About Relando

DeniseRelando_013“If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Born and raised in the Brightmoor community on the west side of Detroit, MI, and a product of Detroit Public Schools, I desire to help those who believe that they are outcast, those who believe that no one cares for them, and those who believe that they cannot change their situations.

Through service, conflict resolution through non-violent communication, and social action, I work to build more equitable and inclusive communities and to increase intercultural understanding.

I am also very concerned with issues regarding the experiences of students of color and other marginalized groups in higher education, such as achievement, access, recruitment, retention in addition to qualitative accounts of their social experiences on campus and in the classroom.

Currently, I serve as the inaugural Social Justice Educator/Coordinator within The Division of Inclusion and Equity at Grand Valley State University.  In this role, I Coordinate and oversee existing social justice and intercultural resources and programming on campus and facilitate meaningful dissemination of educational opportunities university-wide.

I also work with campus partners, lead the creation, implementation, and assist in facilitation of a tiered social justice education program for faculty, staff, administration, students, and community partners among other responsibilities.

In addition to serving as an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and at Oakland University’s Social Work Program, I also spent a great deal of time coordinating The Future Public Health Leaders Program at the University of Michigan School of Public Health: a program designed to encourage underrepresented college students who are interested in working to eliminate health disparities to pursue careers in public health.

In addition, I am also interested in social justice education and intergroup dialogue, and have also engaged in developing and implementing strategies to incorporate intergroup dialogue into the School of Public Health’s programming and curriculum.

I also serve as an independent consultant, providing training and workshops to student groups and organizations interested in creating more inclusive communities.

My work enables me to engage groups of people in dialogue and skill building activities about conflict, social identities, privilege, oppression, and social justice for the purpose of helping them to enhance their ability to peacefully resolve conflicts, build relationships with people whom they believe to be different from them, and to understand the broad social issues that underlie group tensions and prejudice.

If we can change the way we think, we can change our actions as well.

I strive to grow in these areas, so that I may be able to address issues of equity and inclusion in higher education, while bridging gaps and making connections across differences between people in the broader community as well.  I also have a strong interest in producing in the area of film and video, and long to find ways to incorporate this medium into my work. For additional information, I encourage you to read about my Mission, as well as my Vision & Values Statement.

nah new logo

Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian (N.A.H.)  is my blog, where I share quotes, personal accounts and reflections, news stories, or other artifacts that I believe impact my development as I work to become a better human. This space also serves as a platform for some of my writings on issues of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice.

By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about  social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

You can contact me directly by filling out my contact form.