SAN FRANCISCO – WestEd is pleased to announce Nicole L. Yeldell Butts is joining the agency as the new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), where she will lead initiatives that champion the importance of diverse, inclusive, safe, and representative environments across all agency levels and beyond.
“As we welcome Nicole to WestEd, we are energized, grateful, and confident that she will help us fulfill the next phase of our DEI journey,” says WestEd CEO Glen Harvey.
“We are inspired by Nicole’s accomplishments and outcomes in transforming organizations. And we know she’ll challenge us to collectively engage in conversations with our colleagues across the agency in ways that will lead to meaningful discovery, growth, and action.”
A two-time Historical Black College & University (HBCU) graduate, Nicole holds a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and master’s degree from Bowie State University. An accomplished speaker and executive, strategist, coach, and facilitator, she advances innovative and successful efforts that strengthen DEI commitments and progress through coaching, training, and leadership development.
Creating welcoming, safe, and challenging environments where people can engage, explore, and grow is the throughline of Nicole’s work. At WestEd, she will draw on her experience to actively engage with senior leadership, managers, employees, and external partners to further promote and sustain DEI initiatives that support the agency’s values, culture, and strategic priorities.
“The most fulfilling aspect of my work is helping people expand their thinking and comfort zones,” she says. “By encouraging them to navigate challenging spaces, encounters, and conversations, I positively enhance their personal and professional development.”
Philanthropy is at the core of Nicole’s life. As a community volunteer, she worked with organizations like The Posse Foundation, SHIELDs for Families, and Holman Community Development Council. Additionally, she worked as a facilitator for the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. She engaged with international and non-governmental organizations at the conference and helped attendees reflect on complex cultural topics and cross-cultural interactions.
Previously, Nicole served as Chief Diversity Officer at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Director of Equal Employment and Affirmative Action at the University of California, Riverside; and Manager of Equal Employment and Affirmative Action at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Her consultancy included working with. Berkshire Associates to launch the firm’s training and development functions related to salary equity, talent acquisition, retention, and performance management. In addition, she founded and led Ororo Enterprises, a company that designed and implemented full-scale diversity and inclusion programs for numerous government agencies.
She began her professional career as an elementary school teacher.