Advocates of the Month
Chief Diversity Advocates
This month’s featured chief diversity advocate is Julie Brewer, Associate University Librarian for Human Resources and Organizational Development, University of Delaware Library and Museums. Her role is to continually assess and integrate diversity and inclusion strategies throughout the recruitment, on-boarding, staff and organizational development processes. She works with the Library Diversity Committee to plan staff learning and development opportunities and with colleagues across the organization to recruit early career librarians to the Pauline A. Young Residency program. These are significant cornerstones of the Library’s human resources program.
More broadly, she represents the diversity and inclusion efforts throughout the Library and Museums. “Serving as a chief diversity advocate is the most enriching part of my job. The Library and Museums staff work very hard to create welcoming spaces, diverse collections, and scholarly collaborations. I’m honored to work with such talented and dedicated colleagues. It’s truly amazing how much we do.” The Library Diversity webpage features the many initiatives, people, resources, and collections that advance the equity, diversity and inclusion goals of the Library and Museums.
Julie has a Master Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Library and Information Studies and a Master of Public Administration Degree from the University Delaware specializing in Human Resource Management. She is actively involved in diversity initiatives in a number of national research library organizations. These professional networks provide many development opportunities and enrich recruitment efforts for the University of Delaware Library and Museums. Her community involvement as a facilitator in the YWCA study circles program and her biographical research related to Pauline A. Young, a prominent civil rights leader, historian, author, and librarian has fostered her continuing interest in Delaware history and race relations.
This month’s featured diversity advocate is Jacqui Schuman, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Initiatives & Talent Management in the Department of Athletics and Recreation Services (DIARS).
Schuman, who joined the Blue Hens family this past October, has filled an exciting new role in Athletics where she oversees strategic initiatives, project management, and special assignments. She leads a team whose purpose is to connect, inspire, and engage the DIARS community and embrace and uphold the departmental mission of “Inspiring Greatness Together.”
She brought a myriad of skills and special experiences to Delaware, including serving as the Division Head for Athletics and Wellness at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City; working as Associate Athletic Director at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where she oversaw all internal and external athletic facilities, while managing athletic, campus and community events; serving in the areas of student-athlete development and welfare at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Tennessee; and providing consulting expertise for both the National Consortium for Academic and Sport and for the Center for the Study of Sports in Society through the Mentors in Violence Prevention, Team Leadership Institute, and Branded a Leader programs.
In just her first year as a Chief Diversity Advocate, Schuman is already gaining an understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities at UD, is actively engaged in initiatives on campus to further enhance these areas, and is working vigorously in developing strategies to meet the University’s goals on this most important topic.
In her role as CDA within Athletics, Schuman promotes practice, training, and understanding around equity and inclusion. She is working with the department on a Quality Review Assessment to guide the direction for the development of a strategic plan for this area and incorporate the department’s core value of “inclusion” into the practices of everything we do; works within Athletics to review, assess, and improve the climate around diversity and inclusion through assessment, evaluation and implementation of programming; creates partnerships with CDAs to learn from and model successful programming; and is working in partnership with student-athlete development personnel to ensure student-athletes develop awareness and are equipped with tools to address issues and also grow in their understanding of these areas.
Just last month she traveled to Providence, R.I. with UD men’s soccer player John Schroeder and UD Athletics Assistant Director for Student Services & Leadership and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee leader Ben Oser to take part in the NCAA Inclusion Forum and brought home a wealth of knowledge on how to best implement procedures on the Delaware campus.
Schuman clearly embraces challenges. She graduated with honors in human and organizational development from Vanderbilt University in 1999 and not only excelled academically but thrived as a standout runner for the Commodore’s track & field and cross country teams. She later earned her master’s degree in exercise and sport science with a concentration in Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina.
She also is involved in numerous professional organizations and when she finds the time, has run a marathon or two.
This month’s featured diversity advocate is Jissell Martinez, business administrator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy where she manages all human resources and financial matters of a unit with approximately $7 million in research expenditures. Martinez previously worked Delaware’s Office of Management and Budget as senior fiscal and policy analyst where she provided budgetary expertise on Department of Corrections, Judiciary Branch and other criminal justice agencies to Cabinet Secretary Ann Visalli and Governor Jack Markell. Martinez has served as Chief Diversity Advocate for the College of Arts and Sciences at UD since 2015. Martinez holds both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware. Martinez was an advocate for socio-economic justice and the educational advancement of students of color as an undergraduate student leader and Ronald E. McNair Scholar.
Outside of the University, Martinez established Latinas In Motion, Inc. in Delaware in 2015. The nonprofit fitness and running group encourages, inspires and empowers women to adopt healthy lifestyles. Martinez established the fastest growing chapter with over 475 members. Martinez created a community for women in Delaware to connect, motivate and support one another through social media. Martinez leads free “Wake Up and Work” exercise classes and running meetups where she encourages and mentors women to participate in races.
Since 2005, Martinez has served as a volunteer for Aspira of Delaware mentoring Latino high school students through the college application process.
