Skip to content

Our Team

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is deeply committed to enhancing the success of diverse faculty, students, trainees, and staff, as part of our broader goal to enrich the educational experiences and success of all members of our university community. This division – led by Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal – is comprised of leaders, experts, and educators who drive the university’s effort to create a safe and welcoming campus climate.

With our new leadership, the Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion oversees the entities across the entire University of Utah including the American Indian Resource Center; Black Cultural Center; Center for Equity and Student Belonging; Dream Center; LGBT Resource Center; New Leadership Academy Fellows Program; University of Utah Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; and Office for Inclusive Excellence. Additionally, the division partners with all colleges, departments and the broader community to help develop initiatives aimed at fostering more awareness, advocacy, and action.

clear filter  open positions

Mary Ann Villarreal

VP for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

As the inaugural vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah, Dr. Villarreal (she/her/they/them) provides leadership and strategic oversight of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the University’s academic and health sciences campuses.

Park 208

José Rodríguez

AVP for Health Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Dr. Rodríguez (he/him) has taken a strong role in advancing the institutional goals for health equity and inclusion through service on various diversity and recruitment committees and presenting at national conferences on our work and his research on diversity initiatives.

HSEB 5750B

Emma E. Houston

AVP for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

Emma E. Houston brings significant experience in working with teams to create inclusive spaces and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a positive impact across the community. She is a longtime community advocate and volunteer who serves on several boards and commissions.

Park 120

Daniel K. Cairo

AVP for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Dr. Daniel K. Cairo (he/him/él) 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.

Park 120

Keith Embray

Executive Director of Operations / Associate Athletic Director

Keith Embray (he/him) holds a joint appointment in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Athletics Department as the first executive director of equity, diversity and inclusion operations and associate athletic director for EDI and student belonging. Keith is a former University of Utah student-athlete and professional football player, who is returning to the U with the responsibility of infusing student belonging and the values of equity, diversity and inclusion throughout Athletics.

Pamela Bishop

Senior Director of Marketing & Communications

Pamela (she/her) is an experienced marketing professional with a distinguished background in brand management, advertising and marketing. In her spare time, she serves the community as a board member and committee member for several nonprofit organizations and spends time with her husband and teenage son.

Amy Fulton

Director, New Leadership Academy

Dr. Amy Fulton is the Director of the New Leadership Academy at the University of Utah. Her research interests include organizational leadership in higher education, student social movements, and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education. 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.


Tricia Sugiyama

Director of EDI Projects

Tricia (she/her) is a fourth-generation Utahn and is passionate about working with students. Prior to working as the Director, she has been the First Year Experience Program Director, Academic Advisor and Asian American Programs Coordinator! Tricia loves all things geek and is a dedicated fur parent.

Rodney Cohen

HBCU Partnership Manager

Rodney T. Cohen, EdD is the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Partnership Manager for the University of Utah and one of the first to hold this position nationwide. In this role, Dr. Cohen will partner across the university in the planning, programming, design, and maintenance of partnerships with HBCUs in an effort to recruit, retain, and promote diverse talent at the University of Utah and across our local community.

FD 603 (BCC)

Paméla Cappas-Toro

Latinx Initiatives Manager

Dr. Pamela Cappas-Toro is a trained language, literature, and culture scholar who applies social justice praxis for community engagement. She firmly believes in the importance of opening multilingual channels of communication to ignite internationalist solidarity intellectual and political projects, in our quest to challenge institutions of governance that are empowered to use violence —particularly through criminalization, detention, and incarceration.

Jewel Poss

Executive Assistant to the VP for EDI

Keeping the VP’s schedule is top of Jewel’s (she/her) priorities. Outside of work, making our world a better place by spreading kindness to everything from people to our planet is Jewel’s passion. With her family and pets, she enjoys hiking, movies, and music.

Park 208

Simone Lawrence

HBCU I.M.P.A.C.T. Manager

Christina Bryant

Data Analyst

Samantha Eldridge (Diné)

Director, American Indian Resource Center

Samantha (she/her) is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and has over 10 years of experience in local, state, and tribal government and academia. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. where her research focuses on the historical and institutional structures that create inequitable policies, practices, and barriers that impede the success of Indigenous communities.

FDAIRC (Bldg 622)

Tashina Barber (Diné)

Program Manager

Tashina Barber is a citizen of the Diné Nation and a descendant of the Hopi and Ute Mountain Ute Nations who finds comfort in sharing her cultural identity through higher education work. Tashina is passionate about amplifying Native, First Nations, and Aboriginal experiences to share stories of past, present, and future to foster belonging on college campuses.

FDAIRC (Bldg 622)

Hailee Roberts (Diné)

Program Coordinator

As the American Indian Resource Center's program coordinator, Hailee supports the social integration and academic skills development of Native students and guides students’ personal and cultural assets to ensure a rich college experience all while setting them up for post-graduation success.

