Academy aims to improve climate for faculty, staff
Nicole Hudson, deputy mayor for racial equity and priority initiatives for the City of St. Louis, has been appointed assistant vice chancellor for the newly created Academy for Diversity and Inclusion at Washington University in St. Louis, effective Aug. 27.
In her new role, Hudson will serve as the inaugural leader of the academy, which was announced earlier this year and will support university faculty and staff with programming, training, events and other resources that aim to improve the campus climate of diversity and inclusion.
“With the launch of the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion, we are making an important step toward creating a more inclusive, welcoming climate on our campuses,” said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer. “Under Nicole’s capable leadership, I am confident the academy will prove to be an invaluable resource for our faculty and staff as they continue the hard work of strengthening the university community.”
Hudson has held her current position since 2017, serving as a senior policy adviser to the mayor of St. Louis with a primary focus on institutionalizing equity as a core value of city government. She oversees the development of the Equity Indicatorsproject, which ties city performance metrics to outcomes to create a baseline measurement for equity. She is also responsible for developing and cultivating relationships with regional stakeholders, assisting internal agencies and external institutions in operationalizing equity, and facilitating and supporting cross-departmental alignment around initiatives that drive equitable outcomes.
“In Nicole Hudson, we have found someone who has not only a keen sense of the broad issues and challenges related to diversity and inclusion in general, but also a deep understanding of the St. Louis region in particular,” said Adrienne Davis, vice provost and the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, who served as chair of the search committee tasked with recruiting for the position. “We are delighted that she has accepted our offer to join us here at Washington University to help us further our work to create a culture that celebrates diversity of all kinds, and where everyone feels welcome, included and engaged. I am confident that, together, we will make significant progress toward our most important goals.”
Prior to joining the mayor’s office, Hudson served as communications director for the Ferguson Commission, appointed in 2014 by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to study the underlying root causes that led to the unrest in the St. Louis region following the death of Michael Brown Jr., and to make policy recommendations based on the identified issues. In this role, she led communications both during and after the commission’s work, with the development of the Ferguson Commission report, “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity.” She went on to serve as lead catalyst for Forward Through Ferguson, a nonprofit organization charged by the Ferguson Commission with facilitating implementation of the report, where she was responsible for strategy, funding, partnerships, community process and daily management of the organization.
“Core to the mission of the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion is an ideal – a ‘culture and climate of diversity and inclusion’ – that has no precedent in our country or the St. Louis region,” Hudson said. “I am excited to help Washington University continue to move toward that ideal, and I am eager to become part of a university community dedicated to the significant visioning, intentionality and investment required to do so.”
A graduate of Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Hudson is active in the St. Louis community. She is a board member for Invest STL and the Arts & Education Council of St. Louis and served on the Regional Arts Commission Cultural Plan Thought Leaders Forum. She was recently a panelist for the Kennedy Center Arts Summit. She is co-founder of the St. Louis for the Love digital community and has been recognized by Alive magazine as a 2015 Innovator and as a member of its 2014 Buzzlist.