AAG Welcomes Risha Berry as new Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Risha R. Berry, Ph.D. has been named the new Director of Diversity and Inclusion for AAG. Among her responsibilities will be acting as the staff liaison for AAG’s Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion plan, adopted in December 2021.
“I’m excited to start my work with the American Association of Geographers,” said Dr. Berry. “Geographers work on critical issues that are shaped by questions of equity and justice, from climate change to immigration to war and peace to hunger and poverty. It will be an honor to work with AAG to strengthen its response to the field and to the world’s great needs through the practice of geography.”
Dr. Berry brings to her new role at AAG the knowledge and expertise resulting from 30 years of research, strategic direction, and leadership development addressing structural inequalities and racism and their collective impact on educational attainment and economic mobility. Among her many accomplishments, she is the founder and expert of the theory of organizational containment, which is defined as the “continual barriers that members of an organization encounter as they attempt to advance their career paths in pursuit of access to organizational resources critical to job effectiveness and career advancement” (Berry 2014).
A native of and current resident of Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Berry was a founding member of that city’s Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building (the nation’s first such office). She was responsible for creating and establishing the educational alignment strategy for wealth building, which resulted in the creation of the RVA Future Centers initiative, placing post-secondary planning centers at each of the comprehensive high schools in Richmond.
She also co-chaired the creation of the Social Justice Core and Urban Education and Families Core as a visiting scholar with Virginia Commonwealth University. While there, she was appointed Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services by the Mayor of Richmond, creating a strategic plan for aligning Community Wealth Building with citywide Human Services outcomes.
Dr. Berry also has led her own leadership coaching firm and several projects across the U.S. focused on community education and equity building, including working with a neighborhood equity group in Baltimore, Maryland; a national organization focusing on supporting city leaders in executing goals for equity in early childhood systems alignment; and she is also a Community Advisory Board Member and chair of the Housing and Health Equity Subcommittee of the Virginia Commonwealth University Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research.
She is a national fellow with the National League of Cities (Aligning Early Childcare Systems).
With many grants, awards, and publications of research to her name, Dr. Berry brings valuable insights and ideas to her new role at AAG. We are excited to welcome her, and to follow up with a conversation about her perspective on working with AAG when we return from the holidays.