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Drury expands exec role to include diversity, inclusion

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Drury University expanded Human Resources Director Marilyn Harris’ responsibilities five months after she joined the private liberal arts school.

Harris, who in June succeeded the retiring Scotti Siebert as head of the HR department, was appointed as the university’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Her new title is chief human resources and diversity and inclusion officer, according to a news release.

“I am profoundly proud of Drury University’s rich heritage of diversity and inclusion, which started with attracting women and Native Americans into its first class nearly 150 years ago,” Drury President Tim Cloyd said in the release. “To continue to build upon our history, we must attract, embrace and celebrate academic success that includes an expanded scope of diversity.”

Harris’ new responsibilities include working with community leaders to develop diversity and inclusion partnerships, as well as increasing awareness and leadership on campus through training sessions.

Harris came to Drury from Monarch Fire Protection District in Chesterfield, where she had worked as human resources director since 2014, according to the release.

Educational, business and nonprofits organizations have begun placing a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion to attract and retain a more diverse workforce.

Businesses have signed on for the Ozarks Inclusion Project to show their support of the LGBTQ community, and the Springfield-Greene County African-American Heritage Trail Committee has been installing markers to educate residents about the city’s history. In August, Springfield Public Schools announced the hiring of Yvania Garcia-Pusateri as its first chief equity and diversity officer. Among other executives working on the issues, Wes Pratt leads diversity and inclusion efforts at Missouri State University; Garcia-Pusateri previously was MSU’s director of multicultural programs.

SPS announced in a news release yesterday that Garcia-Pusateri is leading efforts to gather community input on equity and diversity through an online portal.

City Council also is expected to revisit a citywide ordinance to protect sexual orientation and gender identity from discrimination.

Ashley Norgard, an associate with law firm Kutak Rock LLP, has said some employers shy away from adopting such laws because of conservative values and liability.

Missouri is one of 28 states without discrimination laws related to sexual orientation and gender identity, which leaves 8.1 million LGBTQ people without protections, according to The Williams Institute, a law school think tank at the University of California-Los Angeles.

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