2020 Truth and Transformation Conference


Friday, October 2, 2020 (All day)


Harvard Kennedy School

On October 2, 2020 The Institutional Antiracism and Accountability (IARA) Project hosted the second annual Truth and Transformation convening on-line. Our intent this year was to use the convening to to better understand the limitations of the business case for Diversity and Inclusion and to explore implications for engaging in racial equity work with greater accountability and in partnership with other sectors. Please see below for access to all recorded events. A summary document highlighting the 2020 conference's discussions can be found here.

Opening Remarks And Land Acknowledgement

  • Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor Of History, Race And Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Director IARA Project
  • Elizabeth Solomon, Director Of Administration In The Department Of Social and Behavioral Sciences At The Harvard TH Chan School Of Public Health


Opening Keynote

  • Pamela Newkirk, Journalist, Author of Diversity, Inc: The Fight For Racial Equality In the Workplace

“We Are At An Inflection Point. We Don’t Have To Spend Time Anymore To Have The Problem Seen. Now, The Question Is: Do You Want To Do Something About This?”


Panel #1: Stories from the Field: The Way Forward in Corporate Diversity 

  • Mike Dillon, Laura Marquez, Tamika Curry Smith, Elizabeth Solomon (Moderator)

This panel discusses what it takes to actively draw awareness to institutional racism in the workplace, and how to address it effectively.

Video not available.

Panel #2: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in Inclusion and Diversity

  • Aria Florant, Kimberlyn Leary, Tara Spann, and Crystal Williams (Moderator) 

This panel provides us with an assessment of whether or not the recent wave of  antiracist statements  signal a shift in accountability when it comes to implementing Inclusion and Diversity in the corporate world. 

Video not available,

Midday Keynote

  • Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University

“In our daily lives, every time we fail to make space for every perspective, every time we look over someone else because they are assumed not to know as much, have as much, we are perpetuating the legacy of racism.”


Panel #3: Bridging Private Sector and Nonprofits/Philanthropy in the Diversity and Inclusion Sector 

  • Nia Evans, Michelle Wonsley Ford, Theo Van Der Loo, Lori Villarosa, and Megan Ming Francis (Moderator)

The panelists share their experiences working in consultative and collaborative efforts towards goals of racial equity. They answer questions like what creates success in these relationships, and where are there persistent stumbling blocks?


Closing Keynote 

  • Glenn Singleton, Founder of Pacific Educational Group, Author of Courageous Conversations About Race

A Welcome To A New Way

“The very first thing we have to do is recognize that without courage there is no transformation.”


Closing Remarks

  • Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race And Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Director IARA Project

“We have the data on Racial Equity. Now we need the will.”


Speaker Bios

Mike Dillon, Pwc Retired Partner, Former Chief Diversity Officer and Member of US Leadership Team, Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow 20/21

Mike is currently completing a fellowship at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI) where he is focused on inequities within public health. The Advanced Leadership Initiative is an interfaculty initiative across the Harvard graduate schools dedicated to prepare experienced leaders to transition from successful careers to their next phase of community and public service.

He recently retired from his roles at PwC as a Deals and Audit Partner, the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, and a member of the US leadership team after 33 years.  

Outside of his work as an ALI Fellow, Mike is currently serving as a board member and volunteer for The Trevor Project and The Commons - Provincetown. He previously served as a board member for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the United Way of the Bay Area, Project Open Hand, GLAAD, and also served as a trustee of the PWC Foundation.

Jason Eskridge, Host of Sunday Night Soul

Jason Eskridge was born and grew up in Rockwood, TN. After high school he attended college at Tennessee Tech University, where he played football and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He accepted a post-graduate engineering position in Huntsville, AL, but couldn’t shake his passion for music. So he packed up, left Huntsville, and moved to Nashville, TN where he currently resides.  

Since moving to Nashville, Jason has worked either as a background vocalist or opening act for countless award winning acts such as Zac Brown Band, Lyle Lovett, Randy Travis, Jonny Lang, Keb Mo’, Taj Mahal, Nicole C. Mullen, Marc Broussard, Robert Glasper, and Toby Mac. He has also been featured as a guest vocalist on numerous projects. He has also had the opportunity to take his music abroad to South Africa, Amsterdam, India, and England. Jason‘s latest single release We Shall Be Free, was featured on the hit VH1 show Black Ink Crew. He currently hosts Sunday Night Soul, a bi-weekly soul music series in Nashville and tours regularly while prepping his next indie release on his label Rustic Soul Records. 

“My desire as a musician is to create music that causes the listener to love God, love themselves, love their fellow man, think harder, think deeper, think broader, laugh until they cry, laugh when they want to cry, try something new, remember something old, and ultimately live life to the fullest.”

