Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community of Practice


​In spring 2020, the members of the ACE Engage® Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) COVID-19 Community of Practice formed a learning partnership to rise to the challenge of prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion as central components to how their institutions respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members serve in a variety of professional roles but are united by their dedication to achieving a shared goal, the transformation they seek to make both at their institutions and throughout higher education, and their commitment to learning with and from each other.

Meeting biweekly or monthly throughout 2020, the DEI community members:

  • Defined the key issues that leaders need to address to keep DEI central during the pandemic
  • Wrestled not only with the uncertainty of COVID-19, but also supported each other and worked through how best to support their campus communities in the wake of the events of 2020 that had major implications for DEI work, such as ongoing police brutality against the Black community in particular and subsequent protests, as well as the presidential election
  • Put what they learned from each other into practice on their campus, including creating local social learning spaces for faculty, students, and community members
  • Worked in smaller groups—which community leaders dubbed “clusters”—to identify key considerations, actions, and resources, which they synthesized into resources published by ACE
Emergency Response Cluster

Group Reflections and Introduction

Members of the cluster reflect on their experience of participating in the community of practice and introduce the ACE Engage resource they developed.


Five Questions to Ask About DEI and Campus Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This toolkit is a starting point to ensure DEI issues are front of mind during the pandemic. The questions are based on two guiding principles: 1) all decisions must place DEI issues front and center, and 2) these decisions must be followed up with real budgetary commitments.

Jennifer Abe, Vice President for Intercultural Affairs, Loyola Marymount University

Jada K. Hebra, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Southern New Hampshire University

Jeffrey Kraus, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Wagner College

Sandra Mayo, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, Seattle Pacific University

Stephanie McNulty, Director, Faculty Diversity Initiatives, Franklin and Marshall College

John O'Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer, EDUCAUSE

Eunice Williams, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, State University of New York Onondaga Community College

Policy and Practice Cluster

Group Reflections and Introduction

Members of the cluster reflect on their experience of participating in the community of practice and introduce the ACE Engage resource they developed.

ACE Engage Resource

Resources: Combating COVID-19 in Higher Education with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lens

This resource document offers relevant resources and informed practices focused on DEI and/or an institution's response to COVID-19. Resources are categorized as organizational management, financial well-being, student well-being, and faculty and staff well-being.

Michelle Bryan, Chief Equity Officer and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of South Carolina College of Education

Leslie Daugherty, Education Designer, Education Design Lab

Athena Fulay, Fulbright Scholar Program Outreach and Recruitment Manager, Institute of International Education

Kristi Kelly, Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Multicultural Student Services, Lewis University

Jairo McMican, Dean of Student Learning, Central Carolina Community College

Laneika Musalini, Director of Grants Development and Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, Tri-County Technical College

Kelly Pengelly, Senior Strategy Advisor, Interim at World Council on Intercultural and Global Competence, and Intercultural, Event, Development, and Program Consultant

Lynn Andrea Stein, Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science, Olin College

Carol Sumner, Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Texas Tech University

Scott Vignos, Assistant Vice President, Strategic Diversity Initiatives, Oregon State University

Erin Webster Garrett, Assistant Vice Provost for Relevant, Experiential, and Applied Learning, Virginia Commonwealth University

Randy Williams, Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusive Excellence, Elon University

Jamyra Young, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Intercultural Engagement, Keuka College

Pamela Young, Director of Academic Diversity and Inclusion, University of Notre Dame

Strengthening DEI Cluster

Group Reflections and Introduction

Members of the cluster reflect on their experience of participating in the community of practice and introduce the ACE Engage resource they developed.

ACE Engage Resource

Strengthening Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education

As remote learning continues in the midst of COVID-19, campus leaders are grappling with students' access to technology as well as their heightened anxieties and mental health issues. A DEI community of practice developed recommendations for centering DEI in all facets of an institution's work.

Floyd Cheung, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Professor of English Language and Literature and American Studies, Smith College

Leah Cox, Vice President for Inclusion and Institutional Equity, Towson University

Shiva Darbandi, Director of the Joanne Waxman Library and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Advisor, Maine College of Art

Lorna Hernandez Jarvis, Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Whitworth University

Patricia K. Kinney, Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Alaina M. T. Macaulay, Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Marcine Pickron-Davis, Chief Diversity and Community Relations Officer, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

About Communities of Practice

The Social Learning Imperative

Senior leaders of colleges and universities have ambitious shared goals for the future. Increasingly, novel challenges posed by complex, rapidly changing environments require that leaders from across our nation work together to reach and meet these goals. Through ACE Engage, the American Council on Education creates what Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner call “social learning spaces.” In social learning spaces, leaders come together around the difference they want to make, grappling with uncertainty, paying attention to challenges participants face, and helping each other address those challenges.

ACE Engage communities of practice are one form of social learning space through which groups of senior higher education leaders commit to meet regularly online for at least three months, facilitated by peers and ACE staff, to engage in this social learning process together and then share what they learn with the broader field.