Biographies of 2016-2107 Suffolk University-Boston ad hoc Diversity Task Force

The members of the Task Force are: Linda Brown, Elizabeth Ching-Bush, Robert Cirame, Michael Dello Iacono, Rachael Kipp, Micky Lee (Chair), Sheikh (Nash) Nasher, Regina O’Neil, Abráham Peña-Talamantes, Lizette Rivera, Michele Rosenthal, Joyya Smith, Levi Smith, Phyliss St-Hubert, Dominic Thomas, Maria Toyoda, Lisa Vigliotta, Katherine Whidden, and Felicia Wiltz.

Past members: Cherina Clark, Frank Rudy Cooper, Michelle Driffil, Tuyet (Tia) Fioravanti, Carolina Garcia, Melanie Jenkins, Tiffany Martinez, Robert Smith.

Linda Brown: Linda is a visual artist and educator, living and working in Boston. She lives in an artists’ cooperative building in the Fort Point neighborhood. Linda was raised in Cincinnati Ohio, and first came to Boston for undergraduate school at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Her graduate degree is from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI.
Brown's current art practice is sculpture. She works in assembled mixed media, using found plastic trash, ceramic, stone and clay to create pieces that refer to issues of the body and to environmental concerns. She shows her work at Kingston Gallery in the South End of Boston and at AMP Gallery in Provincetown, MA. Linda has received numerous accolades and awards for her art work, including Fellowship Residencies at Hambidge Center for the Arts, I-Park, Women’s Studio Workshop, Popop International Artists’ Residency, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She has received grants for her work from the St. Botolph Club, School of the Museum of Fine Arts Travel Grant, and the Artists’ Trust/ Berkshire Taconic Foundation, among others.
Linda has taught at Suffolk University for over 35 years, and serves as the Program Director for the Foundation Studies Program at the School of Art and Design. About the Diversity Task Force, Brown says, "Since childhood, I have been concerned with the questions of diversity, inclusion and equity in our society. I have tried to learn more about these issues over the years and have joined this Task Force to continue my learning process and to work with a like-minded community to achieve real change at Suffolk University. In particular I would like to see Suffolk University faculty and administration begin to look a lot more like the student body, and sooner rather than later.”

Elizabeth Ching-Bush: Elizabeth is completing her second year at Suffolk as Assistant Dean of Students. She is responsible for student conduct, assessment for the Student Affairs Division and working with students of concern to achieve academic and personal success. Throughout her career, she has conducted and produced several trainings for students on privilege, Safe Zones, diversity education (disabilities, race, and stereotypes), cultural competencies, discrimination, harassment and bias incidents. Elizabeth takes special care in creating an open environment for students to engage in discussions where there may be concerns within their personal, classroom or social lives. Elizabeth’s passion for developing strategies, and creating polices for diversity on college campuses is due to the impact she knows institutions can make on the students they are serving because of her own experience and journey through higher education.
Elizabeth is a native of New York, who was born in Brooklyn until her family relocated to a small town in Orange County, NY. Throughout her upbringing, race and privilege issues became a constant in her life until she found support in advocating for herself, family and her peers. As a first generation college graduate, Elizabeth transitioned through college starting at a community college, then received an athletic scholarship to Division II Adelphi University where she ultimately earned her Master’s degree in Social Work. Elizabeth’s passion for working in higher education began in her role as a Resident Assistant. Through that experience, she realized she could impact individuals more directly by remaining in Student Affairs. While working in her first professional role as a Resident Hall Director (RHD) at Stony Brook University, she also served as a University Diversity Fellow. In that role, she participated in, supported and created diversity-based programming for all campus constituencies. Additionally, she served as an instructor and mentor for Diversity Peer Educators at Stony Brook. Since realizing the impact and ability to reach students in many different ways, Elizabeth has included social justice, inclusion, privilege education, advocacy and multiculturalism education as an important part of her everyday work and personal interest. Elizabeth strives to support those who work tirelessly to educate students to become informed, prepared and influential citizens now and after graduation.

