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NLA Fellows 2023 Cohort

portrait of Cristian Aquino-Sterling

Cristian Aquino-Sterling


Associate Professor & Director of International Studies
College of Education, San Diego State University

Cristian Aquino-Sterling holds a BA in Western Philosophy (Fordham University); a MA in Hispanic Cultural Studies and Literatures (Columbia University), and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction (Arizona State University). His current research focuses on (a) curriculum and instruction for 21st century societies in light of significant contemporary national and international challenges and exigencies, and (b) implications for teacher education. Dr. Aquino-Sterling serves as Editor of the “Curriculum and Instruction Development” subject area of the “Journal of Global Education and Research.” Dr. Aquino Sterling is co-editor of “Innovative Curricular and Pedagogical Designs in Bilingual Teacher Education: Bridging the Distance with School Contexts” (Information Age Publishing, 2022).

portrait of Chris Baczek

Chris Baczek 


Senior Director, Personal Enrichment Programs
The University of Utah

Relationships, storytelling, and impact with longevity have been the central focus of my career. My tenure at the University of Utah began with creating access to and telling the stories behind the Utah Museum of Fine Arts’ collections, and it continues today through community education and engagement programs that reach families and individuals throughout the lifespan. With both a BFA and MBA from the U, I have experienced and understand the impact it can have on the community, and I want to ensure the longevity of the U’s mission by removing barriers to program access and supporting the incredible staff that serves our community. My vision is to elevate the Personal Enrichment Programs so they are widely known in the community as the most enjoyable, high-value, and rich learning experience the university has to offer. Also a practicing artist, I have lived around the world but choose to be in Utah because of the supportive arts community and incredible access to wilderness areas.

portrait of Antrece L. Baggett

Antrece L. Baggett


College Operations Officer (Interim)
Houston Community College

Antrece L. Baggett, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, is the Houston Community College, Southeast College Interim College Operations Officer. She has served Houston Community College district since 1995 in a variety of positions including, History and Humanities faculty member, History Associate Department Chair, Faculty Senate, President, and HCC Foundation Vice Chair of Fundraising. Multi-Media Projects served as the video researcher on “The Strange Demise of Jim Crow,” and documentary researcher on the “History of the Harris County Domestic Violence Movement, 1978.” Read on…

Professional Affiliations: East Texas Historical Association, Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, and Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education and American Association of Women in Community Colleges.

Community and Organization Memberships: Life Member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Life Member, The University of Mississippi Alumni Association, and a charter member of the Greater Pearland Area (TX) Chapter of the Links Incorporated where she serves as the chapter president. Dr. Baggett is also a member of the Houston Greater Black Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and serves on the Adult Death Review Team and Education committees.

Awards and Recognitions: Dr. Baggett is recognized for her work in diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the Houston community. She received the Houston Community College Vice Chancellor Award for Diversity in 2015, and presently a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Council. Other recognitions include The Chancellor’s Outstanding Leadership Award in 2022 and Top 30 Most Influential Women, 2022 in Houston Texas.

Education: Dr. Baggett is a graduate of Texas Southern University where her major was American history with minors in geography and political science. She is a practitioner scholar with master’s degree in American history with concentrations in southern women, civil rights, and education from the University of Mississippi. Her thesis: “A History of the Political, Social, and Financial Struggle to Establish and Sustain the Teacher Training Program at Jackson State University, 1877-1970,” examines the institution’s evolution as one of the most globally influential urban universities in the 21st century. As a result of the rising violence against women, young ladies and persons in marginalized communities, Dr. Baggett elected to combine her community and volunteer activities with classroom experience. Her dissertation research examines intimate partner violence, sexual assault, harassment and stalking and the impact it has student success in higher education: Texas Gulf Coast Area Region Title IX: A Coordinated Community Higher Education Response Model for Student Safety and Success. This twelve member higher education committee collaborates on policies and best practices to keep both 2-year and 4-year students, faculty, and staff members safe on campus and in their personal learning environments. Dr. Baggett is a member of Shepherd of the Heart Church and serves on Core Leadership team. She is married to Terrence Medearis and their blended family includes 4 adult children and 4 grandchildren and a rambunctious Yorkie.

portrait of Jessica Barco

Jessica Barco


Director of Financial Aid
California State University, Fullerton

It is a privilege to be a part of the 2023 NLA cohort. I am from California, born, raised, and reside in Los Angeles County. As a first-generation college student, I am proud to be a fourth-year PhD student at Azusa Pacific University where I am focusing on strategic financial aid programs and equity minded leadership. I am incredibly grateful for the love, support, and sacrifice of my family in my/our collective journey. I strongly value higher education and want to live my life to the fullest on an educational, personal, and professional level. Read on…

Currently, I serve as Director of Financial Aid at California State university, Fullerton where not a day that goes by that I do not fully appreciate my role, privilege, and responsibility in serving over 40,000 students a year in achieving their educational dreams. I am also fortunate to lead a team of professionals and seek to inspire growth, passion, and willingness to achieve wonderful things together. I am driven each day by the love I have for my family (my husband, Luis, and our two children, Matteo and Julianna). I am conscious of the power of words and actions, and I seek to be the best version of myself that I can be to those I lead and serve. I am grateful for the gift of life, and I am blessed to be on this journey with you all.

