Allyson Livingstone joins the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

allyson livingstonePhoto/Mike Lovett

Allyson Livingstone

Allyson Livingstone is Brandeis University’s new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Education, Training, and Development.

Livingstone will work with Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas; She has an extensive background in social work, equity and social justice consulting in education from pre-schools to colleges and universities.

Her background is in community and college mental health, and she has served as a member of social work faculty at Simmons College and Salem State University.

A native of Brookline, Massachusetts whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica, Livingstone studied religion as an undergraduate student at Haverford College. She also earned a Master of Social Work degree from New York University and a doctorate from Simmons College School of Social Work.

BrandeisNOW caught up with Livingstone to discuss her hopes for her role at Brandeis:

BrandeisNOW: What are your primary responsibilities in your new role?

Allyson Livingstone: I will be offering ongoing training, education and support around equity, justice, multisystemic privilege, oppression and intersectionality to academic and non-academic departments and staff and student groups on campus. The purpose of this work is to move toward equitable outcomes for all in our community.

In choosing my job title, I wanted to be clear that my responsibilities also involve equity and inclusion. Diversity efforts alone are not enough – we’re diverse just by being in a room together. Equity and inclusion are about changing systems of privilege and oppression.

BNOW: What are your goals for diversity, equity and inclusion at Brandeis?

AL: Since I only just arrived and am new to the campus, I am working on meeting the many people in our community. In an institution, efforts to pursue equity happen in large part through building relationships. I want to develop relationships with people and departments.

I want to meet folks and let folks get to know me. I need to learn from our community to understand how we can further advance equitable outcomes. I want to learn from individuals about their needs and how Brandeis can best pursue social justice.

BNOW: How does your previous experience inform the work you’ll conduct at Brandeis?

AL: I certainly draw on my experiences as a former student. As a student, I was marginalized based on my identity and I didn’t always get what I needed with regard to equity, outcomes and justice.

I think many students are still not getting what they need, either, and are struggling with being heard, accepted and brought to the table. As an educator I wasn’t trained to deeply think about how privilege and oppression impacts the work that students do and the work that we do with students – it certainly does.

So, I want to learn from students and hear from them in real time to understand what they need with regard to equity and justice.

BNOW: What about Brandeis is special to you?

AL: I really appreciate that this space emerged, in part, out of resistance. The people who founded Brandeis recognized that exclusion was at work in their lives and in response they developed a community that reflected their truth.

Today, Brandeis is still here, which is incredible. There was a movement of resistance breaking through the inner-workings of oppression and privilege. That is inspiring and so exciting to me. It’s an expression of social action and justice.

That ethos – that narrative and ideology – is an incredible foundation for this space.

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