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Diversity & Inclusion at SOC

The School of Communication strives to maintain a sustainable environment that welcomes and nurtures diversity in all aspects, including diversity within the School, student body, staff, faculty, curriculum and teaching, creative, scholarly and professional activity, and service.

The Diversity Committee

The SOC Diversity Committee was established in 2008, originally as a faculty committee with a focus on diversity in recruitment and retention of faculty and students. The committee has expanded since then to include staff and student members. The SOC Diversity Committee strives to maintain a sustainable environment that welcomes and nurtures diversity in all aspects, including diversity within the School, student body, staff, faculty, curriculum and teaching, creative, scholarly and professional activity, and service. The committee will make recommendations for meaningful improvements for marginalized people and communities around issues of inclusion related to diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, nationality, disability, socioeconomic standing, and intellectual viewpoint. The Committee includes voting members from the faculty, staff and student body, and works in collaboration with the SOC Inclusion Officer and Inclusion Coordinator. If you are interested in getting involved with the Diversity Committee, contact socdiversity@american.edu

Jeremiah Patterson
Co-chair and Instructor, School of Communication

Danari White
Co-chair, Inclusion Coordinator and Assistant to the Dean 

Kristi Plahn-Gjersvold
Assistant Dean of Administration & Strategic Initiatives, School of Communication

Saif Shahin
Assistant Professor, School of Communication 

Sumaira Akber
Director of Undergraduate Student & Academic Affairs, School of Communication

Brianna Williams
Online Content Manager, School of Communication 

Sherri Williams
Assistant Professor, School of Communication

Russell Williams
Distinguished Artist in Residence, School of Communication

Bill Gentile
Journalist in Residence, School of Communication

Gemma Puglisi
Assistant Professor, School of Communication 

Priya Doshi
Inclusion Officer and Professorial Lecturer, School of Communication

Diversity & Inclusion Priorities

In order to make our community and culture more meaningfully inclusive, the SOC Diversity Committee and the SOC Dean’s Office have committed to focusing our initial efforts on the following priorities.

  1. Expand the composition of the Diversity Committee
  2. Clarify the charge of the Diversity Committee
  3. Clarify systems for reporting incidences of bias and discrimination
  4. Dedicate staff resources to implementation of the Inclusion Plan
  5. Provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training for staff and faculty; implement targeted training for managers and supervisors
  6. Facilitate faculty peer knowledge sharing on inclusive classrooms
  7. Offer formal leadership development opportunities for administrative staff
  8. Create a diverse faculty recruiting initiative
  9. Engage and support student groups
NAHJ members and panelists

Inclusive Success

An inclusive environment supports and celebrates the success of all our students, faculty and alumni.

Read stories

Matt Cipollone Sign

Diversity Initiatives

SOC is taking concrete steps to support diversity and inclusion on campus and in the media industry.

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Share Your Experiences

Our Diversity Committee wants to hear from you! Share your constructive ideas and personal experiences with socdiversity@american.edu.

Dr. Charlton McIlwain

Communications ·

Dr. Charlton McIlwain Proves the Black Community’s Contribution to the Internet and Social Media with “Black Software”

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Combating Hate with a Young Adult Novel

Those books shaped my life…This really has been a passion project for me.

Killian MacDonald's forthcoming novel uses young adult literature as a platform for social change. While her narrative follows the same arcs of heroism, romance, and adventure that appear throughout the genre, her accompanying strategic plan-written for her interdisciplinary honors capstone-uses her communication skills to teach teens about Islamophobia and inspires them to stand up for each other and be activists in their own right.

BA in Public Relations and Strategic Communication.