As the very first diversity, fairness and inclusion officer at Portland’s Maine Higher education of Art & Style, Margaret Brownlee juggles duties from mentoring students to schooling staff. A year into her task at the university that just lately tweaked its title, the Portland indigenous chatted with Mainebiz about her strategies for the calendar year in advance, and her information for all Maine companies when it arrives to DEI.

Mainebiz: What 1st attracted you to increased training?

Margaret Brownlee: When I moved  back residence to Maine in 2011, I discovered a great job performing for TRIO School Plans at the University of Southern Maine [which helps first-generation and income-eligible college students, as well as those with disabilities, achieve their academic, career and financial goals]. The work concerned instructing assist courses and supporting superior university pupils in their transition to college or university. I labored at USM and Deering, Portland and Sacopee Valley higher faculties. I fell in really like with higher schooling by functioning with the college students in TRIO.

Mainebiz: How do you determine range, equity and inclusion?

MB: I are inclined to use only three words: People today, electrical power and perspectives. Having said that, when I’m accomplishing a DEI coaching, I go in-depth with the definitions and communicate about the diversity of men and women, thoughts and perspectives. I clarify fairness in terms of policy and energy dynamics and then inclusion of voice and organizational culture.

Mainebiz: You have also talked about the up coming phase of DEI that incorporates justice. Can you reveal?

MB: I consider it’s seriously critical to unpack DEI in conditions of all the other factors. There’s a new collaborative referred to as JEDI [Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion], which talks about incorporating justice and how we address persons in our core values and beliefs. I also like to contain the discussion of belonging and how we utilize friendships and interactions as portion of this do the job. I also communicate about access, due to the fact with out accessibility you can’t have any of these points.

Mainebiz: What was it like expanding up as a biracial man or woman in Maine?

MB: It is difficult, because I really feel like a stranger in my individual hometown [Portland] due to the fact Maine is a predominantly white condition. For case in point, I’m continuously questioned exactly where I’m from for the reason that of the shade of my pores and skin or the way I communicate, and it is irritating. I desire men and women in Maine were far more inclusive and open up-minded, instead than continually placing me into a box. It is tough to make clear, but it is grow to be less difficult in the final several decades with the resurgence of Black Life Make a difference and the thrust for DEI across the place.

Mainebiz: What are your major career tasks at Maine School of Artwork & Design?

MB: My concentrate is to create a tradition of social change, racial justice and inclusion, which indicates that I focus on supporting learners, faculty and staff members. I’m a mentor for the Pupils of Color Coalition and Gender Sexuality Alliance. I also do the job intently with the vice president for educational affairs on diversifying the curriculum, and I aid workshops and education for human assets. It is a whole lot of function, but I truly love it and I’m passionate about this topic.

Mainebiz: What tops your to-do listing in your second year on the work?

MB: This 12 months I’d really like to place alongside one another a dynamic and effective Resilience 7 days in February 2022 where by pupils, faculty and staff members come collectively close to subjects of intersectionality, belonging and resilience. I’d also really like to carry in neighborhood partners this year like Indigo Arts Alliance, Creative Portland and Space Gallery.

Mainebiz: Outdoors your position, what are some of your other routines connected to DEI?

MB: I serve on the South Portland Human Rights Fee, in which our concentrate is on supporting marginalized communities. I also facilitate DEI training to enable firms and nonprofits advance their DEI targets.

Mainebiz: Last but not least, what’s the very first issue you’d advise any Maine employer about DEI ?

MB: I would really encourage them to do a “SWOT” assessment by defining the strengths, weaknesses, chances and threats of the organization. Then host a few concentration groups of six to 8 people who are dedicated to DEI and are interested in having in-depth discussions about the matter and look at hiring somebody like me to support facilitate the subsequent ways. It is a resourceful system that employs ideal methods and involves essential examination, motion merchandise and strategic scheduling.