Robert F. Cirame, Jr.: Robert has been Sodexo's General Manager of Dining Services at Suffolk University since 2012. He began his 27-year career with Sodexo as a student manager at Framingham State University. Over the years he has worked on several campuses including Babson College, Wheelock College, and two stints at Suffolk. 

Robert has served as the SOAR (Sodexo Opportunities for disAbilitys Resources) district Diversity and Inclusion ambassador and peer mentor for the last 2 years. He says, "I am honored to be a part of Suffolk's Diversity Task Forse and see my role on the team as a supporter from the outside working for a global company that has received numerous awards and recognition for Diversity and Inclusion. Working for Sodexo means diversity and inclusion is a constant focus in our day-to-day routines."

Aileen Depot: Aileen is an Associate Registrar, having joined Suffolk University in the spring of 2012. Aileen holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Connecticut and received her Master in Business Administration with a focus in Business Intelligence from Suffolk in May 2017.

Michael Dello Iacono: Michael has been the University Records Manager at Suffolk since February of 2011, and is responsible for the management of official University records in compliance with state and federal laws, and for collecting and maintaining material on the history and accomplishments of the Suffolk University community. Michael has been involved in diversity initiatives in most of his previous positions, and has been an Alternative Spring Break facilitator at Suffolk since 2012. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where he teaches the course Managing Records in Electronic Environments.

As an archivist, he can provide a unique perspective on Suffolk’s history of diversity, and loves opportunities to showcase Suffolk’s wonderful archival photos and memorabilia. He also collects and documents the records and activities from the commission’s work that contribute to the University’s permanent historical collections. Michael believes that diversity in our staff, faculty, and student body is a necessary element in providing a quality education, and looks forward to collaborating with the members of the Task Force.

Rachael Kipp: Rachael Kipp is Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. Rachael grew up on the South Shore, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester, and received a PhD in Chemistry from Tulane University. She believes that a successful career in the sciences owes much to having supportive mentors, which is why working at a small school like Suffolk University is so important to her. While there has been improvement in gender equity in the sciences over the past decade, especially at Suffolk, the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups has definitely lagged behind at both faculty and student levels. Rachael is excited to help the Diversity Taskforce to promote strategies that will make the sciences at Suffolk more inclusive.

Micky Lee: Micky is a Hong Kong citizen, a British national, and a U.S. resident.
Above all, she is a feminist. Being a feminist allows her to examine how identities are historically shaped by contesting powers: from British colonialisation, American globalization, to the Asianisation of world power. Informed by feminist thoughts of Simone de Beauvoir and bell hooks, she believes writing and teaching are transformative acts. She writes about gender, information, and technology for people who care about global feminisms. She teaches how power structures the global media industries and legimitizes gender relations.

Sheikh Abu (Nash) Nasher: Nash was born and raised in Sylhet, Bangladesh. He has been in residing in Cambridge, MA for almost four years now. He has been at Suffolk for almost one year now and will graduate in the class of 2019. He is double majoring in General Sociology and Pure Mathematics. He is a McNair Scholar for Suffolk’s Center Academic Access and Opportunity, a project service leader for Center of Community Engagement, and the President of Suffolk University Mathematics Society (SUMS) of Mathematics and Computer Science Department. He graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School as Class of 2015 Super Senior. He is also the inaugural Suffolk Service Challenge winner. He is an amateur wrestler, martial artist, cricketer and soccer player. He likes to talk about social justice issues, especially educational diversity, and to perform community service.

Regina O’Neill. Regina O’Neill is a Professor of Management, having joined the Sawyer Business School in 1997. She teaches courses in Effective Career Planning, Self-Awareness for Leaders, Negotiations, and Organizational Behavior. She has published on diversity issues, including research on careers of women across ethnic identities, race and gender in mentoring relationships, and leadership and managing visibility for social change. She has consulted in many corporate, educational, and non-profit settings around issues of diversity, and has helped design and deliver many mentoring and leadership development programs to increase organizational effectiveness through inclusiveness. She is a native Bostonian, who currently lives in Newton. She has a daughter in her senior year of college and a son in his first year of high school. Her favorite activity is traveling with her husband to watch their children’s academic, athletic, and artistic events.

