Office of Equity and Inclusion
Updates and Upcoming Events
Join us for the Silver Celebration!
Loyola University Maryland, The Office of Equity and Inclusion, and The LGBTQ+ Collective are excited to invite you to the third annual Silver Celebration: a joint ceremony honoring BIPOC Students, First-Generation College Students, International Students, and LGBTQPIA+ Students from the Class of 2023.
In each newsletter, the office of equity and inclusion will highlight individuals within Loyola who are working to make our campus an inclusive and welcoming place for all people. In this edition, we are spotlighting Karsonaya Wise Whitehead, Executive Director, Karson Institute for Race, Peace, and Social Justice; Pat Cassidy, Associate Director, Center for Community, Service, + Justice; Alexis Faison, Junior Class President, Student Government Association and Dennis Velez, Associate Director, ALANA Services.
Karsonya Wise Whitehead (she/her)
Executive Director, Karson Institute for Race, Peace, and Social Justice
Professor, Communication and African & African American Studies
Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead is the founding director of The Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice and a professor of Communication and African and African American Studies at Loyola University Maryland. Within the Karson Institute, Dr. Whitehead oversees three centers. She is exceptionally proud of the work the Center for Teaching & Learning has done with City Neighbors High School (CNHS). The Center provides DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice) training for CNHS teachers, along with sessions on how to facilitate small group discussions. The Center also coordinates a Backpack Journalism Program where CNHS students receive a backpack with a camera, ring light, recorder, and a journal and are trained on how to write and record their stories and lived experiences, with the goal of putting the tools of production into the hands of the community.
Dr. Whitehead is also the host of the award-winning radio show Today with Dr. Kaye on WEAA, 88.9 FM, and the recent recipient of both the John LaFarge Award for her work to advance positive change, initiate difficult dialogues, and embody activism and the Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence for her outstanding reporting on the impact racial reckoning has had in helping to close social/racial wealth gap for Black people in America.
When asked what motivates her passion for DEIJ work, she said, "My Nana would always say, 'We are responsible for leaving the world better than how we found it. It is not a burden but a blessing to be able to use your time, your talent, and your treasure to be an instrument of change.' These are the moments when I think about my Nana and her life. She was a fierce warrior who was one of the first Black nurses in South Carolina; a survivor of Jim Crow racism who attended one of only a handful of private boarding schools for Black girls; a deaconess who wore hats like Zora Neale Hurston and never suffered the fools like Ida B. Wells; and she was a dreamer who believed that if we kept fighting and pushing, this world would be reshaped by our hands. I thought about her after I reread Sonia Sanchez's ‘Wounded in the House of a Friend,’ where she wrote:
I SHALL become a collector of me
I shall BECOME a collector of me
I shall become A COLLECTOR of me.
I take my Nana and Sister Sanchez's words as both a prayer and a charge for the work that I am doing as the founding director of the Karson Institute for Race, Peace, & Social Justice. I shall become a collector of me, of us, of our stories, of our laughter, and our tears. I shall become a collector of the moments that we are sharing, the laws that are being passed, and the work that is being done to radically change this nation for the better."
Dr. Whitehead and the Karson Institute remain committed to asking and answering some of America's most pressing questions about race and social justice by using the lens of peace. She invites everyone, from high school and college students to the greater community, to see the institute as a place where they can ask difficult questions, have hard conversations, and learn how to engage with one another.
Pat Cassidy (He/Him)
Associate Director, Programs
Center for Community, Service, + Justice (CCSJ)
Within CCSJ/YRI, Pat Cassidy serves as the Associate Director of Programs where he supports the visioning and implementation of the Center’s curricular and co-curricular programming that engages Loyola students, employees, and alumni in our local, domestic, and global communities. He works with an incredible team of colleagues, both full-time staff and student employees, who bring the mission of CCSJ and Loyola alive. He feels lucky to be able to partner with so many great resident leaders, business owners, schools, and nonprofits throughout the York Road Corridor and the city who are leading the way in transforming their own communities.
Pat also serves as the moderator for The LGBTQ+ Experience, Loyola’s student organization focused on education, advocacy, and activism related to the LGBTQ+ community. His work with The LGBTQ+ Experience carries over into his engagement with OUTLoyola, Loyola’s LGBTQ+ employee and ally group, and the LGBTQ+ Collective, a group of faculty, admin, and staff who meet regularly to discuss ways to increase support and resources for LGBTQ+ students.
