Presidential Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion

The Presidential Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion was formed to assess opportunities to advance the goal of a fully inclusive Yale community. It will consider ideas and proposals submitted by students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and advise the president and other university leaders on measures that hold the greatest promise to advance diversity and inclusion. To share your thoughts and suggestions with the committee, please submit them via the online form at

Members of the Committee

Ruth Blake 
Professor of Geology & Geophysics, Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Ruth Blake is professor of Geology & Geophysics, Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Chemical & Environmental Engineering. She is deeply engaged in ocean exploration; her core research has focused on developing new stable isotope tools and geochemical proxies to study extraterrestrial life, ancient ocean temperatures, and the co-evolution of earth and life, with an emphasis on microbial phosphorus cycling and evolution of the marine phosphorus cycle from 3.8 billion years ago to present. She earned her B.S. degree in geology, magna cum laude, from Wayne State University, her M.S. in hydrogeology from the University of Texas, and her Ph.D. in geochemistry from the University of Michigan.
Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos
Associate Professor of Cell Biology and of Neuroscience
Daniel A. Colón-Ramos is an associate professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he completed his A.B. in biology at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Duke University School of Medicine. Prior to his appointment at Yale, he was a Damon Runyon fellow in cellular neuroscience at Stanford University and a recipient of the NIH Pathways to Independence Award. Professor Colón-Ramos has worked to expand access to scientific knowledge, experiences, and careers among communities or populations traditionally underrepresented in, or underserved by, the scientific enterprise. In 2006 he founded Ciencia Puerto Rico, a non-profit organization that promotes scientific research and education in the Puerto Rican archipelago and among Hispanics in the United States and Latin America. Ciencia Puerto Rico, with a membership of over 7,000, is one of the largest online mentoring networks for scientists, and has spearheaded a number of initiatives to address recruitment and persistence issues of underrepresented minorities. His outreach and research work were recognized by the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science in 2011.
Gary Vincent Desir
Professor of Medicine and Interim Chair, Department of Medicine
Gary Desir M.D. is a professor of medicine in the Section of Nephrology at the Yale University School of Medicine (YSM), and holds a secondary appointment at the school of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He currently serves as interim chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and board chair for the Yale Medical Group. Professor Desir was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. After high school, he immigrated to the United States to attend New York University, from which he graduated magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society and also received New York University’s Founders Day award. Following graduation from YSM (cum laude, Alpha Omega Alpha honor society), he trained in internal medicine and nephrology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Since joining the YSM faculty, he has served as chief of nephrology and chair of medicine at for the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Health System. Professor Desir has a strong interest in issues of diversity and social justice. He is the co-founder of the minority organization for retention and expansion (MORE), a faculty group at YSM focused on increasing faculty diversity through mentoring programs and developing resilient social networks. In collaboration with Gordon Geballe, associate dean for alumni and external affairs at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, he has worked with L’Hospital Albert Schweitzer in the Artibonite valley in Haiti on integrated projects designed to improve the standard of living in the valley.
Kimberly M. Goff-Crews
Secretary and Vice President for Student Life
Kimberly M. Goff-Crews is Yale's secretary and vice president for student life, a position she has held since August 2012. In this role, she serves as secretary to the Yale Corporation and oversees the University Council, supporting institutional governance and the implementation of broad-reaching strategies related to the short- and long-term vision of the university. As the first university officer for student life, Ms. Goff-Crews advises the president, trustees, and other leadership about campus issues and leads collaborations with student life professionals and departments from across the university, including the Office of LGTBQ Resources, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Resource Office on Disabilities, facilitating campus life initiatives to create a safe and supportive student environment. She has recently advanced projects to improve university alcohol policy, mental health services, discrimination and harassment reporting, and graduate and professional student resources. She works with student leaders of Yale College and the graduate and professional schools, connecting them to university administration and supporting their visions for life at Yale.
Prior to assuming her role as secretary and vice president, Ms. Goff-Crews held numerous leadership positions in student affairs at the University of Chicago, Wellesley College, and Lesley University in Boston. From 1992 to 1998, she served as an assistant dean in Yale College and director of the Afro-American Cultural Center. She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.
