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2019 University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Staff Award for Inclusion, Multiculturalism, & Social Justice

Jess Myers, Director, Women’s Center

As Director of the UMBC Women’s Center, Jess Myers constantly strives to support and advocate for intersectional feminism, critical sexuality and gender awareness, and anti-racist perspectives with the goal of moving those perspectives from the margins to the mainstream of campus life. She has been leading and doing this important work since joining UMBC in 2011. Myers’ relational skills, empathy, strategic thinking, fierce advocacy, and collegiality have been transformative on campus, especially as the UMBC community strived to come together to heal and make important changes in how the University prevents and responds to sexual violence.

Myers and the Women’s Center have been at the epicenter of UMBC’s response to sexual violence, meeting with survivors and serving as a resource for faculty and staff. She played a key role in the development and implementation of the Retriever Courage initiative. Myers has built her reputation by displaying integrity, compassion, and by being an insistent but politically astute advocate for institutional change. She has earned the respect and trust of UMBC students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Since joining UMBC in 2011, Myers has been committed to diversity and inclusion by creating and developing innovative social justice programming for students, faculty, and staff, and continually making exceptional contributions to the university’s mission of valuing cultural and ethnic diversity, social responsibility, and life-long learning. In recognition of this work, she received UMBC’s 2017-2018 Jakubik Family Endowment Staff Award.

For Myers, inclusive excellence is a verb. As the Director of the Women’s Center, Myers has developed a wealth of programming and resources for students. These programs always lead to meaningful dialogues and poignant, teachable moments. Myers has spearheaded the interdisciplinary Critical Social Justice initiative that explores social justice in both theory and practice. The program has expanded to include themes which touch on engaging in difficult dialogues, creating brave spaces, and caring for the Baltimore community–just to name a few. She has also been instrumental in the growth of the Returning Women Students Program, which offers monthly workshops and programs that focus on the academic, personal, and professional aspects of life as a returning woman student.

A leader in higher education, Myers is active in the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Center Directors group, has served as a panelist and presenter at local and national conferences and has published several articles. In 2015, she received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Women’s Studies Association Women’s Center committee. She has also been honored with a University System of Maryland Women’s Forum Professional Development award. Myers is also a leader in her local community, where she has volunteered with several advocacy groups supporting survivors of sexual assault.

Myers holds a B.A. in social work from The Catholic University of America and an M.S. in student affairs in higher education from Colorado State University.