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Celebrating Leading Women in Higher Education

In line with Women's History Month, Diverse presents 25 innovative and dynamic women leaders who are paving the way for others in higher education. 

Ivy K. Banks

Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Xavier University (OH)

Ivy BanksAn attorney by training, Ivy Banks was appointed vice president for institutional diversity and inclusion at Xavier University in Cincinnati in December 2021. She previously served as associate vice provost for diversity and inclusion at the University of Arizona. Her leadership experience in diversity and inclusion also includes time as Northern Arizona University’s assistant vice president of inclusion and director of Multicultural and LGBTQIA Student Services and as the University of Phoenix’s director of Disability Services. She also worked as an administrator at the University of Akron School of Law, for which she coordinated student recruitment and retention programs while implementing new diversity recruitment initiatives. A proud first-generation student, Banks earned her J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law, a Master of Education in educational leadership-community college/higher education from Northern Arizona University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cleveland State University. She is an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., which is one of four historically African American sororities. She has also acquired training and certificates from Cornell University in the Faculty Institute for Diversity, along with Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), Section 504 and Decision Maker certifications.

Amy Bokker
Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach, The Ohio State University

Amy BokkerAmy Bokker was named the third head coach in the history Ohio State University’s women’s lacrosse program in June 2019. Bokker came to Ohio State from Stanford University, where she led the university to six conference titles and eight NCAA tournament appearances over 11 seasons as head coach. Bokker received her first head coaching position at American University in 1997, leading the Eagles to a school-best 8-8 record and earning the 1997 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Coach of the Year award. During her time at American, Bokker was also the assistant for field hockey. Bokker was a two-time All-CAA first-team pick and BRINE/Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-American at William and Mary, where she also played field hockey. She earned her master’s degree from George Mason University in exercise, fitness, and health promotion in 2007.

Dr. Thema Bryant
Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University; President-Elect, American Psychological Association

Thema Bryant DavisDr. Thema Bryant is a professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. In 2021, she was elected president-elect of the American Psychological Association (APA). Bryant is author of the book Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide and is published in the journals The Counseling Psychologist, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, and Trauma, Violence, and Abuse. Dr. Bryant serves on the editorial board for the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Her chapters can be found in the books The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women, The Psychology of Racism and Discrimination, The Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma, and Featuring Females: Feminist Analyses of the Media. She is a three-time graduate of Duke University.

Dr. Cheron Davis
Associate Professor of Reading Education, Florida A&M University

Dr Cheron DavisDr. Cheron H. Davis is an associate professor of reading education and former director of the Office of Student Teaching at Florida A&M University’s College of Education. Davis’s research interests include teacher preparation at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), multicultural reading pedagogy, the promotion of equity and justice through literacy, and early literacy intervention techniques. Davis earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Auburn University. She also holds an education specialist degree in elementary education and a master’s certification in school administration, both from Troy University. Davis holds a Ph.D. in reading education from Auburn University. She is the co-editor of the volume Underserved Populations at HBCUs: The Pathway to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and The Beauty and the Burden of Being a Black Professor.

Dr. La Quita Frederick
Faculty Director and Associate Professor of the Practice for the Sport Industry Management (SIM) Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies

Dr La Quita FrederickDr. La Quita D. Frederick joined Georgetown University as faculty director and associate professor of the practice for the Sport Industry Management (SIM) Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program in January 2020. Prior to joining Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, she served as director of sport management and assistant professor in the Frank J. Guarini School of Business at Saint Peter’s University and as a member of the adjunct faculty at St. John’s University Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies for the Sport Management MPS program. In addition, she previously worked as a capstone advisor with Georgetown’s SIM program. Before her pivot to academia, Frederick was an award-winning sports marketing and events management professional who held roles in collegiate athletics and professional sports. Frederick earned her doctorate in sport leadership and management from the United States Sports Academy, a M.A. in sport management from The Ohio State University, and a B.A. in communication and English from North Carolina State University. She is a proud alumna of the NCAA Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute, the NCAA/Women Leaders Institute for Administrative Advancement, and the NCAA/Women Leaders in College Sports Leadership Enhancement Institute.

