Board Candidates

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President-Elect of the Board of Directors Candidates

Charla Lambert

Title: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer
Institution/Company: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Ethnicity/Race: Alaska Native (Haida & Tsimshian)
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years

Watch-Video

Personal Statement

My experience with SACNAS began as a graduate student. Together with friends and fellow students, we started the first SACNAS student chapter at the University of Washington in 2007, a chapter that is still active today. I am an alum of the Linton-Poodry Summer Leadership Institute (2009) and the SACNAS Advanced Leadership Institute (2018), and I have actively participated in SACNAS programs, governance, and conferences for the past fifteen years. I previously served on the SACNAS Board of Directors for four years (2012-2015) and was Secretary for two (2014-2015). During that period of service, I was a member of the Chapters Subcommittee (2012-2014) and both the By-Laws and Strategic Planning Task Forces (2015); I also served on more recent By-Laws and Strategic Planning Task Forces (2020) to provide continuity and historical perspectives. Finally, I was a member of the Board Nominations Subcommittee for the past three election cycles (2018-2020). After a six-year break from the Board of Directors, I’m motivated to run again—and for the Presidency specifically—because of the current moment we find ourselves in. The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests across the country last year catalyzed demands for change in many U.S. systems, including systems underlying academia and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics). The demands themselves aren’t new of course; what’s different is the willingness of institutions to listen and implement change on a large scale. SACNAS is in a unique position to seize this moment and help steer systemic change in academia because so many SACNistas are already doing the work within their own institutions. Moreover, I believe SACNAS can and should contribute to this national conversation while maintaining the professional development and community programs it is known for, expanding access to those programs, and keeping them affordable for its members.To bring our full selves to science and be valued for it, structural change in U.S. colleges and universities must occur. Explicit and implicit biases must be removed from processes that determine success in science, the reward systems in academic careers must be assessed with a DEI lens, and science education itself must be decolonized so Indigenous ways of knowing are recognized and respected. It’s slow, incremental work, but it’s necessary for changing the culture of science so we can finally achieve true diversity in STEM. As an organization, SACNAS has given a lot to me professionally and personally, and I would be honored to give back by representing and serving its membership on the Board of Directors.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

My experience with STEM diversity and inclusion began as a graduate student in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington (UW). Together with friends and fellow students, we started the first SACNAS student chapter at the UW (2007), which is still active today. Among other activities, the chapter helped produce the coordinated recruitment effort among UW departments that’s seen now in SACNAS exhibit halls. After graduating, I was an IRACDA postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania (2008-2011), where I conducted research in genetics and taught at the Camden campus of Rutgers University. IRACDA is an NIH postdoctoral program that combines research with intensive training in inclusive pedagogy and teaching opportunities at minority serving institutions like Rutgers-Camden. I am an alum of the Linton-Poodry Summer Leadership Institute (2009) and the SACNAS Advanced Leadership Institute (2018), and I have actively participated in SACNAS programs, governance, and conferences for the past fifteen years. My SACNAS activities at the UW influenced my career trajectory so strongly that today, I am the inaugural Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Officer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), a biomedical research institute in New York. Since 2019, I’ve been building a DEI Office from the ground up that serves everyone at CSHL with programs and policies designed to ensure the working environment is accessible, equitable, inclusive, and just. My scientific career has always had DEI at its core, from diversity outreach and recruitment as a trainee to the institutional and structural change I work on now.

Leadership Style

My leadership style is relatively quiet. I’m a listener, consensus builder, translator, synthesizer, and pragmatic problem solver. I never pictured myself as a leader in the traditionally inspirational “grand speech-making” sense. Rather, I can see now that my style has been shaped by the fact that I’ve continually walked in the space between worlds: Between the Pacific Northwest and American Southeast when it comes to my family; between computational science and bench science when it comes to my scientific training; and most recently, between biological research and the social science that underpins DEI work. A recent example that illustrates my approach involves faculty development at CSHL. Through a series of very difficult but illuminating conversations, I learned how frustrated many of our early-career faculty were with DEI. Their frustration stemmed from either not fully understanding why changes are needed in otherwise comfortable and long-standing processes, or from understanding the issues very well but being impatient with slow rates of change. Following these conversations, I’ve implemented two targeted initiatives designed to 1) help educate those new to DEI by synthesizing the social science underlying the field in ways that are immediately relevant to biomedical researchers, and 2) interact more regularly with those who are already DEI champions and advocates so they’re better apprised of progress. This project is still in its early stages; the goals are to meet faculty wherever they are, communicate with them regularly, and keep them engaged so they, their trainees, and CSHL all ultimately benefit.

Fundraising Experience

My fundraising experience lies primarily in science education grants through both private foundations and federal funding agencies such as the NIH and National Science Foundation (NSF). During the ten years I was a program developer in the CSHL Meetings & Courses division, I was principal or co-principal investigator on grants for a wide variety of programs: both single- and multi-year, single and recurring programs, and scientific as well as professional development offerings. Details are in my curriculum vitae. I also worked with a number of private foundations on programs they funded that I helped manage for CSHL, including HHMI, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, and American Express Philanthropy. For SACNAS, I have long been a proponent of establishing an endowment and maintaining it in part via periodic capital campaigns, as that will complement and help diversify and stabilize the current revenue streams from grant and program income.

Board Leadership

A member of the SACNAS Board of Directors must, first and foremost, be focused on responsible governance and fiscal management for the Society. This includes understanding and periodically reviewing the SACNAS Mission, Vision, strategic goals, and budget, and ensuring all activities and programs are in service to the Mission and run in financially responsible ways. Perhaps just as importantly, this core responsibility of a Board member involves listening to, working with, and supporting the Executive Director to ensure the SACNAS staff has the resources they need to operationalize goals laid out in the Strategic Plan. The rationale behind this is simple: SACNAS cannot effectively serve its membership or deliver its programs and services if it’s not governed well, or if the staff do not feel empowered and supported.

Organizational Governance

As CSHL’s DEI Officer, I form, charge, and oversee a number of working groups that implement the initiatives prioritized by both my Office and CSHL’s leadership. These include standing, working committees as well as temporary task forces in areas such as faculty hiring, faculty development, communications, campus imagery, and cultural competency. I serve as a member on some of these committees, though I mainly work with the designated chairs to ensure progress is made toward the charged goals. My approach is rooted in the idea that DEI must be integrated into everyone’s job, not siloed into one office or person. I therefore focus on securing what the chairs need in terms of guidance, training, resources, and administrative or communications support, so they themselves feel empowered to do the work. My experience with organizational governance outside my own institution is primarily with SACNAS. I previously served on the SACNAS Board of Directors for four years (2012-2015) and served on the Executive Committee as Secretary for two of those years (2014-2015). During that period of service, I was a member of the Chapters Subcommittee (2012-2014) and both the By-Laws and Strategic Planning Task Forces (2015); I have also served on more recent By-Laws and Strategic Planning Task Forces (both 2020) to provide continuity and historical perspectives. Finally, I have been a member of the Board Nominations Subcommittee for the past three election cycles (2018-2021).

National Engagement

Prior to starting CSHL’s DEI Office, I was a program developer in the CSHL Meetings & Courses division. In that capacity, I worked with the leadership and staff at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) on a variety of projects related to diversity and inclusion. One such project was a partnership where ASCB members from groups historically minoritized in biology were supported to attend conferences or courses at CSHL and similar institutions. I’ve also worked with various federal and private funding agencies as a grantee (described elsewhere). Over the past few years, I have served on review committees for education grant mechanisms through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). As I am a relatively new diversity officer in academia, I am also a recent member of the National Organization of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). This society has a vision of leading “higher education toward inclusive excellence through institutional transformation” and is one of the communities I turn to for DEI-related strategies and approaches.

