SAN ANTONIO – The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities is pleased to
announce the 39 fellows who will be part of the fourth cohort of its Leadership Academy/La
Academia de Liderazgo, which includes Dr. Isabel O’Connor, Vice President of Instruction
at San Diego Mesa College. The program is designed to increase diverse representation
in executive and senior-level positions in higher education. Fellows participate in
an array of leadership development activities preparing them for leadership roles
in the full spectrum of institutions of higher learning, with an emphasis on Hispanic-Serving
Institutions and Emerging HSIs.
“Dr. O’Connor is a valued and essential part of the Mesa College community; her presence
adds depth, breadth, innovation, and heart to our vision of becoming the leading college
of equity and excellence,” stated Mesa College President Dr. Ashanti Hands. “The only
thing that excites me more about the opportunity for Dr. O’Connor to engage in such
a prestigious leadership academy with esteemed colleagues is that this cohort will
also get to benefit from her equity-minded, student-centered, innovative contributions
and mindset. Dr. O’Connor’s leadership is already impacting the success of our students
and breathing life into our designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution. This experience
will only elevate and expand her talent, wisdom, and capacity to lead transformational
The one-year fellowship program includes webinars and three seminars, with an orientation
webinar on September 21, 2022. The first seminar will be held in October 2022 in conjunction
with HACU’s 36th Annual Conference. The second seminar will be held in Washington,
D.C., in April 2023, at HACU’s National Capitol Forum. The third seminar will be an
international seminar to be held in the spring or summer of 2023.
Dr. O’Connor has served as Mesa’s Vice President of Instruction since January 2019.
She has led several of Mesa’s equity efforts related to the college’s designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, including
securing a new Title III HSI STEM grant in 2021. Additionally, she has improved equity
and access through curriculum review and development, pioneered professional development initiatives,
such as the Curriculum Equity and Excellence Review Institute, and led the college's
Mesa Pathways initiative which provides Mesa’s diverse student population with clear
direction, strong support and well-developed roadmaps to achieving their educational,
career, and life goals. Dr. O'Connor serves on the CCCCIO Board and as a member
of the San Diego Hispanic Scholarship Fund Advisory Council.
"I am humbled and deeply honored to have been selected as part of HACU's Academia
de Liderazgo,” stated Dr. O’Connor. "I look forward to the great opportunities for
professional growth and development the Academia offers. I am especially excited
to learn and grow alongside other Hispanic colleagues from across the nation."
A native of Spain and the first one in her family to graduate from college, Dr. O'Connor
earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Alicante before immigrating
to the United States in 1986. After learning English at Los Angeles City College,
she obtained a B.A. in European Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and a Ph.D.
in medieval Spanish history at U.C.L.A.
The Leadership Academy faculty consists of current and former presidents, chancellors
and senior administrators and brings over 100 years of combined experience in serving
various sectors of higher education, including private/public universities, community
colleges and faith-based institutions. Mentorship with a university president is a
key component, as well as the development of a special project designed to have an
impact at the Fellow’s current institution.
Special thanks to Carnegie Corporation of New York, Capital One and American Federation
of Teachers (AFT) for their support in providing fellowships to selected recipients:
The Fellows and their home institutions are:
Kathaleen Acosta, Ed.D., Dallas College
*Erika Allen, College of Southern Idaho
Amanda Corona, University of California, San Diego
Carlos Cruz, Ed.D., Dallas College
*Marlene De La Cruz, Ph.D., Viterbo University
Julie Dinger, Ph.D., Oklahoma Panhandle State University
Guillermo Escalante, D.Sc., California State University, San Bernadino
Maruth Figueroa, Ed.D., University of California, San Diego
Heidy Frías, M.D., Texas A&M University
*Sandra D. García, Ed.D., The University of Texas at San Antonio
Diana Garza, Ph.D., Boise State University
Ana María González, Universidad Ana G. Méndez
Ángel González, Ph.D., New Jersey City University
**Yhovana Gordon, Ed.D., D.N.P., Florida International University
*Grace Gutiérrez, Ph.D., University of the Incarnate Word
Juan B. Gutiérrez, Ph.D., The University of Texas at San Antonio
Andrea I. Guzmán, Ed.D., University of Central Florida
Melanie Hernandez, Ph.D., California State University, Fresno
*Elena Hernández Burke, Alverno College
*Rocío D. Hernández, Ed.D. Ventura College
*Laura M. Hunt, DBA, University of the Southwest
Joan Jaimes, Ph.D., San Antonio College
Tatyana Karaman, Ph.D., Western Oregon University
Heather C. Macías, Ph.D., California State University, Long Beach
*Sara A. Mata, Ph.D., Newman University
Fred Millán, Ph.D., State University of New York at Old Westbury
***Néstor Montilla, Ph.D., Lehman College of The City University of New York
**Alesandra C. Morales-Vélez, Ph.D., Universidad de Puerto, Mayagüez
Gilberto Mosqueda, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Marisa Moyet-Lugo, Malcolm X Community College
**Jonathan Muñoz Barreto, Ph.D., Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez
Isabel de los Ángeles O'Connor, Ph.D., San Diego Mesa College
*Brittany R. Padilla, The University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus
María E. Pérez y González, Ph.D., Brooklyn College, CUNY
*Yoel Rodríguez, Ph.D., Hostos Community College, CUNY
Vanessa Tejada, Ed.D., California Institute of Technology
**Janie Valdés, Ed.D., Florida International University
Steven T. Wuhs, Ph.D., Oregon State University
René Zenteno, Ph.D., The University of Texas at San Antonio
*Carnegie Fellowship recipient.
**Capital One Fellowship recipient.
*** American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Fellowship recipient.
More information about the HACU Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo is available
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, founded in 1986, represents
more than 500 colleges and universities in the United States, Latin America, Spain
and school districts throughout the U.S. HACU is the only national association representing
existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). The Association’s headquarters
in San Antonio, Texas, with regional offices in Washington, D.C and Sacramento, California.
This news publication was made possible (in part) by a grant from Carnegie Corporation
of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility
of the author.
About San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college committed
to access, success, and equity. We honor those commitments as a diverse community
of students, faculty, professional staff, and administrators who collaborate to foster
scholarship, leadership, innovation, and excellence in an inclusive learning environment.
By promoting student learning and achievement that leads to degrees and certificates,
transfer, workforce training, and lifelong learning, we empower our students to reach
their educational goals and shape their future. Among the largest community colleges
in California, Mesa College serves 30,000 students per year, 25% of whom are full-time.
Mesa offers nearly 200 associate degree and certificate programs and is one of 15
California community colleges offering a four-year baccalaureate degree. Mesa ranks
as San Diego’s top transfer institution, is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution and
a Military Friendly School, serving more than 3,500 veterans and their families. www.sdmesa.edu.
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Tags: HACU, Isabel O'Connor, Hispanic Serving Institutions