Sanford Announces Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

 January 9, 2023

Cassandra Boyd will join the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy on Feb. 1 as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as announced by the school.

Cassandra Boyd
Cassandra Boyd

Boyd will serve as the staff director of the diversity, equity and inclusion office at Sanford. In her role as Director, she serves as an institutional resource, promoting strategic diversity efforts by offering faculty, staff, and students effective tools to enhance their understanding of the major trends in the field of DEI and belonging.

Jay Pearson, the H.M. Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy, began a term as the inaugural Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sanford on Jan. 1. (News story)

Dean Judith Kelley said: “Sanford is committed to continuing to grow as a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. Jay Pearson and Cassandra Boyd will be crucial in guiding these efforts, but the work belongs to all of us. While DEI work is important in and of itself, for an academic mission like ours, it is also foundational to our ability to be excellent in our educational and research missions. I am grateful to the Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which consists of students, faculty and staff, several of whom played a key role in the search for our new director position. I wholeheartedly welcome Cassandra and support Jay as they take on these vital roles.”

Boyd's career in higher education encompasses more than 15 years of experience in various student affairs and DEI functional areas, including leadership and service, multicultural services, student success initiatives, food insecurity initiatives and a women’s resource center.

Prior to joining Sanford, she served in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Coastal Carolina University with increased oversight to execute DEI professional development, advance inclusive pedagogical opportunities, and expand campus-wide recruitment and retention initiatives. She was both an administrator and a faculty member of communication and first-year experience at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas. She also held similar positions at Texas A&M at Galveston and Florida International University.

Boyd earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Savannah State University, her master’s degree in higher education administration from Florida International University and her doctorate in higher education leadership from Sam Houston State University.

She published chapters on the differences in the perceptions and uses of educational benefits for veterans as a function of race/ethnicity and gender in Exemplars of Conducting Archival Data Analyses: A Collection of K-12 and Higher Education Studies. Boyd has been honored with Staff Excellence Awards, 20/20 Cultural Beliefs Award, Hat’s Off to Women Award and most recently the Joseph E. Heyward Humanitarian Award by the South Carolina College Personnel Association. Her academic interests include access to higher education, student engagement, and inclusive excellence.

“As an adult of a military career father, I have a deep appreciation for diverse cultures. I am passionate about those who have an adventurous spirit and a willingness to continue on their own journey to make individuals feel more valued, respected and heard,” Boyd said.

Staff member Jon Abels, chair of the search committee said of Boyd’s hiring: “Cassandra brings the background, work experience, and deep commitment to creating and nurturing diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments. The committee believes that her strengths and talents align with our needs and aspirations. We are thrilled she will join our community.”

Abels served as chair of the committee, which included faculty and staff members Abdullah Antepli, Laronda Blessing, Mennah El-Gammal, Jay Pearson, Sumetrice Porter, Linda Simpson and Mallory SoRelle.

The diversity, equity and inclusion office advances Sanford as a community that embraces all its members and educates leaders prepared to engage policy problems with a keen understanding of systemic racism and other manifestations of structural inequality.

In 2020, Sanford developed a collective action plan to fight social bias, discrimination and racism. The collective action plan organizes school-wide efforts and commitments and lays out metrics and timelines for implementation and transparent reporting for each commitment to fight social bias, discrimination and racism. 

Sanford also has a Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, currently co-chaired by staff member Jon Abels and faculty member Mallory SoRelle. In addition, Sanford recently hired a student wellness and engagement coordinator Mackenzie Phillips.

Learn more about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Sanford.