Dr. Janice Underwood was named Virginia’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion by Governor Ralph Northam.
Underwood previously served as the director of diversity initiatives at Old Dominion University.
In her new position, Underwood will promote inclusivity within the state government as well as develop strategic plans to address systemic inequities.
“I am deeply honored to serve the Commonwealth in this inaugural position,” said Underwood. “As I embark on this role I will be relying on my many personal and professional experiences as a teacher, an educational researcher, a parent and wife and a diversity leader. I am dedicated to working with Virginians to promote lasting, institutional change at all levels of state government and I look forward to working closely with Governor Northam and the rest of his administration to make the Commonwealth more diverse, equitable and inclusive for all who live here.”
Northam kept his job amid calls from political leaders across the country urging him to step down after a racist photo surfaced on his 1984 medical school yearbook page showing a person wearing blackface next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. Northam initially said he was in the photo, and then denied it the next day, while acknowledging that he did wear blackface to a dance party that same year.