Lawrence University announced today the appointment of Dr. Kenny Emmanuel Yarbrough, a national higher education diversity, equity and inclusion advocate and leader, as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

As the primary champion for DEI at Lawrence, Yarbrough will guide institutional culture, initiatives, and programs and a university-wide narrative. Yarbrough brings over 20 years of experience to this role including a broad and deep portfolio in creating organization-wide, inclusive strategies and support programs to benefit our campus, student experience, and greater community.

Head shot of Kenny Yarbrough
Dr. Kenny Emmanuel Yarbrough

For the past four years, Yarbrough has served in progressive roles at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewatermost recently, as the associate vice president of equity, diversity, inclusion and support programs.

“Dr. Yarbrough’s expertise in leveraging collaborative strategies and leadership in national advocacy will advance our work ahead in the areas of enhancing student programming,” said Laurie A. Carter, president of Lawrence University. “His appointment comes at an opportune time for Lawrence Universityat the intersection of our strategic investments and a student-focused strategic plan.”

Yarbrough will lead the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and work collaboratively across campus with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community to enhance diversity initiatives and build on the momentum of Lawrence University’s strategic investments and momentum in the areas of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism).

"I am elated to join the renowned institution, Lawrence University, in the role of vice president for diversity, equity, and Inclusion; and excited to join an institution that is seriously committed to this work for the students which the University serves as well as its employees and the greater community,” said Yarbrough. “I am grateful to Lawrence University’s president, Laurie Carter, and the Board of Trustees for entrusting me to lead this work in this capacity. The Light of Lawrence continues to shine, and I am grateful to be a reflector of that Light."

Prior to joining UW-Whitewater in 2018 as the inaugural chief equity, diversity, and inclusion officer (CEDIO), Yarbrough led the development of several DEI programs including serving as the chief diversity officer of Volunteer State Community College and assistant director at the Renaissance Education Group, Inc. He is a graduate of the Maxine Smith Fellows Program, managed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Yarbrough earned a master’s degree in business education from Union University, a doctorate in theology and master’s degree in Christian counseling from Jacksonville Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is also a certified diversity professional. His professional career outside of academia includes non-profit consulting, a research-based religion clinician and collaborating with various authors on works of fiction, non-fiction, and self-help books. He is pursuing a second doctorate degree in higher education and leadership from East Tennessee State University focusing his research on black males and intersectionality.

As a national leader, speaker, and author, Yarbrough has received recognition for his work in the DEIA space including the 2020-21 Chief Diversity Officer Fellowship from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. He is active in a variety of civic, cultural, and religious organizations including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He enjoys travel, theatrical productions, and music of multiple genres.