S. Shani Saunders
S. Shani Saunders serves as the Program Coordinator for the School of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In this role, Shani plays a vital part in managing special projects and initiatives that contribute to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.
Before joining Penn, Shani held a position at Brandywine Realty Trust, where she was a member of the Property Management Team overseeing Class A+ properties in Philadelphia. In addition to her property management role, she led the company’s diversity, inclusion, and belonging affinity team, making impactful strides. Under Shani’s leadership, the team introduced commemorative series and heritage month activities, highlighting the historical contributions of underrepresented communities. They organized annual companywide volunteer efforts, community initiatives in West Philadelphia, and fundraising campaigns for The Trevor Project and No Shave November, supporting LGBTQ youth in need and men’s health and wellness, respectively. Shani takes pride in her collaboration with company leadership to establish MLK Day as a paid employee holiday.
Shani’s diverse career also includes several years at Cozen O’Connor, where she served as a Legal Assistant and Executive Assistant to a former U.S. Ambassador. Additionally, she owned and operated a desserts café in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Deeply passionate about community service, Shani embodies the mantra, “Representation matters.” She has contributed significantly to various boards, including serving as a former Board Member of the African American Chamber of Commerce for PA-NJ-DE, and the Zoning Board and Arts Board for Cherry Hill Township, NJ.
Shani graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University-New Brunswick with a B.S. in Labor Studies and Employment Relations, with concentrations in Diversity in the Workplace, Law and the Workplace, and Workplace Organization and Management. She has furthered her education with a Specialization in Culture-Driven Team Building from the University of Pennsylvania, certifications for Understanding Diversity and Inclusion from Purdue University, and Diversity in the Workplace from Rutgers. Currently, Shani is pursuing a Master’s in Nonprofit/NGO Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, as well as a Master’s in Law at Penn Carey Law School.
Shani proudly hails from Camden and Lawnside, NJ, and continues to call South Jersey home.