USDA Appoints L’Tonya Davis as Inaugural Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

USDA Appoints L'Tonya Davis as Inaugural Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

(Credit: Canva Pro)

by | Mar 7, 2023

USDA Appoints L'Tonya Davis as Inaugural Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

(Credit: Canva Pro)

On March 2, 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated L’Tonya Davis as its inaugural permanent Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO). In this role, the CDIO will spearhead the USDA’s continuous initiatives to enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) throughout the Department, and will supervise the execution of the USDA’s initial DEIA Strategic Plan.

Working closely with executive leaders, employees, and staff experts, Ms. Davis, as CDIO, will be focused on driving committed leadership and employee engagement for a high-performing and innovative workforce at USDA. This critical work demands an engaged and diverse team that embodies USDA’s values across the organization’s headquarters and field offices, both domestically and internationally.

About CDIO L’Tonya Davis

Having earned a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Public Management from the University of Maryland, College Park, Ms. Davis also completed various professional development programs. These include the Leadership for a Democratic Society program at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Executive Institute, as well as the Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management program at Georgetown University.

Prior to joining USDA, L’Tonya served at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where she was the director of the Office of Communications and Project Management within the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). In her role, she oversaw strategic communications, public affairs, project management, and executive secretariat activities for ORA. Additionally, for a decade, she served as ORA’s official executive champion for DEIA, providing strategic leadership and direction to establish and foster an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible culture, and establishing ORA’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) infrastructure strategic goals.

“Throughout her career, Ms. Davis has demonstrated a strong commitment to hiring and developing a workforce that reflects the rich and diverse tapestry of America and to creating workplaces where everyone can thrive and achieve their full potential,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “As part of our commitment to provide equitable services and mission delivery to all, USDA is also focused on its greatest asset – its people. USDA is working to provide equitable service and mission delivery to all, including the dedicated employees who are at the heart of the service we aim to provide. Our workforce will benefit from Ms. Davis’s leadership and her commitment to ensuring our programs benefit every American.”

Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh have made it a top priority to establish the first-ever Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer role at USDA.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring the civil rights of its more than 100,000 employees and customers across 29 agencies and offices. To this end, USDA has developed the DEIA Strategic Plan, which complements its Civil Rights programs, National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, and Equity Action Plan. This plan includes high-impact actions to comprehensively incorporate equity into USDA’s farm, family, and food programs that touch every American’s life. The independent Equity Commission, following a year-long review of USDA’s programs and services, delivered a set of interim recommendations to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February. The Commission’s 2023 Interim Report includes actionable recommendations on how USDA can further improve equity in its programs and practices.

Acting CDIO Leslie Weldon, who led diverse natural resource and work environment programs at the USDA’s Forest Service for 40 years, was instrumental in the development of the DEIA Strategic Plan and position.

Employment Trends for Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for top executives, including chief diversity officers, will remain steady over the next ten years with an estimated 8% growth rate between 2020 and 2030. This growth rate is similar to the average for all occupations. Nevertheless, recent trends suggest that the outlook for chief diversity officers may be even more promising than the BLS data indicates. According to Glassdoor’s research, job titles related to diversity and inclusion bounced back more quickly from the economic crisis of 2020 compared to other human resources jobs or all occupations combined.

A significant majority of job seekers and employees, specifically 76%, consider a diverse workforce to be a crucial factor while assessing companies and job opportunities.

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