Natural Partners: Leveraging departmental strengths to achieve lasting diversity goals

When:  Jun 29, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (PT)
Associated with  Global HERC Community
Successful workforce diversity efforts require shared goals, clear targets, targeted interventions, and transparent data. This requires collaboration between Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action; Human Resources; Institutional Assessment and Research; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Offices. Panelists will discuss models for sustained collaboration, including strategies for building buy-in and overcoming internal resistance. This webinar is brought to you through a collaboration of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) and the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC).

Speakers: Shirley J. Wilcher, MA, JD, CAAP Executive Director American Association for Access Equity and Diversity (AAAED)

Dr. Richard Anthony Baker Executive Director for Institutional Equity and EEO, University Title IX Coordinator Rice University

Dr. Carmen Suarez Assistant Professor of Practice in the Educational Administration and Higher Education department of Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Eddie Freeman Executive Director in Human Resources at the University of Texas at Arlington & Chair of the Higher Education Research Consortium’s Governance Board


Shirley J. Wilcher, M.A., J.D., CAAP currently serves as Executive Director of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED), formerly the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) an organization of equal opportunity, diversity and affirmative action professionals working in higher education, government and the private sector. During the Clinton Administration, Wilcher served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), in the Employment Standards Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.


Her experience includes service as associate civil rights counsel with the Education and Labor Committee, US House of Representatives; Director for State Relations and General Counsel with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, staff attorney with the National Women’s Law Center and CEO of Wilcher Global, LLC, a diversity management and consulting firm.

Ms. Wilcher is an honors graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts; holds a Master of Arts Degree from the New School for Social Research in New York, NY; and a Juris Doctor from the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Among her credentials is a Certified Affirmative Action Professional (CAAP) certificate from the American Association for Affirmative Action, a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Maryland; a Certificate in Labor Arbitration from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Washington, D.C.; and a Certificat Pratique de Langue francaise from the University of Paris, Paris, France.



Despite Dr. Richard Anthony Baker being a native of Compton, California, he considers Texas to be his home. Soon after his arrival in 1994, Dr. Baker began college and eventually matriculated from the University of Texas at Austin with honors. After graduation, Dr. Baker attended Texas Tech University where he had the distinction of being the first African American to graduate with a doctorate of jurisprudence and a Ph.D. (Higher Education). Dr. Baker is currently Executive Director for Institutional Equity and EEO at Rice University. Previously, Dr. Baker served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Vice President of the Office of Equal Opportunity Services (“EOS”) for the University of Houston System and University of Houston (“University”). As a clearinghouse for best practices in the area of diversity, affirmative action, and equal opportunity, EOS coordinates and enforces the federal and state equal opportunity regulations for the University. Specifically, Dr. Baker was responsible for managing the University's affirmative action, anti-discrimination, and anti-harassment efforts, including providing administrative guidance, conducting formal investigations of complaints as well as providing prevention training for the entire University community. Dr. Baker has been re-elected for a second term as president of American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) (2020 – 2022).


Carmen Suarez is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Educational Administration and Higher Education department of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Prior to this, she was vice president for global diversity and inclusion at Portland State University.  She also served as the founding chief diversity officer of the University of Idaho. Suarez has developed underrepresented faculty/staff/student strategic recruitment and retention plans, investigated and resolved civil rights and trauma informed complaints, monitored various dimensions of institutional equity, and overseen Title IX, ADA and AA/EEO compliance. She led DEI education initiatives, as well as diversity strategic planning dimensions for two university strategic plans, making concrete the path for institutional inclusive excellence. Suarez has a B.A. and M.A. in history and a Ph.D. in higher education administration.



Eddie Freeman is the Executive Director in Human Resources at the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to this role, he served as the Executive Director in Equal Opportunity Services for 12 years. Mr. Freeman works with the University’s Faculty Affairs Department in all phases of the faculty search process to increase the diversity of faculty and shares strategies and best practices for faculty leaders to realize more equitable and inclusive faculty searches. Mr. Freeman is known as an innovative and analytical executive with a proven track record of accomplishment in staffing/recruiting, diversity programs, community and employee relations.


Captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing is provided by CaptionAccess for all HERC webinars. Transcripts available.