UW–Madison’s LaVar Charleston, the School of Education’s associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion, was named to Gov. Tony Evers’ Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion. The council is designed to provide strategic guidance in developing a sustainable framework to promote and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion practices across Wisconsin state government.
“It is a great honor to be named to this council at such an important time in the history of our state and of our country,” says Charleson. “At a time when we are still battling two overlapping pandemics, COVID-19 and racial injustice, it is imperative we take a critical look at our policies and practices within the state to ensure we are approaching all our efforts from an equity-minded lens.”
Gov. Evers announced 30 appointments to this advisory council on Feb. 1. The first meeting for the Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion is scheduled for Feb. 19.
“Our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and in order to do that, we have to have a state government that reflects the people they serve,” Gov. Evers said in a statement. “Our agencies have done great work over the last two years to refocus the lens on equity and inclusion throughout the administration. I’m looking forward to the work that this council will do to help us expand and improve our efforts to build a state government that interacts with all communities and sectors across the state.”
The council will be chaired by Dawn Crim, the secretary-designee of Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). Crim is pursuing her PhD from the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. She served from 2011 to 2017 as the School of Education’s associate dean for external relations.
“Most of us on this council have been doing this work in our organizations and communities for as long as we can remember,” Crim said in a statement. “We have been building each other up, helping each other find paths to success, and creating opportunities when none were available to us. It was always important work and it made an impact. This council enables us to combine our efforts to take them to the next level. We will work together to leverage our experience and expertise for the benefit of the entire state — because a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society truly does benefit all of us.”
Charleston leads the School’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI), which provides leadership to faculty, staff, and students in developing and implementing strategic initiatives that promote the School of Education and UW–Madison’s mission for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Charleston explains how OEDI’s vision is to make the School of Education the first choice for current and future scholars, leaders, and educators who desire to embody organizational excellence, educational excellence, and inclusive excellence in the arts, health, and education.
“In practice, we aim to help departments and units in the School achieve their diversity and inclusion-related goals,” he says. “There are many pockets of excellence as it relates to equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the School of Education. The OEDI helps to expand those pockets to truly promote a comprehensive culture of inclusive excellence where our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism is demonstrably interwoven into the fabric of every corner of our School’s research, policies, practices, curriculum, and pedagogy — and permeates into the broader campus and community. All of our policies and practices must align with what we believe, who we say we are, and what we aspire to be as leaders in education in our state, the country, and the world.”
OEDI recently named Ida Balderrama-Trudell (she/her) as its inaugural director of student engagement, and Justin Brown (they/them) also recently started as equity, diversity, and inclusion program associate.
The Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, according to this news release, is charged with:
- Identifying and promoting best practices and excellence in diversity, equity, and inclusion across the state.
- Reviewing and analyzing statutes, regulations, and policies to identify equity and inclusion barriers, and recommend changes or amendments, where necessary, to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. Taking into consideration the impact of policies surrounding homeownership, business development, education and other important issues.
- Analyzing and evaluating relevant information and data concerning diversity, equity and inclusion; and establishing specific goals and objectives for achieving and enhancing awareness, understanding, and support of underrepresented groups.
- Identifying and recommending strategies to increase the utilization of minority and women-owned businesses in the state contracting process.
- Identifying and recommending ways to engage, bring visibility, public acknowledgment and recognition to community and state cultural events, significant activities and initiatives of underrepresented communities in Wisconsin.
- Providing membership recommendations to ensure that Boards and Commissions reflect the diversity of the people of Wisconsin.
“As I look at the makeup of the Governor’s Advisory Council, I see many with whom I collaborate on diversity efforts,” says Charleston. “While diversity work is always hard work, having colleagues I trust and know to do great work as thought partners generates an excitement regarding the work before us. I eagerly welcome the opportunity to serve my state in this capacity and can’t wait to get started.”
Serving on the council will be:
- Dawn Crim, Secretary-designee DSPS, Council Chair
- Robyn Davis, J.D., President and CEO, Brown County United Way
- Marie Summers, Councilwoman, Oneida Business Committee
- Mai J. Lo Lee, Diversity Director, Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs Office at UW-Green Bay
- Dr. Monica Cummings, Assistant Minister, Bradford Community Church
- Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Clinical Professor, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Dasheika Kidd, Program Manager Housing Resources, Inc & Racine Financial Empowerment Center
- Mai Xiong, President, Hmong American Leadership and Economic Development, Eau Claire City Councilmember
- Shaundel Spivey, Director, Upward Bound and President/Co-Founder of B.L.A.C.K
- Dr. Odawa L.A. White, Dean of Student Affairs, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College
- Ruben Hopkins, Chairman/CEO of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
- Jessica Boling, Co-Chair, Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Wisconsin
- Victor Barnett, Founder/Executive Director, Running Rebels Community Organization
- Que El-Amin, Co-Founder, Young Enterprising Society
- Markasa Tucker, Executive Director of the African American Roundtable, Inc., a project of the Hmong American Women’s Association
- Tammy Rivera, Executive Director, Southside Organizing Center of Milwaukee
- Nisreen Atta, Registered Nurse and Muslim Liaison, Islamic Society of Milwaukee
- Beth Wroblewski, Executive Director, Employment Resources, Inc.
- Jessica Cavazos, President/CEO, Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce
- Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District
- Percy Brown, Jr., Director of Equity and Student Achievement, Middleton Cross Plains Area School District
- Adin Palau, Assistant Director of Community Relations and Campus Engagement, University of Wisconsin Madison and Chair, State Council on Affirmative Action
- Dr. Alex Gee, President and Founder, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development and Pastor, Fountain of Life Covenant Church
- Vanessa McDowell, CEO, YWCA Madison
- Amy Pechacek, DWD Sec.-designee
- Kevin Carr, DOC Secretary
- Mary Kolar, DVA Secretary
- Karen Timberlake, DHS Interim-Secretary
- Joaquin Altoro, WHEDA CEO
- Emilie Amundson, DCF Secretary