Lastly, Pat also recently became the moderator of Loyola’s new Sewing Club! He took up sewing as a creative outlet for his mental health and has found so much joy in learning a new skill and making his own clothes while also using it to stay connected to his paternal grandmother and great-grandmother, both of whom were seamstresses.
In February 2023, CCSJ/YRI, in partnership with Addressing the System and the Sociology Club, brought a group of over 25 students, faculty, administrators, and local community members to Annapolis to participate in a rally organized by MD Youth Justice Coalition in support of the Youth Equity & Safety (Y.E.S.) Act. If passed, the bill would end the practice of automatically charging youth as adults in Maryland, ensuring that all youth start their cases in the juvenile system where they can better access support and services. For Pat, it was the perfect representation of what’s possible when we bring folks together to live our university’s mission in an active and tangible way. He expressed gratitude to his colleague, Abbie Flannigan (Assistant Director, Outreach & Advocacy), for all her hard work in coordinating the trip!
When asked what motivates his passion for DEIJ, he said, “I think my values and belief system are my driving force in DEIJ work. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a keen sense of what I then thought of as right and wrong and what I now understand to be justice and injustice. It’s been a driving force for me in how I navigate life, where I put my energy, how I spend my money, etc. It’s what drew me to study social work (undergraduate) and pastoral counseling (graduate), to do two years of global engagement with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and ultimately what has sustained me in my work at Loyola over the past eight years. I believe in a God and a world that stands in defiance to white supremacy, division, violence, and injustice, and I believe that we are each called in our own unique ways to cultivate and nourish such a world around us. I learn so much from seeing the ways that people authentically do this in their lives, and it inspires me to do the same. I’m constantly learning and evolving and that’s what both motivates and grounds me in this work.”
Pat hopes that folks see CCSJ/YRI as a resource for all things community engagement. Feel free to stop by CCSJ to hang out, connect, and to learn and act alongside others. Also, check out CCSJ/YRI on the Bridge!
Alexis Faison (she/her)
Junior Class President, Student Government Association
Throughout her time at Loyola, Alexis has been involved with the Student Government Association, the ALANA Mentoring Program, Addressing the System, Student Life (Senior Resident Assistant and Desk Coordinator), and a member of the Peer Conduct Board. She credits her role within SGA with providing her with the most outspoken platform and connections, the chance to advocate for students regarding internal and external policies, and representation with Loyola administrations. She is currently working with SGA to implement a Menstrual Hygiene Initiative and Mental Health Day Initiative. Although still pending, she believes these initiatives will help students access vital resources without fear of consequences.
Alexis has also served as a student representative on the presidential task force investigating Loyola’s connection to slavery and its implications. During the Summer of 2022, she was part of a student research group that participated in the Humanities Aperio projects, directed by Dr. Carey and Dr. Zimmerelli. The group allowed students to investigate and develop original historical research and creative writing projects in connection to Loyola's relationship to slavery and its legacies. Alexis felt honored to be part of such delicate research, given how Loyola’s past legacies of injustice still have implications for today’s campus culture.
When asked what inspires her DEIJ work, Alexis said, “DEIJ work is what allows me as a biracial woman to exist wholly in public spaces. Part of partaking in this work is being a representative of my demographic and educating those who may not have grown up in social justice settings. Although our campus has a lot of diversity, Loyola still struggles to balance equity, inclusion, and justice under the acronym of DEIJ. Therefore, my goal is to zoom in on the untold stories of, not only our campus, but our POC peers through conversation, research, and establishing productive brave spaces. I am hopeful that with the growing representation amongst leadership roles and academic environments, our campus will grow toward a more open-minded perspective. Between retelling the story of Loyola and restructuring our knowledge of what we know, we are currently on a trajectory for co-existing peacefully. While there is still much to work on, we have dipped our feet deep into the water.”
Dennis Velez (He/Him)
Associate Director, ALANA Services
Dennis Velez, a proud Puerto Rican gay man, currently serves as the Associate Director of ALANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Native American) Services and is passionate about supporting underrepresented students—not just ALANA students, but also students that identify as first generation, and come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. He is passionate about meeting students where they are and approaches his work through an intersectional framework. In his current role within ALANA Services, Dennis provides holistic support and resources for the students entrusted to his care. From overseeing the coordination of the Ignatius Scholars Program (ISP) to managing the academic and career enrichment pieces of the office, Dennis works tirelessly to ensure that ALANA students are successful both in and out of the classroom.
