Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is deeply committed to enhancing the success of diverse faculty, students, and staff, as part of our broader goal to enrich the educational experiences and success of all members of our university community. This division – lead 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 Ethnic Student Affairs, LGBT Resource Center, Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, and Office for Inclusive Excellence. Additionally, the office partners with all colleges, departments and the broader community to help develop initiatives aimed at fostering more awareness, advocacy, and action.
Mary Ann Villarreal
VP for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Mary Ann Villarreal (she/her) is fueled by an unwavering commitment to ensure the doors to receiving a degree remain open and the table is set for everyone to participate. As the inaugural vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Utah, she provides leadership and strategic oversight of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the University’s academic and health sciences campuses.
Interim AVP for Health Equity & Inclusion
Dr. Rodríguez (he/him) has taken a strong role in advancing the institutional goals for health equity and inclusion. He has served on various diversity and recruitment committees supporting focused recruitment of underrepresented ethnic and racial minority (URM) faculty and residents. He has represented the university presenting at national conferences on our work and his research on diversity initiatives.
Interim AVP for Equity & Diversity
When she’s not leading our efforts in faculty EDI work, Dr. Paula Smith (she/her) is a mentor for the African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative and a developmental psychologist with expertise in school-based preventive intervention. If that wasn’t impressive enough already, she also maintains a beautiful garden and serves as a troop leader for the Girl Scouts!
Feleti MatagiDirector of Development
Feleti (he/him) loves meeting new people from different backgrounds and life experiences, which is why he’s a huge YouTube and movie enthusiast. Stop by to geek-out on Malcolm Reed cooking videos or his favorite movie genre: sci-fi!
Pamela BishopDirector 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 including The Junior League of Salt Lake City and spends time with her husband and teenage son.
Kaya AmanWeb & 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.
Emily PantojaGraphic Designer
Emily’s (she/her) most cherished pastime and deepest love are video games. Her dream job is to become a video game concept artist, and she could go on for hours celebrating truly revolutionary concepts in the industry. When she’s not dissecting plots and critiquing gameplay, Emily enjoys singing and playing her ukulele as often as she can!
Jewel PossAdministrative 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.
Nat OkeyExecutive Secretary to the AVP Smith
Nat (he/him) moved to Salt Lake City after many years in the Bay Area. He’s a passionate reproductive justice and LGBTQIA+ activist and is always looking to improve the lives of those in need. Nat graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Politics and Women’s Studies and enjoys long walks in the snow. Yes, really.
Franci Taylor (Choctaw)Director of the American Indian Resource Center
As a mother of two, grandmother of five, and auntie to many, Franci (she/her) has always wanted the best for others. She has dedicated the last 25 years towards increasing access for all under-represented students and American Indian education. She’s definitely an asset to our team!
Lori BegayeStudent Staff
Lori’s (she/her) goal is to become a Physician-Scientist (M.D./Ph.D.), and she is well on her way by studying International Studies with a Global Health Emphasis! When she’s not studying, Lori enjoys hiking, working-out, and snowboarding in her free time.
Meligha GarfieldDirector of the 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!
JaTara SmithBCC & AADSI Coordinator
JaTara's (she/her) is a Texas-native with an adventurous spirit. Her life-goal is to own a non-profit aimed at secondary education and job placement. In her free time, JaTara enjoys reading and riding her horse.
Thandi MsiskaAADSI Undergrad Research Assistant
Thandi (she/her) has two main ambitions: to improve public health on a global scale and to uplift Black voices and communities. She’s found a way of contributing to both by studying Biomedical Engineering and serving as the AADSI Undergrad Research Assistant here at the U! When she has any spare time, Thandi volunteers for the International Rescue Committee and enjoys playing volleyball, eating, and dancing.
Tricia SugiyamaDirector of the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs
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! In addition, she spent 5 years at the State Office of Asian Affairs, started her own business, loves all things geek and is a dedicated fur parent.
Paul FiskTransfer Coordinator & Advisor
Our very own Super Saiyan advises current and potential transfer students from SLCC, Snow College, and the U. [Power-up Intensifies] On top of that, Paul (he/him) co-advises the transfer honor society, Tau Sigma, and AASA and assists in events, workshops, and classes related to transfer students throughout the year! [Power-up level and number of transfer students grow] It’s over 9,000!
