Dr. Patricia van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy has been named senior director, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at Napa Valley College, announced Dr. Ron Kraft, superintendent/president after the board of trustees approved her contract at its May 13 meeting. Dr. van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy will start her new post effective June 1, 2021.
Dr. van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy will work with the college president and staff to help guide and shape Napa Valley College’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, providing vision, leadership and direction for current and future equity initiatives.
Dr. van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy is a socio-cultural anthropologist with expertise in race, ethnicity and diaspora studies; decolonization; performance studies and expressive culture; and media. In addition to creating inclusive campus environments through her teaching and cultural programming, her experience supporting diversity, equity and inclusion spans both her administrative and academic work. In 10 years as assistant professor and distinguished chair of Africana Studies at Dickinson College, her institution-building activities included curricular development and assessment for the newly established department of Africana Studies; transforming a certificate in Latin American Studies to a new major and minor in Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies; and working as a faculty member on college-wide committees to enhance inclusion of diverse groups and to mitigate incidents of bias at the college (President’s Commission on Diversity; Bias Incident Task Force; and the Working Group on Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination).
Dr. van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy was awarded a Humanities Writ Large Visiting Faculty Fellowship at Duke University, where she engaged in research, colloquia and conferences addressing the potential for public humanities to address the critical challenges of this historical moment, including structural inequality and intolerance. Prior to Dickinson College, she was a graduate student research assistant, advisor and lecturer at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan; and an ethnographic researcher for National Science Foundation-supported dissertation research in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy also spent several years as research associate supporting DEI initiatives, including serving as coordinator of the Women of Color in the Academy Project, at the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan. Currently, she is a dean’s fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
“I look forward to working with Patricia in the collaborative development of goals that champion the importance and value of a diverse and inclusive culture at Napa Valley College,” said Dr. Ron Kraft, superintendent/president at Napa Valley College. “Her focus on fostering collaboration between faculty, students and administrators, as well as with the wider community, will be a tremendous asset to our staff and faculty and our shared commitment to student success.”
“I am excited to support Napa Valley College’s efforts to enhance inclusivity and a positive, diverse campus climate,” said van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy. “As a former community college student, a first-generation college graduate, a daughter of immigrants from the Caribbean and South America, and a woman of color, my identity and experiences overlap with those of many of the students at Napa Valley College. It is a privilege to work with the community at the college to support student success, to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive community throughout the district, and to forge alliances with city, community and business leaders to develop DEI initiatives that benefit the college and the region. My experience and accomplishments as an anthropologist, faculty member and university administrator have provided me with skills and insights that I look forward to bringing to Napa Valley College.”
Dr. van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Francisco State University and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees, both in anthropology, from the University of Michigan.