SPC examines equity

Dr. Devona Pierre, Ed.D., SPC’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Director

PINELLAS COUNTY — St. Petersburg College is taking a more in-depth examination of its own culture in terms of equity, starting with a recent college-wide event for employees that encouraged meaningful discussion, self-examination and understanding of the topic.

SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams said that the July 31 Live Equity event and work to promote equity within the college is important because the students SPC serves have so many varying needs.

“We look at groups, but when you get down to equity, it’s down to the individuals,” Williams said. “We can’t assume that because a student is part of one group that they are all the same.”

Almost 400 employees joined Williams in the online conversation that lasted throughout the morning. Ensuring equity is part of the college’s mission and outlined as one its values. However, SPC is working to guarantee that equity at the college is part of the everyday experience for students and employees, not just words.

Part of the college’s commitment to equity involves the creation of the role of an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Director. Dr. Devona Pierre, Ed.D., stepped into the position this month. Pierre previously served in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity at the University of South Florida.

“We will work to ensure equity by reviewing our policies, procedures and practices,” Pierre said. “Additionally, I hope to work collaboratively with the college community to identify priorities, our vision and strategic initiatives.”

The Live Equity event, led by Erik Smith, managing member of Inclusivity, LLC, offered many opportunities for attendees to listen, share and elevate understanding of equity through virtual breakout sessions.

“Whereas, equality means setting one standard for all, equity requires us to be willing to engage and invest time to understand individual circumstances,” Smith said. “The work that you’re doing is unprecedented, and you’re leaning into a space that others run away from. I applaud you – it’s very important work.

About: Dr. Devona Pierre, Ed.D., SPC’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Director

Dr. Pierre is an educator, trainer and strategist. A proud alumna of Dillard University in New Orleans and Auburn University in Alabama, her expertise is in developing and implementing frameworks that meaningfully connect equity, diversity and inclusion efforts with various areas of organizational functioning, including faculty and staff recruitment, development, and retention.

For more than 15 years, she has served in public and private higher education organizations, including in student and academic affairs, affirmative action, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Before coming to SPC, Dr. Pierre worked in the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity at the University of South Florida, where she focused on faculty diversity initiatives and Affirmative Action.

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