Announcement | Kenvi C. Phillips Named Director of Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Kenvi C. Phillips, PhD as the inaugural Director of Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Kenvi’s first day at Brown will be August 23, 2021. Consistent with Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University and the Library’s own strategic goals in this critical area, hiring an executive officer whose portfolio focuses exclusively on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion is part of an intentional move toward becoming a more just, inclusive, equitable academic library. 

As the Director of Library Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Kenvi will direct critical organizational and programmatic initiatives, expand the Library’s outreach, and contribute her expert knowledge and skills to advance the Library’s and the University’s core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Kenvi’s work at the Library will include oversight for Library initiatives connected to Brown’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) Phase II and the Anti-Black Racism Task Force. She will oversee the Library’s Racial Justice Project, and play a key role in the Library’s expanding partnerships with campus programs including the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative. Working closely with the Library’s own representative DIAP committee, Kenvi will provide expertise for strengthening Library staff competency related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and promoting and advising on strategies for Library physical, digital, and educational accessibility.

Kenvi currently serves as the Johanna-Marie Fraenkel Curator for Race and Ethnicity at Harvard Radcliffe’s Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. While there, she has led the library’s efforts to diversify the collections to be more inclusive of racial and ethnic populations across the country. Since her arrival at Schlesinger in the fall of 2016, she has identified gaps in the collections and worked to develop relationships with financial and collection donors while leading the effort to engage community members in the greater Boston region in order to expand collections and programs. She consults with scholars within the Harvard community and other universities to advise the library as it expands its collecting scope and rewrites its collections development plan. She has worked with archivists and curators, both within Harvard Library and other repositories, to develop partnerships to increase access to collections about marginalized people, particularly women. 

Before joining the Schlesinger Library, Kenvi served as Assistant Curator of Manuscripts at Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. There she led an initiative to revise and increase access to the collections by merging the reference services of the library and manuscript divisions. By combining the two departments, staff was able to increase both research access to collections and manuscript processing. In addition to her work with the Harvard Library and the Howard University Library System, Kenvi has worked with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, a non-profit bi-county agency established more than eighty years ago in the Washington, DC area.  

An historian, Kenvi holds a master’s in public history and a doctorate in US history from Howard University.

Demonstrating a serious and impactful commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and associated issues of racial justice is a major guiding principle at Brown. These commitments are also integral to the Library’s mission on campus as well as its growth and development as an organization. As Brown’s focus on these issues has increased, the Library’s specialized skills, resources, and services are being called upon in new ways. At the same time, the Library is also identifying new opportunities through its own work to make important contributions to the University’s goals in this area. Every member of the Library’s administration and staff is responsible for contributing to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Library. We look forward to bringing the Library’s commitment and contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion to the next level with Kenvi’s expertise, leadership, and guidance.