Meet Ex Officio Council Member, Empress Sanders

I currently serve as one of the assistant deans and four year academic advisors in Engineering Student Services and have been in this role since March, 2016. My first position, back in 2003, was through University College where I served as one of the registration help desk assistants and assisted with event planning. After my time in University College, I worked in administrative roles in the English Department and the German Department for a total of 8 years. I served as the DSC chair in 2016 and currently serve in an ex officio role for the council.

My involvement with WashU’s Diversity Inclusion Forum for Faculty and Staff (DIFFS) created the initial space to discuss the possibility of forming a staff council. I served on the DIFFS leadership committee from 2012-2016, alongside some very dedicated staff members who worked diligently to educate and bring awareness in the area of diversity and inclusion. I also had the privilege of serving as one of the first delegates for our annual Day of Dialogue and Discovery in 2015, which highlighted the issues and needs of our community and the work being done around the campus to support diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Prior to the official formation of DSC, I served as chair of the DSC working group. In this role, I considered myself a planter/sower and spent many hours recruiting and encouraging staff to get involved by sharing their WashU stories and experiences. These conversations were both encouraging and sometimes heartbreaking and mirrored some of my own painful WashU experiences. The more I listened, the more it became evident that staff needed a governing body to advocate for them. It also became apparent that as the largest population on campus, staff were the only group that had no official governing body to support them. Official councils had been in place for WashU students and faculty over the years.

I am most grateful to see a space created that allows staff council members to have a seat at the table where decisions are being made on behalf of staff through DSC. To be supported and recognized by our Wash U leaders as an official voice that seriously seeks to advocate for staff, and to have leaders who intently listen and take into account our suggestions concerning policy changes and updates is something staff can sincerely be proud of.

As staff begin to see policy changes being made on their behalf, I believe a greater trust will form not only between the DSC and staff, but between staff and the overall administration. I also believe DSC, through the current and future work they are doing, will continue to prove to senior administration, that our partnership with them will lead to a more trusting, positive, and collegiate working environment throughout our campus. My hope is that no staff member ever has to feel alone, should they find themselves in a situation where support and guidance are needed.