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Chief Diversity Officer Team

With effect from 1 February 2022, Machiel Keestra will be the new Central Diversity Officer (CDO) of the University of Amsterdam. Keestra will succeed Anne de Graaf, who held the position of Central Diversity Officer until 1 September 2021. Together with Diversity Officers from each faculty, the Central Diversity Officer is a key player in shaping diversity policy at the UvA while working to promote equality, inclusion and diversity within the university. The Central Diversity Officer is appointed for a term of three years.

Diversity Team

Chief Diversity Officer is supported by the CDO-team. The team works together intensively to achieve the goals

  • Alfrida (Alfie) Martis - project leader
    Alfrida (Alfie) Martis CDO team UvA

    Alfrida Martis (Alfie) is an Afro-Bonairian writer, public speaker and community organizer. She has been part of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) team at the University of Amsterdam since April 2018, as a researcher and educator, and a project leader for the Homework Hub. She also teaches and coordinates workshops with her colleague Janissa Jacobs, while advising on inclusive pedagogies and diversity literacy. She holds a BA degree in Media & Culture Studies, and an MA degree in New Media & Digital Culture, both from the University of Amsterdam. 

    Outside of academia, she works as an independent adviser in the cultural and arts scene, specializing in anti-racism, intersectionality and decolonization work. With her partner Daudi Cijntje, she co-founded and co-organizes Caribbean Ancestry Club: a platform that unites and amplifies the voices of afro-indigenous ABCSSS islanders.

  • Janissa Jacobs - project leader and management assistant
    Janissa Jacobs CDO team UvA

    Janissa joined the CDO team in August 2019 as management assistant to Anne de Graaf. Her tasks include strategic advice, administrative activities, facilitating workshops, and providing the Diversity Team with logistic and planning support. In her role, she co-facilitates tailored diversity workshops with Alfrida Martis for UvA students and staff.

    Prior to this, she specialized in business development and strategy at a global leadership advisory firm. Janissa has a MSc in International Public Management and Policy and she speaks Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamentu; sometimes at the same time. As an avid lover of poetry, literature, and writing; Janissa is interested in exploring the role of creative outlets as a tool for healing past pain and trauma. Janissa goes by she and her pronouns.

  • Jennifer Aardema - communication adviser
    Jennifer Aardema

    Jennifer is a part of the CDO team as a communication adviser since June 2021. Her main role is to translate the CDO team’s work into powerful stories that inspire, make an impact and drive action. She stands for inclusive communication and the realisation of the importance of words and the impact they have. Inclusive communication is free of language that perpetuates stereotypes, negative expectations or limitations. By changing the language used, it becomes possible to address, involve and inspire everyone and to encourage them to make a contribution themselves. Jennifer studied Journalism and has an MA in Literary Studies from Utrecht University. She worked as an editor and communications officer in both education and the cultural sector for years, and has volunteered at various feminist organisations.

  • Meltem Halaceli – project leader
    Meltem Halaceli CDO team UvA

    Meltem Halaceli, MA, joined the CDO team in the summer of 2020 as project leader and educator. She coordinates the online mentoring program: Meet Your Mentor for students with an ethnic minority background and/or first generation students. In this unique mentoring program Meltem matches Master students and third year students with an ethnic minority background and/or first generation background with professionals from the private and public sector. The main aim of MyM is to support students in their transition to the job market. Meet your Mentor trains professionals in diversity and inclusion in the context on the Dutch job market as well.

    Meltem loves to empower students and holds a degree in Arabic Language and Culture of the UvA including a minor in journalism. Her thesis was based on the translation of the memoirs of her grandfather, who was an Ottoman-Arab conscript during the First World War and an eye witness of the birth of the Turkish Republic. She published a book about her family history based on the memoirs in 2015. She has experience as a teacher and student counselor in higher education and received her BKO in 2019. Meltem has a passion for translating life experiences into literary and poetic expressions.

  • Raisa Sambo – project leader
    Raisa Sambo CDO team UvA

    Raisa has been part of the CDO team since December 2020, where she coordinates projects such as the Academic Diversity Program (ADP) mentoring program, the Grassroots Funds, Diversity & Inclusion Community lunches and the Get Ready Summer Program. Raisa believes in creating an inclusive society – a society for everyone – for people with different beliefs (or no beliefs), opposing ideologies, from different socio-economic positions, with diverse sexual orientations and gender expressions, talent or limitations.

    Raisa has been working in the public sector for nine years and has extensive experience in coordinating projects, as a consultant and workshop leader. She is in the final phase of her studies in Public Administration at Avans University of Applied Sciences. Together with two business partners, she has set up a foundation aimed at empowerment and de-stigmatization of the LGBTIQ+ community.

  • Sahar Afzal – policy officer
    Sahar Afzal CDO team UvA

    Sahar has been working with the CDO team since February 2021. Her task as Policy officer/researcher includes researching and developing policy on diversity, inclusion, and social safety. Coming from a multicultural background, Sahar is able to understand the need for an intersectional understanding within educational institutions and is, therefore, able to draft policy accordingly. 

    Besides her work for the CDO team, Sahar has an MSc. in conflict studies and uses her expertise in this field as a lecturer in Political Science and Conflict Studies at the UvA. She is also active as a board member of UN Women the Netherlands, where she works with UN policy on gender and diversity and sets up campaigns like ‘Orange the World – end violence against women’ in the Netherlands.

  • Thea van Schoot - senior policy adviser
    Thea van Schoot UvA

    Drs. Thea van Schoot is senior policy adviser of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) Team at the University of Amsterdam. Thea has a degree in Educational Sciences. She has been working at the UvA for more than 20 years. She has held various positions with particular emphasis on education policy and organization management. In recent years, she has focused particularly on intensive educational cooperation between the two universities in Amsterdam: the Vrije Universiteit (VU) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). In 2018, she became part of the team of the Chief Diversity Officer. Within the team she is the contact person for the HRM department and she is (co) initiator for strengthening the LGBTQI+ community within the UvA. The aim is that everyone feels welcome, at home and safe at the UvA.

  • Sarina Nooitgedacht - student assistant
    Photo of Sarina Nooitgedacht

    Sarina joined the CDO team in April 2021 as a student assistant. Her main role is to support the CDO Team’s new initiative called the Homework Hub by increasing student involvement with community-based organisations. Together with the CDO Team, she seeks to expand the Homework Hub’s reach and presence on campus and its surrounding communities. In addition, she assists the team by performing administrative tasks.

    Sarina has her Bachelor’s in Sociology and will obtain her Master’s in International Relations at the UvA. She plans to pursue a career in education. During the majority of her studies Sarina worked at a marketing software company and did an internship at the Dutch Consulate-General in Cape Town. In her free time Sarina volunteers at her local church as a youth leader.