Beyond the Statements: Leading Racial Equity in Humanities Organizations
At a time when many organizations have put out public statements in support of Black Lives Matter and in opposition to White supremacy, dismantling our organizational inequities remains an elusive next step. Maryland Humanities recently convened a speaker series focused on operationalizing racial equity work in the humanities field. Leaders from Maryland spoke to the efforts they have led in their respective organizations. Topics covered included incorporating racial equity into hiring, where to start when leading an organization, and leading the work within a university setting.
The series was moderated by Alicia McLeod, Executive Director of Challenging Racism and Maryland Humanities Board Member.
There was no cost to participate, but registration for each event was required.
Missed an event? Watch the recordings on our YouTube channel.
- Monday, April 19, 10:00 a.m.: Tonya Aikens
Tonya Aikens is President and CEO of Howard County Library System (HCLS), a nationally recognized Five Star Library for delivering excellence in public education for all ages. HCLS consistently earns the highest five-star ranking attained by fewer than one percent of public libraries in the U.S. and remains the only library system in Maryland to do so. Tonya is keenly focused on building the collective leadership of the organization, its partners, the community, and customers served to provide equitable, high-quality educational opportunities for all. She has directed library services for more than 20 years and is passionate about the ability of libraries to transform lives and communities. Tonya has served on numerous non-profit boards and currently serves on the Community Action Council of Howard County’s Board of Directors, the Local Children’s Board of Howard County, the Maryland Public Library Administrator’s Intergovernmental Task Force, is an appointee of the Maryland State Librarian to the State Library Resource Center Oversight Commission, served on Howard County Executive Calvin Ball’s Transition Team and Spending Affordability Advisory Committee, and is a member of Howard County General Plan Update’s Planning Advisory Committee.
- Monday, March 22, 10:00 a.m.: Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan
Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan has served as St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s (SMCM) seventh president since July 2014. The College, as Maryland’s only public honors college and the first of its kind in the nation, has been widely recognized for its successes. Consistently ranked among the top 100 Kiplinger’s list of best values in public colleges and among the top 10 best public liberal arts colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, SMCM continues to build upon its solid reputation for academic excellence under Dr. Jordan’s watch. Under her leadership, the College continues to analyze and assess its programming to ensure that students are both striving and provided opportunities to be engaged, productive global citizens and leaders.
Since joining the College, President Jordan has been widely recognized for her contributions to higher education and the larger community. Recently, she was named one of the Top 25 Women in Higher Education by the national magazine, Diverse Issues in Higher Education. In addition to serving on numerous national panels and boards, she was recognized as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2018), Black Leader in Education by the AFRO (2017), was named as one of Fisk University’s Talented Tenth (2016), Purdue University’s Distinguished Women Scholars (2015–16), and as an Influential Marylander by the Daily Record (2015). She received the Torchbearer Award (2014) from the National Coalition of Black Women, Baltimore Metropolitan Chapter, was inducted (2015) into the Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, was awarded the Education Excellence award by the Southern Maryland Minority Chamber of Commerce (2018), and received the inaugural CEO’s Excellence Award from the Prince George’s County Public Schools Foundation (2019).
Dr. Jordan gained national prominence in the realm of science education with the creation of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance (SEA) program and the launch of its first initiative, the SEA Phage program, which engaged novice undergraduates in research in genomics and bioinformatics. This program has been implemented at more than 50 diverse institutions across the nation, impacted thousands of students and faculty, and resulted in numerous scientific and pedagogical publications.
Prior to St. Mary’s College, Dr. Jordan was a tenured faculty member and administrator at Xavier University of Louisiana and Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. Dr. Jordan holds a B.S. in chemistry from Fisk University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Purdue University.
- Monday, February 22, 10:00 a.m.: Omar Eaton-Martínez
Omar Eaton-Martínez was born in Washington, DC and was raised in Silver Spring with his younger sister, Ruthie. His parents came to the continental United States from the island of Puerto Rico. He was married in 1998 to Jamia Alford, his college sweetheart. They lived in Atlanta and New York City before moving back to the DC metropolitan area in 2003 after having their first child. In February 2004, Omar and his wife were baptized the same evening at 13th Street church of Christ after attending a home bible study at the home of Melvin and Jania Otey. They now have four children—Sanai, Juan, Inez and Mateo, two of whom have been baptized—and they have been members at the congregations of 13th Street, Georgia Avenue and most recently placing membership at Silver Spring Church of Christ in June 2018. Omar has served on a variety of ministries, taught bible classes for adults and youth, and has preached the gospel. His children have participated in Lads to Leaders for four years and have also developed as public speakers. His wife Jamia also has taught bible classes and has spoken at Lady’s Day events.
In his secular career, he currently is the Assistant Division Chief of Historical Resources for the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, Natural and Historical Resources Division, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County. He leads the Prince George’s County Historical Resources, which include historical house museums, an aviation museum, the Black History Program, and archaeological parks. He also oversees the programming of those sites with an emphasis placed on preserving, sustaining, and enhancing these resources as well as engaging and building communities through education, outreach, and innovation. Most recently he managed the interns and fellows program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He builds coalitions that support diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. Omar has worked at the National Park Service, the Office of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, and NASA, and he also was a K-12 teacher in NYC and DC.
He has held a leading role in Museums and Race: Transformation and Justice, a movement to challenge and reimagine institutional policies and systems that perpetuate oppressions in museums, since 2016. Moreover, he contributed to the Museum as Site for Social Action project, which seeks to align museums with more equitable and inclusive practices.
Omar has served on the boards of Museum Hue, an arts and humanities organization committed to the advancement of people of color in the field; Words, Beats &Life, dedicated to Hip Hop Education; and the Ambassador Horace G. Dawson Scholars Program, which supports the cultural enrichment and college readiness for young men. His research interests are Afro Latinx identity in museum exhibitions; Diversity and Inclusion in museums and cultural institutions; and Hip Hop history, culture, and education. Moreover, he has supported the work of Camino A Loíza and Corredor Afro, which are separate projects centering blackness in Puerto Rico.
His two most recent appointments were to be an American Alliance of Museums Diversity. Equity. Accessibility. Inclusion Senior Fellow, which is dedicated to diversify museum boards and a gubernatorial appointment to the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
➢ Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, 1996
➢ Masters in Educational Leadership, American Intercontinental University, 2009
➢ Currently a part-time PhD student in American Studies at University of Maryland, College Park
- Series Moderator: Alicia McLeod
Alicia McLeod is the Executive Director of Challenging Racism, an organization whose focus is to empower and inspire people to disrupt racism one compassionate conversation at a time. Previously she led Ellicott City Partnership, a “Main Street” organization. Prior to that, she founded the Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce, which continues to raise the profile of black-owned businesses. Her tenure at each of her places of employment has been marked by the implementation of innovative ideas designed to raise the organization’s profile and draw new supporters to the work. McLeod is a resident of Parkville and brings deep relationships to Challenging Racism’s work. She is in a Masters of Public Administration program at the University of Baltimore with a concentration in non-profit management and holds a B.S. in Marketing from Kean University in New Jersey. McLeod and her partner are the parents of three children: Richard (25), Alyssa (19), and Amanda (18).