Sherri Ann Charleston serves as the first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) at Harvard University. She is one of the nation’s leading experts in diversity and higher education, and assumed her role in August 2020.
Dr. Charleston is a historian trained in U.S. history with a focus on race, women, gender, citizenship, and the law, and an attorney with a specialization in constitutional and employment law. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Affirmative Action Officer at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison. She was responsible for evaluating progress toward the goals of a campus-wide strategic diversity plan. During her leadership, she also oversaw the Office of Employee Disability Resources and undergraduate scholarship programs focused on recruiting and retaining students from historically underrepresented communities.
As an academician and administrator, she has expertise in affirmative action, Title IX, and Americans with Disability Act enforcement and compliance. Her focus is on translating diversity and inclusion research into practice for students, staff, researchers, postdoctoral fellows and faculty of color. She also held faculty affiliations with the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies, teaching courses on women, inequality, and policy analysis at UW-Madison. In 2019, Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine named her one of the “Top 35 Women in Higher Education.”
Dr. Charleston received a B.A. from Columbia University in history and African American studies, a M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan, and J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
“My approach to the work is very much grounded in my academic interests in history and the law, and in thinking about how we’ve evolved, and how we haven’t evolved, around questions of race and gender, and it comes from a deep passion toward effecting sustainable organizational change, and creating structures that outlast all of us, so that we can actually make progress. I fundamentally believe that many of the challenges that we face in higher education relative to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have answers rooted in applied research. We must work together in the field to find them.”