SARANAC LAKE — The Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI) has hired its first director.
The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) announced that Nicole Hylton-Patterson of the Bronx will take on the leadership position for the Initiative, which aims to make the Adirondack region a more welcoming and inclusive place for residents and visitors.
Hylton-Patterson, acting director of a Westchester County college’s social justice center, will begin serving as ADI’s diversity director Dec. 2. She will be based at ANCA’s office in downtown Saranac Lake.
ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish said, “We could not be more excited about this new hire. Nicky possesses the experience and passion for diversity and inclusion work that is critical to achieving the ADI’s goals. We all look forward to working with her as she brings fresh ideas and approaches to the Initiative’s work.”
Hylton-Patterson brings a unique cultural perspective to her new position. Born in Jamaica, she spent her formative years in northern Norway as part of a gifted child program. Hylton-Patterson has 20 years of experience leading activities and programs geared toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to her current role as acting director of the Mary T. Clark Center for Religion and Social Justice at Manhattanville College, she served as program coordinator for the college’s Center for Inclusion.
She has also instructed and coordinated programs in Arizon, Syracuse and Elmira that focus on race and gender studies, justice, diversity and advocacy.
Hylton-Patterson holds a master’s degree in Pan African Studies from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology University, and a bachelor’s degree in African & African American Studies and Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Afro-LGBTQI+ Justice with Arizona State University.
“I am deeply excited to be taking on this role with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative,” Hylton-Patterson said. “As someone who understands the challenges facing spaces that are perceived as lacking aspects of human diversity, I look forward to working with Adirondack communities and New York State. The opportunity to expand our understanding of the region and the way we welcome and celebrate differences is one that requires a willingness to first make ourselves vulnerable. Yet, it is only when we see ourselves for who we are, that we can ask the same of others. I’m looking forward to putting these principles into action in my new role in the Adirondacks.”
Fish said the addition of Hylton-Patterson to the ADI team will help the Initiative achieve its objectives through a research and process-driven effort, bringing social and economic benefits to the region’s residents, businesses and visitors.
The diversity director will work closely with ADI partners to advance these goals, which are driven by two guiding principles: that the Adirondack region should be welcoming and inclusive to everyone and that the region should be relevant to and supported by an increasingly diverse state and national population.
“We have looked forward to this day since 2014, long before the Adirondack Diversity Initiative held its first major symposium in Newcomb,” said Adirondack Council Conservation Director Raul “Rocci” Aguirre. “What was once an all-volunteer effort focusing on local diversity, equity and inclusion challenges will now have the coordination and direction needed to move these important issues forward in the North Country. Nicky is an outstanding person who will make an impact immediately.”
Established in 2015, the ADI is a volunteer-run collaboration of organizations and individuals who develop and promote strategies to help the Adirondack Park become more welcoming and inclusive to all New Yorkers, including visitors, seasonal residents and permanent residents. In May 2019, New York state announced that $250,000 of its 2020 budget would go to the ADI as part of the $300 million Environmental Protection Fund.