On Jan. 30, the newly hired Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO), Maurice Nelson was a guest on the “Diversity Straight Up” podcast where he spoke about his new role at Sacred Heart University.
According to the Corridor Business Journal, “Diversity Straight Up” is a business podcast that discusses topics like equity, diversity, and inclusion through constructive conversation. It is hosted by Sarika Bhakta, the President of Nikeya Diversity Consulting, and Anthony Arrington, the co–founder and managing partner with Top RANK, a professional search and diversity consulting firm.
During the podcast, Bhakta and Arrington talked to Nelson about his background, core values, job as CDIO, relationship with President Petillo, and much more.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we did a good job of living by our values,” said Nelson. “My role is to help hold us accountable to our stated values through our journey to Inclusive Excellence.”
Nelson, who identifies as Black and Mexican, is originally from Savannah, Georgia. He got his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Savannah State University (SSU), which is a historically black college/university (HBCU).
While at SSU, Nelson’s passion grew for social justice, diversity and inclusion. He was also involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“I was president of the SSU chapter and vice president for the Georgia NAACP youth and college division. In that role, I really explored the depths of diversity, because although I was in a predominantly Black environment, it was incredibly diverse from the perspective of other intersecting identities and lived experiences,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s time at SSU allowed him to grow both academically and professionally.
“My involvement and leadership roles with NAACP and SSU SGA illuminated my purpose and passion for advocacy, reform, and social change,” said Nelson.
While discussing his role at SHU, he talked about what he does and what he wants to accomplish as the CDIO. His job includes overseeing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) at the university.
“As the CDIO, I set the direction for DEIB at SHU, which is our journey toward inclusive excellence and fostering a sustained sense of belonging for all members of the SHU family,” said Nelson. “I define DEIB-related terms for SHU, I write our strategic plan, and commission other groups to help advance our work.”
Nelson also mentioned his relationship with President Petillo and the importance of his DEIB efforts.
“President Petillo has been incredibly supportive and empowers me with the autonomy to truly lead and act in the best interest of Inclusive Excellence at SHU,” said Nelson. “He is also committed to Inclusive Excellence himself, and vocally expresses his unwavering commitment to DEIB.”
Nelson, who has only been at SHU for five months, has already had an impact on campus and is working on a plan to grow diversity and inclusion.
“I am really excited to be working on the Pioneer Plan for Inclusive Excellence, which is our DEIB strategic plan. This is being developed with the assistance of the Inclusive Excellence Advisory Council and is slated to be effective by fall 2023,” he said. “Students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to contribute feedback and other ideas to the plan. This five-year plan will give us clear, actionable, and accountable guidance to move us closer to Inclusive Excellence.”