portrait of Susan Bernardin

Susan Bernardin


Director, School of Language, Culture, & Society
Oregon State University

Dr. Susan Bernardin (she, her) is Director of the School of Language, Culture, and Society in the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University. Before coming to Oregon State in 2017, I was department chair of Women and Gender Studies at State University, College at Oneonta (SUNY) and a member of the English Department. The School of Language, Culture, and Society is a thriving hub of 6 undergraduate and 3 graduate programs that include Anthropology, College Student Services Administration, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ethnic Studies, and World Languages and Cultures, and minors and certificates in Indigenous Studies, Queer Studies, Food in Culture and Social Justice, and Global Learning, among others. Across this diverse ecosystem of interdisciplinary fields, programs share core commitments to advancing equity, justice, and social transformation through their research, teaching, and community engagement. Those commitments also form the bedrock of a 25 year-career in higher education dedicated to making meaningful (and lasting!) curricular, co-curricular, programmatic, and institutional change. Read on…

My efforts to foster and facilitate relationships across difference not only underlie longstanding work in the classroom and across the campus community, they also inspire my scholarship in two seemingly incongruent interdisciplinary fields: Indigenous Studies and Gender & the American West. I have published widely on foundational and contemporary Native authors as well as Indigenous mixed-media, visual arts, and comics. A co-author of Trading Gazes: Euro-American Photographers and Native North Americans, 1880-1940 (Rutgers University Press), I also facilitated a new edition of the regional classic, In the Land of the Grasshopper Song (Bison Books) in collaboration with Karuk tribal members Terry Supahan and André Cramblit. A former president of the Western Literature Association, I am a two-time recipient of its Walker Award for best-published essay in the field of Western American Studies. I am also the recipient of the Beatrice Medicine Award, given by the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures for the article, “Acorn Soup is Good Food: L. Frank, News from Native California, and the Intersections of Literature and Visual Arts,” published in Studies in American Indian Literatures.

As a settler scholar, I reckon with the histories of gendered (and maternal) colonialism in the American West and seek shared lexicons across deep differences in a recently published edited collection, Gender and the American West, part of Routledge’s Gender Companion Series. In 35 essays, a community of scholars offer the first intersectional consideration of the “American West” from the perspectives of Indigenous Studies, feminist studies, queer Indigenous Studies, Jotería studies, Latinx Studies, Asian American Studies, and more. Organized by four core concepts—Genealogies, Bodies, Movements, Lands—Gender and the American West invites readers to think relationally across fields, theoretical orientations, and situated knowledges.

portrait of Sabrina M. Brown

Sabrina M. Brown


Director for the Office of Student Success
Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Sabrina M. Brown, originally from Asheboro, North Carolina, is a product of and an advocate for HBCUs. It was at her HBCU, Elizabeth City State University, where she developed her passion of supporting college students. As an undergraduate student she served in various leadership roles; an orientation leader (VANS), resident assistant, student activities intern, Upward Bound intern, and a tutor in Academic Advising. Post receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in English, she continued her educational pursuits by obtaining a Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Read on…

Her longstanding career in Higher Education has taken her to multiple campuses and positions. From 2006 to 2009, she lived and worked on the campus of Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina in the areas of residence life and minority student services. From 2009 to 2013, at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, She served as the Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs. From 2013 to 2016, Sabrina worked as a Graduate life intern, University College seminar instructor, and a
research assistant for the College of Education while pursuing her doctoral degree from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After completing her coursework at UNC-Charlotte, Sabrina accepted a job at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Missouri. Returning to an HBCU was imperative for Dr. Brown and serving in the role of Director of Retention and International Programs allowed her to implement everything she had learned on her higher education journey, which led to increased retention, persistence, and graduation rates.

In addition to internationalizing the campus by providing multiple study-abroad opportunities, Dr. Brown has received awards and recognition throughout her career in higher education for her contributions to campus and the field. She received the Bobby E. Leach award from the Southern Association of College Student Affairs and voted Staff Member of the Year at HSSU. She was a Jackson Scholar with the University Council for Educational Administration; A Fellow in the Higher Education Leadership Fellowship Program (Zeta Cohort) and a 2019 inductee into the ECSU Alumni 40 under 40 Society. Dr. Brown currently works at Washington University in St. Louis as the Director for the Office of Student Success where she supports first-generation and low-income college students. Outside of work, Sabrina enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as traveling both domestically and internationally.

portrait of Marisela R. Chavez

Marisela R. Chávez


Director, Faculty Development Center
Professor, Chicana and Chicano Studies
California State University, Dominguez Hills

Marisela R. Chávez, Ph.D., is the Director of the Faculty Development Center and Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Dr. Chávez’s research interested include Chicana and women of color feminisms: Chicana/o/x history, politics, and identity; U.S. social movements; oral history and memory; and Latino/a/x immigration. Her book Chicana Liberation: Women and Mexican American Politics in Los Angeles, 1945-1981 is forthcoming in 2023 by the University of Illinois Press. Recent publications include “Rooted in Community: Chicana Political Leadership in the United States, a Look at Scholarship and Activism,” in Suffrage at 100: Women in American Politics since 1920 Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020); “Triunfos y Tribulaciones/Triumphs and Challenges: An Intersectional Discussion on Chicana Leadership in the Academy,” a co-authored piece in The Tenure-Track Process for Chicana and Latina Faculty: Experiences of Resisting and Persisting in the Academy (Routledge, 2019); and “Refocusing Chicana International Feminism: Photographs, Postmemory, and Political Trauma,” in Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era (University of Texas Press, 2018). Read on…

As a CSUDH faculty member since 2005, Dr. Chávez has served the campus in various capacities. She has also been recognized for her excellence in teaching. In 2016, she was awarded the CSUDH Lyle E. Gibson Distinguished Teacher Award. From 2015 -2020, she chaired the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. As an Academic Affairs Administrative Fellow in 2014-15, she coordinated the campus’s first High-Impact Practices Symposium and subsequently co-chaired the inaugural Faculty Learning Communities Advisory Board, supporting the implementation of high-impact practices for over 50 faculty members. Active in service to the university and to her discipline, Dr. Chávez has served on the HIPs Assessment Committee, the General Education Assessment Working Group, the General Education Committee, and the University Writing Committee, and numerous other campus committees. Dr. Chávez has also been a member of the preliminary selection committee for the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies since 2013. Additionally, she has served as a reviewer for various journals and as a member of the selection committee for the Lerner-Scott Prize of the Organization of American Historians.