Abráham (Abe) Peña-Talamantes: Abe is the Academic and Research Advisor for the McNair Scholars Program and a Lecturer in Sociology and Education Studies. He has published research on the experiences, identity processes, and educational and occupational attainment of sexual and ethnic minorities in higher education, and enjoys teaching coursework that examines issues of social inequality through visual research methods. He was recently selected to serve as the editor of Opportunity Matters: Journal of Access and Opportunity in Education, a publication of The Pell Institute, and is the founder of Suffolk’s new Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creativity. A McNair Alumni, he is passionate about providing resources for first-generation and low-income students from marginalized and immigrant backgrounds like himself. He has been at Suffolk since July 2015, and enjoys creative activities during his free time. He will be completing a PhD in sociology this Fall 2016 from Florida State University.

Lizette V. Rivera: Lizette began at Suffolk University in July 2016 as the Director of Diversity Services. Prior to Suffolk she was the Director of Diversity/Inclusion and Student Activities at Westfield State University. She is originally from Chicago, IL where she also completed her Doctorate of Education from National Louis University. Her dissertation title is Exploring the impact of the MassTransfer program: A look at Latina/Latino student transfer success at a two year Hispanic-Serving Institution into a four year Non-Hispanic-Serving university in Massachusetts. Lizette has earned a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Master's in Public Administration (M.P.A.) from Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL. Lizette has worked in higher education for more than 11 years in a various positions. Her other positions in higher education include working at the University of Massachusetts, Boston as the Director of TRiO Upward Bound, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, IL as the Director of La Casa Cultural Latina, Triton Community College in River Grove, IL as an Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences / Title III Director, and at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, IL as the Director of TRiO Upward Bound.
Lizette is also a Veteran who served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 6 years. In 2003, Lizette was deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. She served as a Military Justice Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC), Legal Assistance NCOIC, and an International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR) Liaison for the Army. Prior to this deployment, she served with the 384th Military Police Battalion, 91st Legal Support Organization, and the 391st Military Police Battalion as a Legal NCOIC and Legal Specialist (Paralegal).

Michele J. Rosenthal: Michele is currently the Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Programs, Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University. Michele also serves a volunteer College and Cancer Coach. She presents Navigating College and Cancer workshops, provides blog posts and is a resource for several Young Adult programs including, Dana-Farber, Tufts Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program, StupidCancer.org, Triage Cancer and the SamFund.
Michele has previously held positions of administrative leadership in academic and student services at Mount Holyoke College, Brandeis University and Babson College. From Director of Residential Life to Academic Dean, Michele has always worked closely with students and families.
Michele has been actively involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout her career. Highlights include the following: Participated in senior level Diversity and Inclusiveness training at Mount Holyoke College and then championed the implementation of a policy to support lesbian professional couples in residence. She was selected to serve a member of the Co-Existence and Diversity committee and received support to create a position and hire the first Disabilities Services and Support position at Brandeis University. She was appointed to co-chair the all-campus inclusiveness subcommittee at Babson College. She planned and implemented the annual 6 college MLK, Jr. Breakfast Celebration for the Colleges of the Fenway Consortium. Michele has presented numerous workshops that focus on Women’s Leadership Development. She was selected to teach the first gateway First-Year seminar program for Women’s Leadership Scholars at Babson College. She was also selected to serve as a faculty consultant for the U.S. Saudi Women’s Forum on Social Entrepreneurship while at Babson.
Michele has also presented her documentary Family Reflections of the Holocaust: Facilitating Discussion to Create Inclusive Communities through Storytelling at an Association of College and University Housing Officers-International conference and on several college campuses.