General Board Member Candidates

Jani C. Ingram

Title: Regents’ Professor
Institution/Company: Northern Arizona University
Ethnicity/Race: American Indian/Native American (Navajo)
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Professional member; 7 or more years

Watch-Video-1

Personal Statement

My passion is to translate environmental chemistry research to impact the health of at risk populations. I am a trained analytical chemist who works across disciplinary boundaries to provide solutions to complex environmental health issues. I am particularly interested in working with Native American communities; as a member of the Navajo Nation (born to the Náneesht’ ézhi clan and for the Kin ł ichii’nii clan), I have unique insights from both Indigenous and Scientific perspectives. A critical aspect of my research is to foster collaborations with the Native American communities and their leaders to build trust and gain insights into their health concerns. I am fortunate to work with a diverse group of students in my research. This diversity represents students with different ethnic backgrounds, academic disciplines, and sexual orientations as well as where they are in their academic careers (middle school to graduate students). It is a privilege to provide training, guidance, and encouragement to my students whether it is in the laboratory doing research or the classroom as their instructor. If elected to the SACNAS board, I would bring a passion for improving opportunities and professional development for students and young professionals to further their careers in STEM.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

I have been a member and attended SACNAS meetings with my students since 2003. I have mentored over 100 students from very diverse backgrounds with the majority of the students with Native American heritage in my lab at Northern Arizona University (NAU). I have directed programs at my institution that have focused on developing students from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical and STEM disciplines. Specifically, I am the Director of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program (2012 to present), the Principal Investigator of the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention (2009 to 2016), and the Director of the Native American Undergraduate Research Program at NAU (2007 to 2014). I am currently a Diversity Fellow at my institution, NAU (2020 to present). I am a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (2019 to present). I was the recipient of the American Chemical Society 2018 Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences. I have provided STEM activities to a variety of K-12 students including groups from tribal schools.

Leadership Style

In 2016, I became the principal investigator of the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention (NACP). NACP is funded by the National Cancer Institute and is a partnership between a minority serving institution and a comprehensive cancer center. The Partnership has cancer-related research projects and cores that focus on cancer health disparities in Native American populations. I lead the efforts at the minority serving institution and work with faculty, students, staff, funding officers, and tribal communities. Before taking this position, I attended the NAU Leadership Academy and the SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute.

Fundraising Experience

I have limited experience in fundraising. I have mainly provided lab tours and presentations for my institutions to assist in their fundraising efforts.

Board Leadership

I believe that the core responsibility of SACNAS board members is to make strives to improve the SACNAS mission of assisting in the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American students and professionals in STEM disciplines. It is important for SACNAS board members to bring both their experiences and expertise to the organization, but also they should have forward thinking visions for how to continuously improve programming to meet the mission goals.

Organizational Governance

I have had minimal experience in organizational governance. I have served on institutional committees at NAU and Department of Energy laboratories.

National Engagement

Nationally, I have been an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) since I was an undergraduate in 1985. I have been involved with local ACS chapter activities in Idaho , New Mexico, and Arizona. I began serving on the national ACS Committee for Professional Training (CPT) as an associate member in 2020. I am part of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect (DEIR) subcommittee of CPT. In summer 2020, I organized a virtual meeting of chemistry department chairs to discuss issues on DEIR.

Dena Smith-Nufio

Title: Program Director
Institution/Company: National Science Foundation
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years

Watch-Video-2

Personal Statement

I’m a 3rd generation Chicana. My pronouns are she/her. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley of California. I was the first to graduate from college, to get an advanced degree, and the only one to pursue a STEM career. SACNAS was a guiding light for me through every stage of my career, from my undergraduate days to my mid-career shift out of academia and into the government. I would like to be a member of the board because I believe that the position would provide an opportunity for me to continue work that I am passionate about, in an organization that I truly believe in. I believe that I would bring my background in the geological and biological sciences to the board as I am a geoscientist that uses the fossil record to study insect evolution and ecology. I bring experience as a tenured faculty member from an R1 institution, a museum curator, an executive director of a grant-funded consortium based at a large professional scientific society and now as a program director at a mid-sized federal agency. These positions have allowed me to gain valuable leadership experience in interdisciplinary research, innovative teaching and mentoring approaches, strategic planning and management, science policy, science communication, federal grants programs and fundraising. I believe that I have the experience, enthusiasm and leadership skills needed to be a highly effective SACNAS board member and hope that I have the opportunity to serve in this important role.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

I first started participating in SACNAS in the early 1990s, when I was an undergraduate student at UC Santa Cruz. The professional development workshops and exhibit booths were where I learned about research internships, applying to graduate school, and how to navigate a STEM career. I continued to attend SACNAS when I was a PhD student and when I became a faculty member, I served as one of the faculty liaisons for our CU Boulder chapter. I have continued my participation in the annual meeting, including “Conversations with Scientists” (sometimes serving as convener), several professional development and scientific workshops (as facilitator and speaker), mentoring events (one on one, GeoFutures and informal mentoring) and student poster judging (in several discipline areas). I was participated in the inaugural Leadership Institute in 2009 and served on the Leadership Task force from 2009-2010 and the SLI Selection Committee in 2010. I regularly attend the LP-SLI networking event in Washington DC as an alum and a current program director at the National Science Foundation. In addition to my participation in SACNAS, I bring a wealth of experience in STEM-related diversity and inclusion activities and my strong commitment can be seen through my many years of experience and leadership in the training/mentorship of historically underrepresented STEM scientists at all levels. I have worked to change culture and ensure safe and inclusive spaces in my leadership roles with professional societies, and I am working to transform culture, policy and best practices at the National Science Foundation.

Leadership Style

I believe that an effective leader proactively works to serve the needs of their team and I believe strongly in shared governance. I have worked hard in my capacity as an Executive Director, Acting Section Head and Acting Division Director to ensure that I am leading happy and high performing groups. For me, leading people means being aware of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, interpersonal communication styles and longer-term goals. To do this effectively, requires listening and looking for solutions that allow the team to meet the organization’s mission while respecting the voices, talents and growth trajectories of the team members. I believe strongly that people are our greatest assets and that building strong teams are the best way to tackle big challenges. I have an extensive record of building coalitions through my participation in numerous working groups and committees, professional society service, within and across scientific directorates at the National Science Foundation and in partnership with other agencies and professional organizations. This work has included building a multi-institution coalition of scientific researchers and museum and informatics specialists to accomplish common digitization goals through a large NSF-funded project, to developing a series of strategic research and education plans for the deep-time science community through workshops that I facilitated as part of my work with the STEPPE coordinating office, to my current work to transform culture, change policy and develop new best practices in Belonging, Accessibility, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the National Science Foundation.

Fundraising Experience

I have experience in a variety of fundraising settings. I have worked in smaller academic settings with alumni and private donor events, to medium-large sized fundraising within the non-profit sector, with professional societies and museums which included grant writing, membership events, fundraising challenges/drives, donor gifting (including estate planning) and corporate sponsorship. Much of my experience is in grantsmanship, from both the perspective of PI and now as Program Director at the National Science Foundation. This is another area in which I think I have strong knowledge that I can bring to the SACNAS board. I think there are many great opportunities to develop partnerships with other organizations for both proposal development and sharing of resources. There are several scientific organizations that would like to focus programs on education and racial equity, and they see SACNAS as the leader and want to know how to partner. With the facilitation of SACNAS member gifting there are even more opportunities to engage in relationship building and philanthropy within our own membership.

Board Leadership

I believe that it is the board’s responsibility to serve and represent the membership of SACNAS and enable SACNAS to fulfil its core mission of advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in STEM. I think we need to work to innovate and grow SACNAS to fit the of needs of members today and ensure sustainability for SACNAS into the future. Board members should be proactive representatives of the membership that elects them, providing strategic vision and guidance to the SACNAS Executive Director. When I was served as an Executive Director, I had the opportunity to work with a really outstanding board of directors. Their ideas and engagement were crucial to the success of our consortium. Having a strong board with good communication with the ED really allows an organization to innovate and grow. I have also seen non-ideal situations where there was poor communication between the ED and the board and those groups really struggled. It’s so important to remember that everyone is on the same team, and that the organization’s success is at the heart of everyone’s work. It has been my experience that sometimes reminders are needed.