portrait of LaTasha C. DeHaan

LaTasha C. DeHaan


Assistant Professor II of Political Science
Elgin Community College

LaTasha Chaffin DeHaan is an Assistant Professor II of Political Science at Elgin Community College in Elgin, IL where she teaches courses in American Government, International Relations, Community and Civic Engagement and African-American History. Dr. Chaffin DeHaan earned her PhD and MA in Political Science from Western Michigan University and her MPA and a BA in Business Administration from Grand Valley State University. Her research interests are in diverse and equitable teaching and learning strategies and in the field of American politics on examining public policy impacts on diverse and vulnerable populations, state politics and policy, political economy and civic engagement efforts through higher education programs for individuals who are incarcerated and programs that support re-entering citizens. Read on…

Dr. Chaffin DeHaan is the coauthor along with Kendra Stewart and Danielle Bloom of “How Prisoner Reentry Programs Influence Reentering Citizens’ Trust in Government.” (Journal of Political Science, 2019) and a co-author with Natasha Altema McNeely and Verónica Hoyo of “Climate and Culture in Political Science: Diversifying our Institutions, Methods and Identities to Combat Implicit Bias and Microaggressions” as well as a co-author with Josh Franco, Verónica Reyna and Randy Villegas of “A Commitment to Teaching, Learning and Student Advocacy: Community College Careers” both in Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond (American Political Science Association, 2022).

portrait of Jose del Real Viramontes

José Del Real Viramontes


Assistant Professor
University of California, Riverside

José Del Real Viramontes is an Assistant Professor, in the Higher Education Administration and Policy Program the School of Education at the University of California, Riverside, where he teaches courses on the community college. Prior to UCR he was an Assistant Professor in the Higher Education/Community College Leadership Program at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. Del Real Viramontes is a faculty affiliate with Project Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success (MALES) at the University of Texas at Austin and a Visiting Affiliate in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, at New York University. He holds a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Cultural Studies in Education from the University of Texas at Austin. He received a bachelor’s degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. He completed the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETCI) and transferred from Glendale Community College. Read on…

As a former community college transfer student his research explores three areas of the transfer experience for historically underserved and marginalized students, with a particular emphasis on Latina/o/x students who use the community college as a pathway to complete their baccalaureate degrees. First, his work examines the transfer policies, practices, and programming four-year colleges and universities apply to limit or eliminate institutional and structural barriers Latinx students face during the transfer process. Second, his work highlights how Latina/o/x community college students develop their agency and use aspects of their cultural and social capitals to navigate and negotiate the ideological, material, and structural conditions within the community college to four-year college or university transfer process. Third, his work explores the campus culture for Latina/o/x community college transfer students once they transfer to a four-year college or university by looking at the relationship between race and space and the intersectional identities with which Latina/o/x community college transfer students identify.

He is currently working on a co-edited book, tentatively titled Community College and Beyond Understanding the Transfer Pipeline for Latina/o/x Students. The edited volume provides much-needed theoretical and empirical data on the experiences of Latina/o/x students who enter postsecondary education through the community college. The book will bring together research highlighting the experiences of Latina/o/x students during the pre-and post-transfer process to ensure that higher education institutions develop transfer policies and programming that support the specific needs of Latina/o/x students.

portrait of Samantha Eldridge

Samantha Eldridge


Director, American Indian Resource Center
The University of Utah

Samantha is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and has over 10 years of experience in local, state, and tribal government and academia. Her research focuses on the historical and institutional structures that create inequitable policies, practices, and barriers that impede the success of Indigenous communities. Her career in public service began at the State of Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs. In 2014, Samantha relocated to Washington, D.C. to serve as the senior advisor to American Indian/Alaska Native outreach at the National Education Association. She was then appointed as a policy analyst to serve on the executive staff for the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President. While in D.C., Samantha advanced educational and social justice policies and practices increasing equity, access, and opportunities for Indigenous youth. In 2019, Samantha returned to Salt Lake City, UT. She currently serves as the Director of the American Indian Resource Center.

portrait of Jared Escobar

Jared Escobar


Operations Manager
The University of Utah

I have 20 years of clinical and administrative experience. I started my career with the University of Utah as a respiratory therapist and had the opportunity to fly for AirMed. “the feeling of leaving for a medical mission is like no other; it was wonderful.” After completing my master’s degree in healthcare administration had the chance to serve as the Administrative Officer for the Medicine Service at Veterans Affairs Hospital in Salt Lake City for seven years. I am now working as an Operations Manager at the University of Utah. I have been married for 20 years and have three beautiful kids. We love to travel; Our favorite vacation spot is Cancun, Mexico.

portrait of Antuan Featherstone

Antuan Featherstone


Online MSW Program Manager
University of Michigan, School of Social Work

Antuan Featherstone is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and has over seven years of experience working in higher education. He profoundly values collaborative communication, purposeful planning, and intentional innovation to lead and manage organizational change. From his professional experiences, Antuan has developed strong interpersonal, leadership, and organizational skills as a solution-driven professional. In addition, he is deeply committed to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Since joining the University of Michigan, Antuan has served in various roles beginning at the Medical School, later the Ross School of Business, and now the School of Social Work, where he is the Online MSW Program Manager. Read on…

