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RELA: Meet the Academy (Part 3)

Stories & Case Studies
March 10, 2021

On Friday, February 19, teams from ten colleges met virtually to kick off the Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA). The orientation was the first time all ten participants in RELA “sat down” together — from various locations across the country — to begin the intentional, collaborative work of developing bold and actionable racial equity plans for their campuses.

In this “Meet the Academy” series, we have heard from presidents and chancellors of each college about why this work is so important to their institution and what they’re eager to accomplish in RELA.

Read part one here, and part two here.



Photo courtesy of Pierce College. (Taken in September 2017.)

Who they are:
Washington state’s Pierce College has been part of the ATD Network since 2018. They became a Leader College in 2014 and were one of the first institutions to earn Leader College of Distinction Status in 2018. The college’s mission is to create quality educational opportunities for a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world.

What the chancellor says:
It’s a great honor to be recognized for the work we’ve done to examine and dismantle structures and policies that serve as barriers for racially minoritized students, and to have some of the nation’s top researchers and college leaders support our efforts to take this work to the next level.

– Chancellor Michele Johnson


Who they are:
Lee College has been a member of the ATD Network for fifteen years, first joining in 2006. After holding Leader College status from 2011 to 2018, they became a Leader College of Distinction in the inaugural 2018 cohort. The college works to serve the community by providing innovative and quality education to our diverse students along guided pathways to gainful employment, personal enrichment, and life-long learning.

What the president says:
“Since assuming the presidency at Lee College just thirteen months ago, I have placed equity at the center of our student success agenda. Shortly after the death of George Floyd, I issued a statement condemning these acts of racially motivated violence and we formed an Equity and Anti-Racism Committee. But we can and must do more. We are building a new culture at Lee College, and that culture is based on equitable access for all students regardless of their backgrounds. With ATD and the USC Race and Equity Center as partners, we will continue to engage in the hard work that comes in dismantling the barriers to student access and success that exist in our own structures and policies shaped by the effects of structural racism. This work is at the very core of our mission to make the world a better place, and our students deserve nothing less.”

– President Lynda Villanueva


Photo courtesy of Mott Community College. (Taken in April 2018.)

Who they are:
Mott Community College joined the ATD Network over 10 years ago, in 2010. The college’s mission is to provide high quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities and services that cultivate student success and improve the overall quality of life in a multicultural community.

What the president says:
“Mott Community College is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our student population, who represent a vast cross-section of cultures and backgrounds. We are eager to work with ATD, the USC Race and Equity Center, and our peers at RELA as we continually expand on one of our key institutional priorities, that the College will serve as the community college leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our institution is committed to advancing equity efforts throughout our campus community, and we look forward to engaging deeply in this work at RELA.”

– President Beverly Walker-Griffea


Photo courtesy of Kingsborough Community College

Who they are:
Kingsborough is Brooklyn’s only community college and is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. The college joined the ATD Network in 2012 and has held Leader College of Distinction status since 2018. Kingsborough CC is committed to its mission of providing both liberal arts and career education as well as strengthening and serving its diverse community.

What the president says:
“Kingsborough Community College (KCC) is pleased to be one of ten colleges that have been selected to participate in the Achieving the Dream and the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA). We serve a very diverse student body and now more than ever, we need an intentional plan to close racial equity gaps and advance the success of students of color.”

– President Claudia V. Schrader

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