Nia Evans, Director at Boston Ujima Project

Nia Evans is the Director of the Boston Ujima Project. Her educational background is in the areas of labor relations, education leadership, and policy. Her advocacy includes a focus on eliminating barriers between analysts and people with lived experiences as well as increasing acknowledgement of the value of diverse types of expertise in policy. She is a co-creator, along with artist Tomashi Jackson, of Frames Debate Project, a multimedia policy debate project that explores the intersection between drug policy, mental health services and incarceration in the state of Massachusetts.

Ms. Evans has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Master of Arts in Education Leadership, with a course of study in Leadership, Policy, and Politics from Teachers College at Columbia University. She also studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she focused on International Labor Relations.

Aria Florant, Co-Founder of Liberation Ventures, MPA, MBA

Aria is the Co-Founder of Liberation Ventures, an initiative that fuels the black-led movement for racial repair in the US. Prior to launching LV, she was an Engagement Manager in McKinsey & Company's public and social sector practice in Washington DC, where she specialized in strategy development and transformations for public and social sector clients, and helped lead McKinsey’s work on racial equity across sectors. Prior to joining McKinsey, Aria helped launch the first round of training programs at the Obama Foundation, consulted for the San Mateo County Private Defender Program to help incarcerated youth get to college, and developed programs focused on community development and racial justice at the grassroots nonprofit level in East Palo Alto, California. Aria has a BA in Ethnic Studies from Stanford University, an MBA from The Wharton School, and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government.

Michelle Wonsley-Ford, Executive Director of the Center For Racial Justice In Education

Michelle Wonsley-Ford’s work focuses on critical racial analysis of history and contemporary events, systems theory, and competency-based behavior change. Her nearly 20-year career has been focused in the consulting, education and non-profit management sectors where she has held executive leadership positions at both local and national non-profits. 

She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Center for Racial Justice in Education (CRJE), a non-profit supporting educators, parents and other leaders in dismantling systems of racism in their institutions. Prior to CRJE, she led People Operations at DonorsChoose.org, and is the founder of LondonPlane Advisory, a consultancy that supports senior leaders in developing racial equity leadership competence and anti-racist practice.

Michelle earned a B.A in Literature from Spelman College, and both an M.B.A. and a Masters in Industrial and Labor Relations, with a labor economics concentration from Cornell University, where she was a Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow and SUNY ILR Fellow, engaged in an individualized course of study on effective and ethical leadership.

Megan Ming Francis, Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, Author of Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State

Megan Ming Francis is a Senior Democracy Fellow at the Ash Center and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. Francis specializes in the study of American politics, with broad interests in criminal punishment, black political activism, philanthropy, and the post-civil war South.

She is the author of the award-winning book, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (2014). This book tells the story of how the early campaign against state-sanctioned racial violence of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) shaped the modern civil rights movement. Francis marshals an extensive archival analysis to show that the battle against lynching and mob violence in the first quarter of the 20th century was pivotal to the development of civil rights and the growth of federal court power. Francis is currently at work on a second book project that examines the role of convict leasing in the rebuilding of southern political power and modern capitalism after the Civil War.

Francis is a proud alumnus of Seattle Public Schools, Rice University in Houston, and Princeton University where she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics.

Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D., MPA, Senior Vice President at the Urban Institute

Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D., MPA is a senior vice president at the Urban Institute. She is also a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, an associate professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School/McLean and an associate professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of public health. 

As a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow, she served as an adviser to President Obama's White House Council on Women and Girls, helping to develop the Advancing Equity initiative focused on improving life outcomes for women and girls of color.

Theo Van Der Loo, Former CEO of Bayer Brazil, Founder of Nevele Consulting

Theo van der Loo is the former CEO of Bayer in Brazil. Brazilian by birth, son of Dutch immigrants. He lived in Europe from 1967 until 1978. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree (business) in Europe and MBA in the United States. He returned to Brazil in 1980, to start his professional career in the pharma industry, as a management trainee, subsequently moving into several marketing positions in- and outside Brazil. 

In 1988, he joined Schering AG in Brazil as Marketing & Sales Director. In 1995 he was transferred to the company’s headquarters, in Berlin and in 1996 he moved to Mexico City, to become the Marketing Director for Schering AG for Latin America & Canada. 

In 2002 he returned to São Paulo, as President of Schering do Brasil. Early in 2006, he was transferred to Madrid, as the President of Schering Spain. After the acquisition by Bayer, Theo became responsible for the Bayer HealthCare Division, in Barcelona, where he remained until late 2010. 