Joyya Smith: Joyya P. Smith is a higher education professional who brings to Suffolk years of experience in supporting and preparing students for academic and career success.

Smith has most recently worked at Georgia Southern University as director of Educational Opportunity Programs. Her experience includes oversight of federal TRIO programs serving first-generation and underrepresented student groups. Smith has also taught colleges courses in Georgia. At Suffolk, Dr. Smith currently serves as the Vice President of Diversity, Access, and Inclusion and oversees three TRIO programs; including the Ronald E. McNair post-baccalaureate achievement program, the Upward Bound program, and the Veterans Upward Bound program in the Center for Academic Access and Opportunity (CAAO). CAAO was created in 2007 as an extension of Suffolk's founding mission to provide college access and support to individuals historically underrepresented and underserved in higher education. Smith holds a Bachelor’ of Arts in Psychology, A Masters in in Higher Education/ Student Services from Georgia Southern University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Argosy University/Atlanta.

Levi Smith: Levi is proud to be a part of the Class of 2018 in the Sawyer Business School, where he double majors in Information Systems and Marketing. He is honored to be student representative for the Diversity Task Force. His love for embracing diversity flourished when he was the chairman of a student advisory committee for his high school’s student-based health center. During his time as chairman, Levi promoted student rights across multiple issues at local, statewide and national levels. 
Outside of Suffolk’s classrooms, you’ll find Levi continuing his passion of student advocacy by being an active Class Senator for the Student Government Association. Levi hopes the Diversity Task Force’s work will address any negative climate aspects, and in return, strengthen the Suffolk Community so that every student feels at home whenever they are on (or off) campus.

Phyliss St-Hubert: Phyliss is an undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Science. She will be graduating in 2018 with a B.S. in Government and a minor in Black Studies. Phyliss is heavily involved in the Suffolk community. She is currently a Diversity Peer Educator, where she facilitates trainings on workshops on issues about social justice topics. Phyliss is also a work-study student at the Office of Diversity Services and Treasurer for the Black Student Union. She also is a Trustee Ambassador, McNair Scholar, and Senator at-Large for Diversity for the Student Government Association. Phyliss is interested in education policy with a focus in elementary and secondary education. Phyliss has a huge passion in social justice. Anything that she does in her life, Phyliss makes it her priority that everyone feels represented.

Dominic Thomas: Dominic was raised by two social workers from different regions and religions in a Franciscan missionary church culture in the 1970s in Georgia. This was definitely unusual for that location at that time. Throughout his youth he constantly volunteered in community service programs like Meals on Wheels up through work on his Eagle Scout project. He developed a very strong value for diverse viewpoints and experiences and the essential value of every human. As an adult he sought to experience as many different kinds of human cultures as he could. He has lived or worked in every major religious culture around the globe. He has experience related to discrimination and hatred ranging from overt physical attacks, slavery and torture to leading successful inclusion of Americans into commemorations of the bombing of Nagasaki and other activities building trust across divisive boundaries. His deep abiding faith is that diversity is a rich resource to be cherished and nurtured because it makes us better and stronger as a human race. He sees equity, inclusion, and transparency as key means for realizing this resource and is happy to lend a hand at Suffolk.

Maria Toyoda: Maria is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor in the Government Department. She served as Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science Chair and Director of East Asian Studies at Villanova University.
In 2014-15 Maria was a Social Science Research Council Abe Fellow. During 2008 and 2009, she was a nonresident visiting researcher at the International Monetary Fund; and in 2006-7 she was a Council on Foreign Relations/Hitachi International Affairs Fellow in Tokyo, where she worked at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. From 1997 to 2003, Maria was a research scholar at Stanford University’s Institute for International Studies (now the Freeman-Spogli Institute), the Asia/Pacific Research Center, and the Stanford Japan Center-Research in Kyoto, serving briefly as acting executive director of the Inter-University Center in Yokohama. She received her A.B. in Human Biology with Honors from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. with Distinction in Government from Georgetown University.
Her research focuses on the mechanisms of financial liberalization; the politics of development aid; policy financing; and banking and regulatory reform. With her frequent co-author, Dennis Quinn of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, she produces the Quinn-Toyoda CAPITAL index, a widely-cited measure of financial integration, sponsored by the International Monetary Fund. Her articles have appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Review of Financial Studies and IMF Economic Review. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Japanese Political Economy.

