Paris Lawrence, M.Ed., an experienced diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) educator most recently at University of Georgia is the new Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training and Development at Yale School of Medicine in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Lawrence will lead and design DEI training for the YSM community around topics such as anti-racism, unconscious bias, and microaggressions. This is a new position, and Lawrence said that he’s learned in his years of providing these trainings in Georgia, both at University of Georgia and at Georgia Southern University, how to assess the culture of a place and develop DEI workshops that are tailored to that population.
“A lot of people are paying close attention to racial issues now,” Lawrence says. “But people are still nervous to approach it. I’ve learned to meet people where they are and challenge them to progress toward more equitable and inclusive practices.”
Lawrence will work closely with Rochelle D. Smith, associate dean of diversity and inclusion and associate chief diversity officer at YSM. “We are absolutely thrilled to have Paris join us and bring his expertise in this space. We are one of very few academic institutions in general and medical schools specifically with these roles in place. His role is a testament to the commitment around building an even more diverse, equitable, and inclusive climate at YSM.”
Initially, Lawrence worked as a coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Georgia Southern. There, he provided educational sessions on microaggressions, unconscious bias, and gender identities for faculty, staff and students. He went on to lead University of Georgia’s certificate program in diversity and inclusion — an 18-hour program focused on increasing DEI competencies for faculty and staff through courses such as countering unconscious bias, deepening dialogues in diversity, emotional intelligence and diversity, and organizational excellence through diversity. With the implementation of his role at UGA, he said, many departments, schools, and businesses were reaching out for training and educational sessions.
“Many departments and units across campus reached out for training,” he said. “We also prioritized diversity education sessions to the community and provided training for accounting firms, civic organizations, humane societies, and technical college systems.”
Lawrence expects a similar community focus in his role at YSM, where the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has a strong community focus — bringing in local experts to lead discussions, including community leaders in diversity-related strategic goals, and making events and resources open to community members.
At University of Georgia where he served as Assistant Director of Diversity Education, Lawrence said he often worked with departments in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM), including public health, genetics, plant biology, marine sciences, mathematics, and veterinary medicine. At YSM, he looks forward to gaining an understanding of the training that already exists for faculty, staff, students, and other trainees, and to identifying possible collaborations as he designs and provides voluntary DEI education to the YSM community, including diversity champions and other constituent groups.