B. Afeni McNeely Cobham has been chosen as Grand Rapids Community College’s new Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer (CEIO) and Director of the Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity.
Cobham, who was the visiting associate professor at Salem State University, was selected after the national search for candidates was reduced to a shortlist of three-finalists including Jessica Cruz from Northern Michigan University and Salvador Lopez from Grand Valley State University. The announcement of Cobham’s appointment was made on Oct. 30. As the school’s CEIO, Cobham will report directly to GRCC President Bill Pink.
“We’re proud to have Dr. McNeely Cobham on our team to help us address the challenges locally, as well as regionally, around disparities in education and workforce,” Pink said in a press release announcing Cobham and the school’s new CEIO.
Cobham is ready to get to work when she arrives on campus in December, noting she’s looking forward to meeting those connected to the school and the community at large.
“During my interview process, each stakeholder group I met with talked about the importance of the CEIO listening to the needs of the campus community,” Cobham stated in an email to The Collegiate. “My goal is to follow through on that position by engaging a diverse group of students, faculty and staff, and connecting with existing and new partners in the Grand Rapids region.”
The appointment means moving to a new city for Cobham, who currently resides in Massachusetts, but she has a goal in place to acclimate to Grand Rapids.
“A key goal is to ensure that the mission, values and practices of the (Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion) office are aligned with institutional goals,” Cobham stated. “As a newly minted resident of the Grand Rapids community, I’m eager to learn and fully comprehend the history of the city and the priorities of the region.”
Cobham recognizes GRCC as a pillar of the community in Grand Rapids and aspires to learn about the city during her time as CEIO.
“GRCC holds an important place in the Grand Rapids community as an organization that cultivates equity, access, inclusion and social justice,” Cobham stated. “As the CEIO, I hope to learn about the myriad of ways our institution has been able to sustain these efforts for 100 years.”