Kara Oliver-PérezDirector of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

A seasoned diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and racial-equity consultant, coach, influencer, programmer, author, facilitator, and educator, Kara Oliver-Pérez, M.S. is passionate about creating opportunities for individuals and groups to discover new ways of thinking about diversity, develop anti-racist and social justice frameworks, and create strategies that will support them in achieving their DEI goals.

With over 10 years of experience partnering with for-profits and non-profits, academic institutions, government, and law enforcement agencies, Kara has a wealth of knowledge that has inspired her clients to develop effective DEI programming, best practices, and anti-racist tactics.

With her background in creative studies, Kara uses her talents and skill set to help her clients achieve their strategic goals by thinking and looking outside of the box. She has designed and implemented results-oriented and focused plans, programs, trainings, and workshops, encouraging her clients to be their best and authentic selves through capacity building, empathy, and effective leadership coaching.

When working with clients, Kara prioritizes relationship and community building, creating a tailored and unique experience that reflects their mission and values, and utilizes research, road-mapping, culture climate assessments, and storytelling from an empowerment framework.

Born and raised in East Harlem, NY, Kara knows firsthand the importance of cultivating inclusive spaces, and her philosophy is based on “empathetic leadership” where she centers the clients’ stories in order to create a culture of belonging and understanding.

Kara also specializes in training, education, and the development of strategic DEI plans for higher education and has worked with a number of institutions including Niagara University, Daemen College, Hilbert College, SUNY at Buffalo, and Buffalo State College.

While serving in her role as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Niagara University, she was appointed as Co-Chair of the Identifying and Dismantling Racial Injustice Taskforce (IDRT) where she helped lead a diverse team of professors, students, Human Resource professionals, and community partners complete a report that assessed the entire campus community; from communication tactics and curriculum design to human resource policies and procedures and student life. The comprehensive report and associated strategy recommendations resulted in the hiring of the university’s first Vice President for DEI, and the development of the university’s first-BIPOC scholarship designed with the anti-racist lens.

As an extension of her organizational work, Kara continues to use her creativity and passion for DEI to develop children’s books and merchandise. In 2019, she published her first award-winning children’s book, You Go Girl: A Letter to Young Queens to help inspire children of color to understand the beauty of sisterhood and diversity, and has since established her own publishing company, Native Pens Collaborative Publishing. Kara holds B.A. in Communications from Niagara University and an M.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Creative Problem-Solving. She is a talented speaker who has presented at several conferences including TEDx Buffalo. Outside of work, Kara enjoys cooking, crafting, and spending time with her family.

Amanda Janosky