Marinda Monfilston

FLY: How did you begin your career?
Marinda: I began my career in Human Resources while I was a graduate student at the University of New Haven (UNH), where I was a dual major in Community Psychology and Industrial & Organizational Psychology. By networking with UNH alum that worked at Yale, I found out about a temporary opportunity covering a maternity leave, that I could also use for one of my required internships. This is how I was first introduced to Yale’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. A few months after my temporary assignment ended, the position that I temped for became available because of a promotion, and I was eventually hired as a benefits level employee.

FLY: Tell me about your current role at Yale University: 
Marinda: I have been the Diversity Program Coordinator in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion since 2013. When I started in 2013, there were only 4 affinity groups. Today, there are 8 affinity groups. As the Diversity Program Coordinator, I have the pleasure of cultivating relationships with our affinity group members, and helping to turn ideas into successful programs, events, and initiatives. Through hundreds of events and meetings each year (we currently have 41 events and meetings planned for February, which only has 28 days!), I help to create a workplace where our employees can feel valued, appreciated, and engaged; create a sense of belonging; and bring their whole selves to work.

FLY: What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job? 
Marinda: Patience, effective communicator, organization skills, coordination skills, team-oriented, willingness to learn, flexibility, attention to detail, cultural competence, self-awareness, and multi-tasker.

FLY: What non-work-related aspect have you enjoyed most about the Yale community? 
Marinda: I have enjoyed the diversity of the people, city, food, and culture.

FLY: What drew you to FLY and how have you spent your time in the group?
Marinda: I originally became involved with FLY as a mentee of the first affinity group mentorship program cohort in 2014. I was interested in figuring out what I needed to do to navigate my career and maximize my potential. In July of 2019, I agreed to chair the Community Outreach & Civic Engagement Committee because I saw it as an opportunity for me to get more engaged in the Greater New Haven community. 

FLY: FLY is a workplace group, but it has so many elements. How has FLY affected you in ways you didn’t necessarily expect?
Marinda: I have truly enjoyed having the opportunity to reimagine how FLY can engage in community outreach during the pandemic and working on new civic engagement opportunities as well. Having virtual events has allowed for us to reach more people and to be more innovative. I did not know what to expect in a virtual environment but am grateful for the support of FLY’s current co-chairs Allyssa Antunes and Nicole Ginolfi when it comes to trying and supporting new things. For example, I came up with the idea of a virtual fitness series in July of 2020. The purpose of the fitness series is to provide a unique virtual experience that will allow for stress reduction, connection, education/awareness, cultural awareness, and fitness, all while supporting local businesses. We originally had three events planned: Zumba, salsa, and fitstyle in the kitchen. We have since added belly dancing, Shotokan karate, my parent and me hip hop, and Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba. In 2021, we are expanding this initiative by partnering with the Yale Latino Networking Group’s healthy me initiative, which is a 6-part series.

FLY: What changes have been made to your work since COVID-19 started to impact Yale? 
Marinda: COVID-19 has allowed for me to take a much deeper dive into topics such as allyship, bias, and microaggressions. I read 20 books between March – December 2020, and plan to read 21 books for 2021 (I am already on book #5!). As a result, I have been able to host virtual events to build community and have conversations that used to be considered taboo in the workplace. I feel a renewed commitment in the importance and impact of our diversity, inclusion, equity, social justice, and belonging work, and appreciate the opportunity to share my journey thus far.