Jennifer Garrett, the Libraries’ Associate Director for Organizational Design, Equity, & Talent, has been chosen as the winner of the 2023 Equity for Women Award in the faculty category from the Council on the Status of Women.
The Equity for Women Awards recognize faculty, staff, and students for their outstanding leadership, service, and scholarship in establishing equity for women at NC State. Garrett was honored among other winners and nominees at the Council’s annual Sisterhood Dinner event, held on Monday, Feb. 27.
“This award is such an honor to receive—to be honest, the word ‘honor’ feels grossly insufficient in expressing how much this means to me,” Garrett says. “I know that anything I have done has been with the support and collaboration of so many amazing colleagues at the Libraries, so this recognition also speaks to the many important efforts and changes happening across our organization. There is nowhere else I would want to do this work. ”
Garrett’s recognition continues the tradition of women in leadership roles at the Libraries. Jill Sexton, the Libraries’ Associate Director for Digital & Organizational Strategy, was honored with the Equity for Women Award in 2021.
Garrett has been a leader in expanding the Libraries’ equity-based recruitment practices, and her efforts have directly resulted in our largest, most competitive, and most diverse pools ever. She was also a leader in the Libraries' Salary Equity Task Force, where she collaborated with a small internal team to identify salary inequities for Libraries employees based on gender and race. The Task Force determined that women of color were paid, on average, less than their peers, and on their recommendation, funds were allocated to address 100% of these identified wage gaps.
For many people, this kind of attention to equity in the context of their organization has come through a heightened attention to social justice after national reckonings with structural inequities. For Garrett, a focus on equity has been lifelong and is intensely personal. “Since the Sisterhood Dinner, I have been reflecting on equity in my life, and I have thought a lot about my parents, whose struggles and accomplishments I see in this award as well,” she says.
Until Garrett was 10, her mother was a single parent. They had sold everything to move from Michigan to Oregon, leaving her father who was struggling with addiction. Garrett’s mother raised twins while working full-time and returning to school on scholarship to get a college degree. Garrett’s parents later remarried after her father committed to sobriety. The last two decades of his life were dedicated to helping others.
“I think about my father growing up in New Haven, Michigan before and during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, experiencing segregation and desegregation as a child,” she recalls. “He was five days shy of 18 years old when he heard the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. King’s influence was obvious every time I heard my dad speak.”
“There were times growing up when strangers would see our interracial family together and call us names—names you can and can’t imagine. I remember one situation in a grocery store line—I was 14 and so angry. My parents held me close and said, ‘We are not those words, don’t you dare ever believe it. Know that these things are taught and can be changed.’ And every day since then, that has been the aim—to change the wrongs that our systems will try and tell us are normal.”
In her current role, Garrett is a member of the Libraries’ senior management team and a recognized leader in stewarding equity efforts across the organization. Over the past year alone, she has led the expansion of the Libraries’ equity-based recruitment practices—including embedding EDI-focused requirements into job descriptions, EDI-related questions into candidate interviews, and directly recruiting candidates from historically underrepresented groups. Her efforts have been nothing less than transformational in improving the recruitment and advancement of women and staff of color at the Libraries. Candidates have repeatedly shared that their experience was the most welcoming and inclusive one they have ever had, which has resulted in additional referrals as well as repeat (and successful) applicants. Library administrators from other institutions often reach out to Garrett for consultation and guidance on implementing similar equity efforts at their institutions.
“I am incredibly grateful to have Jennifer as a colleague and see her recognized with this award,” says Greg Raschke, Senior Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. “Her positive impact on the Libraries culture has been profound, and her leadership in diversifying the recruitment of positions across the Libraries transformative. Jennifer is a champion for equity at every level, with tangible impact across NC State and the profession of librarianship.”
Garrett has also previously served as the Libraries’ Director of Talent Management, Head of Digital Research Education and Training, and Research Librarian for Management, Education, and Social Sciences. She currently oversees the Libraries Fellows programs—which is how she first came to the Libraries as a 2012-14 Fellow.
Garrett is a frequent and sought-after speaker on equity topics within the library profession at large, addressing topics including anti-oppressive supervision and management, innovative hiring practices, and mentoring early career BIPOC professionals.
In 2021, she was appointed to a two-year term on the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC). The DEIC is charged with promoting social justice within ARL and among member libraries and archives. Garrett has also been an ARL Career Enhancement Program Fellow and a Diversity Scholar, and has served as a Leadership and Career Development Program (LCDP) Fellow.
In 2020, Garrett was appointed to the Building Cultural Proficiencies for Racial Equity Framework Task Force—part of a joint effort led by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL); the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS); the Public Library Association (PLA); and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The framework serves as a foundational resource to help public and academic libraries build inclusive cultures, within libraries and their broader communities, through guidelines on the development and implementation of organizational policies and professional practices that support diverse libraries with a diverse workforce.
Garrett also led the Libraries’ work around the Data Science and Visualization Institute for Librarians (DSVIL) which received the 2019 LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Outstanding Communication for Continuing Education in Library and Information Science from the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) and Emerald Group Publishing Limited.