Lisa Vigliotta: Lisa is a Human Resources Partner at Suffolk University-Boston.  In addition to her role in the Human Resources Office Lisa has been an adjunct instructor for a number of years teaching courses at the undergraduate level in Human Resources and the 200 series course entitled Career Explore in the Sawyer Business School.  Lisa holds two professional HR certifications including the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the Society of Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).  Lisa has her Master's degree in Education from Suffolk University.  She is a first generation American - both parents were born in European countries.  Her hobbies include spending time with family, baking a variety of desserts and playing tennis.

Felicia Wiltz: Felicia is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Suffolk University. Her current research interests include teaching race in higher education; service learning in higher education; and racial disparities in breast cancer. She has taught sociology foundational courses, such as Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods and Statistics, and has taught diversity courses such as Immigration Law and Policy, The Immigrant Experience, Women and Work, Cultural Diversity and Human Need. At Northeastern University she was a participant in a diversity train-the-trainer program and served as a diversity trainer for 2 ½ years.

Past members:

Cherina Clark: Cherina is a native of Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Political Science with a pre-law concentration from Hampton University in Hampton, VA. Currently a joint degree student at Suffolk University Law School, Cherina will receive her J.D. and M.B.A. in May 2017. During her years at Suffolk Law, Cherina has garnered five different legal internships with companies such as Eaton Vance Management, Boston Scientific Corporation, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She has also been the recipient of several honors and awards including the Lyons and Foley Hoag Scholarship and the Governor’s Citation Award from former Massachusetts’s Governor, Deval Patrick. Cherina was also selected from an exclusive pool to be a Marshall-Brennan Law Fellow for the 2014-2015 academic year. In this capacity, Cherina was a student teacher in the Boston Public Schools system and taught high school seniors Constitutional Law.
In addition to her academic achievements, Cherina has been a fully engaged member of the Suffolk Law community. In 2014, Cherina co-founded Suffolk University Law School’s Education Law and Policy Society. She is also the current President of the Suffolk University Law School’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA). In March of 2016, as President of BLSA, Ms. Clark received the Student Leader of Social Change Award from Suffolk Law for her commitment and dedication to diversity. Cherina is interested in business and transactional law with plans of pursuing a career in corporate law upon graduation,

Frank Rudy Cooper: Frank (Rudy was his grandfather’ name) was the Facilitator of the Task Force. He is a Professor of Law and formerly the President’s Senior Advisor for Diversity. He teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Race, Gender & Law, and Criminal Law. His scholarship is about the legal and cultural roots of the policing of people of color, especially as it is affected by masculinities. He is co-editor of Masculinities and the Law: A Multidimensional Approach and author of more than 25 articles. He graduated from Amherst College and Duke Law School, where he was on both the Moot Court Board and the Journal of Gender, Law & Policy. He started teaching law in 2000 at Villanova University, and has been at Suffolk Law for twelve years. This is a homecoming for him, as his father taught in the Sawyer Business School. He is a proud graduate of the Cambridge Public Schools and still lives there with his wife and son. His main hobby is playing fantasy football.

