Doneisha Posey heard from a young age that she would be a good lawyer someday.
Posey, then a middle schooler in Wayne Township, started noticing some of the inequities around her. Some of her friends didn’t even know what National Honor Society was, for instance, and their teachers certainly didn’t encourage them to learn more about it.
So Posey started asking questions of her teachers and school counselors to learn what was going on, as any good future lawyer would do.
Now, skip ahead to present day, and Posey has made it her life’s work to make sure diversity and inclusion are priorities for institutions and agencies.
Posey became vice president of diversity, equity and belonging at Ivy Tech in April.
Before that, she was deputy director and general counsel of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. She is also an adjunct law professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law where she teaches classes about housing discrimination and segregation, as well as race and the law.
Posey’s experience also includes serving as legal advisor for the governor’s Commission on Minority and Women Business Enterprises, administrative law judge at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission and immigration litigation attorney in private practice.
“Doing all of that kind of shifted me to come to Ivy Tech,” she said, “where I could be more of a proactive participant in creating equity.”
When it comes to higher education, talk of diversity and inclusion is usually centered on students, but there is of course the leadership side — from professors to academic advisors to chancellors.
An institution can make “inclusion” a priority, but Posey said it’s best to consider what it means to feel like you truly belong somewhere as a next step. That can hinge on who works with students and if students see themselves reflected in leadership.
“It’s a really big task,” said Posey, whose job it is to make sure every Ivy Tech campus across the state have policies and procedures that include lenses to consider racial equity and diversity.
Posey, who grew up in Indianapolis and went to Ben Davis High School, said the conversation should shift from equality to equity and equal opportunity.
“You can’t talk about equal opportunity without talking about systemic inequities that create privilege for one group and not the other,” she said.
Posey was chosen for her new position out of a national pool of about 90 qualified candidates.
“We understand it is our responsibility to serve all Hoosiers and eliminate equity gaps for students and employees,” Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech, said in a press release. “I am pleased to have someone as qualified and respected as Doneisha Posey to lead our College’s efforts and engage with the communities we serve across the state.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.