Rosa Rodriguez Williams believes she was always supposed to end up at Northeastern. One of many employees who left the university before ultimately returning, Rodriguez Williams’ journey is far from straight forward but indicative of what makes Northeastern home to so many students, faculty and staff.
In 2007, she applied to be the director of the Latinx Student Cultural Center and, after a rigorous search process, got the job. But her Northeastern journey was just getting started. Rodriguez Williams worked at the center for 13 years before leaving in 2020 to serve as the Museum of Fine Arts’ first director of belonging. There, she worked to expand what kind of stories were being told through art and exhibitions, and to rethink the museum space itself. Although she loved her work and relationships at the MFA, “some of the work that I wanted to do, they weren’t ready to do.” Now, like a boomerang, she’s back at Northeastern, working as the executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“If you can make an institution like Northeastern lead in so many ways–having 14 regional campuses in three countries–why can’t we do that with DEI?” she says. “To be part of an organization that wants to lead in everything, I want to also lead in this area and be a model to institutions globally.”