Edmonds Community College’s new Associate Vice President of Equity and Inclusion believes that relationships and active engagement are the keys to “moving the dial” on social justice, and equity and inclusion issues of systemic inequity, power, and privilege.
“I’m excited about the commitment I’ve seen to equity and inclusion on campus,” said Dr. Yvonne Terrell-Powell, vice president of Equity and Inclusion. “We serve a diverse student population, and we are committed to their success.
“I believe that the healthier we are as a diverse campus community the better we are able to engage with our students; create teaching and learning opportunities; connect with our communities; and promote our students and their success.”
Since taking on her new role March 16, Terrell-Powell has set out to cultivate relationships within the campus and broader community.
“In equity and inclusion work, I believe you need relationships,” Terrell-Powell said. “I’ve come to a point in my career and my life where I recognize that relationships make a difference. They can happen organically, but also intentionally, when you are trying to go beyond your sphere to build other relationships.”
As a self-proclaimed extrovert, Terrell-Powell is as comfortable with starting casual sidewalk conversations as she is with warmly addressing large groups of students and faculty to say, “My message is: Wherever you sit, stand, or lie, you can lead from that position.”
She challenges those she encounters to figure out “how to lead from the positions in which we find ourselves.”
Terrell-Powell said this is an urgent time as students and community members are encountering adverse situations around inequity, power, and privilege at an alarming rate.
“There’s really a sense of urgency about coming together, seeing that sense of urgency collectively, and then, moving for change,” she said.
“We do have the power and ability to make change.”
Once the conversations have begun, Terrell-Powell said the critical questions must be asked, like, “Who’s not included in the conversation?” and a hard look at the data must occur.
“You look at your persistent data to see what’s going on and to see what we can do to make sure everyone is elevated to same level,” she said. “You start asking questions, and you ask them enough that they become natural.
“Then everyone is asking the questions and looking at the data to see what they can do in their department.”
According to Terrell-Powell, this is where relationships come into play.
“The more we share and build relationships around diversity, equity, and inclusion, eventually the goal is to move the campus forward,” she said, “because we all have a responsibility to help move the dial.”
Before coming to Edmonds CC, Terrell-Powell served as the Associate Dean of Equity, Engagement, and Counseling for her last two years at Shoreline Community College, where she worked for more than 20 years.
She holds master’s degrees in psychology and psychological counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Pennsylvania State University. She is also a licensed mental health counselor.
Edmonds CC is committed to inclusion and respect for diversity, and promotes and maintains a safe, healthy, and professional learning and working environment for all. For more information about equity and inclusion at the college, visit edcc.edu/equityandinclusion.