Organizational Governance

I have strong experience in governance and strategic planning, from my work as a museum curator, faculty member and principal investigator at the University of Colorado (2000-2016), to my role as the Executive Director of the STEPPE coordinating office (2014-2016) where I facilitated numerous visioning sessions with my scientific advisory board and with members of the broader Earth Sciences community, to my more recent work at the National Science Foundation where I have served in the roles of lead Program Officer (2016-present), Acting Section Head of Disciplinary Programs in the Earth Sciences (2019-2020) and Acting Division Director (2020), as well as service on a number of agency-wide working groups. These experiences have given me great experience in several different types of organizations during my career, first as a faculty curator at an R1 University that was ranked among the lowest in state educational support and therefore was highly dependent on extramural grants, then as an Executive Director working on soft money in a non-profit professional scientific society, and then at a federal agency during a time of nearly continuous budget uncertainty. Not only have I learned how these very different types of organizations function, but these experiences have also taught me how to prioritize and seek creative solutions in situations where stretched and uncertain budgets were the norm. I have learned to be able to understand risks and opportunities and prioritize programming that maintains an organization’s mission.

National Engagement

I have an extensive record of professional service, which has been largely focused on serving my primary discipline areas and on building a more diverse STEM workforce. I will focus on my work with the Paleontological Society where I currently serve in the position of Chair of the Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (https://www.paleosoc.org/diversity-and-inclusion) and Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee (https://www.paleosoc.org/ethics). The DEI committee was formed in 2018 and in the short time since its inception we have worked to develop a new Policy on Non-Discrimination and Member Code of Conduct, and Ethics committee to investigate and recommend actions in response to alleged violations of this code, conducted trainings and formed bystander intervention teams for our conferences and events, developed a DEI social media communications guide, produced a monthly webinar series for student and early career members, revised the society’s demographic form to be more inclusive, drafted anti-racism statements and provided resources, developed travel grant programs for members to be able to attend SACNAS, National Association of Black Geoscientists (NABG) and GSA annual meetings, and partnering with several geoscience professional societies to develop professional development workshops and information sessions at the annual meetings of AISES, NABG and SACNAS, for the common goal of building and supporting a more diverse geoscience workforce. These are significant accomplishments, especially considering that we are working to bring cultural change to some very old-school, scientific organizations (also see Bernard, Rachel E.; Cooperdock, Emily H. G

Alberto "Beto" Vasquez

Title: Academic Coordinator
Institution/Company: UC San Diego Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence (CREATE)
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Professional member; 3-6 years

Watch-Video-3

Personal Statement

I consider myself a dedicated, flexible and passionate individual who is well qualified to serve on the SACNAS Board of Directors and intimately knows the importance of SACNAS’ role. I can confidently assume leadership roles, but am equally a great team player. I am mission-orientated and vision-driven. I am committed to educational advocacy and share the SACNAS’ mission “to foster the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM”. My teamwork capability and leadership style is direct and decisive, yet flexible in responding to constantly changing demands. I feel creativity and innovation are excellent strategies to advance the mission of SACNAS, impact student lives, and change the face of STEM. My outreach experience has allowed me the opportunity to interact with individuals from varying backgrounds. I understand the value of team morale and commitment as well as the difference between intentions and actions –furthermore, the importance of remaining mission-centered. I understand that when working with the general public, it is important to be culturally sensitive and represent the organization’s interests accordingly. Also, that community engagement often requires me to leverage cultural or social capital in order to organize and efficiently execute goals. My continued involvement as a board member with various non-profit organizations and as a Commissioner for the City of San Diego, provides roles in which I foster leadership and direction of the organization by facilitating strategic planning, developing future projections/goals and coordinating efforts.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

SACNAS was life-changing for me. As such, I like to make sure the message is conveyed to younger generations of aspiring scientists. STEM diversity has become a driving passion of mine, personally and professionally. Through my work in community college, I have led several efforts promoting STEM diversity and SACNAS. As an example, through partnerships with campus groups like MESA, equity initiatives and student services, I have led two STEM equity initiatives that provided access to the SACNAS members and a conference in an effort to promote student sense of belonging, validation in the sciences. As a result of these efforts, the San Diego City College SACNAS Chapter was born and has been a strong chapter since. As a founding adviser (now co-adviser), I am proud to see that this community college chapter has served as a model chapter for others through their selfless and consistent outreach. Such efforts led to their 2019 distinction as chapter of the year and their 2017 chapter recognition for outreach and fundraising. Since then, this chapter under my leadership has leveraged the necessary resources for conference travel. Additional STEM diversity-related events include the Future Faces of STEM event, a networking event bringing together URM students, staff, faculty and industry partners from local institutions. Another signature event was the Barrio Logan Science & Art Expo, a collaboration between community, industry and educational partners that brought together science, art, and culture. While these events focused on cultural relevance and community-building, they also served as opportunities for SACNAS members and undergraduates to serve the community.

Leadership Style

Through my current role as the Community Outreach & Engagement manager for the Center on Educational Equity, Assessment & Teaching Excellence (CREATE) at UC San Diego, I spearhead K-20 efforts to increase access, exposure and diversity in STEM. Through this capacity, I lead many efforts that provide STEM education outreach to underserved populations – much of which is powered by URM students in STEM in an effort to empower them and simultaneously encourage K-12 students. When conducting these efforts I pair the demographic being served with an instructor that looks like the students we are serving. One example is our current Cells 2 Cells Program, which works with PhD students to bring science lessons to students in a correctional facility. This program allows for future faculty and research members to develop science communication, socio-cultural awareness, and awareness of varying student needs. A second example is the annual Future Faces of STEM (FFOS) event which focuses on building a rich network of regional STEM program providers, college advisors, and mentors to support attending high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students from mainly Latinx and Black backgrounds. A third example is the Technology Training Institute (a week-long training on 3D printers, arduino programming, and other tech training for community college students). I am constantly identifying ways to cultivate inter/intra-institutional relationships to develop new opportunities for URM and community college students. I also ensure equitable opportunities and support for the REU programs (applicants/participants) I manage. I pride myself on balancing STEM opportunities with true equity for students.

Fundraising Experience

I have a range of experience with fundraising and advancement efforts, through institutional, community and political campaigning efforts. As a PTA President for my children’s school we have conducted several fundraising functions (under my leadership) which have led to the accumulation of over $20,000 which were used to support teacher efforts and STEM-focused activities. As President of the Nosotros Alumni Association, I have raised close to $15,000 annually for the Community Graduation Celebration, an event celebrating the educational milestones of underrepresented students – now going on its sixth year. As an employee of the Center for research on Educational Equity, Assessment & teaching Excellence (CREATE), I have set a personal goal to raise $250,000 to support my STEM education community outreach efforts (which I have already met this year). In addition to financial fundraising I have also worked closely with industry and community partners to leverage in-kind donations when possible (i.e., large events). As an example, earlier this year I worked with local community and property management groups to secure $20,000 for a science, art and culture event. In 2018, I managed to secure airline tickets from an airline to take 12 community college students to the 2018 SACNAS Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Board Leadership

I believe that a core responsibility of a board member is to support the overall vision of the organization by employing mission-centered approaches. Effective board members are good stewards of institutional capital (financial, social and cultural) and represent the interests of the organization and the constituency it serves.I currently serve as a commissioner with the City of San Diego, as well as a board member for STEM, civic engagement and philanthropic organizations.

Organizational Governance

I created, designed, secured funding for and led the Future Faces of STEM (FFOS) annual event — a multi-institutional event that has — at its heart — the purpose of building a rich network of STEM program providers, college advisors, and mentors to support attending high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students from mainly Latinx and Black backgrounds. Held in person in 2019 and virtually in 2020, Future Faces of STEM is an event expressly designed to combat feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome while filling gaps in students’ knowledge about STEM pathways. Since its inception in 2018, this effort, led by three local universities and a 2-yr college, has hosted close to 600 attendees collectively; it now annually brings together nearly 25 higher education, industry and community organizations.

