A blog that looks behind the scenes at how we bring our mission to life, every day

Committing to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging: Meet the global EF DEIB team

As part of our efforts to prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across EF Education First globally, we have introduced a team dedicated to bringing our five commitments to life. While we are at the beginning of a long journey, we are steadfast in our efforts to drive real change at EF. We’ve appointed teams in the major regions where EF operates — North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia — to address the needs of each on a local level.

Each DEIB representative brings their own unique expertise and perspective to their new position. Read, in their own words, why they took on these new roles and how their passion will help our teams move forward.

North America

Nayeli Vivanco, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, EF North America, Boston

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

Having grown up in a multi-cultural environment as a first-generation, Mexican-American woman has exposed me to the good–and sadly the bad–of what it means to be different. These same experiences have fostered a passion in me to celebrate all of the differences that we share as humans. It is this same diversity of thought and experiences that help us become a better society. I choose to believe that I am because we are. Living by the Ubuntu philosophy reminds me that all of my actions impact those around me. And with that I want to be better and do better to make this world a little more understanding, inclusive, and equitable where everyone feels that they belong.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest?

Some great DEIB resources I have come across lately are: What if I say the wrong thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Verna A. Myers; (as a new mom…) Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi; and Don Lemon’s podcast, Silence is Not an Option.

What’s your favorite hobby?

I’m passionate about traveling, learning about new cultures and languages, and both eating all the amazing foods of the world and cooking them.

Leslie Anselme, Program Manager, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, EF North America, Boston

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

I know what it feels like to feel like you don’t belong – in a city, in a room, in a workplace. I’m particularly passionate about it within the workplace because I felt myself suffering from this “other” feeling, this imposter syndrome, and this feeling of not belonging at EF. It got in the way of my performance, and it killed my spirit. I want to be a part of the change that can prevent others from feeling like this and allow more people to truly shine in their roles. The goal is to make sure that this (and every) company is a place where everyone can work, thrive, grow and feel empowered to do so.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest?

I love autobiographies, memoirs and anthologies. They give you an in depth look at an actual person’s experience. Some of my favorites are: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Redefining Realness by Janet Mock; Difficult Women by Roxane Gay; Becoming by Michelle Obama; Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde.

Don’t be afraid to read or watch something out of your comfort zone. Watch foreign movies. Watch TV shows that highlight different groups. Read articles from various publications. Get your news from different places.

What’s your hidden talent?

I went to magic camp as a kid one summer. As a result, I can (kind of) juggle. I also have one card trick that I bring out at parties. It’s a crowd favorite.

Latin America

Tannia Domenzain, Recruitment and Employee Development Director, EF International Language Campuses, Mexico City

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

During my life I have been granted the opportunity to know, listen to, and love people who struggle with some or all of these topics. There have been times during my life in which I might have felt like them. This is why I really feel passionate about opening the doors to listen, and do whatever I can to change the way my colleagues at EF might feel. In a world in which we desperately need to understand and accept each other, it’s really great to have the chance to promote inclusive behaviors and be available for the ones who need them the most.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest?

I really like the app “Happy Not Perfect.” It offers many ideas on how to cultivate your emotional health with very friendly reminders. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle has changed my vision on how I am the one responsible to maintain myself peacefully in the present no matter the circumstances in life.

What’s your hidden talent?

I really enjoy active listening. I would like to develop myself as a personal coach as I think it might be something that I can use to help people. 

Danillo Jesus, Corporate Responsibility Supervisor, EF English Live, São Paulo

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

The possibility of working with many different people learning about their histories and having the opportunity to learn more about their lives and the struggles they are facing. Then using it all to share knowledge to make as many people aware, especially in our organization, of good practices and behavior in order to make everyone feel they belong, they are respected and are equal in our society.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest to staff and customers?

I’m still crawling, but am watching YouTube channels and reading blogs in Portuguese here in Brazil. Also, I recommend the podcast ReversaCast by Maira Reis.

What’s your hidden talent or favorite hobby?

My favorite hobbies are listening to music and traveling.

Europe

Adama Lawla, Project Director, Global Recruitment and Development, EF Education First, London

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

Being a woman of color and having experienced racism both in and out of the workplace, it is a topic that is very close to my heart. I am passionate about creating an environment where our colleagues feel represented, empowered, and where they can to bring their authentic selves.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest?

A must read is Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala.

What’s your favorite hobby?

I am an avid fan of music. I often spend hours just exploring new music and people who know me say that I can sing well.

Manon Dave, Vice President of Product Innovation, EF EdTech, London

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

I’m passionate about the potential of people, the ideas they can bring to the table, and the things they can achieve, both individually and collectively. I think, in order to realize that, I have to be passionate about everything the DEIB group stands for, specifically, ensuring that our diversity as a team is represented at all levels of the organization, and that we all have an equal footing when it comes positively impacting our business and workplace.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest?

I recently came across a book called The Memo by Minda Harts. The book primarily focuses on issues faced by women of color as they strive to advance in the workplace, but a lot of what is covered can also be seen through the eyes of a person of any minority background. I found it quite honest and eye-opening and would really recommend it to anybody who is curious to hear more about the experiences of people of color in the workplace.

What’s your hidden talent?

I like to make music! I’ve been lucky enough to write songs and produce music for some super-talented people and continue to do so whenever I can grab some free time.

Asia

Joanne

Joanne Vazquez, Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Asia, Shanghai

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

I believe it’s important for everyone to have the opportunity to be invited to the table, and to not just have a seat, but most importantly a voice that is heard and valued. I want our staff to feel like they can be their true authentic selves wherever they go, especially in the workplace. It’s my hope that the global DEIB teams and task forces will help EF become a workplace where diversity is fully welcomed, equity is available to all, inclusion is promoted, and belonging is part of our work culture DNA.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest?

I would recommend listening to The Diversity Gap Podcast. For reading, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez.

What’s your favorite hobby?

I would consider working out my hobby for 2020. It’s my way to disconnect from the day to day and to truly focus on the workout ahead of me. Not only are the workouts great, but it’s the inclusivity at my gym that makes it an amazing community to be a part of in Shanghai.

Ashley

Ashley Everage, Program Manager, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, Asia , Shanghai

What makes you passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging?

It begins with experience — the things I have seen and felt, conversions I have had. Everything I have been through helped to cultivate my commiseration, empathy, and sympathy for the DEIB of others. It’s about wanting to be better than before and trying to surround myself with people just as hopeful, as passionate, and as ready for change to build initiatives that will benefit others in the foreseeable future.

What books, podcasts, educational materials, etc. would you suggest to staff and customers?

A great podcast I have been telling people about is called Code Switch. Code switch is a term many minorities are familiar that speaks to the tone, intonation, and vernacular that automatically shifts when you enter into a space where you are likely seen as ‘other’. The podcast itself, however, speaks to many different topics. Another podcast is It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. This is an NPR podcast that touches on many current events from the perspective of different races, sexualities, and genders and it is extremely warm and inclusive.

What’s your favorite hobby?

I really enjoy reading and listening to music. I’ll pretty much listen to anything live. I love live jazz but the last live band I heard was this Chinese rock atmospheric fusion band that included a didgeridoo type of instrument.

Explore the world with us Learn more

Share this article

Latest articles from News