20 Years at Brown: Celebrating Dilania Inoa ’99

Swearer staff member is honored for 20+ years of work supporting Brown University students as they engage in the community.
by Susie Pentelow, Communications Coordinator
February 18, 2020
Two students holding signs that read "Felicidades Dilania!"
Swearer Center staff holing signs that read "Felicidades Dilania!" and "Congratulations Dilania!"
Two students holding signs that read "Felicidades Dilania!" and "Congratulations Dilania!"

On August 18, 1999, Dilania Inoa ‘99 officially began her job at the Swearer Center at Brown University. A member of the class of 1999, Inoa studied Latin American Studies at Brown following a term as an AmeriCorps volunteer after she graduated from Providence’s Central High School in 1994. On Tuesday, February 18, just over 20.5 years after she started her work at Brown, Inoa has been recognized with an Excellence Award at Brown Employee Appreciation and Recognition (BEAR) Day.

A Community-Centered Partnership

Spanning over two decades, Inoa’s entire career has been devoted to supporting Brown students engaging in education and literacy projects at the elementary and middle school level in schools across Providence. In her current role as a Senior Program Manager on the Swearer Center’s Student Development Team, Inoa supports close to 200 Swearer Center Community Corps members each year in Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring (BEAM) and in the Swearer Classroom Program as they engage at the William D’Abate Elementary School in Olneyville.

D’Abate is a K-5 school with just over 400 children. Under Dilania’s supervision, Brown students provide academically-focused, fun and free after-school programming at D’Abate, which is funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. The program enables parents to work through the afternoon while D’Abate students benefit from engaging after-school curricula in math, science, English, social studies, visual and performing arts, chess, student council, soccer, and more.

In 2016, a group of Brown Ph.D. students analyzed data from the Providence Public Schools to investigate the impact of afterschool programming at D'Abate, in which around half of the school’s 400 students participate. They found that D’Abate students who participated in BEAM scored higher than average on most math and reading assessments than those students at the school who did not participate in afterschool programming. Their study also concluded that BEAM students had higher attendance and less absenteeism compared to non-BEAM students and that participation in after-school programming was significantly associated with higher school attendance.

“Dilania is the reason our school has sustained its 21st CCLC grant for a decade and a half, providing invaluable after school and summer programming for thousands of children over that time,” said Brent Kerman, principal of William D’Abate Elementary School. “Dilania is not driven by accolades or recognition, she is driven by a desire to serve our families, year after year, and her impact on our entire school community could never be overstated. Dilania is a true difference-maker, our school is blessed to have her, and I am humbled to call her a friend.”

Celebrating Excellence at Brown

Each year, Brown honors 15 departments and employees for excellence in the categories of citizenship, diversity, efficiency, innovation, leadership, rising star, and service. When it came time to submit nominations for the 2020 awards, Swearer Center staff knew that Inoa’s years of deeply-rooted community engagement deserved recognition.

“Dilania has a natural ability to connect with people and graciously balances many relationships with her generous, caring, and kind nature, as well as her high standards. She is a trusted advisor to generations of Brown students,” said Betsy Shimberg, director of student development at the Swearer Center and assistant dean of the College. “Dilania’s dedication to exceptional programming at D’Abate, combined with her compassion, has resulted in a highly regarded and valued partnership for Swearer and Brown.”

Inoa’s nomination was selected from a pool of over 100. Her award, in the category of citizenship, was presented by President Christina H. Paxson on Tuesday, February 18 at BEAR Day, Brown’s annual staff appreciation day.

Inoa’s twenty years of work at Brown and in the Providence community has touched thousands of students and families, but it is just one of the many ways that Inoa is embedded in the Greater Providence community. She has also served on the Providence School Board and is a past board member of the Rhode Island Commission for National and Community Service. She has held the titles of Miss Rhode Island Latina, Miss Latina USA, and Ms. Rhode Island Belleza Latina, enabling her to work with Latino communities locally, nationally, and internationally.

Bonner Community fellow Sarah Koppleman ’21, a member of BEAM said, “Dilania is a mentor, teacher, and second family to so many people, including myself. The love and commitment that she so generously pours into her numerous communities inspires me and is just one of the reasons I am proud and honored to know and work with Dilania.”