This fall, Virginia Tech launched a new model to revitalize and advance inclusion and diversity efforts on campus, InclusiveVT. Central to this model, President Timothy D. Sands appointed an executive council and inclusion coordinators. A third group, the advisory community, is in formation now.
The President’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council is a representation of senior leadership at Virginia Tech who guide, collaborate, and support the InclusiveVT framework. The council members collectively are held accountable for the university efforts toward a more inclusive Virginia Tech.
The inclusion coordinators are appointed to advocate for inclusion and diversity within their areas. They serve as university resources by becoming collaborators, liaisons, proactive information seekers, and conduits for the Virginia Tech community. They make up the ear-to-the-ground group that helps to inform, support, and promote the efforts around InclusiveVT.
Currently, the coordinators are helping to build the advisory community, an opportunity for various constituents and friends of the university to take an active role in InclusiveVT.
The coordinators have been advocates for inclusion and diversity initiatives prior to their selection for this role in addition to their normal work responsibilities. Each hails from a variety of campus offices to bring different perspectives to InclusiveVT and provide faculty, staff, students, and community members a person to connect with for inclusion- and diversity-related activities.
The inclusion coordinators include: Lori Baker-Lloyd, Dannette Gomez Beane, Maria Elisa Christie, Juan Espinoza, Ellen Plummer, and Patricia Smith.
“The inclusion coordinators have fully embraced this new role and have been pivotal in getting the InclusiveVT model off the ground and running, in addition to their normal job responsibilities,” Sands said. “Their commitment and leadership is keeping the university on track to enhance the climate and inclusivity of our community.”
Each coordinator is introduced in more detail below.
Baker-Lloyd serves as executive director of University Organized and Professional Development and oversees the development and delivery of the professional development programs and consulting services offered to all Virginia Tech employees, along with the Diversity Development Institute. Virginia Tech's Executive Development Institute and Management Academy are also coordinated through University Organized and Professional Development.
Before her appointment at Virginia Tech, Baker-Lloyd worked as the vice president for Global HR Programs at Bank of N.T. Butterfield in Bermuda, assistant vice president and director of human resources at the Centre Group of Companies in Bermuda, and leadership positions with AMC Inc. in Atlanta and MTV Networks in New York.
Baker-Lloyd received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Howard University, senior professional of human resources designation from the Society of Human Resources Management, and certificates from U.S. and international development organizations.
Dannette Gomez Beane
Gomez Beane directs the Office of Graduate Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives, where she works with more than 150 academic programs to maximize the recruitment and retention of a high-achieving and diverse graduate student body. She also directs the Diversity Scholars program that mentors select graduate students to implement research and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion around campus.
Gomez Beane has been involved with diversity and inclusion work for more than 15 years. She helped to start the first Latina organization at Hollins University; worked with AmeriCorps, the Boys and Girls Club, and Total Action Against Poverty; and served on diversity committees during her nine years at Virginia Tech.
Gomez Beane received her bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Hollins University and master’s degree in counselor education from Virginia Tech. She currently is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Virginia Tech.
Maria Elisa Christie
Christie is director of Women and Gender in International Development at the Office of International Research, Education, and Development. She works with faculty and students at Virginia Tech and other U.S. universities, as well as with universities and research institutes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, carrying out research and capacity building to increase gender equity, primarily in agriculture and natural resource management. Her program provides internship, research, and employment opportunities to Virginia Tech students. Christie co-teaches a class on women, environment, and development and runs a WGD Discussion Series.
Prior to her arrival at Virginia Tech in 2006, Christie served as a faculty member at the University of Indianapolis and as an instructor at the University of Texas at Austin, Southwestern University, and Texas Lutheran University. Christie also worked for a variety of international development and environment organizations in the U.S. and Latin America before academia.
Christie received her bachelor’s degrees in history, international studies, and romance languages and master’s degree in Spanish with a graduate certificate in women's studies from the University of Oregon. She received a doctorate in geography from the University of Texas at Austin.
Espinoza serves as associate director in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and director of diversity and access initiatives for Enrollment and Degree Management. Espinoza develops new programs and initiatives that better serve underrepresented students as they navigate the offices within Enrollment and Degree Management. In addition, he collaborates with other campus offices to ensure the university is recruiting, retaining, and graduating underrepresented students.
Prior to coming to Virginia Tech in 2007, Espinoza was assistant director of admissions at Radford University. Currently, he is president of the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network.
Espinoza received two bachelor’s degrees in political science and public and urban affairs from Virginia Tech. He received a master’s degree in corporate and professional communication from Radford University.
Plummer serves as assistant provost in the Office of the Provost. She provides administrative support to governance processes; assists in supporting faculty recruitment, retention, and development initiatives; and administers grants to support vice services, safety, and security. Currently, she is chairing the Governor’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence.
Plummer joined Virginia Tech in fall 2000 as director of the Women’s Center and teaches in the higher education program. Prior to Virginia Tech, Plummer worked at Duke University and was affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work.
Plummer received a bachelor’s degree in human development and family relations and a master’s degree in community organizing from the University of Connecticut. She has a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech.
Smith serves as director for Multicultural Programs and Services in the Division of Student Affairs. She has responsibility for five university-chartered student organizations, six history and heritage month celebrations, and four cultural achievement ceremonies, in addition to daily advocacy for students, in particular, as they relate to success for marginalized populations. The office partners with faculty and staff to enhance the student experience, departments to reduce unintended harm, and students to develop personal agency around intercultural competence.
Prior to her current role, Smith was active in residential life positions at Virginia Tech for almost a decade. Before coming to Blacksburg, Smith held positions with the University of Arizona and Semester at Sea.
Smith received a bachelor’s degree in speech and communication studies from Clemson University, a master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education from Texas A&M University, and a master’s in business administration from Virginia Tech.
InclusiveVT Inclusion Coordinators
Top row, from left: Lori Baker-Lloyd, Dannette Gomez Beane, and Maria Elisa Christie. Bottom row, from left: Juan Espinoza, Ellen Plummer, and Patricia Smith.