Emily Greenwood
Professor of Classics
Emily Greenwood is a black British academic, of British and Ugandan descent. She joined the Yale faculty in 2009 and is a professor of Classics, with a secondary appointment in African American Studies. Her research interests include ancient Greek historiography, modern classical receptions (especially responses to ancient Greek and Roman Classics in Africa and the black diaspora), and the theory and practice of translating the classics of Greek and Roman literature. She serves on the Executive Committee of the FAS (Faculty of Arts and Sciences) Senate and is the chair of the Senate’s ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusivity in the FAS.
Martha Highsmith (committee vice-chair)
Senior Advisor, Office of the President; Lecturer, Divinity School
Martha Highsmith serves as senior advisor to President Peter Salovey and is a lecturer in the Divinity School. In her role in the Office of the President, she provides counsel and support to the president and other senior leaders on university goals, major initiatives, and institutional planning and strategy. She is also responsible for crisis management and emergency planning. Ms. Highsmith came to Yale in 1994 and, prior to her current role, served as associate vice president of the university. She received her doctorate from Harvard and holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is a 1995 graduate, magna cum laude, of the Yale Divinity School, and is an ordained Presbyterian minister. Prior to coming to Yale, she held positions in state government, including chief of staff for the Connecticut Department of Economic Development and assistant commissioner in the Department of Higher Education. 
Burgwell Howard
Senior Associate Dean of Yale College; Associate Vice President of Student Life
Burgwell “Burgie” Howard serves as Yale's associate vice president of student life and as a senior associate dean in Yale College. His oversight of student engagement within Yale College Dean's Office involves a range of experiences and programs designed to shape the undergraduate experience, including Yale’s cultural centers as well as programs and support for first generation and low-income students. Dean Howard also works with some of Yale’s summer academic and cultural preparation programs, including Freshmen Scholars at Yale, ONEXYS, and Cultural Connections.
Dean Howard has made a career supporting students’ experiences at colleges and universities including Bowdoin College, Colgate University, Santa Clara University, Dartmouth College and, most recently, Northwestern University, where he served as assistant vice president and dean of students. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and of Stanford University.
Gerald Jaynes
Professor of Economics, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in African American Studies
Gerald D. Jaynes is a professor in Yale's departments of Economics and African American Studies. He earned his doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1976. In addition to his teaching and research duties at Yale, he has served as a legislative aid to State Senator Cecil A. Partee, president pro-tem of the Illinois State Senate, from 1971-72; assistant professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania; and as chair of Yale’s Department of African and African American Studies from 1990-1996. Professor Jaynes has served in many public capacities, including as study director of the Committee On The Status of Black Americans at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C. (1985-89), chairman of the New Haven Minority Business Development Agency (1982-84), and as a member of the mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Committee for the Redevelopment of New Haven (1990). 
Professor Jaynes has testified before the United States Congress on numerous occasions and served as a consultant to federal and local government agencies. He is recognized as an expert on race relations and the economic conditions of African-Americans, and has lectured and spoken on these topics at many universities and forums around the world. His research has been cited internationally, and by the United States Supreme Court.
Sameer Jaywant
Student Representative, Yale Law School
Sameer Jaywant is a first-year student at Yale Law School. He received his B.A., summa cum laude, in International Relations and Economics from New York University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was a Presidential Honors Scholar. At NYU, he served on the Student Senators Council, chairing the Academic Services and International Affairs Committees and co-chairing the University Senate Committee on Organization and Governance. In this capacity, He successfully led initiatives aimed at expanding access to the university’s governance process, including representation of non-tenure faculty in the University Senate and the creation of a student council for international students. For his work at the university, he received the President’s Service Award as well as the Evan & Barbara Chesler Prelaw Scholarship. At Yale, he is an editor on the Yale Journal of International Law and Yale Law and Policy Review, a volunteer for the International Refugee Assistance Project, and a senator on the Graduate & Professional Student Senate, where he serves on the Ad Hoc Committee on Race, Diversity & Inclusion.
