Intercultural Affairs Office brings in WC alumni as consultant

By Heather Fabritze

News Co-Editor

Following the departure of the previous Director of Intercultural Affairs, the Washington College administration offered an interim position to diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant Obella Obbo ‘14.

After graduating from WC, Obbo served as the program coordinator of campus collaborations at Georgetown University. He worked alongside their director of the affinity housing and spaces, as well as mentoring under a counselor on their staff. He has since started up his own consultancy called The Radical Empath LLC, through which he provides tailored services that allow people to “show themselves empathy, understanding, and grace,” according to his website.

Obbo is not formally taking on the position of director in the Office of Intercultural Affairs. Rather, he will be performing certain facets of the role, including supporting the Intercultural Center, the Washington Scholars, and the implementation of the strategic plan.

“What’s very obvious about it is that it’s a hard role,” Obbo said. “It’s draining. People have been in and out and that’s not for no reason. I want to stare that in the face while I’m here.”

He will be on-campus two weeks out of every month, assisting the Office of Student Affairs and affinity groups through every avenue possible.

One of his largest tasks in his consulting position is to contribute to the selection of the new director. He said that he hopes to set up for the person who will be stepping into the role, so that it is “genuinely sustainable for a long period of time.”

According to Obbo, he would prefer that the position be occupied by someone who is younger, so that they have the opportunity to grow alongside the center and its students.

However, he acknowledges that the workload before them can be strenuous and difficult to overcome, especially in the face of opposition.

“There is no higher education institution that is not resistant to change,” Obbo said. “At a bare minimum, the fundamental nature of the job of DEI is to be facilitating change in a system that is resisting it.”

Director of Student Engagement Antoine Jordan ‘12 believes that Obbo is capable of taking the challenge on, even temporarily. He said that Obbo’s presence on campus is a “breath of fresh air” in the energy, perspective, and experience that he is bringing to campus.

Above all, Jordan believes Obbo’s largest advantage comes from his status as an alumni. He has outside experience working in DEI at institutes of higher learning, but he “also knows this place the best,” giving him an inside and outside look at what needs to be improved in the Intercultural Affairs Office.

“I think the coolest thing [about his hiring] is giving back to the College and giving back to a place that meant so much to him, and helped turn him into the person that he is today,” Jordan said. “Being able to see him have the opportunity to give back…to a new generation of WC students is just a really cool full circle kind of thing to watch.”

According to Obbo, the students at the College are part of the reason he was so excited to return. He said that although WC was not where he needed to be to find belonging, he owes part of the skills he has today to this campus.

Working toward larger strategic goals which benefit the student body, of which he used to be a member, is a “self-fulfilling” moment for him.

“I hope that we can prove a point, I think is kind of what my goal is,” Obbo said. “I think that I’ve been screaming this for a long time and I’m now in the positionality where I would like to see if we can actualize it. Within reason, for my own heart, and everyone else’s.”

Photo Caption: Obella Obbo also gave the DEI speech to the Class of 2027 during the week of orientation.

Photo courtesy of Obella Obbo

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