URI announces appointment of leader for Community, Equity and Diversity

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Naomi R. Thompson will come to URI after 13 years at Northeastern University

KINGSTON, R.I. – August 8, 2012 – The University of Rhode Island has appointed Naomi R. Thompson, an attorney and Northeastern University diversity administrator, to the position of associate vice president of Community, Equity and Diversity. URI President David M. Dooley made the appointment following a national search. Thompson will begin her duties Aug. 27.

“We are very pleased to welcome Ms. Thompson to our University to serve in this critical position,” Dooley said. “As we’ve outlined in our Transformational Goals, building a community in which every member is welcomed, supported, and valued is essential to our identity and mission. I am confident that Ms. Thompson’s years of experience, organizational leadership and her passion for these issues will help us to advance this core principle University-wide.”

At URI, Thompson will report directly to Dooley and oversee the Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity. She will serve as a member of the president’s executive team, leading efforts to integrate diversity, equity and community into the University’s core mission, vision, and strategy. She will act as liaison for the president with the presidential councils/commissions, the Bias Incident Response Team, and diversity committees throughout the university. Her office includes the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Multicultural Center, Women’s Center, and the LGBTQ Center.

Prior to accepting this appointment, Thompson was the associate director of Northeastern’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, where she has also served as the Title IX and Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator since 2007. She began her career at Northeastern as an assistant director in that office in 1999.

“I am humbled and honored to have this wonderful opportunity,” said Thompson. “I am very excited by the University’s leadership, direction, strategic plan — and even the evolution of this position itself. The fact that the most senior leadership listened and responded to the recommendations of the equity committee and others has demonstrated that there is an institutional commitment to equity, diversity and social justice. This is something that I’ve been passionate about as long as I can remember.”

At Northeastern Thompson structured a framework to address important diversity management needs and challenges and developed innovative models and programs to drive an effective diversity strategy. She implemented comprehensive recruiting, training and talent management initiatives to improve the quality and diversity of new hires. She also helped to restructure the school’s Affirmative Action and related programs and served as a resource to students, faculty and administrators at all levels.

“During my campus visits to URI, I was pleased to see how many people were committed to having one person they could count on who would embrace these values and issues and reach out to help develop a welcoming and inclusive community,” said Thompson. “From an administrative position, I firmly understand the business case for diversity and equity and have seen how it enhances the whole educational experience for students, faculty, staff and even alumni.

“Now I look forward to getting to work,” she said enthusiastically.

Prior to beginning a career in higher education, Thompson worked for several years in the legal field. She was assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, from 1996 to 1999 where she served as the lead prosecutor for juvenile offenses in West Roxbury District Court. Before that, she was a staff attorney for Greater Boston Legal Services, during which she represented indigent English and Spanish-speaking clients in housing matters before Suffolk County Superior Court, Boston Housing Court, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, housing authorities and other administrative agencies.

Thompson earned her law degree from Suffolk University and her bachelor of arts in philosophy and religion from Colgate University. She was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in January 1992 and the U.S. District Court in 1993.

But most importantly as Thompson says, she is “the proud mother of a 14-year-old son, Benjamin Isaiah Thompson Hall.”

URI Communications & Marketing photo by Joe Giblin.