Antuan strives to foster a strong sense of belonging and community in his work. He hopes institutions and organizations can work across boundaries and eliminate silos through inclusive and self-directed leadership practices that produce value-added solutions to today’s complex challenges. Thus, Antuan’s membership in the university’s employee engagement program, Voices of the Staff. Antuan is a proud, first-generation student who believes in the power of education. He credits Cranbrook Schools, Horizons-Upward Bound program for preparing him to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. Antuan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Organizational Leadership from Alma College. He received a Post-Bachelor Certificate in Information Systems Management from the Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. In addition, Antuan is pursuing a Master of Arts in Higher Education from the University of Michigan School of Education and a Professional Development Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Certificate from the Rackham Graduate School. Antuan Featherstone loves spending time with family. In addition, he enjoys a good book, jazz music, cooking, and making beautiful memories with those most important in his life.

portrait of Julio A. Galindo

Julio A. Galindo


Chief DIEB Officer & Chief Philanthropy Officer
Mesalands Community College

Julio A. Galindo comes to Mesalands Community College in the summer of 2022 after 30 years of what he calls trying to “save, serve and sell,” which is to simply say working in non-profit organizations, in government entities, and in business. Among the various youth & family focused non-profits he has worked for, he had the privilege of creating and leading (for its first five years) the Barrio Logan College Institute in June of 1996, still empowering underrepresented students, from the 3rd grade, in and through college completion, in the San Diego area. In government, he worked two years as an inner-city public-school kindergarten teacher and worked for a U.S. Congressman and for a California State Senator. And in the business world, he worked for seven years in wealth management where he brought in over $125MM for his firm, and then eight years as a small business owner where he also offered various financial services to his clients. Read on…

Having sold his business in Dec. of 2019, he (again) wants to foment the conditions whereby young women & men become more fully articulated individuals. How so? By assisting them in becoming more fully articulated spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, academically, financially, athletically, physically, artistically, creatively, et al. In short, help them become the full breadth of the human being that they are meant to become in life. Julio holds a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Economics from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), and his Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) from the City University of New York at Baruch College. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Education at the University of the Pacific (focus on Leadership & Innovation). And perhaps more importantly, he has been married to a wonderful woman for over 26 years, and they have two terrific sons, ages 22 & 25.

portrait of Andrew K. Gay

Andrew K. Gay


Associate Professor & Chair
Southern Oregon University

Andrew Kenneth Gay is a tenured Associate Professor and Chair of Communication, Media & Cinema at Southern Oregon University, where he teaches storytelling, career design and development, film production, and organizational innovation and also serves as the Faculty Trustee on the SOU Board. He has won both the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2021) and its Distinguished Service Award (2020) and won the University Film & Video Association’s National Teaching Award in 2022. He earned his MFA in Film & Digital Media from the University of Central Florida in 2010. Read on…

Andrew is an active scholar and media artist whose teaching, scholarship, and creative practice have explored the intersections of script development, innovative production practices, and “lean” entrepreneurial principles. His recent creative works have included a commissioned 360° spherical video essay for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called “The Road We Travel In Between” (2017) and the OSF-produced experiential play, “Take Them Into the Dirt: An Immersion” (2017), of which he was co-creator and director of media & VR. He has published peer-reviewed scholarship on screenwriting and script development, including in the Journal of Screenwriting (2014), in Women Screenwriters: An International Guide (2015), in Toy Story: How Pixar Reinvented the Animated Feature (2018), and in the Palgrave Handbook of Script Development (2021). He is currently co-editing a new handbook on global screenplay theory for Bloomsbury Academic expected in 2024. He also publishes the online open educational resource (OER) Screenplayology, which is used in college screenwriting classes across the globe.

Before becoming a full-time educator, Andrew worked as a freelance production coordinator, production manager, and assistant director in commercials, reality television, and independent film, and for such companies as Red Bull, Discovery, and Disney. He has written, directed, and produced for both fiction and documentary media. He has served as board president of Film Southern Oregon, on the board of the Oregon Media Production Association, as a programmer for the Ashland Independent Film Festival, and serves on the Teaching Committee for EDIT Media (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media).

portrait of Sylvia Gonzalez Gorman

Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman

Associate Professor
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Dr. Gonzalez-Gorman is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she has been a faculty member since 2016. Dr. Gonzalez-Gorman received both her doctorate in political science and Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Texas Tech University. Her overarching research interests revolve around the role of state and local government institutions and their influence on public policy. Although Dr. Gonzalez-Gorman focuses on immigration, Latino politics, and transborder issues, she also seeks opportunities to explore local governance questions that directly affect public policies. Read on…

Dr. Gonzalez-Gorman’s research is driven by an interest in American politics and public administration and the intersectionality of two closely related disciplines. Dr. Gonzalez-Gorman has published on the indefinite detention of unaccompanied children, push and pull factors in undocumented immigration in the U.S., unaccompanied youth and their agency, and environmental sustainability issues in the transborder region. Her latest book Political Speech as a Weapon examines changing demographics and how political rhetoric is used to create an atmosphere of ‘us versus them.’ Dr. Gonzalez-Gorman regularly teaches courses in Latin@ politics, immigration, race and citizenship, and graduate courses in world and borderland politics.

portrait of Helen Graham

Helen Graham


Dean Liberal Arts, Humanities & Education Professions
Houston Community College

Helen Graham, Ed.D. is Dean of Liberal Arts, Humanities, and Education Professions at Houston Community College (HCC). A Persian Gulf War veteran (Air Force) and recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, Dr. Graham earned a Bachelors degree in Humanities, a Masters in Liberal Arts, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. With more than 18 years of experience in education, Dr. Graham has served in several capacities including Professor of English and Humanities, inaugural member of HCC’s Women in Leadership organization, the American Association of Women in Community Colleges, and Chair of the Faculty Senate’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Read on…

As Chair of the DEI Committee, Dr. Graham helped organize and moderated town hall and panel discussions to address racial and ethnic tensions in the college community. As a member of HCC’s Women in Leadership organization, Dr. Graham helped organize and/or moderated panel discussions, focus groups, and webinars to recognize and hear from men who support women in leadership, to celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote, to understand the signs of sexual assault, and to understand the lived experiences of multi-racial families.

