When Joanna Ravello was hired as Stonehill College’s associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion (AP-DEI) in fall ‘21, she decided to hang a photo arrangement above the desk in her new office featuring her family members. 

“We are very close,” Ravello said. “I have been able to achieve so much because of them.”

With more than 15 years of experience driving DEI initiatives across various organizations, Ravello has certainly accomplished quite a bit throughout her career. Most recently, she served as Director of Community and Organizational Development for University of Rhode Island, where she helped set the institution’s vision for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

As Ravello settles into her new role at Stonehill, here are 10 things to know about her.

1. Her position is newly created. As AP-DEI, Ravello reports to DeBrenna Agbényiga, provost and vice president for academic affairs. She is responsible for developing and building consensus for a campus-wide DEI strategic plan. 

2. She gets by with lots of help from her colleagues. Ravello often collaborates with the Offices of Academic Affairs, Student Life, Human Resources and Admissions. “A major part of this role is partnering with others on campus to strengthen the depth and complexity of teaching and learning about diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Ravello. 

3. She is invested in Stonehill. “While I am new in my role, I care deeply about the ways that my work will impact the campus community,” she said. “On the one hand, this work requires a certain level of risk in trying new things, but it is important that we get things right.”

4. She has big ideas. Ravello wants to start a DEI Educational Awareness and Action Program on campus. This initiative would focus on helping community members “grow in their critical consciousness and develop strategies for applying what they learn in their spheres of influence,” Ravello said.

5. Her door is always open to students. “One thing that students may not realize about my role is how much their lived experiences and perspectives matter to the trajectory of [my DEI work],” she said.

6. Her lived experiences influenced her research focus. Ravello earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Human Development & Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education with an emphasis in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her dissertation focused on the ways Black women administrators at predominantly white institutions perceive their intersectionality as affecting various aspects of their work performance. 

7. She is a self-proclaimed introvert. Ravello spends a lot of time reflecting on and analyzing her experiences. “Taking time away to reflect helps me to recharge so that I can continue DEI work,” she said. “I see this time as part of the work not in addition to the work.”

8. She recognizes the importance of self-care. Because DEI work can be mentally taxing, Ravello believes it is important to maintain a healthy work and life balance. “It’s tempting to put yourself second,” she said. “For me, maintaining this balance means working out, making better meal choices and getting plenty of rest.”

9. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago. Oil down and roti are two of her favorite dishes from those islands. The national dish of Grenada (located near Ravello’s birthplace), oil down is a flavorful meal comprised of breadfruit, salted meat, chicken, dumplings and callaloo (a vegetable dish) stewed in coconut milk, herbs and spices. Roti is a round flatbread that often accompanies curries and stews.

10. She is a fan of gospel music. While commuting to and from Rhode Island every day, Ravello listens to artists like CeCe Winans, William McDowell and Tasha Cobbs. She notes listening to gospel music helps affirm her “walk with Christ.”

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