Bland appointed to equal opportunity council

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Council provides oversight to Statewide Diversity Policy

By Kelly Cantrall

A local attorney will be promoting diversity among all public higher education institutions in the state.

JoAnne Wheeler Bland  has been appointed to a two-year term on the Council on Postsecondary Education’s Committee on Equal Opportunities. The council provides oversight to the Statewide Diversity Policy followed by public postsecondary institutions and will work to create a diverse student body and pool of employees at colleges and universities

Bland was attracted to the position because, as a transgendered woman, she has been working to bring about tolerance for the transgendered community through counseling of other transgendered people, speaking at colleges and universities, and serving on that board of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, an lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization.

Bland first learned of the opportunity through a friend at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. Bland said she wanted to assist any organization that works against discrimination.

“I am very interested in diversity because I’m about as diverse as you can get,” she said.

After applying for a seat on the council, Bland learned last week she was selected to serve. The council is made up of 14 representatives from around the state.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” she said.

Bland said she wants to ensure the council looks beyond race as the main issue when considering the diversity of students and staff. She is eager to bring transgendered issues to the discussion.

“I know from my own personal experience what it’s like to be different,” she said.

Bland said she’s discussed her new opportunity with staff in higher education and members of the Louisville Fairness Alliance to receive input from others and be as inclusive as possible.

At 67, Bland said she wants to spend the rest of her life making the way for transgendered people smoother than what she experienced.

“Time will tell whether I’ll make a difference or not,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.