By Evan J. Cutts
Bristol, RI — A proven “catalyst for institutional equity,” Roger Williams University Vice President of Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Dr. Ame Lambert responds to the needs of various stakeholders her organization by leveraging her “and/and” philosophy and partnering that with a “macro and micro” approach to diversity and inclusion (D&I).
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion work is complex, because humans are complex, so the “and/and” work supports that complexity,” Dr. Lambert begins. “I am black AND a woman AND a mother AND a Vice President AND a heterosexual AND an Immigrant AND short. At RWU, we focus on access AND success AND climate AND systemic equity. The AND is critical for doing holistic and comprehensive work. I find that when I integrate different models or approaches, I am more effective and more able to have a systemic and sustained impact.”
According to Dr. Lambert, cross-functional and cross-level collaboration has led to RWU’s best efforts.“We are focused on leading the institution through a time of disruption in higher education, precipitated by demographic and technological change, as well as unsustainable business models. On a micro level, we are focused on the success of minoritized students and employees through support and empowerment initiatives, such as mentoring programs and affinity groups. On a macro level, I partner with other vice presidents and stakeholders across campus to make sure that all campus operations are embedding and advancing equity.”
Dr. Lambert’s doctoral research on organizational development and change at the University of Texas at Tyler explored ways to get beyond the disappointing outcomes of most D&I training which results in “underwhelming” impact on “implicit prejudice or behavior.” During her tenure as the inaugural CDO at Champlain College, she notes, “By my mid-year review, we completely achieved or made significant progress on many of our initiatives, such as embedding diversity goals in accountability systems.”
In emphasizing the importance of fostering leadership accountability, through systems like performance reviews and leadership competencies, Dr. Lambert adds, “D&I strategy needs detailed implementation documents that clearly outline who is responsible for moving things forward and how and when they will do so.”
Reflecting on what it means to her be a person of color in 2019, Dr. Ame Lambert knows it is nothing, if not complex. “As it has always been, to be a person of color in 2019 is to be resilient, anchored, and much stronger than most will ever know.”
Join the conversation about the future of D&I on July 25th with Executive Panel Speaker Dr. Ame Lambert at The 2019 Chief Diversity Officer Summit hosted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Register Today!
Photo Description: Dr. Ame Lambert, Vice President of Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for Roger Williams University. (Courtesy of Roger Williams University)