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Meet Hadley Camilus: DEI Champion and new Consulting Partner

We are thrilled to welcome Hadley Camilus as a new thought partner to the ERI team. His rich experience in Multicultural Affairs took root, in part, over twenty years ago at Clark University where he authored compelling articles for the student newspaper, ‘The Scarlet‘ and the Multicultural Center newsletter “Different Voices”, that he founded. As a student, he also facilitated many roundtable discussions about a variety of topics related to the interplay of race and culture in the United States, devised and executed community programming that celebrated the Black experience, and co-founded the Millennium Leadership Conference to examine topics related to generational wealth and community development opportunities in underserved communities. 

It’s at Clark University where Hadley’s path first intersected with our VP of Strategy, Raffi DerSimonian, creating a unique and shared history that adds an intriguing layer to his joining our team at ERI. Their relationship began as respected dorm-mates who admired each other as charismatic leaders with magnetic personalities. The mutual respect lingers over 20 years later, and it has led to critical conversations over time that brought about this partnership. 

He is a first-generation American, raised by immigrant parents from Haiti, who has lived in disparate communities that have been both diverse and homogeneous in their racial, ethnic, and religious composition. He now resides on the seacoast of New Hampshire which offers him the luxury of being close to several beaches that he visits often during the summer to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Hadley’s insightful perspective is drawn from living in these distinct communities where he has encountered a mosaic of people who reflect the diversity of the human experience.

As a result of his experiences around broadening perspectives and an unwavering commitment to fostering understanding, Hadley brings a wealth of knowledge, and passion, to his new consulting role at ERI.

Introducing Hadley Camillus, ERI’s DEI & UX Strategist
Hadley is the full-time, inaugural Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs at Phillips Exeter Academy. A creative champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in his field, Hadley delves into the complex interplay of identity and experiences as Founder and Producer of a unique podcast that is titled ‘Identity N’ Me.’ It is a rare podcast that intentionally covers the multiple, and unique, ways that people identify. His influence extends into his recent appointment as a Consultant with ERI, promising to bring his extensive experience in multicultural programming to the role. From academia to media and consulting, Hadley’s multifaceted career continues to inspire meaningful dialogue and progress in his field.

What inspired you to pursue a career focused on multicultural affairs, and what have been a few defining moments in your career?

I wish I had a conventional story about what inspired me to pursue this career. In many ways, this career found me. I was 5 years old when my next door neighbor, who was a white man, threatened to shoot me if I ever jumped into his yard to retrieve my ball again. That same year, I was jumped by a trio of white boys in the school yard who were appalled by my presence as the lone black boy in the school at the time. In subsequent years, that lead me to always notice who was different in the (class)room and how they were being treated. As I got older, I started to get involved in spaces that encouraged dialogue and celebrated pluralism. Eventually, I parlayed my life experiences and passion for this work into a career.

Could you share some of the key experiences and learnings from your role as the Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs at Phillips Exeter Academy?

A couple of notable takeaways here have been a recognition that equity begins with inquiry, and that many on-ramps are needed in communities that want to embrace diversity. We don’t all come into communities with the same experiences or perspective. I didn’t need a History book to learn about racism, for instance. I’ve experienced it in person. The summer of George Floyd wasn’t an awakening for me; but it was for many others who don’t have these experiences. As such, the engagements that will further understanding have to look and feel different in a diverse community. Meanwhile, the folks who are under-represented in this community, who have also been excluded from these institutions historically, deserve tailored support that doesn’t revolve around building bridges.. That’s where equity comes into play. One size doesn’t fit all. 

The ‘Identity N’ Me’ podcast explores intricate facets of identity. Can you share a bit about your inspiration to and passion to produce it, along with one or two of the most impactful stories or conversations from the show that have personally resonated with you? [SEE LINKS BELOW TO EPISODES!]

Interestingly, the podcast came about during our “summer of racial reckoning.” My activist lane doesn’t involve marching in the streets. I don’t begrudge that approach at all, however. I wouldn’t have the rights that I enjoy today had it not been for the courage of many before me who took to the streets to demand change. While cities were rife with that energy, I wanted to find a way to encourage listening and understanding in the trenches. I believe story-telling has immense power.  I resolved that a podcast that featured mostly people with marginalized identities sharing stories about their experiences would lead to greater awareness of the challenges people face.. Along the way, I decided that I wanted to also highlight the importance of immersion and exposure in developing cross-cultural fluency, which provided an on-ramp for white guests who don’t have marginalized identities. That’s the gist of my podcast. The episode that really struck me was the one that’s titled Autism-n-Me. The guest and I don’t share anything in common, and our experiences are vastly different. I didn’t know much about autism coming into the episode and how people are impacted by it. Since that conversation, I’ve done more reading about autism and neurodiversity, in general. 

As you initiate your role as a consultant at ERI, what unique perspectives or strategies do you aim to bring to the table?

The 3 “I’s” inform my work: introspection, inquiry, and intention. Those three practices underlie diversity, equity, inclusion, (DEI) and whatever other letter or concept you want to add to the mix. Conscientious people and organizations take the time to reflect about themselves on a number of fronts. In a business setting, introspection is about understanding who you are and why you perceive and do things a certain way. Consequently, how does that inform your business practices, and are you regularly thinking through the consequences of your (in)actions? Are ideas formed on a whim in a vacuum, or with a diverse group of people who are empowered to share their unique perspectives? These questions exist at the intersection of introspection, inquiry, and intention. Organizations that get DEI right are the ones that commit to this practice. Another key principle of DEI is that evolution is ongoing. This modality is what I hope to bring to the table because it can impact every aspect of this operation. 

Outside of your professional pursuits, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy that help you unwind or gain a fresh perspective on your work?

Believe it, or not, I unwind by podcasting and learning how to use my audio editing software. I love learning about people, and my podcast allows me to do that. I also listen to other podcasts and audiobooks. Beyond that, I love basketball! I coached for a long time and enjoy seeing the Xs and Os executed. I’m a big Celtics fan, and I also love the Patriots. In Belichick I trust all day, err’day!!!! I’d be remiss not to add that I enjoy spending quality time with my family. Nothing beats doing something chill with the crew, whether that’s visiting a waterpark, boardwalk, mini-golfing, or going to a hibachi joint. I enjoy cooking too. My chicken is stealth!


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