional Conference 2017 – Island of Oʻahu; Honolulu, Hawaiʻi

Harvey Mudd College

Women’s Leadership Institute

USC Dissertation of the Year

AsianAve Website

Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS) – University Southern California (USC) 

Black Lives Matter (BLM)

Dakota Access Pipeline

The Women’s March

Get Out

Jordan Peele – Get Out Director

Code Switch Podcast

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Mark Lamont Hill

Chris Emdin

Robin Kelley 

Audre Lorde

Bell Hooks

Adrienne Rich

Cherrie Moraga

Connect with Sumi




Harvey Mudd:


Email Address:

More about Sumi

Sumun (Sumi) Pendakur EdD is associate dean for institutional diversity at Harvey Mudd College. She is a member of the president’s cabinet and serves as the co-chief diversity officer, partnering with the Office of Academic Affairs to focus on campus-wide efforts related to access, equity, campus climate, and inclusion. She also directs the College’s social justice education center, the Office of Institutional Diversity (OID). Pendakur serves as a consultant, speaker and facilitator regionally and nationally, helping campuses, nonprofits and other organizations build capacity for cultural competence, social justice, and equitable practices. She is a scholar-practitioner whose research interests include critical race theory, Asian American and Pacific Islander students and institutional transformation.

Before Harvey Mudd College, Pendakur spent more than seven years at the University of Southern California, where she served as the director of Asian Pacific American Student Services. In 2011, she won the USC Remarkable Women Award and the USC Rossier School of Education Dissertation of the Year Award. In 2014, she won the Outstanding Mid-Level Professional Award from the NASPA Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community.

Pendakur has held leadership positions and presented her original research at NASPA, ACPA, NADOHE, NCORE and ASHE. In addition, she is an Asian American and Pacific Islander Research Coalition Fellow, the 2014–2016 co-chair of NASPA Southern California, the 2015 co-chair for the NASPA Western Regional Conference Research Institute, as well as a 2014–2015 NADOHE Chief Diversity Officer’s Fellow. Sumi served as a Cultural Competence Coach (2013-2016) for the AAC&U’s Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES) Institute. Most recently, Sumi was appointed to the Board of Directors for NADOHE, the national chief diversity officers’ organization, for 2016–2019.

Pendakur is a graduate of Northwestern University with a double major in women’s studies and history and a minor in Spanish. She holds an M.A. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan and received her doctorate in higher education leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education.

Pendakur is married to actor Sunil Malhotra and is the proud (and permanently tired) mommy of toddler Shashi Veer Pendakur Malhotra.

Connect with Sumi: 





Harvey Mudd College

Email :

About Josie and The Podcast

In each episode, Dr. Josie Ahlquist – digital leadership author, researcher, and speaker – connects tech and leadership in education. This podcast will bring you leaders on-campus and online. From Senior Vice Presidents on Snapchat, YouTubers receiving billions of views and new media professionals. All through the lens of social media and leadership.  Josie hopes you will not only learn from these digital leaders but also laugh as we all explore how to be our best selves online and off.

Thanks for listening! Please subscribe to receive the latest episodes, share widely and let me know you’d checked it out! Tweet me @josieahlquist – I would love to hear from you!

Digital hugs, loves, and waves!


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