The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has named L’Tonya Davis as its first permanent chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO).

In this position, Davis will lead the agency’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) efforts and will oversee the implementation of USDA’s first-ever DEIA Strategic Plan.

She comes to the USDA after serving at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where she most recently was director of the Office of Communications and Project Management in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). Davis also served as ORA’s official executive DEIA champion for 10 years.

“Throughout her career, Ms. Davis has demonstrated a strong commitment to hiring and developing a workforce that reflects the rich and diverse tapestry of America and to creating workplaces where everyone can thrive and achieve their full potential,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release.

“As part of our commitment to provide equitable services and mission delivery to all, USDA is also focused on its greatest asset – its people. USDA is working to provide equitable service and mission delivery to all, including the dedicated employees who are at the heart of the service we aim to provide,” Vilsack added. “Our workforce will benefit from Ms. Davis’s leadership and her commitment to ensuring our programs benefit every American.”

Establishing the first-ever CDIO role has been a top priority for Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh, who is stepping down from the department to spend more time with her family.

“Ms. Davis will join a team of talented, hard-working USDA employees whose work touches the lives of every American, every day,” Bronaugh said. “With her proven track record of change management and adept leadership skills, Ms. Davis is well-equipped to steer the people’s department on its continued journey to become an organization that centers our employees, our values, and our dedication to addressing persistent challenges and barriers towards bringing the best talent to USDA, retaining and investing in our workforce, and creating a culture where everyone feels welcomed.”

Davis is replacing Leslie Weldon, who was named acting CDIO in March 2022. According to the press release, Weldon played a key part in developing the DEIA Strategic Plan and launching the CDIO position.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.