Dr. Joy Gaston Gayles
President, Association for Study of Higher Education; Professor of Higher Education, North Carolina State UniversityDr Joy Gaston Gayles 2

Dr. Joy Gaston Gayles is a professor of higher education and senior advisor for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the college of education at North Carolina State University. She is also president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). In addition, Gayles is nationally recognized for her research and scholarship on intercollegiate athletics and the college athlete experience, and the experiences of women and people of color in STEM fields.  Gayles is nationally known for her work in partnership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), the largest faculty development center in the United States. Gayles is a community builder at heart and has received numerous awards for her scholarly contributions and the work she’s doing to advance equity and justice. In 2018, Gayles received the Zenobia L. Hikes Woman of Color in the Academy award in recognition of her contributions, engagement with campus communities, and record of advancing women of color in their pursuit of excellence. She is also a recipient of the Maude A. Stewart distinguished alumni award for exceptional leadership, service, and innovation in higher education from The Ohio State University. At North Carolina State University, she has been named a University Faculty Scholar and received the Chancellor’s Creating Community Award for Outstanding Faculty, two of the highest awards for university faculty at her institution. Gayles earned a Ph.D. in educational administration and higher education from The Ohio State University, a master’s in higher education administration from Auburn University, and a Bachelor of Science in adapted physical education and kinesiotherapy from Shaw University, the oldest HBCU in the south. She is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a former student-athlete.


Noël Harmon
President, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund

Dr Noël S HarmonNoël Harmon is president and executive director of Asian Pacific Islander American Scholars, formerly, the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. She joined the organization in June 2018. Harmon was previously at Say Yes to Education, where she was senior vice president for strategic partnerships. Harmon has also held positions at the Brookings Institution where she was the associate director of the Global Cities Initiatives, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase, and at CEOs for Cities, where she was the chief program officer and national director of the talent dividend. She led the National Talent Dividend Network and Prize, a joint initiative of Living Cities and CEOs for Cities, to foster postsecondary attainment through cross-sector collaboration among more than 60 network cities. She also served as a senior research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) where she managed several long-term national initiatives. Harmon spent the first decade of her career working in student affairs administration at Hofstra University, University of Michigan, Western Illinois University, and four years in Athletic Student Services at the University of Iowa. Harmon holds a Ph.D. in higher education and a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, and a M.A. in student affairs administration from Ball State University.

Saray Lopez
Director, Office of Educational Equity, University of Phoenix

Saray LopezSaray Lopez is director of the Office of Educational Equity at University of Phoenix. Prior to joining the university, Lopez had over eight years of experience in building and designing competency-based education programs in a private liberal arts college and a community college setting. Prior to transitioning to higher education, she worked in the international sector, developing partnerships between universities in Utah and South America, and lived in China while working as a buyer. Lopez has an MBA from Westminster College and a bachelor’s in marketing and French from Utah State University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership and change from Antioch University. Lopez completed the New Leadership Academy Fellowship at University of Michigan in partnership with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. She currently sits on the board of Achieving My Purpose and serves on various regional committees including Tempe Union High District Community Diversity Advisory Committee, Arizona Multicultural Education Conference Committee, and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce DATOS Research Committee. Most recently, Lopez was awarded the Inclusive Leader Award from the Diversity Leadership Alliance and was featured on the cover of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education’s 2017 Hispanic Heritage issue.

Dr. Beverly Malone
President and CEO, National League for Nursing

Malone Beverly HeadshotDr. Beverly Malone is the CEO of the National League for Nursing, past president of the American Nurses Association and the first African American general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. Malone is a vocal advocate speaking to the role that nursing plays in ensuring access to safe, quality, culturally competent care to diverse patient populations, both domestically and globally. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Cincinnati, a master’s degree in adult psychiatric nursing from Rutgers University, and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Wayne State University. Malone has worked in all aspects of her field, including policy, education, administration, and clinical practice. She was the dean of the School of Nursing at North Carolina A&T, was elected for two presidential terms at the American Nurses Association, and served as deputy assistant secretary for health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After that, she worked on President Bill Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry. Internationally, she served as the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing in the UK and the vice chair of the European Federation of Nurses Association. Additionally, she was a member of the UK delegation to the World Health Assembly, the Commonwealth Nurses Federation, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. She has been recognized with the Florence Nightingale Award, was inducted into the Home Care and Hospice Hall of Fame, holds an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University, and was inducted to the Nursing Hall of Fame at Tuskegee University.

Crystal McCormick Ware
Inaugural Chief Diversity Officer and Special Advisor to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Duquesne University

Crystal Mc CormickReturning to her alma mater, Crystal McCormick Ware was appointed Duquesne University’s inaugural chief diversity officer and senior advisor to the president for diversity, equity and inclusion in November 2021. Prior to joining Duquesne, she had served as director of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University of Pittsburgh Library System since 2004. While there, McCormick Ware developed diversity programming and training for the entire library system and led diversity efforts throughout the larger academic community. With a background in marketing and communications too, McCormick Ware served as director and field instructor with the University Community Career Development Partnership Project of Pitt’s School of Social Work and executive director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Youth Action, Inc. She is a founding member of the Greater Pittsburgh Higher Education Diversity Consortium. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duquesne as well as several certifications related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr. Cynthia McCurren
Dean & Professor, School of Nursing, University of Michigan-Flint

Dr Cynthia Mc CurrenDr. Cynthia McCurren, a nationally recognized leader in the discipline of nursing, was selected to be dean of nursing at the University of Michigan-Flint in 2020. She previously served as dean of the Kirkhof College of Nursing at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, where she led the development of academic programs including the launch of a doctor of nursing practice program. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing in 2020 elected McCurren chair-elect for two years and she will begin her tenure as board chair in 2022. AACN represents 825 public and private member schools of nursing nationwide. In addition, McCurren serves on the leadership team for the revision of the AACN Nursing Essentials Document, and she is a past president of the Michigan Association of Colleges of Nursing. For her work in creating community educational and health partnerships in West Michigan, Crain’s Detroit Business recognized her as one of the 2019 Notable Women in Education Leadership. McCurren received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of Missouri and her Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Catherine Millett
Senior Research Scientist, ETS

Dr Catherine MillettDr. Catherine Millett is a senior research scientist and strategic advisor in the Policy, Evaluation and Research Center (PERC) at ETS. Since 2003, she has led PERC’s applied research projects and conducted policy research and program evaluations. Her current research focuses on the factors that lead to postsecondary readiness, access, success, and completion for students at various stages of transition from high school through graduate school. Millett is a leading research voice on the College Promise movement in the United States which provides opportunities to help students gain access to, pay for, and graduate from college. Her current research work focuses on how college promise programs can be tailored for different student populations such as traditional-aged, adult, undocumented, veteran, incarcerated/formerly incarcerated students, first-generation students, youth in or aged-out of foster care, students with disabilities, student parents, and students needing academic support. She recently served as a visiting lecturer at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, is a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar, is a member of the Karanga Global Steering Committee and chairs the Global Access to Postsecondary Education (GAPS) Executive Board. Millett serves on the Princeton Family YMCA Board of Directors, the Greater Somerset County YMCA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls and Committee on Impact. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; her Master of Education in administration planning and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education; a graduate management certificate from Radcliffe Seminars; and her Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Carlota Ocampo
Provost, Trinity Washington University

Dr Carlota OcampoDr. Carlota Ocampo oversees academic affairs, assessment, and planning at Trinity Washington University. She earned her Ph.D. in neuropsychology from Howard University in 1997, subsequently joining Trinity as an assistant professor of psychology and in 2003 earning tenure and promotion to associate professor. She has also served as associate provost for assessment, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (directing academic advising and the first-year experience), and as chair of the psychology and human relations programs at Trinity. She is an alumna and current advisory council member of the American Psychological Association (APA) Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP) and has served on APA task forces on educational assessment and diversity. She is on the national advisory board for the Steve Fund/Equity in Mental Health Framework for Students of Color and is a volunteer peer evaluator for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Her interests encompass interactions among diversity, structural inequity, health, and education; she has numerous publications and presentations on pedagogical reform with changing student populations, racist-incident based trauma, and ethnicity, gender, and disease. She supports and directs academic grants for equity in STEM and in general education for women from underrepresented groups. She enjoys promoting student-centered academic initiatives, culturally relevant health and wellness, and life-long learning and holistic development.

Dr. Theresa A. Powell
Vice President for Student Affairs, Temple University

Dr Theresa A PowellDr. Theresa A. Powell is the vice president for student affairs at Temple University. Powell’s career accomplishments include her tenure as the first African American female president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), where she has been honored as a Pillar of the Profession, as a recipient of the Fred Turner Award for Outstanding Service to NASPA, and as a Legacy of the Profession. In addition, she was a Team Chair, a Consultant Evaluator, and a member of the Accreditation Review Council for The Higher Learning Commission for eleven years. Powell received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, her master’s degree from Texas Christian University, and her doctoral degree from The Ohio State University. Before coming to Temple, she was vice president for student affairs at Western Michigan University, where she was also a tenured professor. She has held higher education administrative roles at a wide variety of institutions, from community colleges to HBCUs to large public universities, among others. Powell is the recipient of the prestigious Maude Stewart Award, given by the faculty of the higher education graduate program at The Ohio State University to individuals who have made significant contributions to the fields of higher education and student affairs. She was also invited to be an executive-in-residence at University of Florida. She has taught, presented, written, and consulted widely on a broad range of student affairs issues, including student culture and diversity, career concerns of women administrators, student leadership, and campus programming. She is currently a Clifton Strengths Coach and a member of the Melvin C. Terrell Foundation Board. She has served in numerous roles for NASPA’s African American Men’s and Women’s Summits and spearheaded the first fundraising campaign to assist young professionals in attending the summits.

Tondra Richardson
Director, Office of Educational Equity, University of Phoenix

Tondra RichardsonTondra Richardson has over 20 years of experience in higher education. She holds a Bachelor of Business Management, a Master of Business Administration specialized in human resource management, and certificates in project management and marketing. Richardson is certified by the National Diversity Council as a diversity and inclusion practitioner and completed Cornell University’s diversity and inclusion certificate program. In addition to being a diversity and inclusion practitioner, Richardson’s areas of expertise include conflict resolution and risk management with over 15 years of experience in the Office of Dispute Management at University of Phoenix, where she worked closely with the Department of Education Ombudsman office, the Better Business Bureau, the Higher Learning Commission, and several loan guarantors. During her time with this office, she was also certified by the Association of Title IX Administrators as a Title IX Coordinator. Richardson currently sits on the Board for the Diversity Leadership Alliance, chairs the Education Committee for the Diversity Leadership Alliance, and is a member of the Arizona Multicultural Education Conference Planning Committee and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce DATOS Research Committee. Most recently, Richardson was awarded the Diversity Leadership Alliance & Arizona Society for Human Resource Management Volunteer of the Year Award. Outside of work and her dedication to family, Richardson is passionate about giving back to her community through volunteering at numerous organizations serving women, youth, and homeless populations.

Dr. Bettina C. Shuford
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr Bettina C ShufordWith more than 30 years of student affairs and higher education experience, Dr. Bettina C. Shuford has significant experience with strategic planning, policy development, assessment, and diversity initiatives. Currently the associate vice chancellor for student engagement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shuford previously served as an assistant vice president for student affairs at Bowling Green State University, where she also held positions in the Office of the Provost and the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives. Other professional experiences include positions in Residence Life, the Dean of Students Office, and Multicultural Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Shuford received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from North Carolina Central University, her master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her doctorate in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University. Her research interests, publications, and presentations have focused on functions in multicultural affairs offices, assessment of multicultural affairs programs, identity development of students of color, retention of students of color, affirmative action, and African American women in student affairs. She is an active member of NASPA and, in more recent years, has served as a member of the coordinating faculty for the long-standing NASPA Preconference Session – the African American Women’s Summit. She is also a member of the Melvin C. Terrell Educational Foundation Board and serves as the co-chair of the scholarship committee.

Tiffany Taylor Smith
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Dayton

Tiffany Taylor SmithTiffany Taylor Smith was appointed University of Dayton’s vice president for diversity and inclusion in January 2022. Taylor Smith is a noted leader in intercultural competence and joined the University of Dayton as an executive director for inclusive excellence education in 2017, before being appointed assistant vice president in 2021. A Dayton native, Taylor Smith has decades of experience leading people to build better cross-cultural relations, navigate cultural diversity, and increase cultural equity. At UD, Taylor Smith has worked to create a culture of collaboration, inclusion, and equity through efforts including faculty and staff programming, one-on-one meetings with other campus leaders, and relationship building across campus. Taylor Smith’s professional experience also includes serving as president and founder of the consulting and coaching company Culture Learning Partners; as senior manager for diversity and organizational capability for Procter & Gamble; as a research associate on multicultural issues in counseling at Fordham University; and as national presenter on topics related to cultural conversations. Taylor Smith expects to graduate from UD with a doctorate in educational leadership in December 2022.

Dr. Amanda Stent
Director, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence; Professor, Computer Science, Colby College

Amanda StentDr. Amanda Stent is the inaugural director of the Davis Institute for AI at Colby College. Previously, she held positions as the NLP Architect in the Chief Technology Office at Bloomberg; the director of research and principal research scientist at Yahoo; the principal member of technical staff at AT&T Labs — Research; and as associate professor in the Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. She holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Rochester and has authored or co-authored over 100 papers on natural language processing and is co-inventor of over 30 patents. She is one of the inaugural editors-in-chief of ACL Rolling Review, a board member of CRA-WP and an ABET program evaluator. She also currently serves on the National Academies Committee studying responsible computing research.

Sonja O. Stills
Commissioner, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Sonja O StillsSonja O. Stills has been a respected, well-known staple within the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the past 19 years, and, on Jan. 1, 2022, she took over as commissioner -- becoming the first female commissioner in the conference’s history, as well as the first female commissioner of a Division I HBCU conference. With a proven track record of accountability, efficiency, and passion, Stills has risen through the ranks within the MEAC, beginning with her tenure at the conference in October 2002. Stills has made a name for herself among her peers and other industry professionals for her never-ending dedication to the conference and its student-athletes; her ability to grow and innovate; as well as her organization, team-first mentality, and goal-achieving initiative. In January 2021, Stills was promoted to chief of staff/chief operating officer of MEAC. In her new role, she ensures that the commissioner is carrying out the strategic objectives of the council of chief executive officers and the delegate assembly. Stills remains the lead on all hiring; strategic and long-range planning; re-branding and marketing; NCAA Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL); conference budget; the renewal of the MEAC Basketball Tournament with the City of Norfolk; and all special events and activities. Stills also serves as the Director of Esports, a new, cutting-edge initiative that began in the summer of 2020, as the conference and world continued to deal with the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. She took charge in this new position, serving as the key driver in developing regulations for the MEAC Esports Community and developing the MEAC’s esports strategy. Her goal is to enhance awareness of the MEAC’s esports initiative by working with industry business leaders to encourage growth. A 1993 graduate of Old Dominion University, Stills earned her bachelor’s degree in human services counseling. While a student, she earned the Virginia Campus Outreach Opportunity League (VA COOL) Catalyst Award for creating a week-long community outreach program for the university. In addition, she served on the university’s President’s Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity. In 1996, she received a Master of Arts in counseling (College Student Work Personnel) from Hampton University. She would later go on to graduate from the Sports Management Institute in 2002 and the NACWAA/HERS Institute for Administrative Advancement in 2008.