National Engagement

I am the youngest of four children born to Mexican parents. Once a high school dropout, I have overcome homelessness, incarceration and addiction and managed to change the trajectory of my life through education. I am active in the community and have assisted with designing programs and events (for system-impacted individuals and underrepresented groups in STEM). Within the community, I am involved with grant selection committees, various board positions with local non-profits and as a community organizer work closely with probation, parole and a myriad of other agencies. I currently serve as President for the Nostros Alumni Association (a non-profit committed to assisting men in recovery), Founder/Co-advisor of San Diego City College and UCSD SACNAS Chapters (organizations committed to increasing diversity in STEM) & UC-wide Underground Scholars & Urban Scholars Union (education-based support groups for ex-incarcerated students). I have worked in the non-profit sector, local government and higher education; and have been instrumental in successfully implementing programs supporting underserved communities, disenfranchised populations and students of color. I actively use my lived and professional experience to serve as a motivational speaker, class instructor, professional development facilitator, author and director of equity grants – locally, nationally and internationally. Most recently, as co-PI for a federal Department of Defense grant, I have served as a lead for one of three hubs across the nation working to align federal goals with local partners, leveraging the necessary resources and capital to support national partners (especially in the recent year – with most interactions being virtual). Virtual engagement has furthered national reach.

Ruben Michael Ceballos

Title: Assistant Professor of Biology/Director UA Host-Virus Evolutionary Dynamics institute (HVEDI)/Director – Minority Institution Research Collaborative (MIRC)
Institution/Company: University of Arkansas
Ethnicity/Race: Other; Odami/Tepehuano, White, Chicano
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years

Watch-Video-4

Personal Statement

SACNAS sent out emails requesting nominations for the SACNAS Board of Directors. A few colleagues in academia suggested that I consider serving. I expressed a willingness to do so. I have 20+ years of experience in community/tribal colleges, predominantly undergraduate institutions, and research universities as a master’s prepared science instructor and, later, a doctorate-prepared university faculty-scientist. Throughout my career, I have promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on increasing the number of individuals from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in science degree programs and careers. Apart from serving at a variety of institution types, I have completed both leadership and technical training including the Quality Education for Minorities Network Native American Leadership Development Initiative (leadership) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute SEA-PHAGES program (technical). I have an expansive funding portfolio and excel at proposal preparation and grants management. In terms of changes in current SACNAS activities, a major issue is always having to choose between attending the SACNAS or AISES meetings. As a life-time member of both societies I always desire to attend both; however, they are often scheduled so close together that I have to choose one each year. (This may seem trivial but there are many students who are in the same predicament). I would like to see a bit more separation between the timing of these two meetings. In terms of broader (and, perhaps more significant) changes, I would like to see more opportunities for SACNAS students in terms of graduate, postdoctoral, professoriate, and industry opportunities.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

Over the past 15+ years, I have served as a science faculty member at community colleges, tribal colleges, predominantly undergraduate institutions, and, most recently at a “Carnegie Research 1” university, which is also designated as a minority-serving institution by the U.S. Department of Education. During this time, I have served more than 200 students, most of whom are individuals from historically underrepresented groups in STEM. I have served as a faculty SACNAS student chapter faculty co-advisor (2012-2016 at University of Minnesota Morris) and I have chaperoned multiple student groups to SACNAS meetings over the past 15+ years.

Leadership Style

After the killing of George Floyd, students from historically underrepresented and oppressed groups began to share experiences at the University of Arkansas (UA) through #blackatuark. Many of the experiences described, including fraternity groups yelling racial slurs at students passing by frat houses, highlighted the ugly underside of racism at UA that often goes un-recorded. University administration did what they could to reconcile these issues through town-hall meetings, re-focusing the university diversity office, and other common approaches. Although these remedies were appropriate, in many cases they were short-term “patches” for an immediate flare-up of a deeper problem. I chose to take a different approach by establishing an academic setting where university faculty, students, and community members (e.g., K-12 science teachers) from different groups (i.e., Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Native American-Serving Institutions, and Historically Black Colleges) could come together to form working partnerships. Specifically, I developed a proposal for an institute focused on virology and virus ecology, which was timely due to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, through the U.S. National Science Foundation Biology Integration Institute funding mechanism. This resulted in a multi-institutional, multi-million dollar grant that includes significant sub-contracts to other minority-serving institutions. My view was that I cannot solve all of the big problems but that I can make a significant contribution using my expertise by bringing together diverse groups of people with the common goal of studying scientific questions of importance to all humanity.

Fundraising Experience

In the past 15 years, I have secured more than $15 million in funding for research and student training initiatives. Most of this funding was through state and federal funding agencies (e.g., NASA, NSF, NIH). Through my current NSF Biology Integration Institute (BII) award, I developed a unique program called the “roaming postdoc program” which allows postdocs to have a 3-year rather than a 2-year postdoctoral experience with the third year being dedicated to promoting scientific research at minority-serving institutions around the nation. This roaming postdoc plan was well-received by the NSF. I can imagine SACNAS submitted funding to support postdoctoral scholars under a similar program. AISES has done something similar to this via federal funding.

Board Leadership

The core responsibility of a SACNAS board member is to support organizational policies, events, fundraising drives, and other activities by proposing, promoting, and voting for initiatives that forward the SACNAS mission. I have close to two decades of experience working towards increasing the representation of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in science. To ensure that SACNAS operations are forwarding that common goals would be a key responsibility of any board member.

Organizational Governance

I served as the director of the University of Montana Native American Research Lab (2008-2011). I am currently the director of the University of Arkansas Host-Virus Evolutionary Dynamics Institute (HVEDI), a new institute (established in 2021) funded by a U.S. National Science Foundation Biology Integration Institute grant on which I serve as the Principal Investigator (PI). I serve on the Board of the Sivaram Foundation. I have managed a laboratory of ~20 people (visiting faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduate students) for the past 6 years. As the PI, I am responsible for the research direction of the lab/institute, hiring, grants management, acquisition of funding for research, student training, and diversity initiatives. I have been the Director of the Minority Institution Research Collaborative (MIRC), an affiliation of more than 20 minority-serving institutions including HBCUs, HSIs, NSIs (TCUs, NASNTIs, AANAPISIs, and BIA institutions), for the past 8 years. Through MIRC, I have offered paid international research internships over the past 10 years to more than 80 underrepresented students (predominantly Native American and Chicanx/Latinx/Hispanic students) in India, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Colombia. These were funded by Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

National Engagement

I am a lifetime member of SACNAS, a Sequoyah (lifetime) member of AISES, a member of the Microbiology Society (Europe), the American Microbiology Society, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I was a National Academy of Sciences/Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Indigenous Graduate Program Scholar. I was also the 2006 NASA Minority Institute Research Scholar. I am a member of the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) and the director of the Minority Institution Research Collaborative (MIRC), a network of more than 20 minority-serving institutions from across the U.S.

Austin J. Shelton, Ph.D.

