The Interview USA
William & Mary
Chief Diversity Officer

Chon Glover

Reckoning with the history of the institutions we work within and represent — especially when there are events in an institution’s history that one cannot be proud of — is always a difficult process. For Chon Glover, Chief Diversity Officer at William & Mary, this reckoning is at the forefront of her work, and a central way in which she is progressing inclusivity and belonging on William & Mary’s campus.

GoodCourse co-founder Chris Mansfield sat down with Chon to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, how wider social change impacts Higher Education (HE), and what makes for good allyship.

Chon's Journey

Chris: Tell me about your role and what triggered your interest in DEI?

I currently serve as the Chief Diversity Officer at William & Mary. I’ve been here for 26 years! I attended a predominantly White institution as an undergraduate and while I was there I really tried to do more to support students from diverse backgrounds. I was navigating college as a first-generation, low-income, African American woman.

One of my mantras is ‘to whom much is given, much is required’. I benefited from mentors, so wanted to do the same for students who came after me.

Chris: How did you transition from student affairs to your current role?

When I graduated, I was hired to do what I had been doing as a student. I knew student affairs, but I wasn’t that well acquainted with the intricacies of HE structures. Quickly, I realized it was my calling. I worked at my alma mater for 6 years, then I came to William & Mary.

Students are my joy, they’re the reason I’m here, so being given the opportunity to work more universally was appealing to me. It’s been wonderful because I wanted to do intentional work and make a tangible impact.

Chris: We’ve been discussing the need to foster belonging and inclusion on campus post-covid with lots of our guests. I’d love to hear what initiatives you’ve been working on towards this end?

I work more with faculty and staff now. In 2019 I co-led the renewing of our mission and vision statement as we reviewed our strategic planning process. We created a value statement which considered what took place when we made decisions. One of the 7 principles we used was belonging. We realized a lot of people didn’t feel they had a sense of belonging at work. They were going through the motions and not feeling seen, heard, respected and valued.

The pandemic revealed many health, racial and economic disparities. We needed to give people opportunities to talk about how they were impacted by everything that was happening to us as a society, especially as issues of isolation became compounded with issues of belonging.

Chris: Could you share your thoughts on allyship, how you approach the concept with colleagues who don’t identify with marginalized groups, and how to best energize these groups?

George Floyd’s murder and the BLM movement was a national reckoning — it triggered self-reflection for a lot of people. Many wanted to become individuals who spoke up for the voiceless. It was a good byproduct of everything that happened, but you have to make sure you’re doing it in the right way.

Allyship is developing relationships with people who are in a different group and being as empathetic as possible in that process. It’s one thing to assume we know an experience, but talking to people provides a better understanding.

George Floyd’s murder and the BLM movement was a national reckoning — it triggered self-reflection for a lot of people. Many wanted to become individuals who spoke up for the voiceless.

Allyship can be performative — we need true, authentic allyship. When I’m not in the room, there needs to be someone asking questions like: why are we doing this? How does it impact others? How do we bring everyone to the table?

Chris: How do you follow through with important work, even when it’s opposed by potentially powerful people?

Our work with the Lemon Project began a decade ago. Our students came to the institution and said, we need to investigate our past. We’re the second oldest institution in the country, in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The board acknowledged we had a history with slavery, so started the Lemon Project. It’s the name of a person who worked for the institution — we don’t his full name but we know that he had a strong relationship with William & Mary. The university conducted 10 years of research which continues today.

As a culmination of this work, we built a memorial this spring — Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, to honor and make visible the individuals who were enslaved by the university for 170 years.

3 Quickfire Questions

Chris: What is your top tip for anyone coming into DEI?

DEI work is ‘heart’ work and hard work. On top of that, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. For these reasons, you have to be a courageous and empathetic leader.

Chris: Who most inspires you in the DEI space?

I value my colleagues who are doing the work. I really admire Damon Smith, who is a respected researcher, practitioner and scholar in the DEI area.

Chris: What book would you recommend to anyone coming into the space?

I’m currently reading Trust and Inspire by Stephen M.R. Covey. It is phenomenal in the sense that it talks about leadership in a different way from the norm –- we should trust and inspire people, rather than command and control them.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Chris Mansfield
Client Services
Chris is one of the Client Service leads at GoodCourse, dedicated to helping institutions better engage their audience to create a more inclusive, safer, and more successful environment. To request to be featured on the series, get in touch at

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