Three Questions for

Kevin Nichols

April 25, 2022

Kevin L. Nichols, Senior IDEA Integration Partner at the Lab, has over 20 years of experience implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies in organizations, but his work history started at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, where he was an intern in mechanical engineering and worked in Livermore Lab's Equal Employment Opportunity office. While he continued to pursue a career in engineering, he also continued his work in diversity, equity, and inclusion, leading him to work with tech companies on improving the inclusion of diverse people. That led to The Social Engineer Project, a nonprofit organization that addresses the lack of diversity in the tech industry.

Kevin brought his expertise to the Lab in 2017 as a consultant assisting in searching for the Lab's first Chief Diversity Officer and building out other Lab diversity initiatives. He joined the Lab in 2021 full-time, continuing his work on diversity projects. His latest is a handbook to assist those responding to Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that involve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) sections.

In his time away from the Lab, Kevin is the co-founder of Family Wellness Group, which provides healthy outdoor activities such as hiking and biking for families in the Bay Area. The emphasis on the outdoors may be why one of Kevin's favorite things about the Lab is its incredible views.

You have been working on a handbook to address the diversity and inclusion portion of a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). Why was a diversity, equity, and inclusion section added to FOAs?

In the past, FOAs have always been about funding research. The Department of Energy funders recently added a section on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I noticed that PIs struggled to devise their own DEI statements and had a tendency to want to “reinvent the wheel” by creating DEI related partnerships and programs that already existed. Moreover, there was no mechanism to make sure what was promised in the FOA, actually occurred. The FOA handbook provides the information you need to submit quality information for the diversity, equity, and inclusion section. The handbook offers a robust resource of many of the programs and initiatives at the Lab and how they intertwine with the Lab’s IDEA Office’s strategic plan.

Does the Lab have a positive story about diversity and inclusion to tell when completing FOAs?

The Lab has many existing programs focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including programs that involve the local community. There are dozens of programs at the Lab that work well in a FOA. I heard that some areas were trying to create internships and partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions to meet their diversity requirements. We decided to bring all the Lab's diversity, equity, and inclusion resources together when we heard about that. We've researched, so PIs don't have to start from scratch and many of the programs and partnerships they sought to create, already exist. The handbook introduces a tremendous database of programs to select from, thanks to the work done by our partners such as Meredith Murr, Faith Dukes, Colette Flood, and Meg Rodriguez.

How can PIs and others who are completing FOAs learn more about the handbook and resources to help them?

DOE, as does other funding organizations, requires a diversity statement. If you use the handbook and the process outlined, you will be set up for success. We created the handbook to bring standardization to the Lab's response to the diversity, equity, and inclusion statement in a FOA. The programs in the handbook can be used for other funding requests or as a resource to find diverse people to partner with for a project.

There will be two sessions where I can answer questions and walk you through the resources. They are on April 27 at 2 p.m. and May 3 at 11 a.m.