Governor Ralph Northam this week announced three appointments to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Alaysia Black Hackett has been appointed Deputy Chief Diversity Officer; Mona Siddiqui has been appointed Deputy Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Policy Advisor for immigrant and refugee affairs; and Yewande Austin has been appointed Special Advisor to the Chief Diversity Officer.
Hackett served as Special Assistant to the Chief Diversity Officer, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at the Department of Human Resource Management. Before joining the Northam Administration, she was Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Mars Hill University in North Carolina. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Relations and a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Organizational Development from Western Carolina University. She attended Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University and earned an Executive Juris Doctor degree from Concord Law School at Purdue University Global.
Siddiqui served as Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General, where she worked on human rights, fair housing, and disability initiatives, and established best practices in civil rights advocacy for Virginia localities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, where her research focuses on the intersection of immigration integration and civil rights. Her appointment is part of a new collaboration between the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Office of New Americans in the Department of Social Services.
Austin served as principal of Change International and the Global Institute for Diversity and Change, where she developed programs and led humanitarian initiatives to empower diverse and vulnerable constituencies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Howard University with an interest in using music for social impact and completed the Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University.
In September 2019, Governor Ralph S. Northam appointed Dr. Janice Underwood to serve the Commonwealth, as the nation’s first cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer. With the creation of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Virginia is becoming a national exemplar in addressing the historical injustices and inequities that have existed for the last 400 years within all systems across our Commonwealth.
The shared goal of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is to develop Virginia into an inclusive state where people can live, learn, work, visit, and thrive.
The purpose of the DEI office is to:
- Create a statewide assessment to evaluate inequities with formal and informal systems, processes, leaders, legislation, and overall logistics;
- Develop a sustainable framework for the continued promotion of inclusive practices across state government;
- Collaborate with 105+ state agencies within the Commonwealth to ensure equity and inclusion within the areas of employee engagement, hiring and retention practices, and the implementation of a diversity strategic plan; and
- Engage with diverse stakeholders around the Commonwealth to establish and increase inclusive excellence across the Commonwealth