The Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI) has hired its first director. Nicole Hylton-Patterson of Bronx, N.Y., will take on the leadership position for the Initiative, which aims to make the Adirondack region a more welcoming and inclusive place for all residents and visitors.
Hylton-Patterson, acting director of a Westchester County college’s social justice center, will begin serving as ADI’s diversity director on December 2, 2019. She will be based at The Adirondack North Country Association’s office in downtown Saranac Lake.
Hylton-Patterson brings a unique cultural perspective to her new position. Born in Jamaica, she spent her formative years in Northern Norway as part of a gifted child program. Hylton-Patterson has 20 years of experience leading activities and programs geared toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to her current role as acting director of the Mary T. Clark Center for Religion and Social Justice at Manhattanville College, she served as program coordinator for the college’s Center for Inclusion. She has also instructed and coordinated programs in Arizona; Syracuse, NY; and Elmira, NY that focus on race and gender studies, justice, diversity and advocacy.
Hylton-Patterson holds a master’s degree in Pan African Studies from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology University, and a bachelor’s degree in African & African American Studies and Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Afro-LGBTQI+ Justice with Arizona State University.
“I am deeply excited to be taking on this role with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative,” Hylton-Patterson said in an announcement issued by ANCA. “As someone who understands the challenges facing spaces that are perceived as lacking aspects of human diversity, I look forward to working with Adirondack communities and New York State.
“The opportunity to expand our understanding of the region and the way we welcome and celebrate differences is one that requires a willingness to first make ourselves vulnerable. Yet, it is only when we see ourselves for who we are, that we can ask the same of others. I’m looking forward to putting these principles into action in my new role in the Adirondacks.”
Hylton-Patterson is expected to help the Initiative achieve its objectives through a research and process-driven effort, that is hoped will bring social and economic benefits. ADI’s goals are driven by two guiding principles the announcement sent this week said: that the Adirondack region should be welcoming and inclusive to everyone and that the region should be relevant to and supported by an increasingly diverse state and national population.
Formally organized in 2015, the ADI is a volunteer-run collaboration of organizations and individuals. In May 2019, New York State announced that $250,000 of its 2020 budget would go to the ADI as part of the $300 million Environmental Protection Fund. The new grant funding has allowed ANCA, which now serves as a home to the Initiative, to hire a director and expand outreach and programming.
Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council affiliates are Adirondack Almanack; Adirondack Council; Adirondack Foundation; Adirondack Futures; Adirondack North Country Association; Adirondack Park Institute, Inc.; Adirondack Research Consortium; Adirondack Wild; CAP-21; Common Ground Alliance; Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce; John Brown Lives!; Paul Smith’s College; Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism; SUNY-ESF’s Northern Forest Institute; and The Wild Center.
Photo of Nicole Hylton-Patterson provided.