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Shaya Gregory Poku Appointed VP for Equity & Social Justice

Dear members of the Emerson Community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Shaya Gregory Poku (she/her) as Emerson’s next Vice President for Equity & Social Justice, effective August 1, 2022, following a nation-wide search. Shaya joins Emerson at a unique moment to help align the Institution’s leadership and vision with the College’s equity and social justice initiatives. As Vice President, Shaya will report directly to the President, serve on the President’s Council, and consult with the Board of Trustees, Board of Advisors, and Alumni Board regarding matters of equity and inclusion. Shaya will oversee the intersectional work of the Social Justice Center, Elma Lewis Center, and Healing & Advocacy Collective as they continue to collaborate, advocate, and support stakeholders across the College.

Shaya most recently served as Associate Vice President for Institutional Equity & Belonging at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where she also held roles of the Dean for Equity, Social Justice, and Community Impact; and Director of the Center for Social Justice and Community Impact. In those positions, she provided strategic guidance to the Board and President on equity matters and founded the Office for Institutional Equity and Belonging to make justice central to operations at Wheaton. Prior to Wheaton, Shaya previously was the Program Director of the Social Justice Resource Center at Northeastern University, and has worked with the international non-governmental organization Search for Common Ground, whose mission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict away from adversarial approaches toward cooperative solutions.

Shaya holds advanced degrees in Intercultural Relations with a concentration in Intercultural Conflict Management from Lesley University, and in Security and Resilience Studies from Northeastern University. She is also a certified mediator through the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. 

Shaya said of her new Emerson appointment, “I believe in working to create institutional change that is systemic, strategic, and relational. I am humbled to join the Emerson community and become a partner in deepening Emerson’s equity and social justice work, boldly and creatively.”

As we welcome Shaya, I also want to extend my thanks and appreciation to Ruthanne Madsen, VP for Enrollment Management and Interim Supervisor of the Social Justice Center, who chaired the search to fill this important position, and to the members of the committee: 

  • Anthony Pinder, Vice Provost, Internationalization & Equity
  • Jamie Montgomery-Hyde, Interim Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Tamera Marko, Executive Director ELC, Social Justice Center
  • Samantha Ivery, Director of Equity Initiatives, Internationalization & Equity
  • Chris Daly, Assistant Dean, Campus Life
  • Alayne Fiore, Director of Operations, Social Justice Center
  • Amanda Wade, Assistant Registrar, Registrar’s Office
  • Paul Mihailidis, Professor/Assistant Dean, GPD, Journalism
  • Kim McLarin, Professor, WLP, Interim Dean Graduate & Professional Studies
  • Shaun Clarke, Assistant Professor, Visual & Media Arts
  • Mark Donovan, Board of Advisors
  • Nanci Isaacs, Alumni Board President
  • Eryn McCallum, Co-Chair POWER
  • Shruti Rajkumar, President, Access: SDU 
  • Yueqi Cheng, International Student, SJC SURGE, 

I also want to recognize the many members of the community, including students, staff, faculty, Board of Trustees, Board of Advisors, Alumni Board, and others, who met with Shaya during the extensive interview process. I am confident that Shaya is the right leader and collaborator to guide Emerson’s equity and social justice initiatives.  

We will share our plans to introduce Shaya to our community over the summer months. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating Shaya as she joins the Emerson family.


William P. Gilligan
Interim President

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