ARNITRIA KAREN SHAW-WHITFIELD
Vice President of Workforce and Diversity
Illinois Central College
Occupation: Arnitria Karen Shaw-Whitfield is vice president of Workforce and Diversity at Illinois Central College. She provides leadership, guidance and support for students and programs that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in higher education. Her responsibilities include grants, programs and departments related to ICC’s programs for job-training, adult education and literacy, college and career-readiness, early college and dual degrees, along with ICC’s initiatives on diversity and workforce equity.
Community Involvement: She is a board member of Junior Achievement and Peoria Promise and a member of Peoria Safety Network. She is also a member of the Peoria alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. She volunteers for ART Inc., St. Paul Baptist Church and Garry Moore’s theater programs.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, English/Language Arts and teacher education, Western Illinois University; master of arts, educational leadership and administration, St. Xavier University; doctorate of education, higher education administration-leadership, equity and inquiry, Illinois State University (by 2024)
Three things she’s passionate about: Education, justice and understanding others
Three favorite hobbies: African-American literature, fashion and learning
Career Influence and Inspiration: Dr. Thelma Sylvester, her high school English teacher at Lindblom Technical High School, and her mother, the late Mattie Bowens, influenced her the most. Dr. Sylvester’s presence, she says, “was the epitome of grace and intelligence and her stealth ways of motivation helped me to be better in immeasurable ways.” Her mother was her greatest inspiration. “She was my biggest cheerleader and made me believe that I was destined for something great and meaningful in this world. She instilled in all of her children the everlasting desire to learn and the imperative to ‘do right’ by ourselves and others.”
Inspirational Quote: “I will not shrink from undertaking what seems wise and good because handicaps or obstacles of any kind confront me. . .” Mary Church Terrell
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