Since 2003, Martinez has served as a volunteer at the Latin American Community Center as judge and keynote speaker at the annual Hispanic Student Recognition Program and from 2003-2005 she served as the youngest mentor for the Juvenile Mentoring Program (JUMP) as a mentor to at-risk 2nd graders.
Martinez has empowered women and the underrepresented. She is an inspirational and proactive leader. She was inspired by her personal battle with obesity and family history of cancer and diabetes to create a fitness movement in the Latina community in Delaware. Although part of the fastest growing population, Latinas represent the lowest levels of physical activity. Martinez created a support system inspiring hundreds of women to incorporate fitness and nutrition into their everyday lives and fight their top killers, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Martinez has built a reputation as advocate for the underrepresented in higher education in her community and workplace. As an active student leader, she raised national attention about diversity at UD. She has guided high school students through the college application process for over a decade and as a Chief Diversity Advocate, she has helped create a strategic plan for inclusive excellence at UD.
This month’s featured diversity advocate is Tanya Gressley, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).
Gressley assumed the role in the fall of 2015 and is heavily involved in diversity efforts throughout CANR. She serves as the faculty mentor for the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANNRS) student group and started the AGcelerate Enrichment Program with Erin Brannick, assistant professor in CANR.
MANNRS is a national organization that, according to its website, promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.
Through her involvement with MANNRS, Gressley works with Laniya Thompson, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and president of the organization at UD, who Gressley said works tirelessly to promote the organization’s effort.
AGcelerate was funded through a grant from the President’s Diversity Initiative and came about in the fall of 2013.
“Our goal with AGcelerate is to promote academic growth, professional development and help students develop the leadership skills that will take them to the next level in their academic and professional careers,” said Gressley who noted that AGcelerate is open to all students, but is particularly focused on serving underrepresented groups.
Gressley, who identifies as gay and grew up in a diverse environment in the Washington D.C. area, said that diversity is incredibly important for an educational institution to foster the highest level of intellectual advancement for its students.
“The educational experience for students is much greater when we have input from and respect of all backgrounds. The environment is much more exciting when we have people coming with different perspectives,” said Gressley.
Gressley started a CANR Diversity Committee in order to foster diversity and inclusion within the college, which just welcomed a diverse class of incoming freshmen with underrepresented minorities making up 20 percent of the class.
With regards to research, Gressley is focused on dairy cattle health and nutrition, specifically related to the gut health of cows and how to best go about feeding cows. Gressley said that with improved gut health, cows can improve their productivity and lifespan on a farm.
The 350-acre CANR farm in Newark allows Gressley the opportunity to teach several classes to students that involve the dairy cows.
As to how she got involved with research related to cows, Gressley said that she initially went to the University of Maryland as an undergraduate to become a veterinarian but she had the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research and never looked back.
“I got distracted on my way to vet school. I’m from the suburbs of Maryland and I wanted to be a small animal veterinarian. I had no agriculture experience at all and as an undergrad, I got introduced to farm animals which I thought was weird because I wanted to be a cat and dog vet, but then I started to do undergrad research with the cows and I liked it. I’m much more satisfied in this job than if I was in a vet office,” said Gressley.
This month’s featured chief diversity advocate is Regina Wright of the College of Health Sciences (CHS). Wright assumed the role for CHS during the summer of 2016. She holds several diversity-focused roles around campus, including UD ADVANCE fellow and associate dean for diversity.
In her role with UD ADVANCE, Wright held faculty search committee training sessions, educating attendees on inclusive hiring practices, which the college has since implemented in its faculty searches.
In CHS, she created a diversity working group with representatives from the dean’s office and the college’s five academic departments. The group is busy creating an inaugural health sciences summer camp and other pipeline initiatives. Wright intends to team up with CHS’s research office to bring national experts to Newark to discuss mentoring needs for diverse faculty.
“I’m a few months into a new role with CHS. My initial work is focused on establishing priorities and identifying gaps within the college and working to create a more inclusive environment for faculty, staff and students,” explained the nursing associate professor.
In November, Wright will launch a diversity and inclusion speaker series, which features four presenters throughout the academic year. These discussions will focus on diversity challenges in healthcare and academia. The first takes place on November 30 at 11:00 a.m. in the STAR Health Sciences Complex; Crystal Glover, assistant professor at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, will discuss health disparities and cultural competency. Please pre-register using this form.
Wright earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from UD in 2000. She returned to the University in fall 2011 in her role with the School of Nursing. Her research examines cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive function in older adults.
“I’m interested in subtle cognitive changes that may precede stroke and dementia in middle age and older adulthood. Identifying cognitive changes early on presents an important opportunity for behavioral and pharmacological interventions to maintain cognitive functioning.”
Currently, Wright is an investigator on a multi-year Center of Biomedical Research Excellence grant. She is investigating endothelial function in relation to the brain and cognition. She is also continuing her work examining relations of diet quality and cognitive function that was funded by Delaware INBRE.
Wright is also an active member of UD’s Black Alumni Organization, secretary of the Board of the Wilmington Senior Center and newly-minted member of the Nemours Health Equity Consortium.