Sharon Kugler
University Chaplain
Sharon M.K. Kugler, university chaplain, came to Yale in 2007 from Johns Hopkins University, where she served as lead chaplain beginning in 1993. With experience in higher education, interfaith collaboration, and pastoral and social ministry, she focuses on cultivating a chaplaincy that responds to the needs of Yale’s diverse religious and spiritual traditions. She serves on the Intercultural Affairs Council, the Minority Advisory Council, and the board of Dwight Hall. Ms. Kugler is past president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains and the Association of College and University Religious Affairs, hosted the 2012 Global Conference of Chaplains in Higher Education, and served on the executive committee of the International Association of Chaplains in Higher Education. She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and her thesis was used by the United States Department of Defense as a training tool for new military chaplains. She is a lecturer of inter-religious engagement and chaplaincy at the Divinity School and a contributing author to College & University Chaplaincy in the 21st Century. She was the founding director of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services in Baltimore.
Nicholas Roman Lewis
Senior Director for Shared Interest Groups, Association of Yale Alumni
As senior director for shared interest groups at the Association of Yale Alumni, Nicholas Roman Lewis engages alumni groups globally in strategic planning, mission discernment, governance, operational sustainability, and high-level event planning. In particular, he has helped several groups launch mission-driven initiatives that address societal needs. In addition to his work with Yale alumni, he is an entertainment attorney and literary agent in the fields of theater, television, music, film, and publishing. He has represented clients on Broadway negotiating contracts for directors, music directors, composers, writers, arrangers, and programmers for both on- and off-Broadway productions (including Motown, Memphis, The Addams Family, Women on the Verge, Wicked, Bombay Dreams, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Wiz, Spamalot, Sweet Charity, and Disney’s Tarzan), films (including PBS documentary Summer Sun Winter Moon and Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley), and several books (including the award-winning GhettoNation, A Love Noire, Darker Still, and the highly anticipated new series from Leanna Renee Hieber, The Eterna Files, as well as Cora Daniels and John Jackson’s Impolite Conversations.
Mary Lui
Professor of American Studies and History, Master of Timothy Dwight College
Mary Lui is a professor of American Studies and History. Her primary research interests include Asian American history, urban history, women and gender studies, and public history. She is the author of The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City (Princeton University Press, 2005), the 2007 co-winner of the best book prize for history from the Association of Asian American Studies. The book uses a 1909 unsolved murder case to examine race, gender, and interracial sexual relations in the cultural, social, and spatial formation of New York City Chinatown from 1870-1920. Professor Lui is currently working on a new book, Making Model Minorities: Asian Americans, Race, and Citizenship in Cold War America at Home and Abroad, that examines the history of Asian American and U.S. cultural diplomacy in Asia in the early years of the Cold War. This new work is under contract with the University of California Press.
Michelle Nearon
Associate Dean for Graduate Student Development and Diversity
Michelle Nearon is associate dean for graduate student development and diversity. She provides the strategic vision and leadership to build and maintain a supportive campus community where graduate students from diverse backgrounds and experiences are supported in their intellectual, social, and professional pursuits. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brooklyn Polytechnic University, respectively. After completing her master’s degree, she devoted approximately ten years to the aerospace and automotive industries. She returned to academia and earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Stony Brook University. She remained at Stony Brook University as a postdoctoral fellow studying turbulence modeling before being offered an assistant professorship in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She also simultaneously served as the director of recruitment and diversification for the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She joined the Yale community in 2008.
