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Women’s History Month Employee Spotlight: Javonda Quinn

Feb 26, 2023

For Javonda Quinn, director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at WGU, her enthusiasm to see others succeed allowed her to become the leader she is today. “I love my job. I get to work with employees and departments across WGU to help bring awareness to our shared language of DE&I concepts. I love seeing those ‘aha’ moments. It lets me know that what we’re trying to accomplish in DE&I is working and being embraced. Our goal is to bring awareness to these concepts and provide opportunity for our employees to understand, practice, and include them.” Javonda’s journey, including nearly 23 years in education, has shaped her outlook on success and taught her how important it is to have someone rooting for you. On advocating for equality, she says, “I love the idea of changing lives for the better by creating pathways for opportunity.”

“The WGU’s mission is one that provides our students an opportunity to access an affordable education and it does so with the understanding that equity is simply meeting our students where they are and providing them the resources to succeed.”

As a trailblazer, Javonda wasn’t deterred by challenges. In her role as the first black female director of an adult learning center in Missouri, Javonda unfortunately faced ageism, unconscious bias, and privilege. “This was a huge turning point for me as a professional,” she says. “It was here that I really learned the importance and value of effective leadership, communication and collaboration-skills I would hone over these 23 years and find myself using daily in my professional career as I considered the concept of ‘stereotype threat’ which is not living up to the stereotypes of being a black woman in America.”

Knowing that communication fosters understanding, Javonda applies her wealth of knowledge and experience to provide colleagues with the tools and resources to embrace diverse perspectives in the workplace: “I learned to really listen to and respect other’s perspectives. My experience as director of the adult learning center really opened my eyes to the concepts of DE&I around equity, privilege, and unconscious bias early as a professional and this role was essentially the catalyst to my DE&I career.”

In true leadership form, she credits the effort of the team at the department she’s helmed since 2021 with creating a dynamic and positive environment where people thrive. “Jason, VP of DE&I, has done an amazing job setting the tone for all of us in DE&I and across WGU. What I appreciate the most is how employees across WGU genuinely try to live our Cultural Beliefs and our Leadership Principles, and I think that says a lot about who we all are as individual human beings.” 

Reflecting on the way WGU’s diversity mirrors society, she says, “we still have work to do, but we are on the right track. The DE&I team has done a great job of building relationships across WGU to collaborate with organizations and departments on understanding what is needed to create a diverse workplace. Our DE&I team has developed and are providing educational workshops and resources that will aid in that process. DE&I has also developed inclusive programs for our employees and students that help take deeper dives into our DE&I concepts that will not only provide our employees an opportunity to practice these concepts, but foster and environment of inclusion.”

To commemorate Women’s History Month and in celebration of the achievements of visionaries like Javonda, WGU honors the stories of those who break barriers. For Javonda, the first step to broadening the conversation on DE&I begins with knowing your individual strengths. “I want women across all spectrums to consider what their story is; what they want their legacy to be, because when you are clear about who you are and what your passions are, I believe it is then you can live out your life’s purpose.”

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