Title: Assistant Professor of Extension & Outreach and Director
Institution/Company: University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability and Sea Grant
Ethnicity/Race: Native Hawaiian/Indigenous Pacific Islander
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime member; 7 or more years

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Personal Statement

The world changed so much in the past year and a half. In order to succeed going forward in this new decade, SACNAS must be resourceful, creative, and innovative, while staying true to its traditions and the shared values of thousands of SACNISTAs across the network. My leadership instincts during this pandemic led to over a million dollars in new grant funding, the creation of several new jobs, and a quick pivot to organizing virtual gatherings that brought thousands of people together from 81 locations across the globe. I would like to bring my perspectives and experience to the SACNAS board. I will challenge the society to maintain essential programming and innovate new services that members will need to be successful in STEM during and after the COVID era. As the founding president of the Hawaii SACNAS Chapter and graduate student SACNAS board member, I was involved in the early planning and considerations for holding a SACNAS National Conference in Hawaii. In 2019, the Hawaii conference became the most-attended conference in SACNAS history. Yet, islanders remain underserved and separated from national STEM opportunities by the tyranny of distance. Together with the other native and indigenous populations SACNAS serves, the diverse thoughts, perspectives, and ideas of islanders must be represented in the national STEM enterprise. I would like to offer my island connections in Guam, CNMI, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and elsewhere to help SACNAS continue expanding its network into island communities.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

• Featured Speaker at the 2020 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference • 2017 Alumni, Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute • 2016-Present, Advisor, University of Guam SACNAS Chapter • 2015-2016 Graduate Student Board Member, SACNAS National Board of Directors • 2016-2017 Member, SACNAS Chapters Committee • 2013-2015 Founding President, Ilima SACNAS Chapter at the University of Hawaii • 2015 Coordinator, SACNAS Regional Meeting, Hawaii

Leadership Style

I am one of a handful of indigenous scientists in Guam with a terminal degree. Since my first SACNAS conference exposed me to a new world of opportunities almost 10 years ago, I have not been able to keep it to myself. I started working tirelessly to gather as many allies and resources possible to ensure my fellow islanders and underrepresented minorities have opportunities to succeed in STEM. My experience as the founding president of the award-winning Hawaii SACNAS Chapter and a graduate student member of the SACNAS National Board propelled my career and helped me land a faculty position straight out of graduate school. Soon after, I attained large NSF and NOAA grants that helped grow STEM opportunities at my institution from 4 or 5 internships a year to dozens of fellowships and research experiences annually for high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students. I also work on STEM engagement for younger students, co-coordinating the Guam Island Wide Science Fair for over 500 K-12 students each year. In service as a leader, I strive to be resourceful, inclusive, and collaborative.

Fundraising Experience

In my 5-year career as a faculty member, I built up a $33million portfolio of grants as PI or Co-PI from agencies and programs including, NSF EPSCoR, NSF INCLUDES, NOAA Sea Grant, Department of Defense, and USDA. As the director of two university programs, I also fundraise over $120,000 per year from the private sector to host an annual global conference and other events. As always, SACNAS should continue engaging with federal grant networks and foundations to seek funding. I am able to assist in strategies through my experience in the NSF INCLUDES, EPSCoR, and Sea Grant networks. There is also potential to innovate a new fundraising approach. Since the pandemic started, SACNAS staff started conducting webinars and vigorously planning for a virtual conference. SACNAS should quickly develop online offerings such as virtual workshops, online courses, and diversity trainings. These can all be monetized if done professionally. The wide-range of faculty and industry experts in SACNAS network may be willing to donate their time and serve as instructors. SACNAS typically brings in revenue only during conference time, but a regular schedule of online training content can potentially bring a consistent stream of funding to the society.

Board Leadership

The core responsibility of a board member is to provide strategic vision and guidance for the society and empower the national office staff to be successful in their roles. Board members should carry out this responsibility while respecting the foundation the SACNAS elders built and while listening to the new generations of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans to understand their needs to succeed in STEM today.

Organizational Governance

2015-2016 Graduate Student Board Member, SACNAS National Board of Directors • 2019-Present, Board member/trustee of the Micronesia Conservation Trust. Trustees oversee an endowment of over $20million. • 2020-Present, Co-Chair, U.S. Climate Strong Islands Network • 2020-Present, Co-Chair, Guam Green Growth Steering Committee. Guam’s most comprehensive public-private partnership ever created to achieve a sustainable future. • Member, Local2030 Islands Network Steering Committee. Working with islands around the world to implement U.N. Sustainable Development Goals in locally and culturally effective ways.

National Engagement

I have developed local, regional, and global strategic partnerships to advance the two causes I am most passionate about– 1) sustainability and 2) creating opportunities in STEM for islander students and other underrepresented minorities. • SACNAS Lifetime Member • 2019 Obama Leader. Member of the inaugural Asia Pacific cohort and engaged in the national and international Obama Foundation network. • PI of NSF INCLUDES SEAS Island Alliance Guam Hub. Engaged in the NSF INCLUDES National Network. • Co-PI/Education and Workforce Development Coordinator of NSF Guam EPSCoR. Engaged in the NSF EPSCoR National Network. • Director of University of Guam Sea Grant and Delegate to National Sea Grant Association • Representative of the Guam Focal Point, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) • Member Representative, Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) • Member Representative, Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes

Ingrid Montes-González

Title: Professor Department of Chemistry
Institution/Company: University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
Ethnicity/Race: Puerto Rican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Lifetime Member; 1 – 3 years

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Personal Statement

I have been a professor at the University of Puerto, for 36 years and an educator/professor/researcher for 34 years at the Department of Chemistry of the Rio Piedras Campus. I am proud to have directed the research of more than one hundred undergraduate and graduate students in Puerto Rico, most of whom have gone on to successful academic, professional, and industrial careers. Through my research and volunteer service, I have contributed to Chemistry, Chemical Education, and Community outreach in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and the world. I have also occupied administrative positions, lead many initiatives, Task Forces, and committees at all levels from the Department to the University System. I will bring to the SACNAS Board, 9 years of experience as a member of the Board of Directors of ACS. I will also bring my energy, motivation and my devotion to everyone’s needs that have been demonstrated through my volunteer work. At the national level, I have participated in many Task Forces, Working Groups, Committees, and have been a facilitator of international networking, growth, and development. At the local section level, I have chaired and held various leadership positions in the areas of public affairs, science outreach and served as Faculty Adviser of an award-winning ACS Student Chapter, and most recently of the SACNAS Student Chapter, among others. Through the combination of my volunteer experience and 36 years as an educator, I have sharpened my organizational and leadership skills. If elected, I would like to support and strengthen science communication and advocacy to increase SACNAS’ visibility in Congress and in the general community. Delivering messages to Congress in support of underrepresented students and science education and research is extremely important. Increased and effective collaboration with other societies will also enrich our visibility and enhance our programs and services. One of the contributions that I am looking forward to is welcoming Sacnistas and to work tirelessly to ensure a very successful 2022 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference that will be held in Puerto Rico for the first time. I urge you to vote for me and I would be honored to have your support and to work on your behalf.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

In 2019, as a Board member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), I worked with SACNAS representatives and the ACS CEO to establish a Chemistry Enterprise Partnership agreement between SACNAS and ACS. A prior MOU existed but it had not been acted on for many years. In 2020, I was appointed as a member of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect (DEIR) ACS Board Working group which was established to develop sustainable strategies to support the DEIR core value and to support and advance a new goal (Embrace and Advance Inclusion in Chemistry) that was added to the ACS Strategic Plan earlier this year. ACS Board Liaison to the DEIR ACS Advisory Board (2015-present). This group discusses relevant aspects of DEIR and proposes or revises statements related to the topic and explores ways to establish collaborations with different committees and technical divisions within ACS and well as with partner societies. I have planned and facilitated many conferences and workshops at the local, national, and international level relevant to women underrepresented in STEM; mentoring; and, other needs of persons in underrepresented groups. I have also collaborated with Ciencia-PR (2016-present) to assist with the development of programs to motivate K-12 female students (for example Semillas del Triunfo and Embajadoras en STEM) to pursue careers in STEM. I have been the ACS Project SEED (2010-present) coordinator in Puerto Rico. This program provides research opportunities for high school students that are academically highly talented but economically disadvantaged. As a mentor for the ACS Scholars Program and Faculty Adviser of the ACS Student Chapter and SACNAS Student Chapter, I have enthusiastically mentored and encouraged underrepresented students to become the next generation of leaders and highly skilled professionals.

