Journalism & Women Symposium hires diversity & inclusion consultant

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The Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS) is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Mary J. Wardell to lead the organization in its efforts to create a more inclusive, welcoming space for all members.

Wardell began working with the all-volunteer JAWS Board of Directors this week. She will focus on building the board’s capacity to be more equitable and to forge a more inclusive organization, including conducting trainings for the board, crafting regional group discussion outlines and developing an evaluation plan to measure the efficacy of those initiatives.

“Dr. Wardell is someone who has helped many other groups and institutions overcome momentous challenges,” said JAWS Board of Directors President Yumi Wilson. “That is why our group needs her more than ever. With her help, we will address what divides us so that we may ultimately grow closer and stronger.”

Board members received applications for a diversity and inclusion consultant from several candidates, and Wardell stood out for her experience and thoughtful approach to building community.

Wardell is currently the vice provost for diversity engagement and community outreach at the University of San Francisco. She began as the inaugural chief diversity officer for the university in 2011, and is a professor of leadership and organizational change at USF’s School of Education and School of Management. She received the Most Influential Woman award by the San Francisco Business Times in 2017 for the impact of her leadership in the community.

Wardell takes an equity-minded approach to her work to build community across differences using dialogue experiences, centering narratives and experiences of historically marginalized and vulnerable persons.

“In this time of rising conflict and uncertainty, it is crucial that everyone has a voice and is heard,” Wardell said. “I am proud to serve and support JAWS as the board commits to more inclusivity, engagement and care of the whole membership community.”

Wardell’s hiring comes after unacceptable, harmful and disrespectful comments were made toward women of color during the 2018 JAWS conference in mid-October. The Board of Directors, a newly elected group of 13 women from diverse backgrounds and experience, prioritized hiring a consultant to guide them and the organization in creating a more welcoming organization, so that every member feels JAWS is a safe support network that can help her thrive and grow.

In addition to Wardell’s hiring, board members have consulted with other affinity journalism organizations, held weekly meetings to discuss a path forward for JAWS and established a monthly advisory board meeting with past leaders to garner advice and insight on the organization’s future.

The hiring of a professional diversity and inclusion consultant is just one of many steps to come.
Positive change in our organization, our industry and our country will not come overnight. Much hard work is still ahead, and we are working diligently to create the organization we all envision.

The Journalism & Women Symposium is a nonprofit journalism organization supporting the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and working toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.

For questions and comments, please contact comments@jaws.org.