Michelle Driffill: Michelle has been a Graduate Fellow with the Office of Diversity Services at Suffolk University since September 2015. She spent the past year working with ODS events, marketing, and promotions. Recently, Michelle transitioned roles at ODS to focus more on the Diversity Peer Educator program and trainings. This past summer she interned at Texas State University in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and University of Texas - San Antonio in the Student Center for Community Engagement & Inclusion. She will graduate in December 2016 with a Master of Administration in Higher Education from Suffolk University. Michelle obtained her Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a Concentration in Peace & Conflict Studies from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Michelle enjoys breakfast tacos, Big Red soda, and the San Antonio SPURS. Pronouns: she/her/hers

Tuyet (Tia) Fioravanti: Tuyet, also known as “Tia,” is the Administrator of the Task Force. Tuyet’s story begins in April of 1975, as Saigon fell, when the American government rescued approximately two thousand orphans, including one hundred and ninety five babies from Tuyet’s orphanage, An Lac. This was called Operation Baby lift. A Red Cross Cardiac Nurse and a soldier met and fell in love in Viet Nam. They returned to Boston, knew Betty Tisdale, who coordinated the babies to Fort Benning, and adopted Tuyet. Tuyet grew up in the South End, received an excellent education at Beaver Country Day School, and currently lives in the city with her husband.
Diversity and multi-culturalism were always an issue for Tuyet while growing up. Her sister and parents are/were German/Russian with blonde hair and blue eyes, and were picked on because Tuyet was different. There was a lack of diversity at her high school, which was challenging. Tuyet would like to hear more stories about diversity and multi-culturalism, both successes and struggles, from Suffolk’s students, staff, faculty and alumni.
Tuyet is a Senior Administrative Assistant for the Office of External Affairs, which is headed by Senior Vice President John Nucci and Associate Director Jason Wright. She joined Suffolk University in November of 2014. For the previous fourteen years, she was an administrative coordinator in the real estate industry.
Since she has been at Suffolk University, Tuyet has sat on the Holiday Committee and the Employee Activities Council, so she is currently planning Dean Stoll’s retirement party. She finds extreme fulfillment making people smile with her cooking. Her other loves are sports; you might see her clip into her bike at Soul Cycle or take some punches at the bag (or someone) in the ring.

Carolina Garcia: Carolina is the Director of the Center for Community Engagement. The Center’s mission is to cultivate and inspire a community committed to social justice. She is passionate about social justice and community engagement.  Carolina has been at Suffolk for 10 years. She is original from Venezuela and came to the US in the 90s to attend college. Carolina lives in the City with her husband and kids. She loves to run, read and travel.

Melanie Jenkins: Melanie is the Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Assessment. Prior to joining Suffolk University, Melanie was Assistant Director for Institutional Research at Tufts University and the Reporting Lead for the university’s PeopleSoft ERP development and implementation. Prior to Tufts, Melanie was a Statistical Analyst and Policy/Planning Specialist for Institutional Research and Planning at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), one of the largest community college systems in the country. In addition, Melanie is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. Melanie holds a bachelors of arts in Psychology from Christopher Newport University and a masters of arts in Urban Education and Educational Studies from Tufts University.
Melanie’s interest in access to education, the capital it provides families and communities, and diversity in education stems from being raised in the Washington, DC metro area. Her past research includes investigating spatial ability and cognition for students along a gender sex-role spectrum, the impact of school discipline practices on educational outcomes for African American females, and evaluating the psychosocial impact of schooling on students from various marginalized groups. Joining the diversity task force creates an opportunity to evaluate how access and success in an urban educational setting is conceptualized and operationalized at Suffolk. Moreover, the prospect of using empirical data to establish evidence of systemic and structural barriers to educational success at Suffolk University is one reason Melanie is excited to participate in the taskforce.

Robert (Bob) Smith: Bob is a Professor at the Law School who teaches courses in constitutional law, negotiation & mediation, and co-directs the Marshall-Brennan Program, in which law students teach constitutional law in the Boston Public Schools.  His research and scholarship have focused on the U.S Supreme Court, constitutional law and civil rights.  From 1999 to 2007 he was the Dean of the Law School and among his priority initiatives was development and implementation of a strategic plan to increase the diversity of the student body, faculty and administration.  For much of his career, he taught in clinical education programs in which law students represented low-income clients on social justice issues.  He is member of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.