Leadership Style

I am an inclusive leader who seeks to have all voices heard and to give everyone the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. I will bring to the SACNAS Board my enthusiasm, passion, commitment, experience and insight based on my many years as a very active local and national leader. Like many other women, and as a Latina in STEM, there have been many obstacles and challenges along my journey. Throughout the years, I have battled through personal issues and overcome some pretty big barriers. It took courage to feel good about myself when others tried to hold me down. Initially, it was not easy at all, but I decided to look at all hardships and challenging situations as experiences that would enrich my character and facilitate the development of skills needed to achieve my mission in life. Early in my journey, I decided that my role was to open the door for other women and to provide a gateway for greater diversity in all its forms. I am focused and dedicated to my professional role; my volunteer work; my mission of service; and, my desire to inspire others. As a professor, researcher, and faculty advisor of student-based organizations, I had the opportunity to encourage and engage with many diverse students who have worked closely with me. These experiences, without any doubt, have and continue to be a major blessing and rewarding opportunity.

Fundraising Experience

Since 2010, I have coordinated the ACS Project SEED program at my Institution where I needed to raise funds to support the participating students. I developed the necessary relationships and shared with various organizations the benefit of their supporting the local Puerto Rico Project SEED program and was able to receive donations from my Institution (up to $16,000), Lilly del Caribe ($10,000) and Santander Bank ($3,000). I have also been successful in raising funds to support science outreach events that have benefitted my local community. In 2009, I was the Program Chair for the SERMACS Regional Meeting where I raised over $52,065.22 that surpassed the projected amount needed to cover all expenses to support the programming and to ensure a very successful meeting.

Board Leadership

A Board member has the responsibility to guide and direct the Society in fulfilling its mission and to be a visionary and trustworthy member. A Board member needs to be committed to the fiduciary responsibility on an ethical and legal basis, take on all challenges and to continue working closely with other board members, the CEO, committees, student chapters, and all members to ensure a sustainable future. Moreover, a Board member should support and work tirelessly to fulfill the strategic plan and its critical strategic objectives as well as work to encourage true diversity within the organization and the discipline. There are many vital issues that the Board should address: the value proposition for its membership; the success of its annual conference; and, explore new opportunities and collaborations to strengthen programs and philanthropic efforts.

Organizational Governance

During the past nine years, I have occupied the position of Director-at-Large on the ACS Board of Directors. My three terms have been amazing and enriching experiences. I have worked with a dynamic, respectful, and hard-working visionary team that has guided the Society through several critical transitions. These include the selection of a new CEO; decisions related to the pandemic; the commitment to diversity; and the continuous fulfillment and updates to the strategic plan. As the Board Globalization Liaison (2018-2019), I worked with the Executive Leaders to develop strategies toward moving forward the globalization of the Society’s programs; Committee on Professional & Member Relations (2013–21, 2017 Chair); Web Strategy & Innovation Subcommittee Chair (2014-16); Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations (2013–14 & 2019-2021); Task Force on Governance Design (2016-21); Development Advisory Board (2015-21); Volunteer Leader for the SEED Anniversary Appeal (2018). At the national level, I have participated in many ACS Task Forces and Committees and chaired some initiatives to foster international collaborations. At the local section level, I have been the Chair of ACS Puerto Rico Section (1994, 2003, 2011 and will be in 2022) and occupied different leadership positions including, Counselor, Public Affairs, Outreach, and Project SEED coordinator, Mentor for Scholars Program, among others. My leadership and experience are not limited to ACS, I have been an educator for thirty-four years at the University of Puerto Rico and occupied administrative positions, lead many initiatives, and served on task forces and committees at all levels within the Department and the entire University System.

National Engagement

I am the founder of the science outreach event, Chemistry Festival (Festival de Química), which was adopted in 2015 as one of the American Chemical Society’s outreach programs. The Festival has been held in over 30 countries (including Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Panama, Malaysia, Hungary, Australia, Taiwan, Nigeria, China, United Arab Emirates, etc.). I developed resources, facilitated trainings and lead the implementation of many of the events. In collaboration with the Mexican Chemical Society, I am the co-founder of the ACS Spanish webinars program. In 2011, I was the PI of an ACS challenge to establish “Are Women Still Underrepresented in Science?” as part of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) World Congress. The program recognizes the worldwide contributions of women in chemistry and chemical engineering. Since 2013, IUPAC adopted this activity as one of their award programs. As already mentioned, I have occupied multiple leadership positions at the ACS Puerto Rico Section and have established strategic relationships and partnerships with other societies, higher education institutions in Puerto Rico and in USA, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. I also have experience in conference organization as I served as the general chair of the successful 2009 ACS Southeast Regional Meeting. I will chair this meeting again in 2022.

Student Board Member Candidates

Lauren W. Yowelunh McLester-Davis

Title: Graduate Research Assistant
Institution/Company: Tulane University
Ethnicity/Race: American Indian/Native American (Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin)
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Student member; 1 – 3 years

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Personal Statement

I seek to serve on the SACNAS Graduate Student Board for a 2-year term because I plan to benefit minority graduate students in various scientific disciplines, especially neuroscience. I was drawn to studying the brain early on, as neurology-based diseases are prevalent and increasing in Native American and Hispanic populations. My grandfather had early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, but no physician was Native or Hispanic and this gap of representation in science fields is addressed in SACNAS’s mission. Recently, Natives have had increased presence in the broad discipline of neuroscience, to the point of NIH NINDS funding undergraduate mentorship of Natives in neuroscience. Given this, I find my position as the only indigenous graduate student at my university and a native in neuroscience to provide mentorship and feedback to others pursing my field because I know I would have benefited from a mentor I identify with when I applied to graduate school. I have identified other Native American neuroscientists who are current graduate students, while the Society for Neuroscience has failed to do so, and I believe working on the Graduate Student Board would allow me to amplify our collective voice and encourage and support younger members on the national scale. Specifically, we are interested in forming a Native American Neuroscience organization and having SACNAS, instead of AISES or ABRCMS, spearhead this project will support other efforts, like the University of Arizona’s NINDS grant, to increase representation of Native Americans in neuroscience and related fields, while elevating SACNAS’s neuroscientific standing.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

I have been a SACNAS graduate student member since 2020, and an undergraduate member 2017. I presented my current research via Oral Presentation for the virtual SACNAS 2020 Conference and received First Place in neuroscience. At my undergraduate, Lawrence University, I was a member of the Lawrentians Enhancing Diversity in the Sciences (LEDS) organization all four years (2014-2018). I found comfort at this primarily white institution through educational conversations lead by LEDS, which advanced my scientific training and supported students whose family had no familiarity with scientific research, like myself. Additionally, in my junior year I was accepted in the McNair Scholars Program which connected me to underrepresented students interested in research careers. The annual Wisconsin McNair Scholars Summer Conference 2017 opened my eyes to the innovation of peer minority researchers, many of whom I am still friends with today. Community with professors and minority students from LEDS and the McNair Scholars Program directly led to my graduation magna cum laude from Lawrence University. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate career thus far, I have also been a member of AISES. At my graduate school, I have been a member of the Tulane University Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) organization since 2018. I have also taken leadership in planning educational events on non-academic career paths as part of WISE’s Career Development Committee (2019-2020). I am serving as the Neuroscience Doctoral Program Student Representative (2020-2021) where I am identifying opportunities to diversity the program and support minority members at Tulane.

Leadership Style

One of my undergraduate jobs was working as a tour guide for Lawrence University Admissions. During this, I recognized that I offered more specific information for minority students considering Lawrence compared to my colleagues during the tour. After discussing my work experience with other undergraduate students and hearing feedback about items that convinced them to attend Lawrence, I spoke with the Dean of Admissions. I identified the need of minority high school students to hear the importance of equity, diversity, inclusiveness and accessibility to the University during their admissions experience. Following this discussion, the Dean created a Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Admissions Team, and I was designated as the team manager. I had the opportunity to hire minority students interested in working Admissions and specialize their employment, so they primarily interacted with minority high school students and provided in depth knowledge of the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, accessible buildings, recent advancements to reduce classroom biases, current student affinity groups, and other related information. This specialized training, once shown to increase racial diversity in the incoming class, was implemented in the overall Admissions hiring process. I was glad to, in part, achieve my long-standing goal of increasing education of minority populations through the creation of the IDEA Admissions Team and its subsequent benefit to the university. I found my skills of employee motivation, effective communication, negotiation for funding, and innovation greatly advanced during my time as the IDEA Admissions Team manager.

