We are challenging ourselves at the University of Utah to lead with equity, through our collective work reinforced by our ongoing commitments, strategies, and conversations, including Friday Forums. To achieve these goals, the historical reliance on hierarchy in our institutional structures is not sufficient to dismantle inequitable practices, policies, and pasts. A more equitable future calls for new leadership; leadership that is inclusive and distributed among informal and formal roles, made up of leaders who share a vision and commitment to equity. This leadership approach to equity has been documented and illustrated through a recent American Council on Education report, naming the concept Shared Equity Leadership.
After the general session (1 – 2 p.m. MT), attendees will have the opportunity to join one of the following breakout sessions (2 – 3 p.m. MT) to discuss how to move forward:
Dr. Amy Collier is the Associate Provost for Digital Learning at Middlebury College. In this role, she provides strategic vision and leadership to position Middlebury as a leading innovator in creating and sustaining a global learning community through the effective use of digital pedagogies and technologies. Her work and scholarship focus on critical approaches to digital teaching & learning, with an emphasis on inclusion and justice. Amy received her doctorate from Texas Woman’s University in 2008 and since that time she has been an advocate for learners and teachers across a variety of educational institutions, from community-based organizations to large public broad-access universities. She blogs (very rarely) at redpincushion.me.
Dilip Das collaborates, leads, and manages a portfolio of DEI initiatives, task forces, implementation groups, and events at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dilip also mentors students and student groups, writes and manages grants, and occasionally designs and teaches online courses.
Elizabeth Holcombe is a Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Southern California’s Pullias Center for Higher Education. She earned her PhD in Urban Education Policy with a specialization in higher education from the University of Southern California; an MA in Politics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Holcombe researches organizational issues that influence student success in higher education, including leadership, faculty workforce and development issues, undergraduate teaching and assessment, and undergraduate STEM education. She has also held a variety of roles in student affairs, including running a college access partnership, managing an academic advising and mentoring program, and leading a co- and extra-curricular assessment initiative. Prior to her career in higher education, Dr. Holcombe was an elementary school teacher with Teach for America in Atlanta.
Frankie Santos Laanan was appointed the inaugural associate dean for faculty and student affairs on July 1, 2021. A native Chamorro born and raised on the island of Guahan (Guam), Laanan is a Pacific Islander scholar and first-generation college student passionate about engaging in educational research to investigate critical questions about college access and success of diverse students and committed to translating research into practice and policy to effect transformational change in colleges and universities. Laanan is an educational scholar whose research focuses on the impact of college on individuals and society. Specifically, his research investigates the role of community colleges as educational pathways for women and historically underrepresented students in STEM disciplines, career and technical education, transfer and accountability.
Dr. Daniel K. Cairo (he/him/el) brings over 10 years of experience in leading programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion. As an educator and organizational leader, he has developed successful equity and inclusion programs at multiple institutions.
Dr. Amy Fulton is the Director of the New Leadership Academy at the University of Utah. The New Leadership Academy is a leadership development program focused on leading for equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education. Amy earned her PhD from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan and holds a BFA, Honors BA, and M.Ed. from the University of Utah. Prior to her role as Director, Amy served for five years as a senior graduate student researcher for the New Leadership Academy, previously hosted by the National Forum on the Public Good at the University of Michigan. From 2008 through 2015 Amy held various leadership positions at Western Governors University (WGU), an online non-profit and competency-based institution. Her research interests include organizational leadership in higher education, student social movements, and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education.
Emma E. Houston currently serves in the role as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at the University of Utah and leads strategies for community outreach, staff and faculty engagement and program development.
A longtime community member and social justice advocate, Emma is the former director of Diversity Affairs for Salt Lake County Government, former chair of the Utah MLK Jr., Human Rights Commission, and currently serves on the Utah COVID-19 Task Force, the Pastor France A. Davis Scholarship Board, PBS Utah and is vice president of the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®.
Emma has conducted EDI training sessions and conversations for Utah Highway Patrol, LUCID, Malouf, Alzheimer’s Association, Multiple Sclerosis and The Utah Department of Corrections.
Emma was named one of the 30 Women to Watch for her work with diversity and inclusion by Utah Business Magazine and was also named Who’s Who of Black Utah by IMPACT Magazine. Emma is the owner and CEO of Brighter Day Productions, LLC and holds a BS in Business Management and an MBA in Business Administration.
Lea Lani Kinikini (she/her/hers) is the seventh child of Taniela Vaiokema Kinikini of ‘Uiha, Ha’apai, Tonga and Mayone Woodbury Kinikini of Ogden, lands of the Utes, Paiutes, Dine’, Shoshone and Goshutes. Lea Lani received her doctorate from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, her master’s degree from the University of Hawaiʻi, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah. She is a researcher and educational practitioner who has worked fifteen years internationally in Hawaiʻi, New Zealand, Asia and Oceania serving as the inaugural Pacific Worlds Lecturer at the University of the South Pacific’s Oceania Center for Arts and Culture, as well as Research Associate at the Institute of Education at the University of the South Pacific, and a tutor in Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington. She has held visiting appointments as Co-Director of the Pacific Island Leadership Program at the East-West Center.
Ms. Nubia Peña is the Senior Advisor on Equity and Opportunity to Governor Cox and the Director for the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs where their mission is to promote an inclusive climate for Utah’s growing diverse community through training, outreach and youth leadership development. Ms. Peña is immensely grateful for the extensive experience acquired during the past 15 years working as a community organizer, advocate, and ally for systematically marginalized populations. Ms. Peña is a national consultant who has the great opportunity to facilitate dialogues amongst local and national leaders on complex topics of inclusion and racial justice working to create equitable access in services and resources for historically disenfranchised communities. She is also dedicated to bringing awareness to intersections of trauma and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, an epidemic that targets our most vulnerable youth by streamlining them into the juvenile justice system. Ms. Peña is a proud former member of the zealous team at the Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys where she advocated for youth rights during detention and delinquency proceedings. She has actively sought to bring awareness to issues of violence and systemic oppression through her professional endeavors and personal faith-based initiatives. Ms. Peña received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2016. She was named in Utah Business Magazine’s 2020 40 Under 40 award recipients, recognized among the 2020 Heroes for Utah Philanthropy Day, selected as Sundance Film Festival 2021 Women’s Leadership Celebration honorees and recently awarded the Utah Business Magazine’s Living Color recognition for service in driving equity and inclusion in the state.
Ze Min Xiao directs a newly launched Center for Economic Opportunity and Belonging at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. The Center serves as the private sector commitment to work alongside government and communities of color to advance the principles outlined in the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The Center will focus on advancing economic equity and strengthening community cohesiveness by fostering an environment of belonging for all Utahns.
Ze had a 13-year career with Salt Lake County. As the Mayor’s Office for New American director, Ms. Xiao guided immigrant and refugee integration strategies on the local, state, and national levels. Under her leadership, Salt Lake County became the first county in the nation to achieve Welcoming Certification and was selected as one of four communities to participate in the Welcoming Transatlantic Exchange Program to share best practices with cities in Germany. Her work has been featured in national and international publications including, Bloomberg Associates, Boell Foundation, and Artplace of America.
Ze holds a Master of Art in Community Leadership from Westminster College. She is a fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. In her free time, she loves to garden, fishing, and spending time with her husband, two teenage boys, four dogs, and five chickens.
Friday Forums is a commitment to the state and region in elevating national conversations and showcasing models of disrupting complicit racism. Each session welcomes national thought leaders to lead discussions and provide opportunities for participants to share ideas on actionable items towards a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus.