Alumna’s gifts to ILR honor Thomas P. Golden

Gifts from K. Lisa Yang ’74, benefactor of the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, will establish a named executive director position for the ILR School institute, as well as a named courtyard at ILR.

Both gifts, totaling $2.5 million, will honor Thomas P. Golden, who was executive director of the Yang-Tan Institute when he died Nov. 1.

K. Lisa Yang

A pioneer in promoting economic independence for people with disabilities, Golden led state and national policy initiatives on employment, Social Security and youth transition.

“Thomas was a ray of light in the world of workplace disability teaching, research and advocacy, and these are but small commemorations of the contributions he made to Cornell, ILR and the advancement of disability policy,” Yang said. “He was incredibly generous with his time and attention as a mentor to junior and incoming staff, a friend who was always there for his colleagues, a catalyst for brainstorming new ideas, professional teamwork and collaboration, and most importantly was always there for his wife, children and family.

“These funds,” she said, “will cement his legacy in a manner that reflects his inclusive commitment: a vision of a unified pathway for ILR’s centers, institutes and programs to level the playing field in the world of work for all.”

The Thomas P. Golden Executive Director gift will help establish initiatives that foster collaboration across ILR Outreach programs and institutes. Funding for the Thomas P. Golden Courtyard will also support cross-Outreach programming.

“We are thrilled that Lisa has again offered her generous support to ILR to help enhance the impact we have across our centers, institutes and programs,” said Alexander Colvin, Ph.D. ’99, the Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean of the ILR School and the Martin F. Scheinman ’75, M.S. ’76, Professor of Conflict Resolution.

“Her desire to name both gifts in Thomas’ honor is indicative of her selflessness and is a wonderful recognition of Thomas’ impact on ILR.”

Said Ariel Avgar, associate dean of ILR Outreach: “Thomas’ impact continues to be felt across our entire organization and he is sorely missed. The cross-functional programming that this will enable for our Outreach work is a perfect reflection of his many contributions. I’m deeply grateful to Lisa for these strategic gifts.”

Yang is a major benefactor of the ILR School; her generosity to a number of programs includes a $10 million gift in 2015. Yang, whose career was in finance, serves on the boards of Autism Speaks; the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the Devereux Foundation.

She sits on the Board of Fellows of the Harvard Medical School and is a member of its Discovery Council. Yang is on the advisory boards of the Stanford University School of Medicine Neurodiversity Project and Ultranauts, an engineering services company powered by cognitively diverse teams. She is a life member of the Cornell University Council and a member of the ILR School Dean’s Advisory Council.

A formal ceremony recognizing Yang’s recent gifts will be held when safety guidelines permit.

Mary Catt is communications director for the ILR School.

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Gillian Smith