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Keshia Elder, OD, MS, FAAO, associate professor, has been named director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the UAB School of Optometry (UABSO). This position is a new role within the school’s leadership.

Her goal as DEI director is to foster a sense of belonging for each member of the UABSO family. Strategies towards achieving this goal are to ensure an inclusive teaching environment for students and to guarantee that inclusiveness is the culture of the School of Optometry.

“This role places me in the position to work with faculty, staff and students to develop a DEI framework for the School of Optometry,” Elder said. “I was proud to be appointed in this position because I think it is important that the faculty and staff at the School of Optometry represent the students and patients that we serve. As we increase our diversity we will strengthen our school.”

Elder has DEI experience that is specific to optometric education and that is broader in nature as well. She has been a member of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) Diversity and Cultural Competency Committee (DCCC) for several years. Elder currently serves as the ASCO Applicant Pool Development Taskforce liaison to the DCCC. She is chair of the ASCO Diversity, Equity and Inclusion special interest group (SIG) and is, therefore, the ASCO DEI SIG liaison to the DCCC. Lastly, Elder is earning DEI certifications from UAB’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

Kelly Nichols, UAB School of Optometry dean, has made actively and purposefully living for integrity, respect, accountability, diversity and inclusiveness every day a shared responsibility at UABSO.

“With this role, the UAB School of Optometry is enhancing its commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Nichols said. “I am passionate about DEI. Not only does it create a welcoming environment at the school, but a focus on DEI in our academic environment also shapes the type of practitioner our graduates become in a positive way. Dr. Elder made a commitment to advancing diversity long ago, which makes her ideal for this new role.”