Vice President for DEI receives national leadership award
Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mary Lomax-Ghirarduzzi ’89 is the recipient of a prestigious national award honoring more than three decades of work—the 2023 Individual Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.
The award recognizes her outstanding contributions to research, administration, practice and advocacy toward the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“It's been humbling to be acknowledged for work that is fundamental to helping organizations become more humanizing,” Lomax-Ghirarduzzi said. “[When I started my career], I never thought that what seemed like individual initiatives would become foundational to institutional strategy and structure.”
Lomax-Ghirarduzzi was one of only five people nationwide honored at the association’s annual conference in Baltimore.
“Her decades of outstanding service, scholarship and community building have benefited generations of students, particularly those from historically underrepresented communities,” said Paulette Granberry Russell, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. “It is clear she embodies the [association’s] mission to transform higher education so that inclusive excellence can thrive."
After earning her bachelor’s degree in communications from Pacific, Lomax-Ghirarduzzi began her career at California State University, San Marcos where she coordinated programming for marginalized students. The experience ignited her passion for DEI work.
“I remember talking to a group of students, and I knew at that moment something was changing inside them. I thought, ‘This is really making a difference.’ And I knew that I had to figure out how to continue to do this work,” Lomax-Ghirarduzzi said.
She was promoted to assistant dean of students, then became dean of student affairs at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and vice provost of diversity and community engagement at University of San Francisco before returning to Pacific in 2021.
“Mary has vigorously led the charge to make Pacific a national model in diversity, equity and inclusion.” - President Christopher Callahan
As the inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, she leads initiatives across the university’s three campuses with a shared equity leadership model, which is a collaborative approach woven into the fabric of the university.
“My job isn't to make the institution more diverse, or more equitable or more inclusive. My job is to help individuals find their place in that work and encourage them to do this themselves,” she said.
Lomax-Ghirarduzzi worked with the Board of Regents shortly after arriving to identify strategic DEI priorities for the university. Recently, she spearheaded the Anti-Racism Challenge, which was the first university-wide course designed to increase understanding of equity and inclusion. More than 500 students, faculty and staff participated.
As part of her ongoing research on intersectional leadership, Lomax-Ghirarduzzi is studying outcomes of the Anti-Racism Challenge in collaboration with Professor of Communication Qingwen Dong and student researchers.
She also launched an annual retreat for the University Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The retreat, recently held for the second year, brings together students, faculty and staff to reflect, learn and grow.
She is sought out by other organizations for her expertise and recently contributed to panel discussions hosted by The National Council of Jewish Women and Association of American Law Schools.
“Mary has vigorously led the charge to make Pacific a national model in diversity, equity and inclusion,” President Christopher Callahan said. “Her commitment to this important work ensures that everyone has a voice at Pacific. We are proud to see that work being recognized nationally.”