School News

Meet this Year’s Passionate and Inspiring Reaching Out MBA Fellows From Michigan Ross

By Bridget Vis

Incoming MBA students at the Ross School of Business Jill Dannis, MBA ’23, and Rachel Sze, MBA ’23, have a proven track record of being powerful voices and leaders in advocating for the LGTBQ+ community.

This leadership, along with their desire to contribute their time and talents to supporting inclusion and allyship at Michigan Ross, has led to their selection as the school’s Reaching Out MBA LGBT+ Fellowship recipients this year. 

Since 2016, Michigan Ross has participated in the Reaching Out MBA Fellowship as part of its efforts to attract a more diverse student cohort. ROMBA’s mission is to increase the influence of the LGBTQ+ community in business by educating, inspiring, and connecting MBA students and alumni. The organization offers fellows professional development and networking events during their time in business school and beyond.

As they prepare to enter the Michigan Ross community, let’s meet the two newest ROMBA Fellows. 

Jill Dannis 

Before coming to Michigan Ross, Dannis worked with the executive leadership at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to establish more inclusive LGBTQ+ policies and spaces. This includes starting and leading the first LGBTQ+ employee resource group at the organization, and advancing a global talent development and inclusion initiative to provide creative individuals of diverse backgrounds access and resources for their career pathways in filmmaking. 

At Ross, she is also a member of the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management and a Forté Foundation Fellow.

Why were you interested in the ROMBA Fellowship?

I feel incredibly proud and lucky to be a lesbian and have a dedicated track record of supporting and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community in my professional and volunteer work at organizations like The Trevor Project, Point Foundation, and AIDS/LifeCycle, which benefits the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Franciso AIDS Foundation. I consider the ROMBA Fellowship to be both an honor and a responsibility to continue to be an advocate for my community as an MBA student and in my career. I intentionally applied to schools that are ROMBA partners, because I knew through attending events like the Out Women in Business Conference, that the fellowship would equip me with the tools and LGBTQ+ network needed to continue making an impact with and for my community.

What are you most excited about being a ROMBA Fellow at Michigan Ross?

Connecting with LGBTQ+ students at Ross was crucial to my own application and decision-making process, so I want to give back in this same way for prospective LGBTQ+ candidates — especially those who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) and/or trans. I’m also excited about opportunities to contribute to the education, visibility, and professional development work being done by Out For Business. I’m looking forward to getting involved in this work to support my peers and myself as future business leaders who feel prepared to champion LGBTQ+ inclusion at their workplaces and in their communities. 

How did the ROMBA Fellowship and other ways to get involved at Ross as well as the Ross community impact your decision to pursue your MBA here? 

Michigan Ross became my top choice program in large part due to conversations with current students and alumni. Through them, I learned that this was a diverse, inspiring community that I could see myself being a part of and learning a lot from. I am excited to pursue my MBA at Ross because of the many opportunities to learn by doing, the strong focus on social impact, and the leadership programs available, such as +LAB and Board Fellows. Out For Business also stood out to me as a club that is equally focused on community and advocacy, which was crucial for me when deciding on a business school where I could be my fully authentic queer self.

Rachel Sze

Prior to Michigan Ross, Sze was a music educator in Montgomery County, Maryland. She is an active member of LGBTQIA+ Music Educator groups and also serves as part of the Alumni Band Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee for her alma mater, Michigan State University. 

In addition, Sze advocates for the LGBTQ+ community by speaking at events and participating in panel discussions. 

Why were you interested in the ROMBA Fellowship?

In my career as an educator, it was clear to me that open advocacy and visibility of LGBTQ+ people in the workplace is crucial to advancing equality and activating allies. I knew that I wanted to continue this work during my time at Ross and beyond, so the ROMBA Fellowship felt like a natural step to openly advocate, while leveraging the reach of the ROMBA network. I’m very proud to have the opportunity to represent Michigan Ross within ROMBA, as well as to use my voice and continue my advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community at Michigan Ross. 

What are you most excited about being a ROMBA Fellow at Ross?

Especially this Pride Month, I think that the importance of community is very keenly felt. I’m most looking forward to building and strengthening the LGBTQ+ community at Ross, and building strong intersectional bonds between other marginalized communities and allies.

How did the ROMBA Fellowship and other ways to get involved at Ross as well as the Ross community impact your decision to pursue your MBA here? 

It was evident to me from my first interactions with students and staff that Ross was a welcoming place, inclusive of all of my identities. Students were — and have been — eager to share their perspectives and experiences, as well as offer help selflessly. As a musician, I thrive in environments where talented and skilled people come together to earnestly collaborate in order to learn, grow, and assist in other’s development, and I have no doubt that Ross will be no different. 

Learn more about Out For Business

Learn more about the Reaching Out MBA LGBT+ Fellowship