New Associate Deans for Social Work and Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Named

Diversity; Faculty

A leadership transition is underway at the Brown School, as two new associate deans will guide the school’s efforts in social work and diversity in the 2019/2020 academic year.

Tonya Edmond will become Associate Dean for Social Work, replacing Patricia Kohl, who will be taking a sabbatical in order to focus on her research. 

Dean Mary McKay praised Kohl, who led the school’s social work program and a successful reaccreditation effort. “We want to honor Trish as she has done a tremendous job leading the school of social work through a rigorous reaccreditation process,” McKay said. “She and the team have thoroughly supported our MSW students and led a number of curriculum innovations.”

Edmond is a professor who is a faculty fellow in the Office of the Provost, working on women faculty leadership development and other diversity initiatives. Her research is focused on testing the effectiveness of interventions for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, sex trafficking and intimate partner violence. This is her second appointment to the role of Associate Dean for Social Work, which she held before becoming the school’s first Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.

“I love the social work profession and am deeply committed to ensuring that our students receive the highest quality of education and training possible,” Edmond said of her return to this academic leadership role. “I see it as an opportunity to support the Brown School’s diversity, inclusion and equity efforts by enhancing our curriculum and creating more inclusive classrooms that prepare our students to advance social justice across the array of career paths they pursue.”

“Tonya has worked continuously to achieve significant gains in cultivating a more diverse and inclusive environment at the Brown School,” McKay said. “We are so proud of the work she has done.”

Recent efforts include a recent diversity engagement survey of faculty, staff and students as well as the creation of an Advancing Racial Equity Transformation Team, designed to create both short-term and long-term action agendas for change at the School. 

Vetta Sanders Thompson will assume the role of Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity on September 1, 2019. 

“We are grateful to have the continued strong leadership of Vetta Sanders Thompson. She has a wealth of expertise to offer this role and further amplify our equity efforts,” Dean McKay added.

Vetta Sanders Thompson, E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity at the Brown School, has focused her career on the health and well-being of ethnic and racial minority communities, particularly the African-American community. She is a noted researcher in the areas of racial identity, psychosocial implications of race and ethnicity in health behavior, and determinants of health disparities. A licensed clinical psychologist, she also serves as co-director of the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with Dean McKay in this new capacity as she guides the Brown School into the next decade,” Thompson said. “I look forward to collaborating with Brown School faculty, staff and students in the effort to promote equity and inclusion in all environments where people live, grow, work and play.”

Remaining in their current academic leadership roles are: 

  • Associate Professor Lora Iannotti as Associate Dean for Public Health;
  • Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor Michal Grinstein-Weiss as Associate Dean for Policy Initiatives;
  • Carolyn Lesorogol, Associate Dean for Global Strategy and Programs; and
  • Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development Sean Joe as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Research.