Aside from her work at HCC, Dr. Graham is a literacy advocate and has served on the board of a local literacy council. Additionally, she is an ethnographer, genealogist, and author. As an ethnographer, using an emic lens, she researched the phenomenon of low college enrollment and graduation rates among select African-American men in one Texas community. As a genealogist, she collaborated on a joint project to index and conduct indexing workshops of the Freedmen’s Bureau Records. As a result, the names of approximately 1.8 million Civil-War era men, women, and children are freely searchable online.

In 2018, Fort Bend Independent School District appointed Dr. Graham as subject-matter expert and consultant to lead the genealogical efforts to discover the identities of 95 individuals whose remains were
unearthed in Sugar Land, TX. These 95, known as the Sugar Land 95, were part of Texas’ convict leasing system that took place between 1871 and 1911. To date, the names of 72 men who labored and died at this camp have been identified. For her contribution to a report on the Bullhead Convict Labor Camp Cemetery in Fort Bend County, Texas, the Texas Historical Commission presented Dr. Graham with an Award of Merit. Dr. Graham also serves as Director of Genealogical Research for Principal Research Group. She and her team of archaeologists, bio- archaeologists, geneticists, and historians work to (1) identify, study, and conserve or protect cultural materials, peoples, and places related to the understudied, underrepresented, and/or forgotten communities in history and (2) reunite communities with their past.

portrait of David Hawkins Jacinto

David Hawkins-Jacinto


Senior Communications Manager
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI)
The University of Utah

David Hawkins-Jacinto is the Senior Communications Manager in the division for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion at the University of Utah (U of U). Born in Brownsville, TX mere minutes from the border, his family relocated to a suburb of Washington, DC in the late 70s. After finishing a degree in Psychology at GW, he worked in the area as a youth counselor, including a stint counseling homeless teens as part of the Sasha Bruce Youthwork. He is a lifelong educator and has more than two decades of experience teaching—most recently as a Professor (Lecturer) in the Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies (WRS) at the University. He has taught both graduate and undergrad courses in Body/Gender Rhetorics, Visual Rhetoric, nonfiction and memoir writing, and many others—and was the coordinator and instructor of record for nearly a decade in the Diversity Scholars Writing program. Read on…

His research interests include the rhetoric of violence and discursive systems in fight culture—and he is the recipient of two Excellence in Teaching awards from WRS and the Chair Award for his work promoting equity, diversity and inclusion at the University. David currently serves as the chair of both the Senate Advisory Committee on EDI (SAC-EDI), the Bennion Community Engagement Center’s Curriculum Review committee, and co-chairs of the Day of Collective Action committee. He lives in the Olympus Hills neighborhood of Salt Lake City with his family and is an avid boxer.

portrait of Ignacio Hernandez

Ignacio Hernández


Associate Professor
Fresno State

Ignacio Hernández (he/him/his) is an Associate Professor and the Ed.D. Program Director in the Department of Educational Leadership. Dr. Hernández engages in research that addresses three areas of the study of higher education: 1) Community college leadership, 2) Community college transfer students’ experiences and community college transfer policies, and 3) Graduate education and preparation of student affairs professionals. Dr. Hernández’s work advancing the study of higher education has been included in journals, edited books, and policy briefs. Read on…

He has participated in multiple fellowship programs in several organizations such as the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, National Community College Hispanic Council, and the WSCUC Assessment Leadership Academy. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of the About Campus journal and previously served on the Board of Directors for the National Community College Hispanic Council. In 2018, Dr. Hernández was recognized as a Promising New Faculty awardee by the Fresno State Office of the Provost and as an Outstanding Faculty awardee by the NASPA Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community.

portrait of Aurora Kamimura

Aurora Kamimura


Assistant Provost for Inclusive Excellence
Lecturer in Education
Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Aurora Kamimura (she/her/ella), is the Assistant Provost for Inclusive Excellence and a lecturer in Education at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU). Her teaching, research, and administrative career of nearly 25 years has been founded on broadening access, equity, and diversity in the P-20/professoriate pathway. She has been fortunate to work on these issues at the local, state, and national level throughout her career. Moreover, at each stage of Aurora’s career, equity and equitable organizations remain central to her values and work. As a mixed methodology, equity-centered, positive organizational higher education scholar, Aurora’s current research focuses on organizational change strategies for the diversification of the professoriate, which aligns with her prior research on equitable graduate admissions practices in STEM. Read on…

Some of Aurora’s earliest research focused on enhancing college access for Latinx/a/o/é, immigrant, and undocumented students. This research was conducted primarily through the National Center for Institutional Diversity and the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, both at the University of Michigan. Aurora recently co-authored several book chapters including: Let’s Road Trip: Aligning Theoretical Frameworks, Research Questions, and Research Design (forthcoming); Cuida tu casa y deja la ajena: Focusing on retention as a self-perpetuating engine for recruiting Latina faculty in STEM; The benefits of diversity for innovation in academic research; and Undocumented student access to higher education: Focused efforts at the federal and institutional levels. Furthermore, her scholarship on strategies for diversifying STEM graduate education can be found in several journal articles.

