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Meet the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Faculty Consultants

We are delighted to honor the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) faculty who completed the seminar summer training, and are now JEDI Faculty Consultants through the Office of Inclusive Excellence: Kathleen Adee (NUR), Elizabeth Coughlan (POL), Cleti Cervoni (EDU), Monica Leisey (SWK), Megan Murphy (EDU), Francesca Pomerantz (EDU), Kathleen Schlenz (OT), Elspeth Slayter (SWK), Keja Valens (ENL), and Guorong Zhu (MGT)

2022-2023 JEDI Faculty Consultants are ready to consult! Each consultant outlines their areas of focus and interest and other details below. Contact them early and often.

Kathy Adee (School of Nursing) completed the JEDI Faculty Seminar in AY 2021 – 2022. Although not an expert in this field, I am committed to diversity, justice, equity, and inclusion. Acknowledging the impact of and engaging in conversation around issues related to power dynamics and structural systems of oppression can help us all better understand the ways in which these systemic issues influence the educational process. As a result of the faculty seminar, I learned that small, intentional changes in the syllabus and including greater representation in readings and assigned material can help de-center power and create a more inclusive learning environment. Co-creating community agreements, allowing choice in student assignments, and engaging students in the evaluation process are specific strategies that also build more engaged, equitable, and inclusive learning environments.

I am happy to share what I’ve learned from the JEDI faculty seminar and continue to explore ways in which we can all build a more just, equitable, and inclusive community. I am available to meet, in person or via zoom, to discuss issues related to JEDI and specific strategies to build inclusion. Please feel free to email me at to schedule some time together.

Elizabeth Coughlan (Politics, Policy, and International Relations)

Cleti Cervoni (Education) is particularly interested in how students learn and what teaching practices (pedagogy) would be helpful in changing the power dynamic in the classroom to include students’ voices. This shift might include rethinking assignments with more options for students to tell you what they know; reconsidering grading schemes; and including more diverse voices in course material. Your course syllabus will be the vehicle through which we will have discussions together on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Monica Leisey (she/they) (Social Work) While I do not consider myself an expert in decentering power, knowledge, and authority, I am available to engage in conversations related to acknowledging and addressing power relations and dynamics within classroom settings, departments, or university systems to create a culture of equity and inclusivity. I am also available to talk about ways to develop self-paced learning in the JEDI curriculum for individuals, departments or SSU systems such as admissions, course scheduling, or with areas figuring out how to work collaboratively across differences. My areas of special interest are in student-centered classrooms/colleague centered systems and in power sharing, especially co-creation of syllabi and sharing evaluation processes.

Given the complexity of the issues under consideration, I am happy to engage in a single conversation or a series of discussions dependent upon what would be the most helpful to the process. Because of the complexities involved, please plan on meeting for at least 30 minutes. If you would like to have more time to discuss the issues, let me know what your expectation is for our meeting. I can be very flexible, including scheduling a series of meetings. I am happy to share my experience with this FLC, if you have questions about the topics or process of that experience.

If you have completed the learning community and would like to continue to explore ways to continue to interrogate and revolutionize your teaching or the ways that you engage with the university, I am also available to serve in that capacity. I am happy to provide consultations via zoom or in person. Please contact me via email to arrange our first meeting. In your email, please share what your area of interest, whether you prefer zoom or in-person, and at least three dates and times that you are available to meet.

Areas of special interest include:

  • Student-centered classroom/colleague centered systems
  • Power sharing; co-creation of syllabi (specifics); sharing evaluation processes

Megan Murphy (Education): I am looking forward to joining you in reflective practice related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in your courses. I am happy to engage in long or short term conversations and am happy to provide samples of course assignments, policies, and syllabi. I can be of assistance if you are looking for ways to build a sense of community in your classroom, increase meaningful inclusion in your course materials, discuss universal design for learning strategies, engage in action research related to JEDI in your teaching, or if you are interested in digging deeper into your understanding of Whiteness and White identity.

I teach courses across all undergraduate and graduate levels, many of which have field components. I am a certified Conscious Ambassador for Trauma Informed Care and have completed training with the Equity Literacy Institute on facilitating learning and conversations about racial equity in education. I am available to meet in person on campus or virtually.

