Gloria Noronha wants everyone in the Lesley community to experience a sense of belonging where they can be their authentic selves.
That, says Noronha, signals a community that is willing to celebrate and engage with differences and ultimately to work toward connection.
As the new vice president of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Justice at Lesley, she wants to continue the university’s mission to create a community where students, faculty and staff feel acknowledged, heard, and understood.
Noronha, who identifies as a mother, an artist, and a multiracial queer scholar, was born and raised in Tanzania and is the daughter of immigrants who fled Goa during the tumultuous period preceding India’s independence from England. She came to the United States as an international student in the late 1990s.
Noronha has worked in equity and inclusion since her days as a communications assistant at Emerson College in the early 2000s. She ascended the ranks as diversity became a central focus in universities and worked in leadership and faculty roles at Emerson and Arizona State University. Before coming to Lesley, she was the inaugural senior diversity officer and Title IX coordinator at William James College in Newton, Massachusetts.
Several signifiers convinced Noronha that the EDIJ role at Lesley would be a good move. A seat at the cabinet level where she could weave EDIJ into the fabric of the Lesley’s strategic framework and vision, a dedicated staff to implement and align the work, and President Janet L. Steinmayer’s hands-on role in the search process signaled the university’s commitment to furthering EDIJ work.
She also noted the work being done to incorporate the community into campus life and to bring Lesley to the community.
“What better place to do that than in a vibrant city such as Cambridge?” says Noronha.
But, first, she is looking forward to connecting with her team, evaluating the needs of the Lesley community and co-creating a sustainable EDIJ framework/foundation by fostering collaborations and partnerships.
Above all, Noronha wants to help the community change and grow.
“Change is not easy and striving for change in systems that are deeply rooted in histories of oppression and marginalization makes the work even more challenging,” she says.
Creating an atmosphere where we can acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, and grow is possible on one condition.
Says, Noronha, “We can only do that if we have somebody showing us grace — to show grace, to extend grace, to receive grace.”