David (Tevita) KinikiniRetention Programs Coordinator & Advisor
“Ti” (he/him) was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. His passion is education and providing support to student’s success. He is known for his smile, laughter and genuine care. If you stop by his office, he always has something he would love to share with you. If you would really like to know him, ask about his days as a student at East High School.
Anthony ShirleyScholarship & Financial Resources Coordinator
Anthony (no pronoun preference) can do and loves everything. Really. From operating as the outreach representative, taking adventures (boating, four-wheeling, hiking, etc.), teaching Navajo language and culture, adding to his 100+ Barbie doll collection (film editions only, of course!), co-advising the ITSA, tending his salsa and mint garden, and advising students like you. Aren’t you lucky?!
Giulia SotoSecond Year Program Coordinator & Advisor
Giulia (she/her) 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 a M.S.Ed in International Educational Development at UPenn.
Martha HernandezOutreach Program Coordinator & Advisor
As outreach coordinator, Martha (she/her) is here to help students connect with the great advisors and programs in CESA, and other resources on campus. 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.
Reyna VillegasEngagement & Retention Graduate Assistant
Our cute Rilakkuma graduate assistant, Reyna (she/her), is currently pursuing her Master in Social Work. She loves empowering students by providing/connecting them with resources, increasing leadership, and providing mentoring. In her spare time she likes to read manga and watch anime or Korean dramas.
Chelsea EstrellaTransfer Program Graduate Assistant
Julia KingsdaleFirst Year Experience Graduate Assistant
Julia (she/her) is excited to live in Salt Lake City after six years in NYC as an elementary school teacher and diversity trainer. She loves living in and exploring new places (she previously lived and taught in Israel, Palestine, and the Republic of Georgia), and she is looking forward to new adventures here in Utah. Julia also loves cephalopods, and she dreams about holding a real live octopus one day!
Wendy VazquezOffice Assistant
Kathryn Browning-HawesPrograms Manager - Students
Mauricio LaguanPrograms Manager - Faculty & Staff
Jen WilsonPrograms Manager - Community
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!
Guillermo CuevasAdministrative Assistant
Jude McNeilInterim Director of Inclusive Excellence
Gabriella BlanchardAssistant Director of Inclusive Excellence
Elizabeth RogersAssociate Instructor of Inclusive Excellence
Clare LemkeDirector of the LGBT Resource Center
Clare (she/her) is committed to fostering a university community that celebrates queer and trans histories, cultures, and lives. She is super qualified in this endeavor, since she earned her Ph.D. by researching the history of sexuality, LGBTQ social movements, U.S. feminist movements, and queer femininities! Clare loves to cook, shop at thrift stores and farmer’s markets, watch movies, travel, and spend time with her magnificent bulldog.
Shelby HearnCoordinator of Education & Outreach
Shelby (she/her/they/them) is from Chicago where they got their M.Ed from Loyola University Chicago. She is 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.
Bree PeacockExecutive Secretary
Bree (she/her) is the Executive Secretary here at the University of Utah LGBT Resource Center. She graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in studio art with concentrations in photography and graphic design. She is passionate about LGBTQ activism, hiking, traveling, and doing photography whenever she can.
Jessica HernandezGraduate Assistant
Jessica (she/her) is working towards a Master's of Education with an Emphasis in Student Affairs. She is passionate about social justice and equity in the U.S. and higher education, specifically involving LGBTQIA+ students, students of color, non-traditional, and undocumented student populations. In Jessica’s free time she enjoys discovering new music, finding great coffee shops and singing like no one is around.
Moani TuitupouStudent Staff
Moani (they/their) is a third-year undergraduate student studying Applied Mathematics. They love hanging out with their two dogs, learning new songs on the ukulele, playing sports, and adventuring out into the world. They want to create a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community, both in general and in STEM fields, while also connecting with a more diverse population on campus.
Comstock (she/her) is an art student studying ceramics. She pursues means of integrating the queer experience into visual artwork as part of a dedication to social justice, intersectionality, and radical means of expression. She is a believer in the power of community and transformative praxis. In her spare time, Comstock enjoys poetry, museums, and hiking.