FDAIRC (Bldg 622)

Abdulkhaliq Barbaar

Director for Health Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

Abdulkhaliq Barbaar (he/him) is particularly interested in building connections and enriching lives, facilitating collaborative and authentic relationships, and leading sustainable partnerships. As director, Abdulkhaliq's goal is to create a learning and workplace environment that accepts everyone's values and enriches the learning experiences for all through a sense of belonging.


Loretta Müller

Executive Assistant

EDI work is one of Loretta's passions. She loves what she does in UHEDI and the chance to learn something new every day. You will always find Loretta enjoying something sweet and jamming out to all types of music!

HSEB 5750B

Jen Wilson

Programs Manager

A transplant from Maryland, Jen (she/her) has made Utah her home for nearly a decade now. She loves to connect people with each other, and is passionate about social justice and continuously seeking out knowledge to learn how she can best use her privilege to provide platforms and opportunity for others. Two of her life dreams are to be on Jeopardy (she loves trivia) and walk amongst the penguins (her favorite animal) in Patagonia!

HSEB 5750B

Guillermo Cuevas

Programs Manager

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Guillermo (he, him, el) has been part of the U of U family since 2019 and is pursuing a Master of Science in Finance. Guillermo is an adventurer and explorer and when he has some free time, you can find him traveling with his family to new places. 

HSEB 5750B

Meligha Garfield

Director, Black Cultural Center

A native of Rochester, New York, Meligha (he/him) is an avid movie-goer; Marvel comic book enthusiast; and fan of hip-hop, neo-soul, and 80’s R&B. (According to him, the top 5 hip-hop artists are Nas, Tribe Called Quest, Common, Kanye West, and Rakim.) In his spare time, he uses his golden voice for radio, voiceover work, and podcasts. Don’t believe us? Come hear for yourself!

FD 603 (BCC)

Sara Cody

BCC Program Coordinator

Sara (she/her) moved to Salt Lake on a whim after trying a particularly delicious donut from a truck. She is passionate about serving others and developing her “why”. She works with agencies serving transracial adoptees, women of color in education, and our neighbors experiencing homelessness. If not tending to one of her passion projects, you will find her organizing her rock babies, parenting her dog named Aggie or caring for one of her many plant children.

FD 603 (BCC)

Ephraim Kum

Program Coordinator

Born in Ghana, Ephraim (he/him) immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was one year old. From an early age, Ephraim discovered a passion for serving his community, which led to numerous opportunities including experience with the SLC Mayor’s Office, Salt Lake County’s Council on Diversity of Affairs, NAACP, and Utah State Legislature. He even served as the student body president at the U! As program coordinator, Ephraim is excited to continue working closely with his U of U and SLC community.

FD 603 (BCC)

Cassie Zamora-Cathcart

Interim Director, CESB

Originally from Colorado, Cassie (she/ella) has lived in 4 other states, but is happy to now call Utah home. She is passionate about connecting with, giving back to, amplifying the voices of, and celebrating her community and all BIPOC communities. In her free time, you can find her at the pulga (flea market) with her partner, out in nature with her pups Oreo and Demi, or curled up listening to/reading her latest book of the month.

Union 235

Joseline Sanchez

Early Contact Program Coordinator

Joseline Sanchez (she/ella) just started as the Early Contact Program Coordinator! A bio will be shared soon.

Union 235

Vanessa Ruelas

First-Year Experience Program Coordinator

Vanessa Ruelas (she/her) is a U of U Alumna who is returning as the First-Year Experience Coordinator. In this position, Vanessa assists students transitioning from high school to college and plans on utilizing her student activism experience to develop student empowerment, leadership, and growth.

Union 235

Giulia Soto

Second Year Experience Program Coordinator

Giulia (she/ella) supports students explore major and career paths and develop a plan to achieve your goals. As a Diversity Scholar alumna, she can connect you with alumni. She loves to dance, especially Peruvian Folklore. Passionate about providing equitable education in Latin America, she interned in Honduras & Peru and got an M.S.Ed in International Educational Development at UPenn.

Union 235

Martha Hernandez

Transfer Program Coordinator

As the transfer coordinator, Martha (she/ella) is here to support prospective and current transfer students navigate the University of Utah, connect with campus resources, and engage with the campus community. Martha is a history teacher by training and a cat-lover by heart. When she is not reading, gardening, or watching documentary films, you can find her visiting a national park.

Union 235

Nicole Puertas Sanchez

EDI Embedded Mental Health Specialist

As an EDI embedded therapist, Nicole (she/her) is passionate about working with students and aims to be an ever-present community support and mental health advocate for diverse individuals at the University of Utah. Being a first-generation Peruvian-American, Nicole strives to honor lived experiences and embrace cultural traditions. Outside of work, Nicole is an avid traveler and lover of house plants. She's also obsessed with her dog, Remy!

SSB 426

Fabi Madrigal

EDI Embedded Mental Health Specialist

Fabi (she/her/ella) is passionate about making mental health care accessible for historically underserved communities, both through the increase of services and resources, but also by incorporating healing practices from diverse cultures and liberation practices. She is an immigrant, first-generation, Mexicana who loves plantitas, baking, books and building community. Fabi hopes to create an authentic and affirming therapeutic space for students navigating higher education.

SSB 426

Anna Nguyen

AASA Advisor & Asian/Asian American Student Engagement

Anna Nguyen (she/her) is heavily involved in Salt Lake's Asian American communities and advocates for the social, political, and economic well-being of all APIs in the state. When she's not out volunteering, you can find her supporting Asian-owned restaurants #foodie, (struggling with) hiking, or bundled up binge-watching Netflix, anime, k-drama, and Hayao Miyazaki.

Union 235

Jasmin Clardy

BSU Advisor & African American/Black Student Engagement

Jasmin (she/her) enjoys dancing, hosting events, interviewing, great music, painting, bowling, playing games, roller skating and getting her nails done. Among her personal hobbies, she is also an advocate for women’s empowerment and the empowerment of Black people, which is what enticed her about this position. She is an advocate for generational wealth within the Black community and would like to see them thrive.

Union 235

Kyri Duncan

ITSA Advisor & Native/Indigenous Student Engagement

Being a member of the Ute Indian Tribe, Kyri Duncan (he/him) understands the importance of maintaining cultural upbringings and the power of community voice. Kyri aspires to advocate and progress the connection of Native American/Indigenous students and higher education. You can catch him watching anime, trying different foods, or doing something art-related in his free time.

Union 235

Xóchitl Juarez-Cardenas

Office Assistant

Xóchitl Juarez is studying Social Work and Ethnic Studies. Apart from being the office assistant for CESB, she is co-chair for SOMOS Dreamers which is a student led organization advocating for and with undocumented students on campus, a first-generation mentor for first-generation scholars, and a mother of two boys! She aims to obtain her master's to become a therapist for underrepresented communities as well as create more inclusive policies for the benefit of these communities.

Rosa Salamanca

Director, Dream Center

Rosa Salamanca has extensive leadership experience in higher education and community organizations serving undocumented students and their families. She finds joy in trees, bodies of water, camping, and therapy. She loves cooking for her family and friends, dancing cumbias, and going on adventures with her dog Luna.

Rosa will be starting Oct 17!

Raquel Cetz Tamayo

Program Manager

Raquel (she/ella/Ko'olel) takes pride in her indigenous family background and admires all of her family's sacrifices. She hopes to ensure bringing about programming that increases the visibility, retention, and access to higher education to historically underrepresented students, specifically to serve the immigrant student population and their families.

Union 80

Salvador Oregon-Torres

Program Coordinator

Salvador enjoys working with diverse populations and empowering them to thrive and make change in whatever space they occupy. When Salvador is not catching invisible monsters on Pokémon Go, he’s scrolling through TikTok or playing the Digimon Trading Card game. Currently, Salvador is obsessed with the Real Housewives of Salt lake City, and to quote his favorite housewife, “I love Taco Bell! And I also love fine dining.”

Union 80

Jasmine Girgenti

Program Support Graduate Assistant

Originally from Northern Marianas Island, Jasmine (she/hers) moved to Utah 5 years ago. She is currently working on completing a dual master's in Social Work and Public Administration. Her goal is to work with underrepresented communities and provide guidance and connections to their needs.

Union 235

Shelby Hearn

Coordinator of Education & Outreach

Shelby (they/them) is from Chicago where they got their M.Ed from Loyola University Chicago. They are a lifelong activist and advocate for social justice causes, particularly around LGBTQIA+ education. Shelby is also a cat parent, avid gamer, home cook, and is already in love with Utah pastime pickleball.

Union 409

Tyra Imbico

Office Assistant

Tyra (she/her) is a third year student studying Mathematics with hopes of working in the tech industry and possibly becoming a teacher later on in life. She loves playing "Breath of the Wild," boogie boarding at the beach, going to concerts, and studying astrology. Her New Year’s resolution is to read more and make new friends!

Union 409

Olga Rodriguez

Coordinator of QTSOC Initiatives

Olga (she/they) came to the US in 2002 from Mexico. Fluent in Spanish and English, she loves reading in both languages. Olga can be known as Dora the Destroyer when she is on the track playing roller derby. Her big three are Capricorn sun, Cancer rising, and an Aries moon. In her free time, you can find Olga roller skating at the skate park or trying to cook/bake.

Union 409

David Hawkins-Jacinto

Senior Communications Manager

Before joining EDI, David Hawkins-Jacinto (he/him/elle) received his Ph.D. and taught hundreds of sections and more than a dozen different classes at the university as part of the core faculty in the Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies (WRS) over a nearly 20-year career. He’s an avid cook, an amateur boxer, and he traces his commitment to EDI to his mom and welita (both public school teachers!) and his dad, each of whom taught him the importance of truth, justice, and equity.

Park 120

Eunice Contreras

Event Manager

Eunice (she/her) is passionate about planning memorable events where attendees feel welcome, engaged, and connected. Originally from Guatemala, Eunice calls Utah her home and strives to help others as often as possible and seize each day by traveling, reading, going to the movies, or having a good cup of coffee with friends.

Park 120

Kaya Aman

Web & Brand Manager

Kaya (no pronoun preference) is a brilliant designer with a ridiculously sweet personality. Add in that she's also learning all about the web world, and pretty soon she will be totally unstoppable! With her talents, I wouldn't be surprised if a madman in a blue box recruited her to help him save the world... again.

Jasen Lee

PR & Marketing Manager

Jasen just joined as the PR and marketing coordinator for EDI. A bio will be shared shortly!


MiKo Nielson

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

MiKo (no pronoun preference) is a Utah native who is proud to call the U of U her alma mater. With a flair for marketing, MiKo likes getting people excited about what she is excited about. Her passions of photography, art, and sewing give her great perspective and insight into the world around her and help her connect with people.

Park 120

Jen Rosio

Graphic Designer

Jen (she/her) graduated from Weber State University in Design for Digital Media and Illustration. She integrates social justice, accessibility, and inclusion into her practice for empathetic design thinking. When not downloading too many typefaces from Adobe and Google Fonts, Jen has a passion for finding the best coffee downtown, collecting vinyl records, and listening to KEXP with her cat, Luv.

Park 120


Event Coordinator

Born and Raised in the mountains of Utah and a University of Utah Alumnus in Writing and Rhetoric, Platt (he/him) is excited to bring his passion for community events to the U and help “make the tent bigger”. If you can’t find him in the office or running a show, you can try and find him off on an adventure, or in the shop smashing metal into pretty shapes.


Ilana Israel

Program Manager, New Leadership Academy

Ilana Israel is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan whose interests include working with non-profit organizations, leadership development, furthering her education, and advocating for social justice and equality. Ilana is an avid animal lover and in her spare time she shows her two Portuguese Water Dogs, Lago and Rio, and enjoys riding her retired show horse Willie.


Cierra Szalony

Program Coordinator, New Leadership Academy

Cierra (she/her) is a Michigan native and completed her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Marketing at Ball State University. She is currently attending the University of Utah for her Master's in Education, Culture, and Society. Her area of research interest is how to improve sports to be more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ fans, athletes, staff, and faculty. In her free time, Cierra enjoys watching hockey, talking about all things Marvel, and trying new restaurants.

Paton Roden

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, New Leadership Academy

Paton has a rooted interest in leadership development and continuous learning, which she discovered while earning her bachelor’s degrees in Business Management and Spanish at Berry College. Paton continued her studies to earn a master’s degree in Higher Education- Student Affairs from the University of Virginia and completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at The University of Alabama where her dissertation research focused on the experiences of faculty mothers at research universities.

Ja’net Baide

Administrative Assistant, New Leadership Academy

Ja'net (ja-nay) Baide is a Chicana from Texas (who misses their frijoles charros). She is a Ph.D. student in the anthropology department at the University of Utah. Her research focus is on the impacts of disease/health on mobility and reproductive strategies. She is always looking for outreach efforts that align with her values in minority student retention in the sciences, science literacy, and mentorship.

Lienne Cupal

Research Assistant

As a psychology major and sociology minor, Lienne is mainly interested in examining identity within organizational contexts with a focus on hierarchies as a means of distributing social capital. When not focused on academia, Lienne enjoys both competitive and outdoor rock climbing. In addition to working as a research assistant, Lienne has had the privilege of putting her competitive experience to good use by coaching for Momentum (one of the top competitive rock-climbing teams in the country).

Shilpi Kharidia

Research Assistant, New Leadership Academy

Shilpi is a fourth-year student at the University of Utah and is majoring in Biology, following a Pre-med track, with minors in Political Science and Chemistry. Once she graduates this fall, her goal is to apply to medical school, in hopes to start medical school in 2024. Shilpi is working with NLA as a Research Assistant, and she is excited to become more involved with NLA and EDI as a whole!

Andrew Koenig

Research & Administrative Assistant, New Leadership Academy

Andrew is a freshman at the University of Utah pursuing his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering with an Aerospace emphasis. In high school, he enjoyed working in the tech side of theatre and continues his love for tech by building at the Lassonde workshop on campus. In his free time, he loves to hike, read, and listen to and learn about music. He hopes to promote and learn more about diversity and equity in this position.