During his career, he has also been the Chairman of INTERFARMA (Brazilian Research Based Pharma Association), Board Director at SINDUSFARMA (Pharma Industry Syndicate – São Paulo) and of the German Chamber of Commerce, for many years. 

Currently on the advisory board of Centroflora, Marjan Farma and Instituto ETCO. Active member in the CEO Legacy program by FDC (Fundação Dom Cabral), where he has chosen the topic of Inclusion & Diversity as his personal legacy, becoming a well know advocate and public speaker in this area. Has been awarded as “Executivo de Valor” (2016, 2017 and 2018), by Valor Econômico, a major financial newspaper and has also received many other recognitions, particularly from the Afro-Brazilian community, including the OAB-SP, the Brazilian Bar Association, in São Paulo. 

In July 2018, he founded Nevele Consulting, providing advisory support for specific projects, in the healthcare area. In July 2019 NatuScience Laboratórios S.A. was founded, a start-up focused in botanical science for human healthcare, with emphasis in medical cannabis and R&D. He is also a mentor for young talents, that have limited financial resources (pro-bono).

Laura Marquez, Global Lead For Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy on Google's People Operations

Laura R. Marquez is a proud American with an unwavering belief in the strength of governmental, third party and private entities to collaborate for good to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time. Laura’s North Star is to help steward meaningful partnerships working across entities who will lead policy initiatives and grass roots efforts to protect all Americans and the larger world. Through her work with government and industry, Laura has helped deliver solutions to variations of horrific problems during unimaginable times, with resilience, creativity and hope.  

In September 2001, working for a U.S. Member of Congress, Laura drove across the country from Texas to Washington DC to meet the needs of impacted constituents in a rapidly changing environment. It was only in recent years that Laura realized that she has suffered from PTSD related to that time including the subsequent anthrax, ricin and other crises which occurred at the U.S. Capitol. As an advocate for mental health, she is sharing that part of her story now to help promote more engagement and awareness for others to proactively seek help without stigma. 

Today, Laura serves as the Global Lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy on Google's People Operations team working to ensure that people and policy meet in the most effective and productive ways. One of her most meaningful accomplishments during this time was helping lead efforts to respond to the post-hurricane needs of small businesses in Puerto Rico.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Khalil Muhammad is professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. He is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. Before leading the Schomburg Center, Khalil was an Associate Professor at Indiana University.

Khalil’s scholarship examines the broad intersections of race, democracy, inequality and criminal justice in modern U.S. history. He is the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard), which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book award in American Studies. He is also the Director of the Initiative on Institutional Anti-Racism and Accountability at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Pamela Newkirk, Journalist, Author of Diversity, Inc: The Fight For Racial Equality in the Workplace

Pamela Newkirk, PhD,  is a journalist, New York University professor, author and multi-disciplinary scholar whose work examines contemporary and historical depictions of African Americans in popular culture. Her latest book Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of Billion-Dollar Business, exposes the decades-old practices and attitudes that have made diversity a lucrative business while they fail to realize diversity. The book was included on TIME magazine’s “Must-Read” books of 2019 and featured in numerous publications, including TIME, FORBES and Fortune magazines. 

Her previous book, Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, was awarded the 2016 NAACP Image Award and was selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and named a Best Book of 2015 by NPR, The Boston Globe, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Dr. Newkirk has compiled and edited two collections of African American letters and is the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media which won the National Press Club Award for Media Criticism.

Prior to joining the journalism faculty at New York University she was a daily reporter at four news organizations including New York Newsday where she was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team. She holds journalism degrees from Columbia and New York universities, and a PhD from Columbia University. Her freelance articles have appeared in a number of leading publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and TIME magazine. 

Ruth J. Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University 

Ruth J. Simmons serves as President of Prairie View A&M University. She was President of Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Holdsworth Center. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Square. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honor: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011. In 2012, she was named a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honor.

Glenn Singleton, Founder of  Pacific Educational Group, Author of Courageous Conversations About Race

Glenn Singleton has devoted over thirty years to constructing racial equity worldwide and developing leaders to do the same. Author, thought leader, and strategist, he is the creator of Courageous Conversation™ a protocol and framework for sustained, deepened dialogue, and Beyond Diversity™, the curriculum that has taught hundreds of thousands of people how to use it. Glenn is the Founder and President of Pacific Educational Group, Inc. (PEG), an agency that guides leadership development in education, government, corporation, law enforcement, and community organizing. He is the award winning author of Courageous Conversations About Race; A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools, Second Edition; and of MORE Courageous Conversations About Race. 

