Creating a Culture of Belonging: Jodie Glean Appointed Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Newly appointed as the University of Toronto’s Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Jodie Glean is already familiar with the challenges and opportunities that this role entails. She served as Interim Executive Director for five months, transitioning last December from her responsibilities as Director, Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO).

Jodie Glean
Jodie Glean, Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at U of T (photo by Moussa Faddoul)

Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture, explains the extensive process that led to Glean’s appointment.

“We conducted a consultative review process, including the President’s Office and representatives across divisions, campuses, and portfolios,” she explains. “During this review, Jodie’s incredible skill as a collaborative problem-solver shone through, as did her profound understanding of our University and her extensive experience engaging diverse members of our community in thinking and talking about change. This is hard work, and Jodie brings energy and commitment to every issue.”

With a strong track record of building relationships, Glean has frequently engaged across campuses and all levels of the institution to develop compassionate strategies that address community concerns. She provided administrative support to numerous initiatives, such as the Antisemitism Working Group, and her accomplishments in the field of equity and anti-racism work at and beyond U of T earned her the prestigious 2020 Black Business Professional Association (BBPA) Harry Jerome Diversity Award.

A self-professed “educator at heart,” Glean contends that culture change is not possible without strong educational programming to engage students, faculty, librarians, and staff in actively thinking, talking, and learning about the many manifestations of racism, discrimination, and bias, both at the University and in society at large. At ARCDO, she was instrumental in deepening our community’s learning and in collaborating with experts to provide restorative spaces for students, staff, faculty, and librarians directly impacted by racism and discrimination. Under her leadership, ARCDO also launched the Race, Equity & Action Speaker Series and the Reflect. Restore. Action. program.

As Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Glean is excited to continue working with
the ARCDO team. She notes that ARCDO’s mandate and offerings are grounded in the same theoretical frameworks that inform her current doctoral research at York University.

“For many years, addressing the issue of racism has been left off the table,” Glean notes, adding that the champions of anti-racism work at U of T and at peer institutions foreground its importance. In doing so, they recognize “the unique challenge that racism brings to any experience,” whether in the post-secondary sector, in society, or in daily life.

Glean also argues for an intersectional approach to equity work that acknowledges the interconnectedness of our identities with experiences of discrimination and systemic barriers based on race, gender, faith, disability, or other factors. This approach has informed her career, including more than a decade in the field of human rights and EDI at Humber College and York University. It will equally inform her first major objective as Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: to consult with the University community on collectively defining our institutional commitments to EDI and anti-racism and aligning recommendations of key institutional Indigenous and EDI-related reports—including those of the recently launched Anti-Asian Racism Working Group.

Glean’s own post-secondary experience motivates her continued striving to create a culture of belonging at the University of Toronto. Leaving the Caribbean (Grenada) to complete an undergraduate degree in Canada, she felt isolated and uncertain about how to find connection. In her final year, she enrolled in a life-changing course focused on race and politics taught by a Black professor, Dr. Annette Isaac. Isaac became her mentor.

For Glean, four years into a degree felt far too late. She is determined to build on the “amazing work already in existence” at U of T and to ensure that everyone—from new staff to prospective students, from senior leaders to long-serving faculty and librarians—can participate fully in everything the University has to offer from the beginning of their time here.

Creating a culture of belonging at the University of Toronto will remain Glean’s primary goal as she advances change in the role of Executive Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion.