Three Texas State representatives elected to leadership positions for statewide diversity organization

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Three Texas State representatives elected to leadership positions for statewide diversity organization

Group picture with three diversity officers at a TADOHE meeting on June 26.

Group picture with three diversity officers at a TADOHE meeting on June 26.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Medina

Group picture with three diversity officers at a TADOHE meeting on June 26.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Medina

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Medina

Group picture with three diversity officers at a TADOHE meeting on June 26.

Mayela Ramirez, News Reporter

In its first meeting after nearly five years of inactivity, the Texas chapter of the National Association of Officers in Higher Education elected three Texas State representatives to its new executive board.

Sherri Benn was elected chair, Stella Silva to vice-chair and Robert Garcia as treasurer, respectively. All three individuals hold influential positions within the Texas State campus community.

Benn is the assistant vice president for student affairs and director of Student Diversity and Inclusion. Silva is the manager of diversity initiatives and associate chief diversity officer in the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Garcia is accredited for coordinating LGBTQ+ related programs within his position at the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.

Stella Silva, the newly elected vice-chair of TADOHE, said there are great benefits of having an organization that gives professionals a space to collaborate and share information.

“It’s important for institutions in Texas, and in this case post-secondary institutions, to ensure their strategic plans include diversity initiatives,” Silva said. “It helps to ensure that equity, diversity and inclusion are prominent on our college campuses.”

TADOHE is a professional organization aiming to bring professionals who work within post-secondary education together to network, support one another and share information about the diversity initiatives and programs being implemented on college campuses across the state.

TADOHE is only one chapter of dozens across the country who are part of the national organization, NADOHE. The national organization has annual conferences where members of each chapter congregate to allocate new information and resources. States with chapters include Oklahoma, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and California, amongst several others.

According to the NADOHE official website, its mission statement is “to lead higher education toward inclusive excellence through institutional transformation.”

The election took place June 26-27 at the University of Houston Downtown and was TADOHE’s first meeting since 2015. Guest speakers included Joanne Woodard, the vice president of the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion at the University of North Texas; Dennis Kennedy, founder of the National Diversity Council; Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Juan Sanchez Munoz, former executive board member of TADOHE and current president of UHD, was also included in the list of speakers.

The organization fell dormant after the retirement of the previous executive board. Its re-establishment was urged by the remaining members who desired official representation in national meetings.

Jobi Martinez, the president’s postdoctoral fellow at UHD, was one of the individuals responsible for coordinating the June meeting and encouraging TADOHE’s revitalization.

Martinez, along with Munoz and the Director of Diversity and Equity at the College of the Mainland Lonica Bush, recognized the absence of an executive board affected the organization’s overall activity and visibility.

“It’s important to have a network of diverse leaders that support and help each other,” Martinez said. “We want to make sure we stay in line with the national expectations of the organization and have strategic leaders at the forefront who can represent us statewide.”

Texas State is not the only school with representatives in TADOHE’s new executive board. Aliyah Beavers, director of the Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, was elected secretary. Beavers said the organization offers significant opportunities for diversity officers to find allies in one another.

“We can share resources, provide support and encouragement for others,” Beavers said. “Diversity officers have a tough job of enforcing policies and making sure everyone follows them, so ensuring they feel supported is something this organization offers.”

TADOHE’s new executive board will have its first meeting August 1, in which plans for the future of the organization will be formulated.

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