Scholarship, Passion, Leadership: PAEA Hires First CDEIO

Culminating a process that began more than a year ago, Monica Miles, PhD, will be joining the PAEA staff on January 19 as the Association’s first-ever chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer. Miles’s position will be central to PAEA’s goals to further strengthen our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in PA education, building on the ongoing work around goal 1 of our current strategic plan.

The PAEA Board approved funding for the position in the FY2021 budget and CEO Mary Jo Bondy, DHEd, MHS, PA-C, made this search a priority, setting the recruiting process in motion soon after her arrival at PAEA earlier this year. Miles competed with many other well-qualified candidates, impressing the recruitment committee with her knowledge, passion, scholarship, and breadth of experience.  

“We are thrilled to have someone of Dr. Miles’ caliber to lead our work in this crucial area,” said Bondy. “She will help integrate an intentional DEI perspective into everything we do across the organization and across PA education, as a scholar, researcher, leader, and advocate.” 

Miles comes to PAEA from a position with the New York Sea Grant, a program run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in collaboration with Cornell University. In this role, she built on the interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education that she developed as the Chancellor’s Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Scholar for Diversity in STEM Education at Vanderbilt University, where she chaired the Postdoctoral Association diversity committee. Miles earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology, and spent a year teaching middle school science in Charlotte, NC, where she developed a passion for investigating the inequities that are often built into science education. A year later, she moved back to Buffalo and took a position as director of a program devoted to preventing students from dropping out of school.  

“It was that experience as a middle school teacher that really triggered my passion for equity and inclusion,” Miles said. “You have to have a social justice orientation in this work. Always ask yourself, ‘How are you thinking about those who are marginalized?’ “ 

PAEA will also benefit from Miles’s skills as both a quantitative and qualitative researcher. She has nearly 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters to her name and a keen interest in equity scholarship. She will take over direction of the Association’s research department, where she hopes to help bring further clarity to what we know about the pipeline through K12 to PA school for underrepresented students.  

This summer’s Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements have helped create the perfect moment for PAEA – and indeed the nation and the world – to move the needle on DEI issues, Miles said. “We need to strike while the iron is hot. We don’t have to prove that racial disparities are occurring. People want to make change and it is very empowering for people to engage. This is a time of opportunity.” 

PAEA looks forward to welcoming Dr. Miles to the Association in January, when a more detailed introduction to her role and plans for her work will be published.