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Ready to Listen, Learn, and Lead With You

I have had few times in my professional career when I have been as energized as I feel when exploring this role with members of the Duke community. I must say, that excitement has not waned since accepting the position of Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I cannot wait to get started with you. So far, I have experienced members of the Duke community as dedicated, thoughtful, talented, and relational, but most of all, ready – ready for a deepening and expansion of the already solid community commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I am honored to be joining you in that work. I too am ready – ready to listen, learn, and lead with you in these efforts.

I join our community with both lived and professional insight around diversity, equity and inclusion. My professional experiences include roles at Elon University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in various positions focused on diversity and inclusion, public health, training and education, policy and equity development, and bias, harassment and violence response and prevention. I have also worked in the non-profit sector and the criminal legal field. Most recently, I served as the Director for the Center for Equity and Inclusive Excellence at Elon. One key lens I take from that role is the ability to prioritize both response and prevention when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. We must respond when things are not going well through restorative practices, but we must also work to create the most equitable and inclusive community possible through strategic planning, education, resource development, and evaluation.

I approach diversity, equity and inclusion work from an ecological lens. We are all part of this integrated community and we all have an accountability to and need for comprehensive strategies around these matters. We all have our own unique constellation of identities, perspectives and experiences that inform our path and guide us. We are stronger together, and my hope is to support efforts in our Duke community that draw on our unique strengths/perspectives, provide growth opportunities where needed, and expand and deepen our resources around diversity, equity and inclusion.

What a time we have upon us. It is impossible to ignore the need for more robust diversity, equity and inclusion work in this time. While disparities are further illuminated by our experience with a global public health pandemic, our country is simultaneously experiencing a renewed reckoning with our structures of oppression and approaches to alter them. We couldn’t ask for a more appropriate time to develop some strategic systemic thinking and I am motivated to engage our capable community in that effort. I am a relationship focused professional and I hope you will reach out and join me as I transition to Duke during such an interesting time. I look forward to getting to know the OIE staff, the broader Duke community, and I’m excited for you to know me, too!

Leigh-Anne Royster, PhD
Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
© 2020 Duke Office for Institutional Equity

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