Salve Success: Ralph Tavares Jr. ’07 (MBA) influences diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across RI
Ralph Tavares Jr. ’07 (MBA) was born in Providence, Rhode Island, but grew up in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Raised by a first-generation Cape Verdean American family, Tavares Jr. was the first in his family to graduate from college at Providence College and get a master’s degree from Salve Regina.
Throughout his career, Tavares Jr. ’07 has garnered an impressive resume surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.
MBA experience at Salve Regina
Tavares Jr. earned his MBA from Salve in innovation and strategic management in 2007. He found his MBA experience to be incredibly positive — and he credits Dr. Myra Edelstein, associate professor in business and economics, for being the heart and soul of the program while he was there.
“Dr. Edelstein’s class was a portal into a whole world outside of higher education that I wasn’t aware of,” Tavares Jr. reflected. “Her humor disarmed everyone in the room. Her stories were vivid, dynamic, and hysterical — and she was always available to speak with anyone, brainstorm and even give career advice.”
The students Tavares Jr. studied with were just as impressive to him as the professors. Their wide range of experiences, which brought different perspectives to the table, created a natural sense of diversity, equity and inclusion, and he gained so much from each classmate he encountered.
Even sixteen years later after graduating from Salve, Tavares Jr. is constantly reminded of the lessons he learned during the MBA program.
“I remember gaining a lot of confidence in my presentations and speaking in front of crowds, because of that program,” Tavares Jr. recalled. “I don’t remember what my presentation was about, but I remember whatever I said had everyone in my classroom laughing …. Being able to make people laugh, being my authentic self, and conveying ideas and strategies through storytelling has always stuck with me.”
Growing DEI initiatives across Rhode Island
Tavares Jr. worked in admissions at Salve as the associate director of admission and multicultural education from 2002-14, where he developed several University-wide diversity recruitment and retention plans — including programming, academic sessions, and training around issues of equity, access and inclusion.
From 2014-19, he went on to become the director of multicultural student success and assistant dean of undergraduate and graduate studies at Providence College, and he was then the director of diversity and outreach at Roger Williams University School of Law from 2019-22.
Now, Tavares works as vice president of equity and inclusive excellence for Storbeck Search, which is a company within Diversified Search Group – one of the top ten Forbes executive search firms in the United States.
“I specifically work in the education practice of the search firm,” Tavares Jr. said. “We do higher education, leadership searches, independent schools, and some nonprofit and social impact organizations. My role in the education practice is making sure that our processes of how we work with our clients — which are universities, colleges, and schools — elevate candidates that have been historically excluded from the leadership suite of those spaces.”
In addition to his work in the education practice, Tavares Jr. is also helping to lead equity and inclusion for the entire firm which leads executive searches in corporate, health care, and non-profit and social impact practices.
The Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Leadership Initiative
The Rhode Island Foundation recently selected Tavares Jr. to participate in its Equity Leadership Initiative Cohort for 2023-24. This initiative’s goal is to build a pipeline of leaders of color for positions of influence throughout the state. It is committed to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in all its activities. Tavares was selected from more than 80 applicants.
“Equity-driven leadership is a way of thinking and acting that is focused on creating a more just and equitable world,” said Tavares Jr. “Equity-driven leadership is a journey of constant learning, growing, thinking, strategizing and executing.”
Recent work of the Rhode Island Foundation included awarding $2.2 million to help dismantle the fundamental causes of systemic racism in Rhode Island, awarding $1.2 million to increase the number of teachers of color in urban school districts and creating a capacity-building program to support nonprofits.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to Tavares Jr. because it fosters a sense of community and belonging — from students on a campus to employees in an office. He believes DEI is critical to academic, social and professional success – because without DEI’s interconnectivity comes an increasingly difficult environment to work in.
Tavares Jr. also understands the Salve mercy mission through his work in DEI and social justice. His work gives him a sense of higher purpose to make academic and professional workspaces more inclusive for people.
“Whether some things that we do to inflict harm intentionally or not, it takes an incredible amount of grace and mercy to bring people to the table,” concluded Tavares Jr. “To work through some of the difficult things that we have gone through in our country, as we try to make our practices more just and equitable in all the spaces that we are in … there is a lot of healing that needs to happen in this country.”
Salve Success is a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.