Aurora’s scholarship and teaching are complimented by her professional work in the K-16 pathway at the brink of student affairs and academic affairs in various units, including Outreach, Service Learning, Multicultural Affairs/DEI, Academic Support Services, and as an Associate Dean. In her current role as Assistant Provost for Inclusive Excellence, she works on developing and implementing strategies to diversify our faculty and to provide more inclusive learning environments around campus. At a national level, Aurora serves as the Treasurer-Elect on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Hispanics for Higher Education (AAHHE), and is involved in several national projects focused on the development of Latinx/a/o/é leadership. Aurora earned a BA in Social Sciences from the University of California, Irvine; EdM in Administration, Planning and Social Policy at Harvard University; and a MA in Higher Education Management and Organizations, and a PhD in Higher Education and Organization Behavior at the University of Michigan.

portrait of Russell Kaufman

Russell Kaufman


Campus Chief Information Officer
Miami Dade College

Russell is an experienced leader in the field of Information Technology and is currently the Chief Information Officer for Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus. In this role, he serves on the President’s Cabinet, IT Leadership Team, Campus Crisis Management Team, and multiple committees. The division of Campus Information Technology, comprised of Network Services and Media Services, supports the College’s mission of providing a high-quality teaching and learning experience for over 40,000 students. Being a leader in educational technology has allowed Russell to present at the Florida Educational Technology Conference in Orlando and, most recently, at the Association of Florida Colleges Conference in Panama City Beach, Florida. Read on…

He has served the community for eight years as a member of Broward County Public School’s Technology Advisory Committee, which provides strategic input and recommendations for the procurement and implementation of technology within the nation’s sixth-largest school system. During the COVID pandemic, his leadership at the Kendall Campus won him the MDC Hero Award from the Miami Dade Foundation. He is also an adjunct professor at Broward College and Miami Dade College. Russell has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Science in Information Systems from Florida International University. He is currently a Business Administration Doctoral Candidate at Florida International University.

portrait of Line Kemeyou

Line Kemeyou


Heart Failure, Sarcoid & Transplant Cardiology
Associate Program Director- Advanced Heart Failure &
Transplant Fellowship
Assistant Dean- Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
University of Utah Health

After graduating from high school in her native country of Cameroon, Dr. Kemeyou came to the USA and settled in Texas where she pursued a higher education. She eventually made her way to Utah, whereas a clinician, she practices in the field of Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology, she also holds the position of Associate Dean of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the School of Medicine. She is a self-proclaimed fashionista, and enjoys watching reality TV shows, trying out new recipes, and hiking.

portrait of Latu Kinikini

Lātū Kinikini


Associate Director, Opportunity Scholars Program
David Eccles School of Business
The University of Utah

‘Ilaisaane Lātū Kinikini was born in Tonga and raised in New Zealand. She is a first-generation college graduate and an alumna of Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah. She received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy. Currently, as a Ph.D. candidate, Latu’s research interest focuses on indigenous knowledge and education. Her research investigation is a qualitative study trying to understand and explain the college experiences of Pacific Islander students in higher education. She feels her educational background and 17 years of work experience in higher education have informed her leadership, teaching, and service for students. Read on…

Speaking of her passion and commitment to serving first-generation college students, she is honored to assist students with navigating their college experience as they complete their academic journey. She is continually amazed at students’ perseverance and resiliency to reach their goals. She serves on various organizations with the Utah State Board of Education, the Advisory Committee on Equity of Educational Services for Students (ACEESS), and the Primary Children’s Hospital Community Board, where she has an opportunity to serve the Pacific Islander community. As the Associate Director for Opportunity Scholars in the Office for Student Inclusion, she hopes to continue her deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity for first-generation, underrepresented students in the Eccles School of Business. Education and life experiences have opened her perspective, and she understands how education can be powerful, liberating, and life-changing. Latu believes that part of the privilege of being in Higher Education is serving our communities. Latu loves to travel with her family. She currently lives in Utah with her partner, Tevita Muli Kinikini, and they have four children and two grandchildren.

portrait of Gil Lizalde

Gil Lizalde


Director, DSA Business Services
University of Houston

Gil Lizalde, M.Ed. is the Director of Business Services within the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Houston where he oversees the financial, budgetary and human resource functions for 24 complex and diverse departments within the division. Gil received his M.Ed. in higher education from the University of Houston in 2019 and his BA in corporate and organizational communications from Northern Illinois University in 2001. Gil has been working in and around the finance and human resource fields in both corporate and nonprofit settings for more than 21 years but has found his true professional passion in working in higher education. Read on…

Working in higher education has provided Gil with the experience and opportunity to not only develop himself professionally but to be able to pass on his experience and guidance to his teams and the students he works with in his role. Personally, Gil loves to travel, spending plenty of quality time with his spouse and three dogs, as well as supporting local nonprofit organizations, and serving as the Vice President of the Phi Kappa Sigma International Fraternity board of directors. He also continues to do research focusing on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Latina/o/x student success, and Latina/o/x higher education leadership.

portrait of Jennifer Luken Sutton

Jennifer Luken Sutton


University of Texas at Arlington

I am an alumnus of The University of Texas at Arlington where I received all three of my degrees: Bachelor’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice (’04), Master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice (’06), and Doctorate (PhD) in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (’21). In addition, I am also a proud first-generation college graduate who is an alumnus of the TRIO Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math & Science Programs. My career (thus far) has been in the higher education setting; I have worked for Federal TRIO Programs for 20 years. Read on…

In addition to TRIO Programs, I lead institutional efforts focused on First-Generation college students and our Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation and initiatives. I also teach sections of the first-year experience course for students who identify at first-generation college students. My training and background include working with underprepared learners as a mentor, advisor, instructor, and special programs manager. I see my motivation to put in the extra effort for students and the programs and projects I lead as a way to “pay it forward” for the many wonderful opportunities that I was able to be involved in. With the knowledge and experience I have gained from working in access, equity, and inclusion programming, I hope to continue research interests that will help support opportunities for under-resourced students and under-prepared learners. An adage that I find as a driving force is “to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world”.

portrait of Nafisa Masud

Nafisa Masud


Content Specialist
University of Utah Health

Nafisa Masud is an award-winning health care journalist in Marketing & Communications at University of Utah Health, the largest academic medical center in the Mountain West. Her work focuses on digital storytelling, community outreach and engagement, inclusive communications, and national recognition. She leads the department’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives and is passionate about producing content that engages, educates, and empowers.

portrait of Natasha McNeely

Natasha A. McNeely


Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Natasha Altema McNeely, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) where she has been a faculty member since 2015. Her academic career began at the University of Texas – Pan American (UTPA) in 2013, one of the legacy institutions prior to the creation of UTRGV. Her research focuses on race and ethnicity and gender in the contexts of political Institutions, public opinion, voting, campaigns & elections as well as racial health disparities including Black Maternal Mortality. Read on…

Her research has been published in the National Review of Black Politics; Politics, Groups, and Identities; Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Political Research Quarterly. Dr. Altema McNeely has published on the examination of factors that affect Immigration attitudes among Hispanics in South Texas, Race/Ethnicity, Gender and Political Institutions (State and Local levels), the impact of interracial marriage upon racial attitudes, and how the intersectional identities of Black female mayors align with their attempts to provide descriptive and substantive representation for their Black constituents by addressing Black Maternal Mortality in their cities. Dr. Altema McNeely teaches undergraduate courses on political institutions in the U.S. including Congress and the Presidency, and political parties. She also teaches courses on public opinion and voting behavior, representation for racial and ethnic minority groups in political institutions and offers a graduate course on Race & Ethnic Politics in the U.S.

portrait of Melinda Mejia

Melinda Mejia


Program Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Studies & Humanities
Houston Community College

Melinda Mejia has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She joined Houston Community College in 2012 as instructor of English and Humanities. Currently the Program Coordinator of Interdisciplinary Studies/Humanities, she has headed several initiatives at HCC, including the Central Campus student journal and the Personalized Corequisite Action Plan initiative. Dr. Mejia received the HCC Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2021.

portrait of Sonia Pruneda Hernandez

Sonia Pruneda-Hernandez


Acting Dean of Education & Social Sciences
Montgomery College

Dr. Pruneda-Hernandez began her career at Montgomery College in 2005 as an adjunct professor, becoming a full-time faculty member in 2008. In 2017, she was appointed as the coordinator of the early childhood program, becoming the collegewide senior director for early childhood education programs in 2020. Through her work in early childhood education, she increased enrollment through extensive outreach, wrote successful grants (which raised $2 million) supporting students at no cost to them, and developed the fully online applied science degree, reducing the time to degree significantly for students. She collaborated and supported Workforce Development Continuing Education (WDCE) with the development of courses and curriculum review to add grant and other programmatic needs, ensuring quality and facilitating the integration of credit and noncredit content and flow. Read on…

Dr. Pruneda-Hernandez has developed strong relationships with the community and provides leadership coordinating the regional early childhood education professional continuing education and community engagements events, including the Regional Early Childhood Education Summit, Statewide Early Childhood Education Symposium, and countywide early childhood education events.

Dr. Pruneda-Hernandez has served on numerous collegewide committees, including co-chairing one of the standards for Middle States accreditation and participating in the 2022 cohort of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges LEADERS Institute. Dr. Pruneda-Hernandez was awarded the MC Faculty Outstanding Service Award in 2015 and the NISOD of Excellence Award in 2016. She was the recipient of the American Association of Community College Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Designation for 2018 and was selected as the 2019 Northeast Regional Association of Community College Trustees Faculty Member Award. Dr. Pruneda-Hernandez earned a doctorate of education from Walden University, a master of science in education from Nova Southeastern University, and a bachelor of arts in Spanish from the University of North Florida.

portrait of Claudia Rodas

Claudia R. Rodas


HSI Advisor to the Provost
Associate Clinical Professor
Northern Arizona University

Dr. Claudia R. Rodas is an HSI Statewide Advisor to the Provost and an associate clinical professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Specialties at Northern Arizona University. As a first-generation college graduate, Dr. Rodas is proud to mentor and advise students from marginalized communities to help them succeed in higher education. She is also an advocate for non-traditional students, and those who experience any type of disabilities or who do not feel included in the traditional classroom.

portrait of Juliana Simonetti

Juliana S. Simonetti


Assistant Professor & Director of Obesity Medicine
Co-Director of PROMIS2U
Co-Director of Comprehensive Weight Management Program
University of Utah Health

Dr. Simonetti serves as the Director of the Obesity Medicine Program and co-director of the Comprehensive Weight Management Program at the University of Utah. She received her medical degree from the University of Utah School of Medicine and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and her fellowship in Obesity Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at Boston University Medical Center. Dr. Simonetti is also the co-director of the PROMIS2U (Pre-matriculation Readiness for Ongoing Medical Student Success at the U) program at the University of Utah. She is originally from Brazil and moved to the US at the age of 15 years old. As an immigrant, Dr. Simonetti encountered many obstacles in attaining her medical degree. She has also witnessed inequalities of our health care system as a member of a minoritized community and as a physician working in underserved areas. She feels passionate about diversifying our health care workforce and providing excellent care to all patients.

