Yolany Gonell has over 15 years of progressive experience in higher education providing leadership and vision in the areas of diversity & inclusion, social justice education, leadership development, new student orientation, transition programs, career readiness, and residential life. As the Director for the Center for Diversity & Inclusion at William Paterson, Yolany engages senior leadership and staff in the college’s work to advance inclusion, retention and student success. In her capacity, Yolany provides guidance and strategic direction in alignment with institutional goals, divisional strategy, national best practices, research and student need with a focus on fostering a culture of care and investment on relationships. With a wide range of experiences in student affairs, Yolany’s responsibilities include creating an inclusive college campus by providing teaching and learning experiences for faculty, staff, and students while also developing programs that served as a campus wide catalyst to celebrate all aspects of diversity and promote the principles of social justice. From access and retention programs like Project C.A.R.E. (Committed to African American Retention in Education) at Western Carolina University, First Gen Program at Stetson, and FYE Pathways at NYIT, to Social Justice Retreats, Gender and Sexuality Conference, the Native American Expo, Interfaith Dialogues, diversity training, advising and intercultural programs. In addition to her work in higher ed, Yolany has served as a gender and sexuality inclusion consultant for Bethune Cookman University and Bates College; is a founding member and leader of a grassroots LGBTQ Organization in Asheville, NC and she is also on the advisory board for the Campaign For Southern Equality an organization that works to support and strengthen LGBTQ communities in the South through direct service and action. Yolany is a first-generation college graduate, a US veteran and holds a master's degree in social work from the University at Buffalo in New York. She is committed to empowering youth and advocating for equity and access for under-served communities.