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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update – Thank You

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As Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier prepares to leave the college, she concludes her series of regular updates to the campus community with a note of thanks.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

As I write my last update, I reflect on how lucky I am to be part of a community that makes saying goodbye so hard. I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn and grow during my time at St. Olaf. As President Anderson announced this week, I will be leaving the college for a new opportunity. This next step in my career gets me closer to my goals and dreams. I will be working as the Vice President for Talent, Equity, and Culture at Project for Pride in Living. In this role, I will oversee human resources, which is a new opportunity to change systems and address racial disparities in recruitment, hiring, and retention. I will also be joined by a DEI team that will work with me to continue to address racial equity at the organizational as well as community level. This is a big change since I will be leaving higher education and going back to my nonprofit roots. It is a welcome change. 

I want to thank everyone who has been part of my journey these last few years. I am thankful for the people who were a sounding board and always had an encouraging word when the work felt insurmountable. I am thankful to those who challenged and pushed me to expand my own views and ideas. I am thankful for the students’ courage and bravery. You give me hope for the future. Finally, I am thankful to my peers on the President’s Leadership Team for welcoming and supporting me. All of you have been part of my story, and I will take these lessons with me as I begin this new role. 

I encourage you to welcome the person who will continue this work with the same enthusiasm that you welcomed me. Your engagement and passion for this work made it enjoyable, fun, and impactful. I know your next DEI leader will bring new ideas, strengths, and excitement that will only make our people stronger. 

To keep with tradition, I would like to end with a quote from my favorite writer, Isabel Allende.

Eres la narradora de tu propia vida
Y puedes crear tu propia leyenda,
O no.

You are the storyteller of your own life
And you can create your own legend,
Or not.

In solidarity,

Dr. María C. Pabón Gautier
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion