Community Spotlight

Strategic Priorities Translate to Expanded Staff and Space for Office of Diversity

January 9, 2018 by Jennifer Nachbur

In conjunction with Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) 2018-2023 Strategic Action Plan priorities, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Margaret Tandoh, M.D., has announced two new staff appointments, additional opportunities for leadership roles, and a new space to better accommodate students and faculty.

ODI’s recently completed Strategic Action Plan identifies five main areas of focus that will guide the institution over the next five years. In an effort to ensure the goals associated with these objectives are met, ODI has added several new positions to its team, including a Health Equity Inclusive Excellence Liaison, an Academic Excellence Liaison, and a Gender Equity Liaison. In addition, ODI is seeking one or more Diversity and Inclusion Departmental Champions from each department at the college to serve as leaders within their departments, helping to promote awareness of and manage the strategic diversity and inclusion planning process within their department.

Maria Mercedes Avila, Ph.D., an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (VT-LEND) Program, has been appointed Health Equity Inclusive Excellence Liaison. Avila also serves as adjunct faculty in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She has served as chair of the National Association of University Centers on Disabilities’ Multicultural Council and has provided culturally responsive care and practice training to more than 3,500 providers across 46 organizations and 9 states. She is the recipient of the 2017 ALANA Outstanding Faculty Award, the Child Mind Institute’s 2016 National Change Maker Award, the 2015 UVM Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2014 Edith D. Hendley award from the UVM Women’s Center. As the Health Equity Inclusive Excellence Liaison, Dr. Avila will work with each department on the development of a departmental strategic diversity plan to guide ongoing diversity efforts.

Eileen CichoskiKelley, Ph.D., an associate professor of family medicine, director of educational instruction, and the course director for the Teaching and Scholarly Requirement, has been appointed Academic Excellence Liaison. CichoskiKelly is a member of the Teaching Academy and is actively involved in medical education research focused on program and curriculum design and LGBTQ health care. She is the recipient of a two-year grant from the Northeast Group on Educational Affairs, one of four regional groups in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to develop a model for mentorship in medical education research. She serves on the AAMC’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Development where she is the chair of the committee developing curricular materials to train doctors to care for LGBTQ youth. In her new role as Academic Excellence Liaison, Cichoskikelly will focus her efforts on developing programs and initiatives to support the diverse academic needs of medical students throughout their medical training. 

In February, the ODI expects to complete a move to a new, larger space in Given D201, across the hallway from its current location. The new facility will include meeting space with AV, a soft seating area and kitchenette and shared office space.

Learn more about the Gender Equity Liaison position and Departmental Champion positions here or contact