Francesca Pomerantz (Education) is a life-long learner when it comes to teaching and is particularly interested in teaching practices that promote student success, engagement, and persistence. These include power sharing strategies, such as co-creating rubrics and integrating choices into assignments. She participated in the AY 21-22 JEDI seminar and focused on increasing representation of work by indigenous, Black and people of color in her syllabi, creating a language statement and policy to acknowledge multilingualism and the varieties of English, increasing collaboration and student ownership of their learning, and setting up spaces for student input and feedback. Through these revisions, she learned much about her students that led to changes in her teaching, particularly in how she uses time in class and expectations for work outside of class.

Francesca is also very interested in systemic changes to teacher preparation, fieldwork and school partnerships that result in a more diversified teacher workforce representative of the children in Massachusetts schools. She is the Lead Faculty for School Partnerships and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses. If you would like to discuss any of the issues described above, she is happy to meet in-person or over Zoom. Please email to set up a time.

Kathleen Schlenz (Occupational Therapy): While I am far from an expert on these issues, I am a firm believer in the power of relationship-based learning and hope to honor the generosity of wisdom and spirit from my own network of JEDI mentors by supporting others on the journey as well. There is much to consider when navigating the many demands on faculty and the challenges of embedding social justice into instructional practice. Personally, I have experienced the most impactful change by explicitly considering the following within course design:

  • Decentering Knowledge and Authority (aligning reading, viewing, and listening assignments)
  • Decentering Power (amplifying diverse voices)
  • Acknowledging and Addressing Power Relations/Dynamics (in the classroom, across the SSU campus, and in professional settings)

If you need support in addressing any of these issues, I am happy to meet in-person or over Zoom. Please feel free to email me to schedule some time together.

Elspeth Slayter (Social Work)Anti-oppressive teaching, decolonizing the syllabus and power-sharing in the classroom may all sound like buzzwords to you. You may have deleted emails about those things because they are just too radical for you. You may have been taught not to smile at your students before Thanksgiving. You might rule the classroom and the grading process with an iron fist to keep order and control.

I can relate to your thoughts and approaches as they are very similar to those that I had - and to some extent still have - about teaching. I engaged in justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) work last year because I knew I needed to diversify the content of my syllabus, but I was hesitant about the rest of the topics that were part of the JEDI curriculum. However, I found out over time that the world of anti-oppressive pedagogy, and classroom power-sharing actually did have something to offer a skeptic like me.

I’ve learned that embracing some of these approaches has enhanced not only the classroom experience of my students but appears to have impacted student learning outcomes as well. Trying out these approaches has made me a better, more reflective teacher.

I’d love to meet with you to think together about some of the small ways you could explore dipping your big toe into the pond of syllabus diversification and sharing power with students on grading and curricular decisions, for example. We can start by exploring some of these approaches with just one tiny piece of your syllabus! I am available for 30 -one on one or group consultations, ideally on Zoom.

Keja Valens (she/they) (English): is particularly interested at the moment in how embracing multilingualism and multiple Englishes is part of asset-based thinking and culturally responsive pedagogy, and how we can hold up multilingualism and multiple Englishes while also teaching about, and teaching, the dominant languages, like Academic Written English, that function as standards in so many realms. This interest is tied to her work with Salem State as an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution and to how our pedagogies reach the students central to that effort. Both are also tied to Keja’s deep interest in equity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ students and studies.

More recently, Keja has been wondering how to build community and coalition with students, colleagues, and community members who appear to hold conflicting views on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Guorong Zhu (Management): Guorong Zhu was originally from China and came to the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior. Having worked as a management consultant before joining the faculty at Salem State University, she brings with her more than twenty-five years of bilingual, cross-cultural, and multi-industrial experiences.

She is appreciative of the learning experience she gained from attending the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) seminar in year 2020-2021, given how this seminar enables her to align her personal and professional background with the ultimate goal of better serving students at Salem State University. She is willing to share her personal experience, challenges and triumphs, with colleagues who are interested in attending this seminar, especially in the area of “Decentering Standard Written English/Edited American English, valuing Englishes and multilingualism.”

Most importantly, she is happy to share the continuous learning journey and exploration of the ever-evolving field of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with colleagues.

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