Dr. Carroll Ann Trotman
Dean, College of Dentistry, The Ohio State University

Dr Carroll Ann TrotmanDr. Carroll Ann Trotman is the dean of the College of Dentistry at The Ohio State University. She joined OSU from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she was associate dean for faculty development and chair of the Department of Orthodontics. Trotman has deep experience as an educator, clinician, researcher, and academic leader focused on integrating clinical training, patient care, didactic education, and research. Throughout her career, she has also demonstrated her commitment to faculty development and diversity and inclusion. Before joining Tufts, Trotman was a professor and associate dean for academic and student affairs at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Previously, she taught at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, serving as interim associate dean for academic affairs and then assistant dean for graduate education. She began her teaching career at the University of Michigan as an assistant professor of orthodontics. Trotman is a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, a fellow of the American College of Dentists and a fellow of the American Council on Education. She has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and edited or contributed to nine books. Trotman received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree from University of Dundee, Scotland, and her orthodontic certificate and MA in oral biology from Columbia University. She completed a fellowship in craniofacial anomalies at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She earned an MS in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Marissa Vasquez
Assistant Professor & Associate Director, Community College Equity Assessment Lab, San Diego State University

Marissa VasquezDr. Marissa C. Vasquez is an assistant professor of postsecondary educational leadership and the associate director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University (SDSU). Her work with CCEAL involves leading multiple projects that involve institutional needs assessments for disproportionately impacted students in community colleges. Broadly, her research seeks to better understand the experiences, factors, and conditions that facilitate success among historically marginalized and underserved students, particularly community college and transfer students. Her research agenda includes two strands: (1) using anti-deficit perspectives to understand the pre/post transitional experiences of community college transfer students to four-year institutions and (2) exploring the role of community colleges in fostering welcoming and inclusive campus environments for disproportionately impacted students. Her work has been published in the Community College Journal of Research & Practice; Community College Review; Culture, Society, & Masculinities; and the International Journal of Leadership in Education. Prior to joining the faculty at SDSU, Vasquez worked as a student affairs educator in counseling, assessment, and outreach. She also worked as a program development associate at the Parent Institute for Quality Education, a national organization aimed at empowering parents to engage with schools and districts to transform educational outcomes for children and families. Born and raised in South Bay San Diego, Vasquez has remained committed to uplifting her community. She serves on the scholarship committee for MANA de San Diego, a local non-profit organization that empowers and supports Latinas through education. Since 2005, she’s served as a mentor for the Puente Project at Southwestern College, a program that she was once a part of as a community college student. As a UC Berkeley alum, she is the founder and co-chair of the UC Berkeley Chicanx/Latinx Alumni Association in San Diego. Vasquez also established the Vasquez Scholarship for Advancing Latinx Student Success at SDSU. The scholarship supports doctoral students conducting research on Latina/o/x community college and transfer students. Vasquez earned an associate degree from Southwestern College; a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s degree in counseling with a specialization in college counseling and student development from the University of San Diego; and a doctorate in educational leadership from San Diego State University.

Dr. Roberta Waite
Associate Dean of Community-Centered Health & Wellness and Academic Integration, Drexel University

Dr Roberta WaiteDr. Roberta Waite is a tenured professor in doctoral nursing and associate dean of Community-Centered Health & Wellness and Academic Integration at Drexel University. Waite also serves as the executive director of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University, operated in partnership with Family Practice and Counseling Network. Waite created the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program, an interdisciplinary program for students in the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the School of Public Health, focusing on leadership development while concurrently fostering critical consciousness using a social justice lens. Waite’s scholarship and research centers on behavioral health, structural influencers of health and racial justice. Waite serves as a board director for corporate Trinity Health (a leading, national, multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery system in 22 states with 93 hospitals and 120 continuing care locations including home care, hospice, PACE, and senior living facilities), the American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders and Family Process Institute. She recently served as an expert for Governor Tom Wolf’s Think Tank to develop guidelines and benchmarks for a Trauma Informed Commonwealth of PA. Currently, she is on the leadership team of Healing-Empowerment-Advocacy-Learning-Prevention-Action Trauma-Informed Pennsylvania co-chairing the Racial and Communal Trauma Prevention Action Team. She is also on the Advisory Group for COACH (Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health), a cross-sector collaborative that brings together health systems and community-based organizations to address community health needs in Greater Philadelphia. Effective July 1, she will be the next dean of Georgetown University’s School of Nursing.

