Who: Dr. Alexis Stokes, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (SEAS Communications)
Title: Creating an Inclusive Culture: It Takes More than a Diversity Officer
Summary: Research states for diversity efforts to be successful it must start with leadership. However, leadership’s efforts can sometimes be perceived as disingenuous. Grass roots efforts by students and staff can quickly gain momentum but sometimes get lost in the shuffle due to staff turnover and students graduating. In recent years, many institutions have hired a diversity officer and in some cases supported the opening of a fully staffed diversity office or center. As beneficial as this can be for our communities, we have learned this is not the silver bullet. This talk will focus on a collaborative effort of administration, faculty, students, staff, and researchers to create and sustain an inclusive environment. It starts with asking: What voices are at the table? What voices are being heard? What voices are missing? And how do we collaboratively move forward?
Bio: Dr. Alexis J. Stokes is the Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). She has over 11 years of experience working with non-profit and higher education institutions. Throughout her career she has worked to not only increase college and career access but also create systematic changes to support the success of underrepresented minorities, nontraditional students, and education programs in rural and urban areas. In her current role, she is responsible for working with various SEAS offices, including Faculty Affairs, Academic Programs, Human Resources, and the Senior Administrative Leadership Team, to develop and implement a diversity and inclusion plan, programming, engagement initiatives, and special projects. Alexis chairs the SEAS Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and serves as a member of the Harvard Women in Technology Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion.