Gator News

Cathy “Kit” Alston announced as interim Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

By Philip Denman, March 1, 2024

Kit Alson, interim VPEDICathy “Kit” Alston was recently announced as interim Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. She began her new role on March 1, 2024.

"The VP of EDI office, and the work assigned to it, is mission critical," GRC President Suzanne Johnson shared in all campus email on Feb. 14, 2024, "Kit comes to this work well versed and prepared to continue the current projects and collaborations already underway. Of particular note, the work to establish a TRHT Center (Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center) to be connected to the Professional Learning and Innovation Center will continue with the college-wide community conversations scheduled throughout this academic year.  We will also be sending the next cohort of staff and faculty to the summer TRHT Institute provided by AAC&U (American Association Colleges and Universities) to continue building the college’s capacity for this work."

Kit first joined Green River College in 2017 as the Director of Workforce Education. Since 2020, she has serve as Dean of Transitional Studies and Wellness and Health Science, Wellness & Education Divisions. Prior to GRC, Kit worked at South Puget Sound Community College, Hopkinsville Community College and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Kit recently shared her journey to GRC and how she found inspiration along the way as part of our 2024 Women's History Month Q&A series. You can see her answers below.

What's your current role at GRC?

Interim Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

What’s your favorite part of your day to day?

I love connecting with people around me. I want to know how they are doing, how do they see this work, where are they in the work and what can I do to help them. I am a big picture thinker and in my conversations I am seeing how the pieces fit in the big picture.

Can you tell us about your career path so far? How have you gotten to where you are today?

Most people would answer this question by saying it was due to hard work and perseverance. However, there are many women and women of color that work hard, persevere but still don't achieve their goals. I can say, yes to hard work and perseverance. I also have a deep passion and belief that educational attainment is powerful and transforming.

In addition to all of these things I was fortunate and blessed to have people around me that saw something in me worth taking a risk on. I started in Higher Education as a classified employee, Program Specialist 2, serving Veterans. I was selected to move to Academic Advising where I managed the Worker Retraining Program. I did this for two years when I decided to make a shift in my career.

I wanted to do more, I wanted to build my own teams who believed as I did in the power of education and its ability to transform lives of those who were underserved. This brought me to Green River College as the Director of Workforce. It was here that I have been given opportunities to grow as a leader but more importantly a woman of color in leadership.

I have held several positions since arriving on campus, November 2017. During my time at GRC I have served in multiple leadership roles beyond my director role, Associate Dean for CTE, Interim Dean for Transitional Studies, Workforce and Wellness, and permanent Dean of Instruction responsible for two large divisions. In addition to this I also serve on the Advisory Team for Guided Pathways, Active member on SPARC, member of the Black Caucus and Umoja. I have served on committees that focus on equitable hiring practices, as well as, moving the needle on Goal A of the Strategic Plan.

My passion around EDI has led me to take on Professional Development opportunities to strengthen my knowledge and to add more tools to my EDI toolkit. All of this work has led me to my current position. However, it once again took someone who saw potential in me to provide me the opportunity to stretch and grow. I firmly believe that any of our successes are not attributed to individuals but all of those people that walked beside them, supporting, believing, and trusting in them. I am not here alone; I am here because of the teams that I have led and the people who have led me.

Seeing women in leadership roles can inspire girls and young women to reach higher and dream bigger. Who has inspired you throughout your life's journey?

My greatest inspiration has come from my mother and grandmother. They have made me who I am today. They were both fearless. Both immigrants to the US from Jamaica and due to life circumstances faced life leaning only on each other while raising a family. They worked hard and sacrificed much so that our family was taken care of and loved. They were the strongest women that I knew. Today, I still carry their inner strength within me.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for other women in their careers?

Impostor syndrome is a falsehood that was contrived to prevent women from achieving. Don't be afraid to step out and try new things. You don't have to check all of the boxes and be kind to other each other instead of competing against each other.

What do you do to stay grounded?

My faith keeps my humble and I never take myself too seriously. I am also self-aware and reflective. I recognize that I am flawed and a work in progress.

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Food from my Jamaican roots, Ackee and Saltfish with green bananas, fried plantain and roasted breadfruit.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you choose to bring?

A trunk of books to include my bible, fiction and a survival how to, family picture album, and a solar powered satellite phone to call for help.

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