Fanshawe hires first ever director of equity, diversity and inclusion

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: FANSHAWE COLLEGE
Joseph Pazzano has graduated from York University, Wilfrid Laurier University and UC Berkeley.

Fanshawe College has appointed Joseph Pazzano as the first director of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the school’s history. What exactly does that mean?

According to Fanshawe president Peter Devlin, some of the things Pazzano excels at include crafting and advancing strategic EDI plans, providing community-based and risk-informed EDI advice to senior leadership, identifying biases and barriers within complex policies and systems, establishing pathways to EDI excellence and liaising with and involving all equity-deserving communities. Pazzano stated that the “enthusiasm and excitement on campus” for EDI work has him anxious to get started. In his own words, he explained the purpose of the role.

“Equity work is all about listening, collaborating and acting,” said Pazzano. “It’s not about any one individual because if we think of it in that way, we won’t [achieve] the goals we have. My main mission is about empowering everyone, regardless of their identity, to see themselves in equity and inclusion work. My number one goal for this role is listening, collaborating and acting with equity-deserving communities but… it has to be a truly collective effort to get equity work done effectively.”

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An equity-deserving community is defined as a group of people that identify barriers to equal access, opportunities, and resources due to disadvantage and discrimination, and actively seek social justice and reparation (

The faith-based attack on the Afzaal family in London that occurred less than half a year ago shows that oppression is still very real, and that the role of a director of EDI is important. Western University has also hired a director of EDI, acknowledging that oppression and hate have massive repercussions, and in some cases, people have lost their lives. Pazzano mentioned the terrorist attack from June stating that it’s played a part in why his work is in demand right now.

“All colleges and universities are at a pivotal moment,” said Pazzano. “Our stakeholders, students, and faculty are more socially conscious now than they ever have been before. Our ability to do well as an institution to make sure that everyone feels like they belong is what’s really important.

“I think the communities that colleges and universities are situated within are facing profound social awakenings too about the tragic realities of things like oppression and racism. In London, I think the tragic attack against the Afzaal family is one of those examples. It’s obviously horrible and heart-wrenching, but I think it also reminds us that equity and inclusion isn’t theoretical. If we don’t get these responses to hate, to oppression, if we don’t respond well to these events when they happen, we won’t make things better… the consequences are truly fatal.”

Lastly, Pazzano is making Fanshawe history as the first director of EDI and he knows the significance of that. Pazzano is just glad that he won’t be the last.

“For every equity strategist, for every equity leader, it’s really important to involve folks with lived experience from every equity-deserving community because I will be the first director of EDI but I won’t be the last, and I am the director of EDI but everyone is going to be involved in this work and I really look forward to hearing from every equity-deserving community at Fanshawe about how we can make things better, how we can identify and dismantle systemic barriers because I want to be that champion. I want to make sure this work gets the effort, credit and due that it deserves and I hope we can do really exciting things together at all of these campuses that Fanshawe inhabits.