Diversity Working Group

Gabriela Cázares

Mariam Lam
Comparative Literature
UC Riverside


Luis Alvarez
UC San Diego

Felice Blake
UC Santa Barbara

David Theo Goldberg

Stephanie Jones
UC Irvine

Jenny Kwon
Office of the Chancellor
UC Berkeley

Alberto Ledesma
Graduate Diversity Office
UC Berkeley

Nick Mitchell
Feminist Studies
UC Santa Cruz

Lorena Márquez
Chicana/o Studies
UC Davis

Kendy Rivera
Chicana/o Studies
UC Los Angeles

Mario Sifuentez
UC Merced

Sabrina Smith
UC Merced

Damien Sojoyner
UC Irvine

The University of California occupies a distinct place in the educational landscape. As the state of California continues to grow increasingly more diverse, what is the role of the university in reflecting these statistics with respect to faculty, staff, and the student body? How should departments, divisions, and institutions be held accountable? How can the strength of the UC-system be harnessed to best share resources and enhance partnerships necessary in creating policy changes centered on diversity?

During the 2017-2019 academic years, the Diversity Working Group strives to begin addressing these questions. Consisting of UC faculty, staff, and graduate students meeting quarterly, the group’s aim is to think more capaciously about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how they might be conceptualized and instituted differently within the university. Although a central theme in the University of California mission and reflected in the increasingly diverse demographics in the undergraduate student body, overall statistics do not capture the daily and long-term challenges encountered by underrepresented faculty and doctoral students in the humanities and liberal arts.

The group’s work culminates in a Diversity Symposium where attention focuses on the retention of underrepresented faculty and doctoral students in the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences from across the UC system. Attendees include graduate diversity officers, department chairs, faculty of various rankings, as well as doctoral students from humanities-based disciplines, in order to share strategies and resources centered on key themes including: labor politics tied to diversity work, surviving in leadership positions, and building collaborations. The group and symposium is part of the Horizons of the Humanities initiative.

Member Bios

Luis Alvarez, PhD, Associate Professor of History, UC San Diego

Luis Alvarez’s research and teaching interests include relational race and ethnicity, popular culture, and social movements in the history of Chicanas/os, Latinas/os, African Americans, and the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. He is the author of The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance during World War II (2008, University of California Press, American Crossroads Series) and co-editor of Another University is Possible (University Readers Press, 2010). His publications also include essays in Latino Studies, Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Popular Music and Society, Perspectives, French Review of American Studies, OAH Magazine of History, and Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies.

Felice Blake, PhD, Associate Professor of English, UC Santa Barbara

Felice Blake received her PhD in Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, her MA from the University of Oslo, Norway, in British and American studies, and her BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in English and Spanish. Her book titled Black Love, Black Hate (2018) examines “intraracial deceptions, cruelties, and contempt in Black literature.”

Gabriela Cázares, PhD, Postdoctoral Scholar, UCHRI

Gabriela Cázares, postdoctoral scholar at UCHRI, has spent her career as an administrator and humanities scholar focused on bridging broader campus communities. Her research examines literary and cultural narratives as platforms for analyzing violence and trauma. She has extensive experience working with underrepresented populations both within and outside of the university. Gabriela, the first in her family to attend college, received her BA in English and Ethnic Studies from UC Riverside and her MA and PhD in literature from UC San Diego. She manages multiple programs under the Horizons of the Humanities initiative. This includes overseeing diversity projects and building collaborative partnerships across multiple departments throughout the UC-system and surrounding communities.

David Goldberg, PhD, Director, UCHRI

David Theo Goldberg, PhD, is the director of UCHRI and the executive director of the Digital Media & Learning Research Hub. He holds faculty appointments as professor of comparative literature, anthropology, and criminology, law and society at UC Irvine.

Jenny Kwon, EdD, Associate Chief of Staff, Office of the Chancellor, UC Berkeley

Jenny Kwon is the Associate Chief of Staff in the Chancellor’s Office. Reporting to the Associate Chancellor, Jenny provides advisory, analytical, communication, and project management support for a wide range of projects, initiatives, committees, and working groups. She takes the lead in assigned areas for policy and program planning, development and administration, and research analysis in support of a broad array of initiatives directed by the Chancellor and Associate Chancellor.

She completed her undergraduate degree at Berkeley, and later received her Master’s in Education from Harvard, Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University and Doctorate in Education from UC Davis. Jenny has a strong affiliation with the Berkeley community; over the past ten years, she has worked as an Academic Librarian, Director of Career Development Programs, and, prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office, Assistant Director of Staff Diversity Initiatives in the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

Stephanie Jones, PhD Student, Sociology, UC Irvine

Stephanie Jones received BAs from both the University of California, Merced and Northern Illinois University. She is heavily involved in the Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE) program at UCI.

