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Anjana Anandkumar, IE ‘21 and Evening MBA ’26, Builds Mentorship Program for Georgia Tech Lavender Alumni

Anjana Anandkumar, IE ‘21, Evening MBA ’26, and supply chain manager at The Coca-Cola Company, quietly advocates for LGBTQIA individuals through her impactful volunteer work matching Georgia Tech Lavender Alumni mentors and mentees in partnerships built to create community.
Scheller Evening MBA ’26 Anjana Anandkumar joins other members of Georgia Tech Lavender Alumni at a roller-skating event

Anjana Anandkumar, IE '21 and Evening MBA ‘26, (second from left) joins other Georgia Tech Lavender Alumni at a roller-skating event.

When Anjana Anandkumar thought about college, it was always with Georgia Tech in mind. She began her undergraduate studies in 2016. Five years later, she graduated with a firmer understanding of herself and an appreciation for the path that brought her somewhat circuitously, but always surely, through the exploration of three different majors to the BE in Industrial Engineering degree she now holds. That degree led her to a supply chain manager role at Coca Cola, where she’s worked since early 2022. 

It wasn’t until the last semester of her fifth year that Anjana heard from a friend about Georgia Tech Lavender Alumni (GTLA). She was drawn to the grassroots organization because of the vital work being done by a small team of queer alumni intent on providing a safe space for LGBTQIA students past and present. She started by attending several social events. It was at the brewery, then dinner, then the paint and sip event where she noticed a need and decided to fill it.  

The Work 

Anjana was grateful to connect with GTLA right before her graduation. “It was a really great way to start building a community, because I knew a lot of queer people at Georgia Tech, but I didn't know a lot of people when I left,” she explained. “GTLA became a space to have unique experiences, build a community, and meet a lot of really cool people before I lost access to that Georgia Tech community.” 

GTLA was driven by a team of five volunteers with Anjana acting as secretary. She planned social events and led the mentorship program. Despite the range of her responsibilities, Anjana was most focused on building a mentorship program that would facilitate meaningful connections for others. 

First, Anjana needed a group of individuals who were interested in fostering a mentor/mentee partnership. She sent out a call to all Georgia Tech alumni and current students affiliated with the LGBTQIA Resource Center on campus. Applications came from both sides. The real work began as she painstakingly read through the questionnaires looking to match mentors and mentees based on something more than a shared industry.  

“We wanted to make sure we were fostering community, so we matched them by what they were looking for long term,” Anjana said. “We looked at their career goals. Who would they feel most comfortable talking to about career successes and challenges as a queer person? The process was very hands on. We had the application details open on two different Excel sheets, and we matched them up.” 

This kind of thoughtful intention led to slow but increasing success for those who participated in GTLA mentorship pairings. The first year, Anjana matched six mentor pairs; the second-year numbers grew to accommodate 15 pairs. These mentor/mentees figured out what a meaningful partnership looked like for them. Some pairs met in person, some online. Some met more often than others. But the intent was always the same: to build a community and safety net of professional support for LGBTQIA Georgia Tech students and alumni trying to navigate a corporate workspace.  

“We wanted to make sure that we gave students the skill set to present themselves in a corporate environment where many people might not feel comfortable being their true selves,” Anjana explained. 

The Reward 

One of Anjana’s most memorable mentor partnerships was between Glenn Greathouse, a 1985 alumnus, and Mach Michaels, an Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. student. Despite their age difference, the two bonded over a shared love for the Florida panhandle; a place they both spent time growing up.  

Mach Michaels (left) and Glenn Greathouse at the top of Waikiki, Hawaii's Diamond Head volcano
Mach Michaels (left) and Glenn Greathouse at the top of Waikiki, Hawaii's Diamond Head volcano

“That mentor partnership had an interesting dynamic, because one grew up trying to navigate being queer back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, while the other person was trying to learn how to navigate today’s world,” Anjana said. “I think they really helped each other feel comfortable in a corporate space. I know the alumni mentor gave the mentee great advice on how to present yourself authentically in a workplace.” 

Anjana offers this advice for LGBTQIA professionals. “When you apply to a company, and if it's important for you to be open and out to your coworkers, make sure you understand the company's policies and get involved with the resource groups. These corporate culture markers show that the company is supportive of a diverse workforce and can help you discern whether you’ll feel safe working there.”

The Future 

Anjana is described by her fellow GTLA leaders as someone who “always shows up;” someone with “a wonderful spirit.” Hearing her speak about her work at GTLA, she is soft spoken yet eloquent. Anjana knows for herself what it is like to navigate the workplace as a queer professional. The care and insight she brought to matching mentor partnerships together and planning events where Georgia Tech Lavender students and alumni could gather helped build a community for queer Georgia Tech LGBTQIA individuals and allies. 

Sometimes lasting change is accomplished this quietly, one well-matched partnership at a time.

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