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avatar for Denise DeCou

Denise DeCou

Washington University

Denise DeCou is the director of Diversity and Inclusion, Content Development and Program delivery for Washington University in St. Louis.  In her role, Ms. DeCou developed curriculum designed to engage staff and faculty primarily, and students in becoming more aware, more understanding, and more committed to take action in making the university more warm and welcoming.  Ms. DeCou also served on the Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, chairing the Training Work Group.  As a thought leader, Ms. DeCou has researched unconscious bias as a framework, delivers training, presentations, workshops, serves on search committees, and provides insight into diversity and inclusion related initiatives, events and discussions.  Ms. DeCou is also a certified consultant in social and emotional intelligence which is incorporated in the teaching of soft skills as related to diversity and inclusion.  She is taking on a new role within Human Resources Department as Manager, Diversity and Community Outreach to work with recruiters, hiring managers and diverse candidates to accomplish the university’s mission.


Ms. DeCou has an extensive background in the not-for-profit sector, with more than 25 years in organizational development, curriculum design, and programming. As a nationally certified Diversity Trainer, Ms. DeCou has facilitated anti-bias/anti-oppression trainings for children, youth, community-based organizations, community leaders, the workplace, law enforcement, and institutions of higher education in the United States and abroad (Bar Ilan University, Tel-Aviv, Israel).  Collectively, Ms. DeCou has trained thousands of adults and youth and has managed more than 100 employees and 200 volunteers over the years.


Ms. DeCou founded a consulting business in 2013, Loretta’s Work, which provides anti-bias workshops designed to create allies and develop leaders. Experiential modules help participants develop greater understanding and empathy across difference. Workshops are provided for K-12 schools, businesses, universities, and law enforcement in efforts to create more inclusive schools, workplaces, and communities.


Ms. DeCou served as Executive Director for the National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis (NCCJSTL) - a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias and bigotry. Ms. DeCou was Project Director for the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute, the single largest program of the Anti-Defamation League, for 10 years. She also held positions with the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council (Mgr. of Youth Participation), the United Way of Greater St. Louis (Community Initiatives), and Girls Incorporated as a Center Director.


Ms. DeCou played a major role in the creation of several highly popular diversity programs in St. Louis, still being delivered - Concepts of Beauty and Bias at the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Give Respect-Get Respect Program for the Diversity Awareness Partnership, and the Reading Bias –Writing Tolerance: Using History’s Powerful Stories anti-bias program, in a modified version, at the Missouri History Museum.  Ms. DeCou has served on numerous boards over the past 25 years including the Diversity Awareness Partnership; ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute, Redevelopment Opportunities for Women, The Interfaith Partnership, STL250, The Regional Arts Commission, and member of the Council for the Holocaust & Museum Learning Center.


Ms. DeCou graduated from Fordham University, Rosehill Campus, New York, with degrees in Modern Languages and is tri-lingual.