LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas employee with extensive experience in diversity, equity and inclusion and the LGBT community has been named the new director of the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity.
Saida Bonifield, who has been serving as interim director of the center since September 2017, was selected to lead the office into the future.
“Saida’s appointment is great news not just for KU’s LGBTQ community, but for all of KU,” said Precious Porras, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “Her understanding of and appreciation for sexuality and gender minorities and their intersections with other groups within our community position the center to really serve our students, faculty and staff in a positive and proactive manner. She’s also earned the respect and admiration of individuals at all levels and across all KU campuses.”
KU has provided programming in sexuality and gender diversity for a number of years. The SGD Center, which had its first full-time staff member in 2014, facilitates an affirming and supportive environment through which students, faculty and staff can better understand gender and sexuality. University policy already prohibits discrimination on a variety of characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
The center provides a variety of resources and opportunities to enhance the educational and work environment at KU. The center also provides a space and network for LGBTQ students and faculty and staff. It is perhaps best known for offering Safe Zone training in partnership with the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Safe Zone works to create a safer, more civil community for all individuals, particularly those of sexuality and gender minorities, by raising awareness and enlisting allies to provide a supportive campus community. The training strives to reduce homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism on campus to make KU a safer and freer environment for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
As the center director, Bonifield is a key communicator, educator and advocate for social justice through the lens of gender and sexual orientation for the university and uses a variety of methods and resources. She is expected to collaborate and develop relationships and partnerships with internal and external agencies to assist with pre-collegiate outreach, recruitment, retention and graduation of LGBTQ students.
Bonifield is a KU alumna with a master’s degree in higher education administration and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She has held a number of roles in higher education in the Midwest as well as in the nonprofit sector.
Bonifield has been in the Office of Diversity & Equity, first as a program officer, since 2015. In August 2017 she was named director of strategic initiatives, policies and special programs. A month later she was appointed as interim director for the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity. Bonifield worked at other universities before returning to KU in 2014 to be an assistant director at the Student Involvement and Leadership Center and coordinator for the Sexuality and Gender Diversity Center, a position she held until February 2015. From 2013 to February 2014 Bonifield was the assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana. From 2010 to the start of 2013 she was coordinator for LGBT Student Involvement and Leadership at Washington University in St. Louis. She was a graduate intern at KU’s Student Involvement and Leadership Center during the 2009-2010 academic year. Between completing her undergraduate degree and returning to KU to work on her master’s degree she served as a bilingual client advocate and a crisis intervention specialist.