Jenkins named Basic Sciences diversity, equity, and inclusion program manager

By Wendy Bindeman

Headshot of Felysha Jenkins. She is bald and is wearing long earrings and a light-blue collared shirt.
Felysha Jenkins.

The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Basic Sciences recently welcomed Felysha Jenkins as its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program manager.

Basic Sciences is committed to fostering a diverse, inclusive environment that welcomes and supports trainees, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds. Throughout their long careers at Vanderbilt, Linda Sealy, formerly the senior associate dean for DEI, and Roger Chalkley, formerly the senior associate dean for biomedical education, research, and training, worked to build an inclusive community and increase Vanderbilt’s diversity.


The implemented efforts take many forms, including the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity, which recruits and supports biomedical trainees from underrepresented backgrounds. Vanderbilt’s IMSD has been active since 1998 and is one of the most effective diversity efforts within graduate schools in the biomedical sphere in the nation. Beyond that program, diversity efforts within Basic Sciences include a Culturally Aware Mentoring program for faculty and the Discovery Sciences Emerging Scholars Lectures program, which brings outstanding early-career scientists from underrepresented backgrounds to give lectures at Vanderbilt.

The DEI program manager, a new position, will focus on further enhancing Vanderbilt’s commitment to maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. “I am very thankful for Dr. Linda Sealy’s diversity efforts over the course of her career and the pathway forward she provided,” said Jenkins, the incoming program manager. “My primary goal is to continue using evidence-based approaches to guide my work and our community.”

Jenkins received an M.A. in experimental psychology from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in psychology from North Carolina State University. Jenkins is a trained facilitator with the National Coalition Building Institute, an international leadership organization that provides comprehensive, DEI-focused leadership training. She is also a graduate of the Equal Opportunity Institute at North Carolina State University, a certificate program that offers enhanced training focused on improving equity and diversity in workplaces and schools.

In addition to her trainings, Jenkins brings a wealth of work-related experience with diversity- and equity-focused initiatives in various settings. Previously, she was a program associate for the NCSU graduate school’s IMSD program and an Early College Outreach Coordinator at Chattanooga State Community College.

As DEI program manager, Jenkins looks forward to working with all areas within Basic Sciences. “Successful diversity, equity, and inclusion work thrives when collaboration is a part of its foundation,” she said. “Therefore, I am eager to meet with community members and leaders in the next few weeks to determine how I can be a resource to them.”

Larry Marnett, dean of basic sciences, was “delighted we were able to recruit Dr. Jenkins in our national search.” He added, “She has a wealth of experience and the scholarly background to advance our efforts in inclusive excellence and be an incredible resource for the community. It is great to welcome her to Vanderbilt.”