Mariam Lam, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Riverside

Mariam Lam specializes in Southeast Asian literatures and cultures, Vietnam, postcolonial criticism, diaspora and globalization, gender and sexuality, ethnic studies, literary and cultural translation, tourism, community politics, media development, educational curriculum and pedagogy, trauma, repression, psychoanalysis, minoritized aesthetic production and multiculturalism, la Francophonie, and academic disciplinarity.

Alberto Ledesma, PhD, Graduate Diversity Director, UC Berkeley

Alberto Ledesma grew up in East Oakland and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from UC Berkeley. He earned a PhD in ethnic studies in 1996 and is a former faculty member at California State University, Monterey Bay, and a lecturer in ethnic studies at UC Berkeley. He has held several staff positions at UC Berkeley during the last decade, including director of admissions at the School of Optometry, and writing program coordinator at the Student Learning Center.

As the graduate diversity director for the Arts & Humanities, Alberto helps undergraduate students develop a successful plan for gaining admission into the top-ranked graduate Arts & Humanities programs in the nation.

Lorena Márquez, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies, UC Davis

Born in Lodi, California to Mexican migrant farmworkers and raised in nearby Galt, Dr. Lorena V. Márquez has never forgotten her roots. In fact, as the fourth of seven children who grew up in poverty with hardworking parents who made countless sacrifices, she credits her humble upbringing for the ganas (drive) to pursue her academic and activist goals. As a native Spanish-speaking daughter of immigrants and first-generation college student, she knows firsthand of the challenges many Chicanx and Latinx students face inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, as the first and only member of her family to go to college, she is keenly aware of educational inequities and is committed to making college truly accessible to all—regardless of citizenship or socio-economic background.

Nick Mitchell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz

Nick Mitchell received his PhD in History of Consciousness with an emphasis in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is also an Assistant Professor in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. He is the founding coordinator of the Black Cultural Studies Research Cluster and the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Graduate Collective. His research and teaching explore the social arrangements of knowledge and the ways that knowledge and its institutional practices arrange social worlds. Currently, he is at work on a book tentatively titled Disciplinary Matters: Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Neoliberal University, placing the institutional projects of black studies and women’s studies not at the margins, but the heart of the consolidation of the post-Civil Rights U.S. university. Examining the historical emergence of black studies and women’s studies as knowledge formations in their own right, and as sites to which the university has turned in order to manage and negotiate the social upheavals consequent to the mass admission of black (and) women students in the late 1960s, Disciplinary Matters aims to rethink what it means—and where we turn—to approach the university itself as an object of knowledge.

Kendy Rivera, PhD Candidate, Chicana/o Studies, UC Los Angeles

Kendy received her M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and her B.A. in Political Science and Latin American Studies from San Diego State University. She is a Mexican/American transnational queer woman-of-color who has been leading research in the politics, history, and culture of Afro-Mexican communities. As a U.S.-born daughter of Mexicans living in Tijuana until 2010, she fails, by default, to satisfy the exclusivist ideal of a Mexican citizen and understands on a personal level how differentiated experiences as a Mexican minority, a “migrant” in the United States, and thus a second-class citizen in two distinct national contexts, politicizes individuals. She has become increasingly interested in the concept of intersectionality applied within the interdisciplinary field of Chicana/o studies – specifically how race, gender, class, and sexuality intersect and impact subjectivity.

Mario Sifuentez, PhD, Assistant Professor of History, UC Merced

The son of immigrant farm workers from Mexico, Mario Sifuentez grew up in rural Oregon. As a child, he read voraciously even while working alongside his parents in the onion fields. At an early age, he became acutely aware of injustice and it had a profound effect on him. His appetite for reading led him to open his eyes way beyond the circumstances of his life. He did well in school and had opportunities that his parents could hardly have imagined.

Dr. Sifuentez began his professional career at the University of California, Merced, in the heart of the California’s Central Valley. The first Research-One university built in the 21st century, the school is known for its diverse student body and emerging academic reputation. On campus, he sits on the Undergraduate Council, Athletic Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies working group. His current project focuses on farm workers, water rights, and food equity in the Central Valley.

Sabrina Smith, PhD, Assistant Professor of History, UC Merced

Sabrina Smith is an Assistant Professor of History and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Merced. She obtained her BA in Anthropology and Spanish from UC Santa Barbara, and her MA and PhD in History at UCLA. She studies colonial Latin American history, and specifically, the African-descended populations in Mexico. Her work broadly addresses the African Diaspora, slavery, and the construction of race and ethnicity in the Americas. Sabrina is also involved in several projects with UCHRI. She collaborated on the Humanists@Work PhD tracking initiative and is a current member of the UCHRI Diversity Working Group.

Damien Sojoyner, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UC Irvine

Damien M. Sojoyner is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He is an urban anthropologist with a disaporic framework. His courses include Urban Ethnography in the United States and Prisons and Public Education as well as Black Ethnography in the Anthropological Imagination, Prisons in the United States, and Black Political Theory. His first book, titled First Strike: Educational Enclosures of Black Los Angeles, was published by University of Minnesota Press (2016).