Since 2014, Youlanda Michelle Gibbons, PhD, has been the founder, executive director and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Inclusion Leadership in Washington, D.C. In this role, she works with the Office of the Sectary in the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the U.S. Department of Defense, consulting on various diversity and inclusion efforts, ranging from policy to continuing education and training. Dr. Gibbons began her professional journey by earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and human development at Mercer University, which she followed with a Master of Social Work from Boston University and a Master of Science in public health from Harvard University, and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
During her tenure at UMass Amherst, Dr. Gibbons served as a graduate research associate in the office of the chancellor and as an instructor of sociology. Subsequently, she was a United States congressional fellow in the Office of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy from 2003 to 2004 before joining Georgetown University as an assistant professor in 2005. Remaining in that role until 2016, she has served Georgetown as an affiliated scholar of sociology since 2017. She concurrently joined Curtis Lewis & Associates PC in 2007 as a senior consultant and social scientist and became their diversity and inclusion subject matter expert from 2009 to 2010. Dr. Gibbons also spent time as a senior consultant and social scientist with NASA and as an adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.
Dr. Gibbons was the founder and a partner with the National Conference on Diversity, Inclusion, and Innovation in Government from 2011 to 2012 before joining the U.S. Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2013. She held that role until 2020, during which time she established the Partnership for Inclusion Leadership. Throughout her career, she has contributed to numerous papers and reports, notably publishing “The Business of Diversity: A View from the Corporate Suite” in 2011 and “The Role of Collective Identity in Value-Based Leadership” and “Servant Leadership and Obedience to a Higher Power: Vulnerability and Accountability for Moral Leaders” in 2019. To keep abreast of new developments in her field, Dr. Gibbons maintains professional affiliation with the American Sociological Association, the Association of Black Sociologists, and the American Association of University Women. Well-rounded and active in endeavors close to her heart, she also is a mentor for women pursuing careers in the arts, including the theater, collaborating with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Gibbons attributes much of her success to the inspiration she gained from seeing former President Barack Obama bring social justice, diversity, inclusion, and equality to the fore during his time in the White House. Her involvement in government notably began as a result of President Obama’s Executive Order 13584, which required the federal government to implement a strategy to increase diversity and inclusion across all agencies. Dr. Gibbons was recruited while at Georgetown and brought on to help execute the executive order. Since then, she has brought her skills to numerous areas of the government as a subject matter expert in leadership inclusion, thought leader, researcher, and scholar.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Gibbons has developed strategic approaches to educating and training military and civilian leaders on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as competency-based approaches to redefine and realign military leadership training and development. Furthermore, she helped to establish and define the mission, vision and governance of the Department of Defense Centers of Excellence and established long-term partnerships with industry and higher education institutions for the adoption of best practices. Dr. Gibbons cites her greatest career achievement as being continuously asked by leaders in the federal government to help establish diversity and inclusion roles.
For her excellence, Dr. Gibbons has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. In 2022, she received the Women Worth Watching Leadership Award and the Black Leadership Award from the Profiles in Diversity Journal, the Thought Leadership Bronze Stevie Award, and the Women of the Year in Government Bronze Stevie Award. Other awards to her name include the Power the Future Award from the Forum on Workplace Inclusion in 2021, recognitions for excellence in teaching from Georgetown University in 2009 and UMass Amherst in 2003. During her education, Dr. Gibbons was recognized with a Minority Fellows Award from the American Sociological Association in 2002 and a Fellowship Award from Nellie Mae Foundation in 2001.