As the to start with variety, equity and inclusion officer at Portland’s Maine University of Artwork & Structure, Margaret Brownlee juggles tasks from mentoring pupils to coaching personnel. A yr into her position at the school that a short while ago tweaked its identify, the Portland indigenous chatted with Mainebiz about her options for the yr forward, and her suggestions for all Maine businesses when it arrives to DEI.
Mainebiz: What initial captivated you to higher instruction?
Margaret Brownlee: When I moved back dwelling to Maine in 2011, I uncovered a terrific task doing work for TRIO College or university Programs at the College of Southern Maine [which helps first-generation and income-eligible college students, as well as those with disabilities, achieve their academic, career and financial goals]. The position concerned teaching aid lessons and supporting substantial university students in their changeover to college or university. I labored at USM and Deering, Portland and Sacopee Valley high universities. I fell in enjoy with higher education by performing with the college students in TRIO.
Mainebiz: How do you determine variety, fairness and inclusion?
MB: I tend to use only three terms: People today, ability and perspectives. Nevertheless, when I’m performing a DEI schooling, I go in-depth with the definitions and communicate about the variety of people, feelings and perspectives. I demonstrate equity in conditions of plan and power dynamics and then inclusion of voice and organizational culture.
Mainebiz: You have also talked about the next phase of DEI that incorporates justice. Can you make clear?
MB: I consider it’s actually significant to unpack DEI in terms of all the other features. There’s a new collaborative termed JEDI [Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion], which talks about incorporating justice and how we address people in our main values and beliefs. I also like to involve the dialogue of belonging and how we utilize friendships and associations as element of this work. I also communicate about entry, because without having obtain you are not able to have any of these matters.
Mainebiz: What was it like rising up as a biracial individual in Maine?
MB: It is hard, because I feel like a stranger in my have hometown [Portland] considering the fact that Maine is a predominantly white point out. For instance, I’m continuously requested in which I’m from simply because of the coloration of my pores and skin or the way I communicate, and it is irritating. I wish people in Maine were far more inclusive and open up-minded, somewhat than constantly putting me into a box. It’s tricky to describe, but it is grow to be less difficult in the very last couple years with the resurgence of Black Lives Make any difference and the thrust for DEI throughout the country.
Mainebiz: What are your main job duties at Maine University of Artwork & Layout?
MB: My focus is to develop a society of social alter, racial justice and inclusion, which means that I target on supporting pupils, faculty and employees. I’m a mentor for the Pupils of Color Coalition and Gender Sexuality Alliance. I also operate closely with the vice president for educational affairs on diversifying the curriculum, and I aid workshops and education for human assets. It is a ton of function, but I actually love it and I’m passionate about this matter.
Mainebiz: What tops your to-do listing in your 2nd 12 months on the task?
MB: This yr I’d genuinely like to set with each other a dynamic and impressive Resilience Week in February 2022 wherever students, school and staff members come with each other around subjects of intersectionality, belonging and resilience. I’d also truly like to convey in neighborhood partners this year like Indigo Arts Alliance, Resourceful Portland and Room Gallery.
Mainebiz: Outside your career, what are some of your other pursuits similar to DEI?
MB: I serve on the South Portland Human Legal rights Fee, in which our focus is on supporting marginalized communities. I also aid DEI training to assist organizations and nonprofits advance their DEI aims.
Mainebiz: Eventually, what is the 1st thing you’d recommend any Maine employer about DEI ?
MB: I would persuade them to do a “SWOT” evaluation by defining the strengths, weaknesses, chances and threats of the group. Then host a couple of concentrate groups of 6 to eight people today who are dedicated to DEI and are fascinated in owning in-depth conversations about the subject and look at choosing somebody like me to enable aid the future steps. It is a artistic process that employs best techniques and necessitates significant assessment, action items and strategic arranging.