Fundraising Experience

My pre-college fundraising experiences focused on community-based sales, including selling chocolate bars, advertising in local newspapers, cooking brats for sale, raffling items at large community events, and having businesses donate in exchange for business promotions. Many of these events provided funds that purchased more than 25,000 books which were given to low-income children, libraries, and community organizations. In college, my fundraising efforts were focused on providing funds for the Lawrence University Native American Organization. I leveraged communications within the academic space and created partnerships within the local indigenous community. Specifically, over $3,000 was collected for a group educational trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to explore understandings of Native American culture in the southwest and educate the university community. In preparation of entering the professional scientific field, I hope to expand my fundraising experience leveraging scientific knowledge. One potential opportunity that SACNAS could capitalize on would be to utilize First Place Oral Presentation awardees from the annual conference as exhibitors at a fundraising event. My current graduate university utilizes top scientific students to speak to potential donators on the value in giving to the university. Similarly, SACNAS could have First Place Oral Presentation awardees present in person or virtually at a potential donor gala. I additionally hope to utilize my neuroscientific expertise to benefit SANCAS’s fundraising efforts based on current and future neuroscience developments in the art of fundraising.

Board Leadership

I believe a core responsibility of a SACNAS board member is constant vigilance to opportunities for organizational advancement, with specific focus on innovation of organizational activities and elevation of the organization in the scientific field. Throughout my leadership experiences, from in the laboratory training undergraduates to promoting minority populations unserved needs to university administration, I have found the ability to observe innovation and success from others and the ability to implement and adapt changes keys to successful leadership. As a Graduate Student Board member, I would see utilizing my ongoing experiences to advance SACNAS’s mission as a core responsibility. A part of utilizing my ongoing experiences would include identifying differences of efficacy between SACNAS and other scientific organizations that support career development of researchers. Once identified, incorporating or not these differences to create a more effective SACNAS is a core responsibility for SACNAS board members. Additionally, I have funded my graduate training to supplement my knowledge of Research Ethics in American Indian populations, and I hope to establish and reinforce these academic values in the board if given the opportunity to serve as a Graduate Student Board member for SACNAS.

Organizational Governance

I served as the Chair of my undergraduate university’s Committee on Diversity Affairs for the academic year of 2017-2018. The Committee on Diversity Affairs was created by the university president’s office to educate the whole university community and create safe discussion spaces for difficult topics related to inclusion, diversity, and equity value systems. As such, my role as the Chair was to delegate various committee responsibilities and support committee members tasks, including organizing monthly roundtable discussions with educational presentations, supporting minority affinity groups in promoting their events and ensuring communication throughout with university administration, and identifying routes for inclusive faculty and staff hiring and retention. During my Chairship, the university saw the appointment of the first Director of Diversity and Inclusion and over 23 educational workshops open to the whole university. Also, during my undergraduate education, I was the Treasurer (2015-2016), Vice President (2016-2017), and President (2017-2018) of the Lawrence University Native American Organization. These positions allowed me to cultivate leadership skills in a variety of positions that are represented in SACNAS’s board. We funded 15 students to study and volunteer in Albuquerque when I was the Treasurer, we hosted College Horizons programs when I was Vice President, and we created the largest Indigenous People’s Day pow wow celebration when I was President. Currently, I serve as the Treasurer for the Alpha Louisiana Chapter of the national neuroscience honors society, Nu Rho Psi (2019-2021). My contributions focus on mentorship of undergraduates in neuroscience at Tulane University by utilizing institutional funds.

National Engagement

In my time spent giving back to my community, I co-created a local chapter of the national First Book organization in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to benefit my tribe and the greater community’s low-income children. As the co-founder and head of fundraising, I communicated regularly with the national headquarters on best ways to fundraise locally and distribute books to children in need. To obtain funds to give books away to increase literacy rates, I formed a relationship with the local chocolatier, Seroogy’s Homemade Chocolates, who provided discounted chocolate bars which First Book – Greater Green Bay then sold at the standard rate with proceeds going to book purchases. Additionally, I operated a local chapter of Pizzas 4 Patriots throughout high school. I chose to work with Pizza 4 Patriots in order to celebrate our tribal elders who served in the military, including my 90-year-old grandfather, and the organization also provides a slice of home to active military members. To accomplish these goals, we partnered with the local pizzerias and local businesses to sponsor veteran celebrations annually on Veterans Day and Memorial Day. To support pizza delivery to active military, I leveraged my existing relationship with Seroogy’s Homemade Chocolates, and we fundraised with chocolate bar sales throughout the state of Wisconsin. While my experiences have focused on grass-roots efforts of organization, the opportunity to serve on the Graduate Student Board for SACNAS will leverage these experiences while increasing my ability to work on a national and international level in science.

Cristhian Gutierrez Huerta

Title: MD/PhD Student
Institution/Company: Medical College of Wisconsin
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Student member; 3 – 6 years

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Personal Statement

I am the first-born of immigrant parents and was born and raised in California. Growing up, I quickly learned that I needed to adapt to the US culture and learn the language for my sake and my family’s. Now, I am a second year MD/PhD student at the Medical College of Wisconsin. As a first-generation college student, I struggled to find mentors but knew I needed to surround myself with professionals if I wanted to pursue a career and profession. Attending my first SACNAS National Conference in 2015 opened my eyes to the possibilities. It was the first time I met people with similar backgrounds accomplishing incredible things. It gave me the self-confidence and the affirmation I needed to continue my personal & professional development. The reason I would like to join the board is to ensure that others have those same experiences: the chance to bond, learn, and grow together with people who are similar to them. As a graduate board member, my hope would be to learn more about the organization from the other board members and executive committee. I don’t believe I can make any recommendations currently about any changes/initiatives I’d like to begin as I need to better understand the current work being done, the board, and its members. If I am chosen to join, my hope would be bring the graduate student perspective and the things I’ve learned as an undergraduate student attending the national meetings.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

I have participated in the SACNAS National Conference and have been a member for a few years as an undergraduate student. I have attended the conferences in 2015 in Washington, DC, 2017 in Salt Lake City, and in 2019 in Honolulu. I have not held any roles within SACNAS yet. As a first-generation medical and graduate student, I aspire to advance myself professionally while at the same time inspire others of similar backgrounds to pursue careers like mine. A study from 2021 identified that first-generation students only make up 7% of MD/PhD matriculants of which only a fraction are Hispanic/Latinx. The SACNAS conferences provided me with many incredible opportunities to network with other professionals and students. Through these interactions, I was able to secure a research fellow position at the National Institutes of Health as well as an interview at the university which I currently attend. If it wasn’t for the SACNAS conferences, I would not be where I am today, and I would like to serve on the SACNAS board in recognition of that and so that the organization may continue to provide these opportunities to others.

Leadership Style

The difference between a boss and leader is that a boss tells you what to do while a leader shows by example. I believe my leadership style has been molded by so many incredible role models and mentors I have had the pleasure of knowing. I believe the core quality trait I hope to emanate as a leader is true investment/genuine interest in the people I lead/mentor/work with. So many times, we talk to someone and we nod, say “mhhm” with a blank mind. I believe giving someone your undivided attention is one of the best things we can provide to someone, especially someone who is seeking advice or guidance. I believe attentive listening has allowed me to remember key facts regarding events or small details about the people I encounter. Establishing a healthy and well-intended relationship is the preamble to effective communication, amicable partnership, and earned trust. My efforts in the space of diversity, equity, and inclusion are many – most recently observed through my current role as undergraduate mentoring chair. In addition to social teamwork skills, I believe my ability to see the big picture, be coordinated/well-organized, and strategic with my time/energy/resources are great assets I bring in to any organizational group.

Fundraising Experience

I have helped the various organizations I’ve been involved with in their multiple fundraisers. Since these are student-run organizations, many fundraisers have included food sales, partnering with restaurants, raffles, and selling desirable items. Although my knowledge on national-level institutional fundraising is limited, I am very eager to assist the rest of the Board of Directors on the organizations’ fundraising endeavors.

