Division of Biology and Medicine
Office of Belonging, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion


The Office of Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OBEDI) has a rich history and many people, both past and present, have been involved in this very important work of diversity and inclusion.

Early Years

Established in 1976 as the Office of Minority Affairs, upon the recommendation of the division-wide Committee on Minority Affairs, the office got its start under the (part-time) direction of Mr. Levi Adams, former associate provost of Biology and Medicine

In 1977, Mr. John McLain was appointed as the first minority affairs officer and during his tenure from 1977 – 1980 Brown awarded 13 MD degrees to underrepresented minority (URM) students which constituted 7% of all MD degrees awarded at Brown during that time period

In 1981, Mr. A. James Powell was appointed as the first full-time minority affairs officer.  After an administrative reorganization in 1985, the position of Minority Affairs Coordinator was created

In 1988, James “Jim” Wyche, PhD was appointed associate dean for minority affairs in the Division with the charge of overseeing minority faculty hiring and graduate program development as well as overseeing minority affairs

Under Dean Wyche’s direction the Summer Research Early-Identification Program (SRE-IP) was established along with the Minority Faculty Fellowship Program in 1989

Inclusive Excellence

The SRE-IP gave URM undergraduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) an opportunity to conduct summer research at Brown; this effort later evolved into The Leadership Alliance whose Executive Office has been housed at Brown since its inception in 1992.

From 1989-91, Leslie Rawlings-Costa served as coordinator for minority affairs and later Leslie Rawlings-Pona served as officer from 1991-1996.  By combining the roles of the associate dean and coordinator the Division revised the officer role and added the responsibility of providing support for URM students in the Program for Liberal Medical Education (PLME).

Expanding Scope

In January of 1995, Mercedes Domenech MD PhD was hired as the first MD dean for the office of Minority Affairs as it was known then. Since the number of students was increasing and they wanted to expand the scope of the office to the hiring of faculty as well, Alicia Monroe MD was hired in 1996 and they both shared responsibilities. Dean Domenech is still part of the office concentrating mostly on the undergraduate years of the PLME 

In 1996, Alicia Monroe, MD was appointed as associate dean for minority medical affairs and served until 2008

From 2008 to 2019, Zoila Quezada, M.Ed held the position of Assistant Director working with Drs. Monroe, Simmons, Bennett, Diaz, Guthrie, and Poitevien.

In 2008, Emma Simmons, MD, MPH was selected as assistant dean for minority medical affairs with responsibility for overseeing the URM medical student population and served in this capacity until her departure in 2011

In 2011, Jabbar R. Bennett, PhD was selected associate dean for diversity, and director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in the Division of Biology and Medicine, and charged to lead and coordinate diversity initiatives for medical and graduate students, faculty and trainees within the Division including the Program in Biology and The Warren Alpert Medical School

In 2015, Joseph Diaz, MD, MPH, FACP was named Interim Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and later, in 2016, named Associate Dean.

In 2017, Dr. Tracey Guthrie was appointed as an Assistant Dean for Diversity.

In 2018, Patricia Poitevien was appointed as an Assistant Dean for Diversity.