UW–Madison Chief Diversity Officer Dr. LaVar J. Charleston joined with his wife, Dr. Sherri Ann Charleston, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Harvard University, on the “Black Like Me with Dr. Alex Gee” podcast this week for a discussion about the evolution of the chief diversity officer position in higher education.
The episode, “Educate to Activate: Two married university DEI professionals at Harvard & Wisconsin offer real talk about diversity and belonging in college,” was the first in a new series for the podcast on Black power couples. In the conversation, the Charlestons talked about how being thought partners for each other makes them better leaders for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in higher education.
Now in season 7, the “Black Like Me with Dr. Alex Gee” podcast invites listeners to experience the world through the perspective of the Rev. Alex Gee (’85), Ph.D., as he joins in discussions with other Black leaders on a wide variety of subjects affecting the Black community in Wisconsin and across the country.
LaVar J. Charleston, Ph.D., was appointed the deputy vice chancellor for diversity & inclusion at UW–Madison in the summer of 2021. He serves as vice provost and chief diversity officer for the university as well as the Elzie Higginbottom director of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA). A first-generation college graduate and Badger alumnus from Detroit, he previously served as the inaugural associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion at UW–Madison’s School of Education, where he is a clinical professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. In February 2021, Charleston was named to the Governor’s Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council, which provides strategic guidance for promoting and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices across Wisconsin state government.
Sherri Ann Charleston, J.D., Ph.D., one of the nation’s leading experts in diversity and higher education, was named the first chief diversity and inclusion officer at Harvard University in the summer of 2020. Dr. Charleston is a historian trained in U.S. history with a focus on race, women, gender, citizenship, and the law, and an attorney with a specialization in constitutional and employment law. Most recently, she served as the assistant vice provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion and chief affirmative action officer at UW–Madison.