Dr. Lori S. White
President, DePauw University

Dr Lori S White1Dr. Lori S. White was appointed the 21st president of DePauw University on March 4, 2020, and began her term on July 1, 2020. Most recently, she was the vice chancellor for student affairs and a professor of practice at Washington University in St. Louis. At DePauw, she also holds the rank of professor of education. She is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as DePauw’s president. White has spent 40 years working in higher education. Prior to her arrival at Washington University, she served as the vice president for student affairs and clinical professor of education at Southern Methodist University and has also worked at the University of Southern California; Stanford, Georgetown, and San Diego State universities; and the University of California, Irvine. Active nationally in several higher education organizations, Dr. White has served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Sustainability in Higher Education and for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Foundation (chair, 2016-2017); in 2009 she was named a Pillar of the Profession by NASPA. She currently serves on the Association of Governing Board’s Council of Presidents and is a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Academic Leaders Task Force on Campus Free Expression. Dr. White is one of five founding college Presidents of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA). Born and raised in San Francisco, White earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in education administration and policy analysis, with emphasis in higher education. She also participated in Harvard University’s Management and Leadership in Education Program.

Dr. Melva K. Williams
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Southern University at Shreveport

Dr Melva Williams 2For eighteen years Dr. Melva Williams has worked in higher education. Currently, she is the vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at Southern University at Shreveport where she has achieved great success. She’s credited with leading the university to several historic enrollments, increased retention rates, and secured funding for three new campus buildings. Williams formerly worked in Academic Affairs in senior leadership as the associate dean of the College at Centenary College of Louisiana. She also served in higher education administration at Grambling State University and the Southern University System where she was the first chief of staff managing five campuses and over 15,000 students within the state of Louisiana. Also while at the Southern University System, she held the role of asssistant vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. She was selected in 2016 to participate in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program that develops national service projects. Through that program she was able to study leadership with three former American Presidents (President George H. W. Bush, President William J. Clinton, and President George W. Bush). She is also the 2018 recipient of the ATHENA award which is the highest honor in the state for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. Williams is also a board trustee for Christus Schumpert Hospital, Robinson Film Center, Caddo Council on Aging, YWCA, board president for Extensions of Excellence, founding board member and board president of the Shreveport Charter Foundation (SCF) that built two of the first new schools, Magnolia School of Excellence and Magnolia High School in Caddo Parish in over 30 years. Her commitment to higher education is well regarded within the United States as she is the co-founder of the Higher Education Leadership Foundation ( that provides bold, engaging, and innovative learning and mentoring opportunities for current and aspiring leaders of HBCUs. To date, the Higher Education Leadership Foundation has trained over 400 HBCU leaders across the country.

Dr. Daria J. Willis 
President, Howard Community College                               

Dr Daria J WillisDr. Daria Willis was appointed the fifth president of Howard Community College in November 2021 and began her tenure in January 2022, becoming the first African American to lead the college in its 51-year history. Previously, Willis served as president of Everett Community College in Washington. She currently sits on the advisory board for the Phi Theta Kappa international college honor society. She also serves on the American Association of Community Colleges’ Commission on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. She was recently named a 2021 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow, dedicated to empowering children and families across the country. Prior to her presidency, Willis was the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Onondaga Community College, which is one of the community colleges of the State University of New York. Other previous leadership positions include the dean of academic studies at Lee College in Baytown, Texas; executive dean of centers/dean of instruction at the Lone Star College-North Harris Greenspoint Center and Victory Center; and faculty senate president and department chair of social and behavioral sciences and kinesiology at Lone Star College-University Park Campus in Texas. Willis began her career in academia as an adjunct faculty member in history at Tallahassee Community College and later as an adjunct faculty member in history at Florida A&M University. Willis earned her Ph.D. in history from Florida State University. She holds a master’s degree in history and a bachelor’s degree in history education from Florida A&M University, a historically Black college.

This article originally appeared in the March 3, 2022 edition of Diverse. Read it here.

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