Black History Month is a time for reflection, celebration, and learning. As we honor the achievements, contributions, and legacies of African Americans throughout U.S. history, we are reminded of how far we’ve come as a nation in terms of racial equality while recognizing how much further we need to go. At WGU, Black History Month offers us a chance to appreciate the experiences of our Black employees more fully so that every WGU employee can work toward greater inclusion, support, access to educational development, and overall understanding.
Dr. Eduardo (Ed) Haynes, a Lead People Development Partner for the Learning Development and Organizational Development Team in People Development, is one such person who strives to use the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in his role at the university. Haynes started in financial services before falling in love with higher education.
He reflects, “I have a background in financial services with two of the major banks in the U.S., but always had a passion for being a practitioner. After jumping into higher education full-time in 2013, I knew I was in the ‘right’ industry.”
Dr. Haynes joined the WGU community as a finance Course Instructor in 2018, but when a Sage’s Exchange opportunity in People Development became available in 2021, he jumped at the challenge: “I am a true lifelong self-motivated learner, and after a few years serving as a Course Instructor, I knew it was time to use all of the wealth and breadth of experience that I had in my corporate/professional career differently.” At WGU, People Development strives to deliver an enriched employee experience for faculty members and leaders, helping to improve each contact with students through cultural beliefs. When asked about his current responsibilities in People Development at WGU, Dr. Haynes notes, “I love my job because it mixes the two things I love professionally: facilitation and academics. I get the best of both worlds in my role because I lead a team of skilled facilitators that deliver change management and 5 Dynamics. We get to see immediate change and growth during our employee experiences.” Community support is a value Dr. Haynes experiences as a part of his time with WGU’s Ebony Owls Employee Resource Group (ERG). He reflects, “Ebony Owls has been a safe space for me to be who I truly am without judgment and lack of understanding. Commonality and familiarity are two things that immediately come to mind when I think of Ebony Owls.”
The work towards racial equity is something Dr. Haynes is passionate about beyond Black History Month. “I feel that Black History is every day, not just a month,” he says. “I strive to show up and influence DE&I with everything that I do. For instance, in May 2022, I became an Inclusion Institute-certified diversity practitioner to become a subject matter expert so that I further influence how we can continue to advance equity and achieve together. We only get one life, so I am going to create the most beautiful one for my boys and others that might follow.”