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EMU announces first executive director of diversity, equity, inclusion

Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán
Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán. Photo courtesy Eastern Mennonite University.

Eastern Mennonite University announced Tuesday the appointment of Dr. Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán as the inaugural executive director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

She begins her new role April 1.

Font-Guzmán is currently a professor of law and conflict studies and director in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

“In this new role, Dr. Font-Guzmán will give guidance to our campus community to live more fully into its identity as a faith-informed peace and justice university,” said President Susan Schultz Huxman. “During the search process, Dr. Font-Guzmán demonstrated that she has excelled at leading transformational change in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion inside and outside the classroom. We look forward to engaging and partnering with her here at EMU – as a dynamic ambassador, catalyst and facilitator in mobilizing our campus community around DEI goals.”

Font-Guzmán will guide and support students, faculty and staff in DEI efforts and in fulfilling long-range strategic plan initiatives. She will chair the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, serve on the president’s cabinet and provost’s council, and build supportive relationships and networks within the university and the wider community.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this transformational new chapter in the history of EMU and together foster a beloved campus community in which we can all share our common humanity, be our authentic selves, and experience a sense of belonging,” Font-Guzmán said.  “I am eager to meet and collaborate with everyone on campus in building the institutional capacity, mechanisms of accountability, incentives, and sustainability necessary, so that all at EMU feel at home, that their voices matter, that they are seen, and that they are not alone.”

In accepting the position, Font-Guzmán said she was “drawn to EMU’s institutional values and mission rooted in Christian faith, selflessness, compassion, empathy, solidarity, social justice, and community.” She also noted the university’s strong commitment to advancing DEI initiatives and its missional focus on educating students in their development of “a moral compass that is essential in today’s globalized world and the critical historical moment the nation faces.”

An accomplished teacher, scholar and administrator, Font-Guzmán holds a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution from Nova Southeastern University; a law degree summa cum laude from the Interamericana University of Puerto Rico; a Masters in Health Care Administration degree from Saint Louis University; and a BA degree from Coe College.

At Creighton, Font-Guzmán led three major curriculum revisions to embed DEI and social justice in the graduate certificates and master’s degrees offered within the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program. She and a colleague also developed and championed a successful “Speaking Truths” panel series – attracting hundreds of participants on campus and thousands online per event. These dialogues provide a space to name unproductive narratives, foster stories of DEI, and build relationships across diverse groups.

An active scholar-practitioner in conflict studies, she has led trainings, workshops and seminars in mediation and facilitation in the United States and international settings.

Among her research interests is “how people construct meaning at critical points in their lives about their identity and ways in which meaning making leads them to engage productively with conflict,” she said. “I am committed to exploring how underrepresented individuals create alternate stories and counter-narratives to uncover and address oppressive institutional arrangements that led to social injustices and inequities, especially those based on racism, colonialism, imperialism, misogyny, and national identity.”

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