Board Leadership

A core responsibility of all SACNAS board members should that they always keep the interests of the people they serve at the heart of everything that is done. I believe it is easy to start organizing events, meetings, or fundraisers. Sometimes within the organizing/planning it is easy to forget who we are serving. Another core responsibility is that board members should be willing to go all-in into all organization events. It is understandable that an individual may be not be around for every single event/happening. However, when present: a board member should be enthusiastic and help excite general members of the organization. As a board member you don’t only represent the organization, you are the envoy holding the life of the organization on a torch and it should be our responsibility to ensure that the fire of that torch remains alive. In addition, helping other board members with their responsibilities (when available) is important – we are all a team with one common goal: serving underrepresented individuals as they embark on their professional advancement journeys.

Organizational Governance

Most of my experience running organizations stem from my undergraduate career. I was president for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and for the Professional Fraternity Council for one year each. In these positions, I helped other organizational chairs plan events, spoke with other organizational leaders on behalf of the organization, jumpstarted academic initiatives, and led organizational meetings. For my efforts with the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, the University of California, Merced awarded me the “Organizational President of the Year Award,” which is provided to one individual from the entire student population. In medical school, I currently serve as the Undergraduate Mentoring Chair for the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) at the Medical College of Wisconsin where I meet with underrepresented in medicine undergraduate students from local and out-of-state universities. Within my first month in this role, I created a new event, “Hablando del AMCAS con LMSA” where medical students presented workshops on how to complete the different sections of the medical school application. After these workshops, every attendee was paired up with a current medical student who read over the students’ personal statements/application and provided advice live over Zoom.

National Engagement

Most of the organizations I have been involved with have national components. Through my various extracurricular involvements, I have had an opportunity to network with many organizations (some social, scientific/research, and medicine-based). However, I have never held a leadership role on a national level.

Manuel Mora

Title: Graduate Student Researcher
Institution/Company: Molecular Biology Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program (MBIDP) UCLA
Ethnicity/Race: Chicano/Mexican American/Mexican
How long have you been a SACNAS member? Student member; 3 – 6 years

Watch-Video-11

Personal Statement

I seek to serve on the Board of SACNAS because I’d like to be more involved in the organization that was the catalyst for me to consider science in academia as a career choice of mine and it’s what I’m in the process of doing as a graduate student working towards my doctoral degree in molecular biology. I recently went back to an email of mine that I wrote as a reflection after attending my first SACNAS Conference as a community college student in 2016 which I would like to share attached as a pdf below. I would like to advocate for community college students, encourage their involvement in internships and summer funded programs instead of taking more hours at work as it can advance our careers progress while still finding funding to continue existing as an academic for the summer, and show them it’s possible to become a full time academic by advocating for academic funded internships that allows one to work inside the institution as we progress toward our degrees. Many of my peers and I from low-income backgrounds didn’t know that college cost was based on parent’s income when one fills out the FAFSA, and where unaware how possible it would be for us first generation students to maintain our needed job and transfer from a community college to a 4-year institution and be able to graduate.

SACNAS/ STEM Diversity & Inclusion Experience

My first experience involved in SACNAS was during the 2016 SACNAS Conference held October 13-15th in Long Beach, CA, as I was invited by one of my mentors to attend. This 2016 SACNAS conference propelled me to decide to pursue science not only from meeting all the great scientists and being able to relate to them and their backgrounds but also being able to see the harmony that diversity in the sciences can bring together through our passion for science and equity within academia. During my time in Santa Ana Community College I participated in MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement), EOP (Educational Opportunity Program). After transferring to UC Davis in 2017, I became a McNair Scholar and presented my research in the 2018 ABRCMS Conference where I won a judge-selected award for my poster presentation. I joined UCLA to pursue my graduate studies as a Competitive Edge Fellow in 2019 where I currently serve as a board member to the UCLA SACNAS Chapter from Winter 2020. I also currently serve in the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee, where along with my colleagues we just launched a pilot Peer-Mentorship Program for current and incoming graduate students.

Leadership Style

My leadership style would be described as community driven and where union builds strength and we all bring our perspective to the table. I value every perspective and voice and believe in community driven change. I believe that this comes from lessons that my grandfather Toño has distilled in me and his knowledge of forests and plants. He taught my father, who then taught me how collaboration between plant species in “three sisters”can yield to more healthy growth than the individual plants without their community support. The corn was planted first, which grew as a tall blades of grass emitting from a growing pole, which served as a structure for beans to wrap and grow around, and lastly, squash was planted on the grown which spreads with big vegetative leaves cooling the ground, creating a microclimate and preventing the growth of weeds. This collaborative synergy demonstrated to me the true progress that collaboration and union can provide, which informs much of my collaborative round-table leadership style.

Fundraising Experience

I have no previous fundraising experience, but I’d love to learn! Current ideas: Create a SACNAS Quarterly Magazine which if met with funding threshold can be distributed with a margin. This would create positional opportunities for students and generate funding to put in the ads in magazine. With the Magazine, donors can meet a certain threshold and send members ex. a “labtech keychain” or “company pen” etc. from biotechnology industry reaching an academic audience.

Board Leadership

I believe that a core responsibility as a SACNAS board member is empathy. This is because this allows us to be sensible in times of need, which I believe tend to be often for members of marginalized communities functioning as academics inside these institutions. I do think that our ancestors have made much progress, and for that I feel thankful, but I also feel the responsibility to continue changing the stillstanding systems and implement frameworks that will synergize our collective effort into organizing our support for our communities. I think that organizing is also a core responsibility as a SACNAS board member, because it can be strikingly easy to get lost in our first voyage into this academic sea, and as first-generation students this can be quite lonely and tiresome without the ability to explain to your community back home in exchange for support and understanding. Because of this, I think it’s necessary for us to organize and empathize to reduce the amount of individuals navigating through academia by “themselves” and assist them in organizing into a framework, such as this SACNAS community and other organizations offered in their universities.

Organizational Governance

I became a Supplemental Instructor (SI) for the Santa Ana College Physical Science Center where I held weekly seminars and discussions concurrent to the classes progress and held office hours. (February 2017-June 2017). I became a Biotechnology TA, Santa Ana College (February 2017-June 2017) providing students with academic assistance during assigned hours, developing lessons and coursework and collaborating with instructors to ensure appropriate material for student’s skill set. I also became a TA for Molecular Basis of Plant Differentiation and Development at UCLA March 2021-June 2021 with Professor Jeff Long in Spring 2021, holding weekly discussion sections, attending lectures and holding office hours.

National Engagement

As a McNair Scholar, I attended the yearly McNair Conference during Summer 2018, held at UCLA. I also presented my research at ABRCMS 2018 held in Indianapolis, Indiana. I also became a volunteer at Volunteer for The Beat Within ​​​​​March 2019 – August 2019 where I helped incarcerated youth express themselves through poetry and art, and leveraged my Spanish speaking skills to specifically be present for the Spanish-speaking undocumented migrant youth that were being held in the Woodland Juvenile Detention Center.

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EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
It is the policy of SACNAS not to discriminate against any individual or group for reasons of race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, sex, pregnancy or related medical conditions, age, marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental or sensory disability, genetic information, military status or any other consideration protected by applicable federal, state or local laws. SACNAS is committed to providing equal opportunities in all activities including application for Board service.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Diversity and inclusion are more than just words to SACNAS. They are integral parts of our history, culture, and identity. They are the principles that founded our organization, guide our strategic path forward, and help us fulfill our mission. We continually seek to build and maintain a Board of Directors that reflects the rich diversity of our organization and country. We look for and celebrate diverse voices, experiences, backgrounds, and talents to help us approach our work fearlessly, spark creativity, drive innovation, improve constantly, and celebrate our successes. Simply put, everyone is welcome at SACNAS. We believe that an inclusive organization is one where our employees, volunteers, and board members feel empowered to be their full, authentic selves.

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