I was thinking about a session I went to at National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) led by my mentor Bryant Smith. He said years ago in order to get the job of a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), that individual had to come from the community. They were Black or Brown folks who were once students who strategized ways to burn down the institution… They were radicals who held a lot of influence in the community. Now, those institutions are seeking folks with college degrees. The trajectory is different and we know from data that 76.1% of CDOs are White.
Recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation defunding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at Florida’s public colleges, allowing the state to remove programs, majors and minors that teach “identity politics.”
Why does it matter?
DeSantis’ signing of SB 266 and HB 931 are the latest addition of an intensification of a years-long campaign to control how race and gender are discussed in educational institutions across the state.
DEI programs aim to create a welcoming environment on college campuses where all students, regardless of their race or sexual orientation, can thrive. But state Republicans, like DeSantis, argue that DEI initiatives are being used to silence and suppress people. So now the privileged are saying they are being oppressed. When essentially all that was being asked was for equitable policies, practices and lenses to be taught in the classroom. They don’t want to give up any power and I’m sure there is great concern that White people will eventually be treated the way Black people have been treated for more than 400 years. The irony is, state Republicans are silencing DEI narratives because they don’t want Anti-Blackness and hate to be silenced. Ain’t that something? It’s wild!
Today’s episode comes about because DeSantis made the comment, “What this bill is saying is, you know, some of these niche subjects like critical race theory, other types of DEI-infused courses and majors…”Florida’s getting out of that game. You want to do things like gender ideology? Go to Berkeley. Go to some of those other places.”
So I’m going to tell you where some of those other places to learn DEI welcome you.
But first, I’ll share My DEI Career Journey with you…
My DEI Journey began in undergrad.
(Actually, if I’m completely honest It started long before then when Mamie told me the story of Emmett Till at her kitchen table, but let’s fast forward to my undergrad years…)
Bryant Smith, the mentor I mentioned earlier, was the Director of Multicultural Affairs at Millikin University. I remember coming to him and saying I can’t believe this is a real job, that I can teach people about diversity, equity, and inclusion and be an advocate for social justice for a living.
He said, “Sure it is, You want to have my job for a day?” And he tossed me his keys.
2006 I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in English: Writing (I thought I was going to be a magazine editor), in 2008 I returned to school to receive my Master of Education in College Student Affairs: Curriculum & Instruction from The University of South Florida. I held my first two jobs in TRiO programs Student Support Services and Upward Bound, serving minoritized students. I took a job in Kentucky at Morehead State as their DEI Program Coordinator and made a lateral move with the same title to University at Albany (NY). While there, I was promoted to Assistant Director of Intercultural Student Engagement where I ran the Interfaith Center and the Multicultural Resource Center. I loved that job so I stayed probably longer than one should if they are looking to climb the Ivory Tower… During Covid, I returned to Chicago and eventually accepted a position in Aurora, IL at an Illinois State STEM Academy working as a DEI Coordinator. I had a really awesome supervisor, Dr. Adrienne Coleman who played a major role in encouraging me to find my passion for DEI again by taking me to the 2022 NADOHE Conference in San Deigo, NCORE this year in NOLA and in December of 2022 supporting me in receiving my Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® Credentials from the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC)® and joining The Society For Diversity Now, as you may already know, I am a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer.
As you see, I didn’t get a DEI Certificate until this year. I started my program in December 2022. The test was rigorous. In fact, I cried because I thought I failed and was going to have to take the test over and pay the retake fee. 10 minutes later I realized I had already received a notice that I had passed. I will say that although, I studied extremely hard for the test for about 2 – 3 weeks, taking the 3-day Immersive Academy to go over the study guide was what helped me pass along with some moral support from my fellow cohort member and good friend Rodney C Flowers. (Thank you!!!)
Other DEI Certificate Programs I considered:
- NADOHE Standards of Professional Practice Institute
- eCornell Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certificate
- USF, Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate
I took the certification route because when I was attending college, degree programs were not even a thing… much of what I know about DEI now, is from my 20 years of experience, but if you’re considering it as an option for you now, keep reading.
DEI degree programs are designed to prepare students for careers in which they can work to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities. These programs typically cover topics such as social justice, anti-racism, and intercultural communication.
There are many different types of DEI degree programs available, including undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as certificates and specializations. Some programs focus on a specific area of DEI, such as race or gender, while others take a more holistic approach.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in DEI, there are many resources available to help you find the right program for you. You can search online, talk to an academic advisor, or contact DEI organizations. I suggest that you check with an Anti-DEI Legislation Tracker and stay clear of states with bills targeting DEI initiatives and DEI degree programs. There are currently more than 30 bills across the U.S. targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at public colleges.
