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President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion Chairs

Leaders from left to right: Ximena Varela, Eric Brock, Rafael Cistero, Jeff Rutenbeck, Sabrina-Yvette D'Almeida.

The President's Council on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) is led by tri-chairs representing faculty, staff, and administration, as well as co-chairs from the Student Advisory Council (SAC). These five individuals play a critical role in AU's efforts to develop a culture where everyone feels at home.

Ximena Varela

PCDI Tri-Chair, Associate Professor of Arts Management and Program Director of Arts Management

"PCDI integrates the university vertically (from the highest levels of the university administration to every person on campus), and horizontally (by connecting staff, faculty and students). It is a crucial hub and connector to ensure that diversity and inclusion are part of all action and initiatives at the university. As a third-culture child of political exiles, and having worked internationally in arts and cultural management for all of my professional life, it is clear to me that we can only achieve excellence if we maximize our intellectual resources and capacity for empathy and tolerance. There is no excellence without equity. Exclusion limits the pool of good ideas and undermines the sustainability of solutions."

See Ximena's faculty profile.

Eric Brock

SAC Co-Chair, SPA '22/Political Science

"I currently serve as the Co-Chair of the Student Advisory Council to President Burwell's Council on Diversity and Inclusion. PCDI allows a student body to function as an enabler to the University's commitment on its plan for Diversity and Inclusion. Without student coordination, the goal of diversity and inclusion is lost. I wanted to make a change. Whether it's fighting for censored student journalists or starting the first Black Student Union at a predominantly white high school, I’ve always felt the need to take action when I know others couldn't. Being a freshman and serving on this body is a challenge, but as Nelson Mandela once said, "real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.""

Rafael Cestero

SAC Co-Chair, SIS '21/International Relations

"I joined PCDI because building community among students, especially students of underrepresented communities, is my passion. I think PCDI is important because it is a cross campus body that brings people together who have a mindset of inclusivity."

Jeffrey Rutenbeck

PCDI Tri-Chair and Dean of the School of Communication

"I am in my 7th year as dean of the School of Communication. It’s not only important to listen to, and communicate better with, various stakeholder groups on campus, it’s also vitally important to meaningfully address the cultural and systemic issues that are holding us back in terms of inclusive excellence. PCDI was formed a little more than two years ago as a first step toward opening those lines of communication. It is now evolving into an instrumental part of the University’s comprehensive Plan for Inclusive Excellence. PCDI’s evolution is continuing, and now that we have the Student Advisory Council on board (for which we received almost 200 applications), we are likely to see even more changes in the near future. My own personal journey in this regard started many years ago, and as I’ve taken on roles with more responsibility I get more committed to doing what I can to promote diversity, equity and genuine inclusion at all levels (especially with senior leadership). I have never been systematically victimized because of my identity, so my personal and professional inclusion practice depends on me constantly learning from others who have."

See Jeffrey's faculty profile.

Sabrina-Yvette d’Almeida

PCDI Tri-Chair and Director of Talent Development and Diversity Initiatives, Office of Human Resources

"I manage the Learning and Professional Development function for staff. I also manage all of the HR/ Talent Management initiatives related to Inclusive Excellence. PCDI is important because I believe we do an excellent job of hiring the best talent at AU. We now need to focus our energy on ensuring that all of the talented people at AU are included, heard, and leveraged to make AU the best workplace, learning institution and home for each person in our community. The challenges that AU is facing on a variety of different fronts can only be solved by working together. PCDI found me! PCDI became a place where I could be included, heard and where my talents have been leveraged."

See Sabrina's staff profile.