Denise DeCou is the Manager, Diversity and Community Outreach in the Human Resources Department at Washington University in St. Louis. She works extensively with recruiters, hiring managers and diverse candidates to accomplish the university’s mission of increasing diverse talent in management positions and above. Her work includes developing a diverse pipeline, presence advertising, and developing mutually beneficial partnerships across the St. Louis metro area. Prior to this position, Ms. DeCou served as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Content Development and Program delivery for the university. In her role, Ms. DeCou developed curriculum designed to engage staff, faculty and students in becoming more aware, more understanding, and more committed to take action in making the university more warm and welcoming. Under her leadership, more than 10,000employees were trained. Ms. DeCou served on the Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, chairing the Training Work Group. As a thought leader, Ms. DeCou has researched unconscious bias as a framework in delivering training, presentations, workshops, serving on search committees, and providing insight into diversity and inclusion related initiatives, events and discussions. Ms. DeCou is a certified consultant in social and emotional intelligence, incorporating these soft skills in teaching, coaching and consulting related to diversity and inclusion.
Ms. DeCou has an extensive background in the not-for-profit sector, with more than 25 years in organizational development, strategic visioning and planning, programming and curriculum design. As a presenter and nationally certified Master Diversity Trainer, Ms. DeCou has facilitated anti-bias/anti-oppression trainings for children, youth, community-based organizations, community leaders, the workplace, law enforcement, and institutions of higher education in the United States and abroad (Bar Ilan University, Tel-Aviv, Israel). Collectively, Ms. DeCou has presented to and/or trained thousands of adults and youth, managing more than 100 employees and a greater number of volunteers.
Ms. DeCou founded a consulting business in 2013, Loretta’s Work, which provides anti-bias workshops designed to develop leaders and create allies. Experiential modules help participants develop greater understanding and empathy across difference. Workshops are provided for K-12 schools, businesses, higher education, and law enforcement in efforts to create more inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities.
Ms. DeCou served as Executive Director for the National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis (NCCJSTL) – a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias and bigotry. Ms. DeCou was Project Director for the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute, the single largest program of the Anti-Defamation League, for 10 years. She also held positions with the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council (Mgr. of Youth Participation), the United Way of Greater St. Louis (Community Initiatives), and Girls Incorporated as a Center Director.
Ms. DeCou played a major role in the creation of several highly popular diversity programs in St. Louis, still being delivered – Concepts of Beauty and Bias at the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Give Respect-Get Respect Program for the Diversity Awareness Partnership, and the Reading Bias –Writing Tolerance: Using History’s Powerful Stories anti-bias program, in a modified version, at the Missouri History Museum. Ms. DeCou has served on numerous boards over the past 25 years including the Diversity Awareness Partnership; ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute, The Interfaith Partnership, Redevelopment Opportunities for Women, STL250, The Regional Arts Commission, and member of the Council for the Holocaust & Museum Learning Center. Her most recent external contributions have been in leading presentations and workshops for MUSC, the ADEA, NAHSE, Rosati Kain High School, SIU Carbondale, St. Charles Community College, and the St. Paul PD to name a few.
Ms. DeCou graduated from Fordham University, Rosehill Campus, New York, with degrees in Modern Languages and is tri-lingual.