Courtesy of Yale College

Timeica E. Bethel-Macaire ’11 spent her college days heavily involved in the Afro-American Cultural Center, also known as the House. She recalls the bustling of students cooking in the kitchen, taking drum classes or watching the acapella group Shades of Yale perform. And now, she is back — this time as The House’s new director. 

Bethel-Macaire began her time as Af-Am House Director and Assistant Dean of Yale College on Aug. 8, filling a position that was left empty when former Dean and Director Risë Nelson transitioned to a role within Yale’s libraries.

“It feels amazing to be back,” Bethel-Macaire said. “It’s also strange to be back in this seat. I never imagined I’d be coming back to Yale, let alone as the director of the House.”

Bethel-Macaire has dedicated her career to addressing inequities within education. After graduating from Yale, she went back to her hometown of Chicago as part of Teach for America. Most recently, she was a Program Director at LINK Unlimited Scholars, a nonprofit supporting Black middle and high school students in the Chicago area.

While at Yale, Bethel-Macaire was a leader in organizations like Black Church at Yale, the Dominican Students Association, the Yale chapter of the NAACP, the Urban Improvement Corps and the Yale Black Women’s Coalition.

Bethel-Macaire was named Director after a lengthy interview process, conducted by a search committee composed of professors, students and a Yale pastor.

Her appointment was announced on July 27 by Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis and Dean of Student Engagement Burgwell J. Howard.

“Mrs. Bethel is a lifelong learner and educator,” Lewis and Howard wrote in a community-wide email. “She lives by her high school’s slogan, ‘everything to help; nothing to hinder.’ She’s passionate about educational equity and providing people with the opportunities and resources necessary to be successful.”

Bethel-Macaire said that she hopes to create a high-energy atmosphere in the House. She recognized the ways COVID-19 has affected the ability for students to connect and aims to ensure students are able to easily re-engage with the House.

Bethel-Macaire also hopes to galvanize the House’s alumni network, noting the excitement among the alumni community during the House’s 50th anniversary, Af-Am 50, which she helped plan.

The experience of putting on such an event encouraged her to apply for the director position. Bethel-Macaire said that meeting students, and receiving encouragement from other alumni at the event, inspired her to take on the role.

“So much institutional knowledge has been lost because of the lack of activity over the COVID years,” Bethel-Macaire said. “So I am excited to connect student leaders with some alumni to get that knowledge and decide what pieces of that they want to use moving forward, and what pieces of that they want to leave in the past. 

“My goal is not to make the House the House that it was in 2011,” she added. “I want it to be the House that current students need it to be.”

Since arriving from Chicago on Aug. 8, Bethel-Macaire said she felt like she is “running in a million different directions,” but is ready to help figure out how the House, and the University more generally, will take shape after the pandemic.

She says the doors of the House are open to anyone who wants to learn about, celebrate and appreciate the aspects of the African Diaspora.

Leleda Beraki ’24, Yale College Council president and member of the House’s student engagement team, said that in her few interactions with Bethel-Macaire, she has seen “her desire to make all of us feel heard.”

“It’s amazing to see administrators who have been in our shoes now working to make our experience better,” Beraki wrote to the News. “She’s a genuine and down to earth person who I know will help create a vibrant space for Black students.”

The Afro-American Cultural Center was established in 1969.

Dante Motley is public editor for the News. He was previously managing editor, and prior to that he covered Black communities at Yale and in New Haven. He has also served as an Associate Editor for the YDN Magazine and worked on "The Yalie" podcast. Dante is a senior in Grace Hopper College majoring in anthropology.