portrait of Dianne Valdivia

Dianne Valdivia


Director of Campus Administration
Miami Dade College

Dianne Valdivia has been working in higher education for 15 years. She serves as Director of Campus Administration and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Miami Dade College. Her professional experience includes roles in advancement, external relations, student services, and operations, and she enjoys helping students and employees grow. Additionally, her interest in community partnerships led her to build programs such as the Ring Ceremony, National Panther Day of Service, 5K Run/Walk for Education, Commencement, Spooky Night, Parent and Family Night, and Early Voting with her county. As the Assistant Director for Alumni Relations at Florida International University, Dianne advised several student organizations and managed the institution’s membership program. She then joined Miami Dade College and learned about the Florida College System while collaborating with various divisions as the Executive Assistant to a Campus President. Read on…

Dianne completed the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) Certified College Professional Program and was elected as Chair of the Student Development Commission. She was named the 2023 AFC Region V Director and is also a member of NASPA, American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, and Chi Sigma Alpha International Student Affairs Honor Society. Prior to working at Miami Dade College and Florida International University, Dianne held human resources and finance positions at BankUnited. She received her Master of Science in Higher Education, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Training and Instructional Design Certificate from Florida International University. Dianne is currently pursuing an EdD in Organizational Leadership at Barry University, where she is specializing in Human Resource Development.

portrait of Diana Valle-Murillo

Diana Y. Valle-Murillo


Program Coordinator
CSU Monterey Bay

Diana Valle-Murillo is an equity-minded education professional with over 10 years of dedicated service to students in K-12 and postsecondary educational settings. As a first-generation college graduate and resident of Monterey County, As the oldest daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, navigating the American educational system as a first-generation college student was no easy task, and now her own experiences have helped inform her work and her dedication to eliminating barriers for students as they navigate their own educational and professional experiences. Diana believes that ALL students deserve an equitable education that provides the knowledge and skills to choose and succeed in post-secondary education pursuits. Diana currently works in college access as a Site Supervisor/Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP Program based out of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Read on…

Previously, Diana served in various capacities as part of her work with the TRIO Student Support Services and Upward Bound programs at Monterey Peninsula College. Being part of TRiO SSS and working with programs such as Upward Bound, Math/Science Upward Bound, and GEAR UP solidified her need and want to help people, particularly in her community. Diana has mentored aspiring professionals through her work with Girls Inc. Central Coast and the Pay It Forward scholarship program. With Girls Inc, Diana worked with young ladies and taught them to be advocates for themselves and their communities. Similarly, as a Pay It Forward Program mentor, Diana helps and supports students through their personal and professional journeys. Diana believes that ALL students deserve an equitable education that provides the knowledge and skills to choose and succeed in post-secondary education pursuits.

Diana holds a baccalaureate degree in Linguistics with an emphasis in French from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She also has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. At Santa Clara, Diana’s Master’s thesis focused on Intragroup Marginalization among Latinx College Students. Diana is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Jose State University. Currently, her research is focused on first-generation Latinx students’ college readiness post-pandemic. In her spare time, Diana enjoys spending time with her family, cooking with her mom, listening to Beyonce, and visiting her hometown in Jalisco, Mexico.

portrait of Tashelle Wright

Tashelle B. Wright


Postdoctoral Research Associate
Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine
The University of Utah

Tashelle Wright is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the University of Utah School of Medicine’s (UUSOM) Department of Faculty and Preventative Medicine (DFPM). Prior to this role, she served as the Director in the UUSOM Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Tashelle earned her PhD in Public Health and Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) from the University of California Merced, and she completed her Bachelors at Westminster College (Utah) and Associates at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), where she serves on the Board of Trustees. Her research focuses on health equity and health disparities among Black, African, Afro-Latinx, Latinx and Hmong populations. Read on…

She is a first-generation, non-traditional college student. Her professional work experience has been with non-profits and community-based organizations specializing in culturally tailored programming. She currently serves as a community health liaison for Project Success Coalition and is a co-founder of Utah’s Black, African, and Afro-Latinx Health Initiative. She is a grant writer and consultant for equity-focused, community-based organizations in Utah and California.

Tashelle is from Woods Cross/Bountiful in Davis County, Utah and grew up in West Valley City, Utah before moving to California for graduate school. Her father is from Ghana, West Africa and mother is from Utah. She has an amazing son, who is a youth social justice advocate. Tashelle has worked for the Utah Department of Health focusing on programming for groups who identify as Black, African, African American, and Pacific Islander, as well as supported bridging communities in clinic in the underserved areas of Glendale, Rose Park, and South Salt Lake for folks who don’t have access to care. Her passion is connecting people through health equity, inclusion, and diversity work. One of her favorite opportunities is teaching Black History for students in Kindergarten and 1st grade. She teaches with one-of-a-kind teachers as part of Utah’s RISE virtual academy.

portrait of Katty Del Pilar Youd

Katty Del Pilar Youd


EDI Program Manager
Huntsman Cancer Institute

Katty Del Pilar Youd (she/her/ella) is currently at Huntsman Cancer Institute as the EDI Program Manager at the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Prior to the cancer institute, Katty was working in higher education creating pathways to success and providing access to resources for traditionally excluded student populations. She also worked with survivors of abuse and torture with a few nonprofits in Utah, navigating through systemic barriers and providing advocacy. Read on…

She has worked for more than a decade with people in the margins, both locally and internationally addressing health disparities, education access, and social inequities. In addition, she is founder and co-executive director of DISRUPT Utah, a local nonprofit that focuses on leadership development for youth in confinement and are court-involved. DISRUPT Utah works to combat the systemic and social inequities that criminalizes youth behavior into the Juvenile Justice System. Katty received her undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University-Provo in Sociocultural Anthropology with emphasis in the Arabic language and International Development. She then went on to complete her Master’s degree in International Development, emphasis in Social Impact and Leadership from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Katty has also furthered her education by enhancing her linguistic skills in 4 other languages.