What's in a Name? Series

What's in a Name?: A series on name identity, diversity, and inclusion

Can names create subconscious bias? What is the history of our given name? Does the region where our name is most popular impact how we are perceived? How do social status and laws affect our name? Why is it so challenging to ask someone how their name is pronounced?

This series aims to open a doorway to explore issues that affect us every day, and that, ultimately, reverberate through the most intimate aspects of who we are. While we will explore basic tools and name etiquette, with the kindness and respect we all deserve, we intend to reflect about what our names say about us, and how they may be used to define who we are. Please join our exploration of a crucial topic seldom discussed.

Upcoming Events

Check back soon!

Past Events

What's in a Name?: An Introduction to Place Names | March 22, 2022 | 4:30-6PMET
Global Hub (1st Floor Posvar)

Watch the Recording

As part of the natural evolution of the series, we invite audiences explore place names and how they impact and reflect upon our identities, how we are perceived, and how we navigate the frameworks they set in motion. This session will be an introduction to place names and their significance as a part of a community's identity, touching upon themes of colonialism, enslavement, migration, and more.

Dr. Ruth Mostern, Director, World History Center
Dr. Keila Grinberg, Director, Center for Latin American Studies

This event is co-sponsored by the Global Hub, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Global Experiences Office, the Global Studies Center, the European Studies Center, the Nationality Rooms & Intercultural Exchange Programs, the Center for African Studies, the Asian Studies Center, and the World History Center.

What's in a Name?: Legal Names and the LGBTQIA+ Experience with Rosalynne Montoya | October 4, 2021 | 6-8PMET
Watch the Recording

A discussion on Legal Names and the LGBTQIA+ Experience with featured speaker Rosalynne Montoya, followed by a panel discussion with Rosalynne and other experts on the legal process and public policy surrounding changing one’s name.  

Featured Speaker: Rosalynne Montoya

Rosalynne Montoya, usually referred to as Rose, is a Hispanic, bisexual, nonbinary transgender woman. Rose’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/theirs. She works as a model, actor, public speaker, makeup artist, advocate, and content creator. Rose is also a board member of Aadya Rising, a nonprofit working to fill in the gaps to help the transgender community. She has been in campaigns and featured by TomboyX, Savage X Fenty, Yandy, FX Networks, New York City Pride, Planned Parenthood, and more. Their goal is to spread love and education about their community as they share their story.


Stefan Dann, Counsel at McGuireWoods LLP
Stefan Dann maintains a legal practice focused on commercial finance transactions.  In addition, Stefan has been involved with the Name Change Project (a project that provides pro bono legal name change services to low-income transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people through partnerships with attorneys) since 2014 and provides pro bono name change services to people who do not qualify for the Name Change Project.  While he currently focuses his efforts on direct client service, in the past Stefan has led the training and education of several law firms and corporate legal departments on the Name Change Project and has presented trainings on legal name changes at TransPride, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Project Silk, the Delta Foundation, and the Persad Center. Stefan graduated from Duquesne University School of Law in 2009 and is currently a Counsel at McGuireWoods LLP.

Drew Medvid, Regional Organizing Lead at Human Rights Campaign
Drew Medvid is an alumni of the University of Pittsburgh Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as the Pennsylvania Regional Organizer for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQIA2S+ rights organization. In his free time, he volunteers to make the University of Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh a more just and equitable place for those in the LGBTQIA community.


anupama jain, Founder and Principal Consultant at Inclusant
anupama jain is a scholar, educator, and writer specializing in literary and cultural studies. They have over 20 years of experience in higher education: conducting original research, teaching varied populations and diverse topics, and building community. anu is the author of How to Be South Asian in America: Narratives of Ambivalence and Belonging, which investigates how the American Dream shapes the national imaginary and influences public policy. The study showcases AAPI stories, celebrates diversity within Asian American communities, and challenges stereotypes like the ‘model minority’ myth. As the founder of the social enterprise Inclusant, anu uses applied research and evidence-based strategies to offer cross-sector training. Since 2015, they have been designing customized equity interventions as a consultant for over 100 groups in the greater Pittsburgh region. From 2017-2021, anu was the inaugural Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission in the Mayor’s Office. PhD: UW-Madison. BA: Bryn Mawr College

This event is sponsored by the Global Hub, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Global Studies Center, Division of Student Affairs, Office of Residence Life, Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, Rainbow Alliance, AQUARIUS, and the Latinx Student Association.

Breaking the Bias | June 4, 2021
Names carry a lot of weight, including people's opinion of you before having the chance to meet you. We will explore unconscious bias and its impacts on different aspects of life ranging from social, professional, and academic spaces.
Watch the recording

A Thousand Paper Cuts: Microaggressions and Names | May 26, 2021
What are microaggressions? How do microaggressions associated with names affect marginalized groups, and what can we do to ensure that everyone feels respected, supported, and included in our communities? In this workshop, we will discuss how to identify microaggressions and provide tools for how to address them in the context of name pronunciation.
Watch the recording