2020 40 Under 40 award recipient: Latoya Booker

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Latoya Booker Courtesy 616 Media

Latoya Booker, 39

Executive director
Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Davenport University

Latoya Booker has made it her life’s duty to spread awareness about diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.

She is the executive director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Davenport University. She guides university leadership, faculty and staff on policies, programs and practices that promote a diverse, inclusive and equitable campus culture. She also delivers a cultural engagement calendar and DEI education and training at Davenport, among other things.

“Every industry requires leaders who can not only demonstrate strong cross-cultural skills but can also think critically in responding to the social injustices within our world,” she said. “I believe the work I do in higher education on behalf of students and the work I have the privilege of doing to promote equity is making a meaningful difference in our community.”

One of the professional accomplishments Booker said she is most proud of was being able to coordinate the 2018 Summit on Race and Inclusion when she was the executive director for Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.

Booker was able to secure Dr. Joy DeGruy, as the keynote speaker, who presented her research on post-traumatic-slave-syndrome.

“I was told the topic would be too controversial for West Michigan,” Booker said. “However, her ability to link the impact of slavery to present-day disparities and experiences for African Americans (and other marginalized populations) brought the audience to tears. Her message of healing resonated so deeply with attendees that over the next year she would be invited to return three more times to share her data throughout Michigan”

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