Victoria Nolan
Deputy Dean, School of Drama; Managing Director, Yale Repertory Theatre; Professor Adjunct of Theater Management
Victoria Nolan, deputy dean of the School of Drama and managing director of Yale Repertory Theatre, joined the Yale community in 1993 and is a professor (adjunct) of theater management. Previously, she Nolan held positions of advanced leadership at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Baltimore's Center Stage, the Loeb Drama Center of Harvard University, the TAG Foundation, and at Ram Island Dance Company in Portland, Maine. She has served on the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) Diversity Task Force since 2012 and chaired the Diversity Recruitment Committee from 2012-15. The largest professional theater association in the United States, LORT has focused recent diversity efforts on increasing racial and ethnic diversity across professional theater staffs, and gender, racial and ethnic diversity in executive leadership. Additionally, Ms. Nolan currently is developing a leadership training program for young women and people of color, a collaboration between LORT and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Peter Salovey (committee chair)
University President, Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology
Deborah Stanley-McAulay
Chief Diversity Officer
Deborah Stanley-McAulay is Yale's chief diversity officer. In her role, she oversees the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and WorkLife and childcare programs. Ms. Stanley-McAulay is tasked with managing the university’s progress in diversity, and with facilitating an integrated vision and shared responsibility for diversity across the Yale campus. Under her leadership, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion works collaboratively to accomplish the institution's diversity goals. She works with internal university departments and external organizations and agencies and serves as the university’s chief liaison with the seven Yale affinity groups: Yale African American Affinity Group, Yale Latino Networking Group, Asian Network at Yale, Yale University Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Affinity Group, Yale University Working Women Network, Yale Veterans Network, and Future Leaders of Yale. The diversity progress to date has contributed to strengthening university climate and culture, and to Yale's recognition as an "Employer of Choice."
Gregory E. Sterling
Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School
Gregory E. Sterling, the Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School and the Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, joined the Yale community in 2012. He had previously been at the University of Notre Dame as a member of the faculty and administration, serving as the first dean of the graduate school when it became independent. A specialist in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity, Dean Sterling has authored or edited seven books and more than seventy scholarly articles and chapters, serves as the general editor for one major series, is a co-editor for a scholarly journal, and serves on the editorial board for a major monograph series in Germany. He has led efforts at Notre Dame and at Yale to expand the representation from under-represented groups and to develop more equitable climates. The Divinity School has had record numbers of minority graduates and exceeded its goals in minority enrollments in recent years.
Brandi M. Waters
Student Representative, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Brandi M. Waters is a doctoral student in the departments of History and African American Studies who researches the history of slavery in Latin America. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in history from Johns Hopkins University. She is a Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellow, and her research has been supported by organizations including the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; The Tinker Foundation; the SSRC-Mellon Graduate Initiatives program; and the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad. Before coming to Yale, she worked as the youth coordinator for Encuentro Diaspora Afro, a non-profit organization serving the Afro-Latino community in Boston. At Yale, she currently serves as a graduate fellow in the Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity.
William H. Wright II
Alumni Representative
William H. Wright II is a 1982 graduate of Yale College. He has served as chairman of the reunion gift committees for his tenth, fifteenth and twenty-fifth reunions. He received the Alumni Fund Chairman's Award in 1992 for setting the record for a tenth reunion gift. In 1993, he was elected to the board of directors of the Yale Alumni Fund, of which he was a member until 2001, later serving as chair from 2004-06. He served on the University Council from 2001-12, was a member of the Yale Tomorrow Campaign Executive Committee, and is a Sterling Fellow.
Abdul-Razak Zachariah
Student Representative, Yale College
Abdul-Razak Zachariah is a junior in Timothy Dwight College majoring in sociology and participating in the Education Studies Program. A native of the greater New Haven area, he previously served on the West Haven Board of Education as a student representative and on the State Student Advisory Council on Education for Connecticut. During his time at Yale, Mr. Zachariah has worked as a counselor for the pre-orientation program Cultural Connections and has served on the Afro-American Cultural Center Dean Search Committee, putting him in close contact with students and faculty who work in the areas of ethnic studies, student engagement, and student affairs. Currently, Mr. Zachariah works in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a recruitment coordinator and at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School as a teacher in an afterschool a cappella program. In addition, he is a member of Shades of Yale (a co-ed a cappella group focused on music of the African diaspora and African-American tradition), the Yale Black Men’s Union, the Undergraduate First-Generation Low-Income Partnership, and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, which supports underrepresented students who will purse Ph.D.s and subsequent careers in academia in selected core fields in the arts and sciences.