Singing since the age of 12, Dr. China Wilson was bitten by the stardom bug after she co-starred in a 1997 adaption of West Side Story that was produced in the Boston area and featured on 60 Minutes. As she continued performing professionally, she considered studying performing arts in college but was stymied by her high school guidance counselor saying a student like her wasn’t “college material.” Despite her artistic talent and enrollment in her school’s honors program, she questioned if an arts career for her was possible.
“I was a young African American woman from the inner city who sang very well but didn’t have access to the same preparatory resources as my more fortunate peers,” she says. “No one should be refused an opportunity based on characteristics and circumstances they can’t change. My personal experience birthed my strong advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
As Peabody’s inaugural Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a member of Peabody’s executive team, Wilson continues that advocacy. She brings to the position a wealth of experience gained during a 15-plus-year career encompassing change management, civil rights and social justice public policy implementation, equity and Title IX compliance, diversity and inclusion programming, and anti-racism efforts.
As the Maryland State Department of Education’s Equity and Civil Rights Compliance Specialist, she provided statewide leadership and guidance to colleges on a federal civil rights monitoring program. While at Trinity Washington University, she developed programs and policies to address barriers students faced because of race, gender and/or gender identity, ethnicity, low income, or immigration status.
Wilson says she’s often occupied inaugural positions and was encouraged by the institutional culture she’s found at Peabody. “What I love most about being here is that Peabody’s commitment to ADEI is clear,” she says. “From the executive team, faculty, students, and staff, people are collaborating and strategizing around DEI issues and that’s a huge deal to me. I’ve been in places where that’s not been the case and it puts more of a burden on the individual. I’m energized and excited about what’s to come because of Peabody’s culture.”
— Bret McCabe