Updates from Johnson County Community College: JCCC opens new Office of Inclusion & Belonging

Marquis Harris, Executive Director of JCCC’s Office of Inclusion & Belonging.

By Marquis Harris

I’m honored to introduce to you the Office of Inclusion & Belonging, a brand-new resource at JCCC! Since joining the College in July, I have been impressed and encouraged by the welcoming nature, commitment and passion of so many individuals. I consider it a privilege to lead the charge behind the work in this office and look forward to the journey ahead. I’ve had the pleasure of serving the Kansas City area for the past six years in various capacities with one goal – making sure students have quality and meaningful experiences in their educational communities.

Here at JCCC, the goal will be no different. This overview provides more context on the purpose and function of the office.

The purpose of the Office of Inclusion & Belonging is to serve the JCCC community – employees, students, and the Johnson County community at large – in pursuit of the College’s mission, vision, and values to maximize inclusion and belonging efforts on campus by using evidence-backed and research-backed services. We’re doing this by providing specialized professional learning and development sessions, guidance on navigating intercultural dynamics, and hosting collaborative programming and events.

In the grand scheme of things, the values of our office – service, partnership, development, and hope – are the main motivation that undergird the work.

First and foremost, we are here to serve…not just anything, but people. Our students, employees and community members that are here on campus are the priority. As we meet the unique needs that we face every day, we are actively achieving one of the fundamental concepts in the human experience – helping others.

Marquis Harris in discussion with two JCCC Trustees at a recent meeting on campus.

We recognize that this effort is a partnership. We are truly better together. We have the opportunity to work within one of the key pillars of society, education. No matter what department, background, educational level, or whatever other qualifier we add, it takes all of us to make this system work. In every initiative and program, this office seeks out key partnerships to strengthen the campus culture and the community at large.

Alongside partnership comes the opportunity to learn and to grow. This is why development is so crucial. Each person that walks this campus comes from a different walk of life. Each having a different reason for being here on campus, whether student, employee, or community member. Our focus is not only about meeting individuals where they are but to also equip them with the tools and resources they need to get to where they want to go. We are always on the journey of growth and development – together.

The final core value is hope, which is the anchor that keeps us secure even when things get challenging. While on this journey of life, it can be easy to sometimes feel a sense of discouragement. That is why we must remain hopeful. We all must maintain hope even when things become difficult, disorienting, and even uncomfortable. We each have faced our fair share of challenges and seemingly insurmountable feats along the way, yet we persisted! Let’s lean into those moments and help others do the same, no matter what. Educational institutions are meant to be beacons of hope because of the possibilities that lie on the other side. To see lives changed and generations transformed – this office strives to ensure the attainment of this aspiration.

To stay connected with our team, please visit our Office of Inclusion & Belonging page on JCCC’s website to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter. You can also follow us on LinkedIn or Instagram to stay updated on our weekly activities. For questions, please contact belonging@jccc.edu. Our office on campus is Room 200 in the Commons (COM) Building.