Office of the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Maria Madison

Civic Engagement

Thursday October 26th: Maria will be a panelist on "Adding Perspectives to Our National History: Places Inspiring Community Conversation," focusing on race, justice and civil society. The session is part of the Massachusetts Trustees of the Reservation panel at the New England Museum Association.

Saturday October 28th: Essayist on "What Would Henry David Thoreau Do?" focusing on documenting social injustice, from Thoreau's view of slavery and abolition to creating evidence today. This is part of the Concord Festival of Authors.

Thursday November 9th: Panelist on "Symbols & Statues: Public Spaces and Reconciliation," at Suffolk University, part of a broader series on "Before and After Charlottesville." The panel includes "discussing the future and how symbols, statues, parades, speeches, etc. can contribute to bringing people together while coping with/dealing with the tragedies of the past." The sessions include Marc Ross from Bryn Mawr discussing what forgetting about enslavement in the North means today.

November 10-12: Participant in the Black Health Matters Conference at the Harvard Northwest Labs.

Community Resources and Messages 

Memo: Looking Back on Month 1 as ADDEI (Nov 16, 2017)

Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (AD DEI) Month 1

I am honored to be a member of this inquisitive, ingenious community. During my first month as AD DEI within the Heller community, while on a “listening tour,” someone passed me a napkin. Written on the napkin were various notes, but in the center they had jotted down the name Audre Lorde. I couldn’t help but go back and reread Lorde’s collected work of poetry. One in particular, “The Seventh Sense", resonated with my experiences during these first weeks at Heller...

Download to continue reading Maria Madison's Month 1 memo (PDF).

Interview: A conversation with Maria Madison (Nov 15, 2017)

A conversation with Maria Madison, Heller associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion

Bethany Romano, Heller Communications: I’d like to start our conversation with the larger context of positions like yours—chief diversity officers and deans or associate deans of diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or belongingness. It seems that these kinds of leadership positions are becoming more and more relevant—and prevalent—in higher education. What are your thoughts on that?

Maria Madison: Absolutely. We’re seeing a shift in our educational system, towards a more conscious effort to meet the demands of educating an incredibly diverse population. There’s greater awareness that the previous approaches have often left marginalized populations behind. Elite institutions that are trying to make a difference, such as many Ivy League schools, as well as Heller and Brandeis. These institutions have made it a priority, based on student demands, to become increasingly diverse. But as they try to recruit enrollment for diversity, they are not necessarily nurturing these students or recognizing the challenges they may have experienced.

(Continue reading this interview.)

Op-ed in Huffington Post: The Role Of Museums In Unmasking Society’s Inequities (Oct 18, 2017)

The Role Of Museums In Unmasking Society’s Inequities

By Maria Madison, ScD

Whether through a painting, artifact or object, thoughtful museums and historic sites share stories that can shape society. Annually, thousands of individuals visit our small historic site, The Robbins House, in a quiet corner of the world in Concord, Massachusetts. The house commemorates the legacy of a previously enslaved Revolutionary War veteran and his descendants. Visitors are surprised to learn that there was slavery in the North. Once that is explained, they believe that the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves and everyone became equal citizens. Once that history is explained, visitors then believe that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments made everyone equal. Once the Reconstruction Era and its demise are explained, visitors believe everyone was made equal by the first Civil Rights Act of 1866, or the modern Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

(Continue reading the op-ed on the Huffington Post.)

Letter to the Heller Community (Oct 7, 2017)

Letter to the Community


Dear Heller Community,

In 2017, nearly 80 American Colleges and Universities won the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award created by “Insight into Diversity.” The award measures an institution’s “level of achievement and intensity of commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs, and outreach; student recruitment, retention, and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.” One of the goals of the award is to “help institutions assess their diversity efforts in order to build on their success and improve where necessary.” The award also provides avenues for increased community pride, marketing opportunities and quality improvements in education outcomes and careers. Heller will use the HEED award metrics to benchmark progress, based upon national standards. Through this process, Heller seeks to achieve progress within a reasonable period of time. Ultimately Heller would see improvement in recruitment, retention and satisfaction across the community.

The themes by which colleges and universities are judged parallel the list of demands from Heller students: diversity, equity and inclusion (belonging) in pedagogy, faculty, staff, student body, facilitation and training on communication, hiring, curriculum development and classroom communication.  

Various schools across the country have achieved HEED “Champions” status. The 2017 awardees include Columbia University, Indiana University, Kent State University, and the University of Cincinnati, among others. Let’s strive together for Heller to join the list of Champions, as defined within our school (preliminarily independent of the University). This process requires behavioral change rooted first in an awareness of implicit bias.

My proposed process for working toward the HEED Champion status begins with a parallel approach that includes formal and informal approaches. The formal channels include working with colleagues to create pathways towards standards and policies regarding recruitment, retention, and curriculum, for example. Informal channels include one-on-one discussions, coffees and lunches with select students, faculty and staff. 

Through these parallel approaches, I hope to build consensus around a work plan to advance our DEI objectives (objectives which align with HEED metrics). While we can expect some early wins, this process can take many months and years.  Thank you for your patience in rolling out these ideas and plans.  I look forward to speaking with as many individuals and groups as possible to bridge the Heller divide.

Best Regards, 

Maria Madison

Associate Dean, DEI

Press Release: Welcoming Maria Madison (Oct 2, 2017)

Global health researcher, nonprofit founder and scholar Maria Madison to be the Heller School’s first Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

By Bethany Romano, MBA’17

Waltham, MA—The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University has selected Maria Madison as the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion (ADDI), the first to hold this position. Madison has over 20 years of experience in evidence-based research and management, especially in the design and implementation of clinical trials both in the U.S. and globally. Throughout her career, Madison has shown a strong ability to manage multidisciplinary, multicultural teams in various challenging settings and has consistently engaged with social justice issues.

(Continue reading press release here.)

Contact Information

Maria Madison, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Office: Heller-Schneider 119

Phone: 781-736-3886