Glenn has consulted executives at Wieden + Kennedy (W+K) Advertising, Google, Amazon, Procter & Gamble, the New York Department of Education, the New Zealand Ministry of Education, the Stavros Niarchos, Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundations. Along with W+K, he received the 2017 Most Valuable Partnership (MVP) Award by AdColor. He is the recipient of the George A. Coleman Excellence in Equity Award by the Connecticut State Education Resource Center. Cited in the June 2018 edition of the Hollywood Reporter for his work with 21st Century Fox Animation, most recently, Glenn was awarded the AdWeek/AdColor 2020 Champion Award, and the 2020 National Speech and Debate Association Communicator of the Year Award. In 1995, Glenn founded the Foundation for A College Education and continues to serve on its Board of Advisors. He is also the founder and Board Chair of the Courageous Conversation Global Foundation, which develops partnerships to promote racial justice, interracial understanding and human healing worldwide. 

Glenn has trained law enforcement leaders with the U.S. Embassy in Western Australia, and established the Courageous Conversation South Pacific Institute in Auckland, New Zealand. For eight years, he served as an adjunct professor of educational leadership at San Jose State University. Glenn has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University and has instructed faculty, students and administrators at the University of Minnesota, New York University School of Medicine, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University, Glenn Singleton is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and 100 Black Men. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Tamika Curry Smith, President of the TCS Group, Inc 

Tamika Curry Smith is President of The TCS Group, Inc., a firm that provides human resources and diversity and inclusion (D&I) solutions to a broad range of clients in a variety of industries. She was most recently Vice President of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Nike, Inc., where she was responsible for leading a global D&I team across the Nike, Jordan, and Converse brands. Prior to Nike, Tamika was Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Mercedes-Benz USA. 

Tamika started her career with Deloitte & Touche, where she obtained her CPA license and performed accounting and auditing services. She then joined Deloitte Consulting, where she gained experience in both general management and retail consulting on client engagements focused on strategy, operations,supply chain, and processimprovement. 

Tamika then took on the role of Director of Diversity Programs for Deloitte Consulting, where her responsibilities included leading the design and execution of Deloitte’s diversity strategy in the Americas and implementing initiatives with senior management. 

After Deloitte, Tamika became the Director of Diversity at Target Corporation, where she was responsible for developing and driving the diversity strategy for Target’s corporate headquarters, stores, and distribution centers and leading the organization’s focus on diversity recruitment, retention, awareness, communication, and measurement. 

Ms. Curry Smith earned a BBA in Accounting with High Distinction from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. She also obtained an MBA in Organizational Behavior, Strategy, and Marketing from the Kellogg School of Management. 

Tamika has shared her expertise as a speaker and facilitator with many organizations, such as the Conference Board, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the National Science Foundation. In addition, Ms. Curry Smith has been featured in numerous publications, including Black Enterprise, the New York Times Magazine, DiversityInc, and Diversity Professional Magazine. Ms. Curry Smith has received various awards, among them the Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business, Diversity MBA's Top 100 Under 50 Executive Leaders, AZ Business Magazine’s 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business, and the Chairman’s Award from the National Black MBA Association. 

Ms. Curry Smith is an Aspen Institute Executive Leadership Program alumna and a lifetime member of the National Black MBA Association. She currently serves on the Alumni Board of Governors and the Dean’s Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management Inclusion Coalition.

Clint Smith, Ph.D., Staff Writer, Author

Clint Smith is staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. Clint has received fellowships from New America, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. 

He currently teaches writing and literature at the DC Central Detention Facility. His debut nonfiction book How the Word Is Passed, which explores how different historical sites reckon with—or fail to reckon with—their relationship to the history of slavery, will be published by Little, Brown in 2021. He received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University.

Elizabeth Solomon, Director of Administration in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Elizabeth Solomon is an enrolled member and officer of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag. Ms. Solomon speaks frequently about local indigenous issues and has a long-standing commitment to human rights, diversity, inclusion, and community building that she brings to both her paid and volunteer work.  

Ms. Solomon currently works as the Director of Administration in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and has three decades of public health experience working in in both university and community-based settings. She also serves on multiple advisory and management boards including those for the Boston Harbor Islands National Park, the Stone Living Lab, and the Digital Archive of Native American Petitions in Massachusetts. Ms. Solomon recently completed a master’s degree in museum studies at the Harvard Extension School. She has begun working with native communities and others that are currently underrepresented in museum exhibits and public history programs to assist them with bringing their voices and stories to the forefront.

Tara Spann, Chief People & Strategy Officer for Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership

Tara Spann is a highly accomplished and enterprising People, Strategy, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Professional with more than 18 years of leadership experience in Inclusive Excellence, Cultural Transformation, Strategy Development and Execution, Process Improvement and Emerging D&I Practices in Higher Education.  

