Virginia Tech’s Office for Equity and Accessibility, which is led by assistant vice president Kelly Oaks and oversees the university’s civil rights compliance and offers resources to address workplace conflicts, has moved to report to Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president for operations and administration.

Equity and Accessibility was previously part of the Division of Human Resources.

This organizational change provides greater support, leader sponsorship, and empowerment to the office to more effectively address and resolve campus issues of discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence.

“Our goal is to provide a campus environment where all members of the community can thrive,” said Oaks. “This change, which came as a result of a thorough evaluation of our office’s structure and services, will allow for better coordination and collaboration across student and employee functions to make our university a great place to study and work.”

“I am pleased to welcome Kelly to my leadership team,” said Pinkney. “Through her team’s continued focus, we will help Virginia Tech foster a more inclusive environment for all who are or want to be part of the Hokie Nation. I look forward to working with Kelly to continue enhancing our efforts, ensuring compliance with laws, and championing equity and accessibility.”

Oaks has also bolstered resources to enhance the Equity and Accessibility team’s efficiency and address increasing demands as the university grows.

Katie Polidoro was promoted to director of Title IX compliance and Title IX coordinator in July 2018. Polidoro leads the university’s Title IX unit to drive awareness and prevention of sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, for all students and employees. Polidoro joined Virginia Tech in 2014 and previously served as Title IX investigator and gender-based violence prevention specialist and deputy Title IX coordinator for students. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, she worked on issues related to gender-based violence for more than 15 years at community-based organizations. Polidoro earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Vermont and her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.

Renee Byrd joined Virginia Tech as director of affirmative action in September 2018. Byrd has 23 years of experience in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, and human resources. She has a bachelor’s in human resources from LaSalle University and a master’s in human resources from Colorado Technical University. She is certified as a military equal opportunity advisor and a civil treatment facilitator. Byrd currently serves on the board of the National Industry Liaison Group, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to improve communications between the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and industry liaison groups (federal contractors).

Avery Bakeley joined Virginia Tech as assistant director of education, outreach, and conflict resolution in March 2018. Bakeley develops institution-wide civil rights compliance training, education, and outreach in addition to overseeing the university’s conflict resolution and mediation program. She is a certified civil treatment facilitator and certified to administer the Conflict Dynamics Profile Assessment. Bakeley is an alumna of Virginia Tech and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She is a member of the Maryland State Bar and joins Virginia Tech with 19 years of experience in civil rights and equal employment opportunity as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Pamela Vickers, who has served as director of ADA and access services since March 2016, has expanded her role to include serving as the university’s dedicated 504 compliance specialist. Vickers joined Virginia Tech in 2010 as the university’s ADA coordinator. Prior to Virginia Tech, Vickers worked as the disability services coordinator at Roanoke College and as a school psychologist for the Roanoke County school system. Vickers holds an educational specialist degree and earned the professional associate certification from the National Association of ADA Coordinators (NAADAC) in 2016.

In addition to these changes, Oaks has added investigation, case management, and accommodations resources. 

“The investment we have made in these talented leaders and experienced employees will enable the equity and accessibility team to serve our entire population of students and employees better,” said Oaks.