With a background in social work, Alli Roman is passionate about storytelling and says, ‘There is space for everyone’
by Susie P. Gonzalez
Allison “Alli” Roman, a social worker who most recently served as assistant director for the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., has been named director for diversity and inclusion in Trinity University’s Division of Student Life.
Roman began the post Jan. 2 and reports to Sheryl Tynes, vice president for Student Life. “Alli is a careful listener but brought to us an impressive array of short-term, medium-term, and dream-big goals. She is student-centered and will ground her work in learning from us, but she also has the vision we need to become excellent in this area,” Tynes says.
In this new position, Roman will serve students, faculty, and staff in order to enhance the retention, persistence, and success (both academic and career) of underrepresented and historically marginalized populations. The position was reconfigured from a vacant coordinator post.
Roman plans to spend her first year on campus learning what diversity, inclusion, and social justice “look like at Trinity and in the San Antonio community.” Her goal in building a new department at Trinity is to build bridges while building a community and to equip people with tools to promote diversity and inclusion. Arriving just before citywide and campus celebrations for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, Roman will attend some of the 200 upcoming Dream Week events and look for ways to advance King’s legacy.
With regard to her passion for storytelling, Roman says, “Through storytelling, there’s a lot of opportunity for infusing that in diversity and inclusion work. How do we elevate the stories from voices that we don’t normally hear?” She says she supports the concept of students engaging in storytelling research in disciplines such as sociology and psychology as a way to share their experiences.
She also may continue a project from her previous university called “Dear Sis,” which would create a “safe space” for women of color to exchange letters of encouragement in affirmation about their experiences.
A first-generation college student, Roman says she identifies as a black Latina whose goal at Trinity is to be the staff mentor she wished she had discovered as an undergraduate at the University of California – Berkeley, where she earned a degree in social welfare. Roman also holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.
At Trinity, Roman would like to conduct a campus climate study about diversity and inclusion with a goal of creating a space where students, faculty, and staff feel a sense of belonging. “They may want to learn more about different cultures,” Roman says, adding, “There is space for everyone.”
Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations, can be reached at susie.gonzalez [at] trinity.edu or @susiegonz.