In her current role as Chief People & Strategy Officer for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, Ms. Spann is responsible for developing people, processes and strategies with a focus on ensuring that MENTOR’s greatest asset – its staff – is best positioned to achieve ambitious organizational goals.  

Previously, Ms. Spann served as the Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Eversource Energy where she led strategy development and execution for Diversity & Inclusion. Significant achievements included redefined goals and metrics that resulted in inclusive practices and culture shift.  

Prior to this role, Ms. Spann was the Director, Global Economic Inclusion & Supplier Diversity for Merck & Co. Inc. Here she oversaw all diversity and economic inclusion efforts within the global supply chain while driving revenue, savings, working capital, and innovation for the company. She served as the internal and external spokesperson for global economic inclusion and supplier diversity and lead Merck to be the 1st purely pharmaceutical company in the Billion Dollar Roundtable. 

Ms. Spann is committed to economic inclusion and social justice, having been a key leader on numerous boards, including: Diversity Alliance for Science (Co-Chair); Billion Dollar Roundtable Corporate Representative; Disability:IN Procurement Council; Diversity Information Resources Board; WEConnect International Corporate Advisory Board; Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Board of Directors (Chair, Sales & Marketing Committee); and WEConnect Canada Corporate Advisory Board.

Lori Villarosa, Founder and Executive Director of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity  

Lori Villarosa is the founder and executive director of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE), which has had the mission of increasing the amount and effectiveness of resources aimed at combating institutional and structural racism since 2003. 

Villarosa has been a pioneer working at the intersection of racial justice and philanthropy for more than 28 years, deeply engaging with hundreds of funders at the community level, regionally, nationally and internationally, to advance the use of a structural racism lens in their grantmaking and effectively align their internal practices to sustain such a lens.  PRE’s board of racial justice leaders and other movement partners strengthen the capacity of funders through PRE’s conference workshops, Racial Justice Funder Labs, direct consultations, coaching, research and through PRE publications, such as the Guide to Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens.  

Prior to launching PRE, Villarosa worked at C.S. Mott Foundation for 12 years, where she was instrumental in developing and managing the foundation’s portfolio to explicitly address institutional and societal racism, which was a rarity for a national foundation in the mid-1990s. She has experience as a racial justice change agent from multiple positions within the sector, including service on several foundation boards (currently chairing the Edward W. Hazen Foundation board) and in leadership roles in the past with ABFE, AAPIP (as a past Chair), COF’s Committee on Inclusiveness, and currently on United Philanthropy Forum’s Racial Equity Committee and the steering committee of CHANGE Philanthropy, where PRE is a core partner.  In addition to foundation and PSO boards, she has served on the board of Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, among other nonprofits.

Crystal Williams, Vice President and Associate Provost for Community & Inclusion

As Boston University’s inaugural Vice President and Associate Provost for Community & Inclusion, Crystal Williams leads the strategic integration of two pillars of the BU 2030 Strategic Plan—“Community: Big Yet Small” and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

Crystal provides leadership, vision, management, and strategic direction for initiatives that support the development of strong communities of faculty, staff, and students, and that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within BU’s 17 schools and colleges. She works closely and collaboratively with academic and administrative leaders on efforts to build the excellence of BU’s faculty and academic appointees, to nurture a positive campus climate, and to enhance diversity within the academic program. She also provides oversight to the University’s Organizational Development & Learning effort, which provides training and professional development to BU’s 10,000 staff and faculty, as well as oversight over the University’s Arts Initiative, the new center for first-generation-to-college students, and BU’s Living and Learning Communities.

A professor in the Department of English, Crystal arrived at BU in October 2017 as the University’s inaugural Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, BU’s first diversity officer role. In the time since her arrival, she has established a number of important initiatives such as the University Scholars Program, the Target of Opportunity Hiring Program, and the Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative, developed the University’s new Diversity & Inclusion website, and led the successful LGBTQIA+ Task Force and the BU Day of Collective Engagement. Further, her office has overseen the creation of BU’s four Faculty and Staff Community Networks, LGBTQIA+ and Antiracist Faculty Research Networks, and the formation of BU’s Recruitment Committee, among a host of other initiatives.

In addition to her leadership roles, Crystal is an award-winning poet, the author of four books, and the recipient of several artistic fellowships, grants, and commissions. She is consistently recognized as a thought leader on diversity in the arts and has helped to lead and convene programs at the state and local levels involving arts, civic, and philanthropic leaders. She holds a B.A. from New York University and an MFA from Cornell University.