Here are some DEI degree programs I found where there are currently no anti-DEI legislation bills:
- Master of Arts in Diversity and Social Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Master of Science in Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Southern California
- Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion at Harvard University
- Specialization in Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Pennsylvania
These are just a few examples of the many DEI degree programs that are available and they are located in states with no anti-DEI legislation bills. With so many options to choose from, you can find a program that meets your interests and career goals even during these challenging times.
Wondering what careers can you get with a DEI degree?
There are many careers you can get with a DEI degree. Here are a few examples:
- Chief Diversity Officer
- Fractional Chief Diversity Officer (What is a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer)
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant
- DEI trainer
- DEI consultant
- DEI Coach
- DEI manager
- DEI officer
- DEI specialist
- DEI recruiter
- DEI analyst
- DEI researcher
- DEI writer
- DEI editor
- DEI content creator
- DEI social media manager
- DEI podcaster
- DEI YouTuber
- DEI blogger
These are just a few examples of the many careers you can get with a DEI degree. With a DEI degree, you can work in a variety of industries, including education, government, healthcare, business, and nonprofits. You can also work in a variety of roles, from entry-level to senior-level positions.
If you are interested in a career in DEI, there are many resources available to help you get started. You can find online courses, workshops, and conferences that can help you learn about DEI and develop the skills you need for a career in this field. You can also find networking opportunities with other professionals in DEI. I have recently launched Play Your Card: The Patreon which offers levels of resources and education at various levels of membership. Check out the Patreon membership levels here.
A career in DEI can be rewarding and fulfilling. You can make a difference in the lives of others by helping to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities.
Don’t let the political landscape stop you from going after your dream career in DEI. Although 20 states currently have legislation on DEI, there were around 5,000 people who attended NCORE. I believe that’s a sign that DEI Officers, Chief Diversity Officers and of course, Fractional Chief Diversity Officers like me, aren’t going anywhere.
I love a good ICYMI and so I thought it only fitting that this week’s Stack The Deck be dedicated to my favorite moments from the last weeks that you may have missed if you aren’t connected to me personally on LinkedIn. (Let’s connect now!)
- I’ve been asked to Keynote! I’ll be speaking at Dusable Black History Museum on June 29th for Beyond the Classroom: Honoring Mamie Till Mobley’s Legacy. Please consider making a gift to the Mamie Till-Mobley Scholarship which will support a worthy graduate of a Chicagoland high school who is engaged in the Black community through leadership or service, has a GPA of at least 2.75 and demonstrates financial need. This event is held by Loyola’s School of Education. Register for the event Now!
- Thursday, in celebration of Pride Month, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to protect LGBTQI+ communities from attacks on their rights and safety.
- I got my first NCORE in the books!!! I had an amazing time. Check out my pics here!
- I joined the Society of Diversity Advocacy Community of Practice which is working toward getting DEIB practitioner/professional listed as an occupation in the 2026 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This is a *critical undertaking* that will be both foundational and groundbreaking in standardizing and elevating our profession.
The most impactful part of my trip to NCORE in New Orleans was dinner and (later lunch) with Mrs. Foster.
I don’t have a picture from our time together but I do have a photo of her son to share with you all. His name is Glenn Foster, Jr.
Glenn is known for his contributions to the pulse of the great city of New Orleans as a former professional football player for the New Orleans Saints, a thriving business owner and a very present role model/mentor to fatherless boys. He was the owner of a coffee shop as well as SLAG Tile and Countertops, a stone fabricating business.
Thanks to his family and friends, both are still running businesses today.
On December 6, 2021, Glenn died in police custody and those who are responsible for his death have been desperately trying to cover up his murder. His family is carrying on his legacy and providing community leadership while fighting for Justice for Glenn Foster, Jr.
Glenn gave a lot of himself to the city of New Orleans and before that to the U of I community where he served in as a scholar-athlete. He and his contributions should never be forgotten.
His footprints have left an imprint from his labors of love around the country.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to Mrs. Foster for sharing her son’s story (scratch that) their story which is still in progress because just like in the fight for my cousin Emmett Till, it’s not too late for justice.
Glenn Foster, Jr. was a Black father, husband, and son above all else and he deserved so much more from this world.
I know Glenn touched the lives of many, but I for one, can say that my life is forever changed by having learned of their family’s story. ????
- I help my clients meet the global demands of business and address the challenges that come along with changing demographics, differing points of view, and workplace fairness.
- I’m a Fractional Chief Diversity Officer who is a certified Digital Business Manager and Certified Diversity Executive.
- I am a cousin of Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley. I use my platform to tell my truth and promote racial reconciliation.
- I’m looking for opportunities to speak about race and racial equity in the workplace this year.
- ❓Run a podcast? Want a guest blog?
- Give me a shout: email@example.com