As Associate Director, Dennis supervises the Assistant Director, works with the Graduate Assistants, oversees MAN2MAN, and assists with the assessment work of the office. He also sits on several divisional and university-wide committees. Though he is proud of the work he’s been able to do since joining the Loyola community in November 2019, an accomplishment that stands out is being part of the inaugural Sponsorship Program, a partnership with the Rizzo Career Center that allows current ALANA students to connect with ALANA alumni and receive intentional career guidance, resources, and opportunities.
When asked what inspires his passion for DEIJ work, he said "[it's] simple: the students. I care deeply about the success of our ALANA students, our LGBTQIA+ identified students, our first-generation students, and students who come from historically excluded backgrounds. As a first-generation student from modest means, I often think of the person that I needed when I was in college and the support and resources that would have benefited me greatly. With that perspective in mind, I am committed to being a student-centered professional who advocates fiercely for these students, and who approaches each day with the goal of helping someone and making someone’s day a little easier."
Do you know someone who you think should be featured? To submit a nomination for the IDEA Spotlights, please fill out this form.
Below are links to resources, support networks, and organizations that can help foster inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility initiatives. If you would like to submit an item, please email Rhona Little.
The Academic and Career Enrichment series (ACE Workshops) provides students with knowledge and skills that complement their classroom learning, increase their engagement in university life, and empower them to advocate for themselves and others.
All ACE Workshops will be held in person in the Center for Intercultural Engagement (CIE). In case students are unable to attend the in-person workshops, recaps of each workshop will be recorded and uploaded onto ALANA's IGTV @alana_services and/or the ALANA YouTube Channel. For any questions or concerns, please email Jayda Lawlah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topics for the Spring 2023 Semester
- Mar. 22: Public Speaking
- Apr. 5: Career Exploration & Planning
- Apr. 19: Creativity in the Workplace
At the Center Podcast
The Center for Equity, Leadership, and Social Justice in Education launched a podcasts series featuring faculty research and community engagement scholarship. Tune in to listen!
Time and Space Support Group
The Counseling Center is running a new therapy support group for trans, non-binary, and gender questioning students. The group will meet on Tuesdays from 12-12:50 in Humanities 150. To sign up, please contact Sunny Swift (he/him/they/them) at email@example.com.
Loyola Men's Group
It can often be difficult for men to feel comfortable asking for and receiving support around their mental and emotional health. The Counseling Center is hosting a group for undergraduate and graduate students who identify as men and want a safe, inclusive, empowering space.
Interested? Want more information? Contact Dr. Ryan Sappington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Counseling Center's 24/7 Confidential Mental Wellness Resource
All Loyola undergraduate and graduate students can access free online mental health support with Togetherall, any time, any day. Whether you’re struggling to cope, feeling low or just need a place to talk, Togetherall can help you to explore your feelings in a safe supportive environment.
What is Togetherall?
Students can register here today.
- A community where members are anonymous to one another, they can share how they are feeling & support each other
- Accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Clinically managed with trained professionals available 24/7 to keep the community safe
- Self-assessments & recommended resources
- Creative tools to help express how you’re feeling
- Wide range of self-guided courses to do at your own pace
HR Trainings and Workshops
Microaggressions are common verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults whether intentional or unintentional that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to individuals of marginalized groups. Looked at one at a time, microaggressions can seem trivial and insignificant, but when experienced over and over again in different variations, they can have a damaging cumulative effect, triggering symptoms of trauma. This session can help you better understand microaggressions and their impact and how to respond. Facilitated by KEPRO.
- Date: 3/16/2023
- Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
- Location: Online Webinar
- Registration link is here.
Sustaining a Respectful Work Environment for Employees
We all come to work with the expectation that we are going to be treated appropriately be shown respect, have our ideas and opinions listened to, be provided with the information we need to do our jobs and feel safe. This training session will empower attendees with the awareness and knowledge to cooperate and communicate with respect, embrace differences, address concerns in a constructive way, and help contribute towards a collective vision built on a collaborative, respectful and harmonious work culture. Facilitated by KEPRO.
- Date: 4/18/2023
- Time: 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
- Location: Online Webinar
- Registration link is here.
LinkedIn Learning Modules
Additional training modules are available to employees through LinkedIn Learning. To access these modules, please visit: https://www.linkedin.com/learning-login/
. Employees should type in their Loyola email address and select continue. Employees should then type in DEI or the specific course in the search bar at the top of the page. Below are a few of the trainings provided:
- Drive Organizational Change for DEI
- Be an Inclusive Organization People Won’t Leave
- What is diversity, inclusion, and equity?
- DEI in a new normal
- Become aware of unconscious bias
If you would like to contribute relevant news items, events, professional development opportunities, or community updates and accomplishments, please send them to email@example.com
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