The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra recently announced that University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna Yolanda “Yoli” Alovor is serving as the organization’s first vice president of external affairs and equity, diversity and inclusion.
The new post will be a homecoming for Alovor, a Rock Hill, Missouri, native who graduated from the College of Education at UMSL with a PhD in educational research. She began her new position Tuesday and will provide strategic leadership for the institution’s growing equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and work to raise SLSO’s profile locally, nationally and internationally.
“I am honored to join a renowned St. Louis institution that has a global reputation for extraordinary music, but also is revered for their exceptional leadership and community engagement,” Alovor said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with Marie-Hélène Bernard and my colleagues at the SLSO.”
Bernard has led the SLSO as president and CEO since 2015, and during her tenure, she has prioritized DEI efforts. She included an equity, diversity and inclusion roadmap, which called for an internal task force and training for musicians, staff and board members, as part of the SLSO’s 2016-2021 strategic plan. Alovor’s hiring will further bolster that undertaking.
“Dr. Alovor is a proven leader in EDI, as well as a superb communicator and community connector,” Bernard said in a statement. “She is a results-oriented leader who has a track record of establishing rapport with diverse constituencies at all levels. I know she will be a strong advisor to me, our Board and team as we chart a path toward becoming a more equitable, diverse and inclusive institution. We are committed to learning from Yoli’s expertise in the same way the SLSO is committed to listening to and learning from the St. Louis community. On behalf of our entire SLSO family, I am excited to welcome Yoli back to St. Louis, her hometown, and look forward to beginning our work together.”
In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Alovor expressed her excitement about the role and emphasized the importance of the work.
“I think it’s the core of everything that we do,” Alovor told STLPR. “Equity, humanity, fairness is a part of what we should do, and it should be ingrained in any type of work that we take on.”
Before taking the position with SLSO, Alovor served as chief of staff and vice president of diversity and belonging at Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. In that role, she was instrumental in developing, implementing and leading multiple DEI efforts. She guided the creation of the university’s first Diversity and Belonging Department and also launched leadership initiatives to foster belonging.
Previously, Alovor was a health research project manager for Centene’s Research Center for Health Transformation, where she oversaw research projects on behavioral economic principles. She also taught at UMSL part-time from 2013 to 2020, leading graduate-level education and social justice courses.
In addition to her PhD, Alovor earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University and a master’s degree from Wayne State University and recently completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley’s Intercultural Leadership Program: Global DEI Practitioner Institute.
Alovor is excited to return to her hometown and plans to work closely with community members as she begins this new journey.
“I think what is important is to listen to the needs of your stakeholders and the people you serve,” Alovor told STLPR. “That’s what’s going to be most critical for me.”