Team



Dr. Josephine De Leon - UNM Vice President for Equity and Inclusion will serve as the PI for the Unidos Grant

Dr. De Leon is a recognized national leader in diversity, equity and inclusion. Her credentials are extensive and her lifelongpassion and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice has resulted in her selection to serve on two national boards. She serves onthe National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) established through the American Council on Education (ACE) and theCommission on Access, Diversity and Excellence (CADE) of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU). Dr. De Leon presently servesas the first Vice President for NADOHE. She is also a regional director for CADE. Her responsibilities include working with New Mexico, Colorado, Arizonaand Utah institutions of higher education on diversity, equity, inclusion and excellence.

In addition, the VPEI is the state coordinator for the Women in Higher Education Network through the American Council for Higher Education. She has broughtwomen from 2- and 4-year state institutions of higher education together to explore professional development, leadership building and support activities. This year, Dr. De Leon was awarded the Dolores Huerta “Walking the Talk” Award by the New Mexico Hispanic Round Table. This award recognizes her commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice as central to her life and work.

Jennifer Gomez-Chavez - Project Director

Jennifer is currently the director for Student Academic Success at the University of New Mexico. She has 22 yrs experience working with low-income, and students from underrepresented backgrounds through her positions with the LULAC National Educational Service Center and the University of New Mexico. She has a B.A. Criminal Justice, a Master’s in counseling, and is presently a doctoral student in the UNM Educational Leadership program. Recently she was the director of Title V – Main campus grant from the U.S. Department of Education. She led the first Title V grant that was granted to UNM-Main entitled: Improving Campus Climate for Hispanic and Low-Income students. In her role she worked to increase retention and graduation rates by collaborating with students, staff, and faculty, to build a community through Engagement.

Ms. Gomez-Chavez’s experience includes academic advisement, retention initiatives, orientation development and implementation, mentor/tutor training, faculty/student mediation, departmental management, academic coaching, and staff development. Jennifer has been part-time faculty teaching the Psychology of Hope for the past 11 years, which being in the classroom is one of her passions. She has also serves on countless UNM committees including; Provost Committee on Advisement, LOBOS for Legislation -UNM Alumni Association, Mentoring Institute Advisory Committee, the Graduation Task Force Student Engagement Committee (Chair), Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions Educators, and Lumina Unidos Planning Committee.

Jennifer believes that student success is enhanced through community partnerships. For the past 17 years, Jennifer has worked closely with community organizations to build relationships between the Hispanic and the University community. For example, she currently, she serves as the Chair for the Hispanic Heritage Committee for the City of Albuquerque that is comprised of approximately 60 organizations to plan, develop, and implements activities that celebrate and preserve Hispanic Culture. On a national level, Jennifer actively participates as a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), NASPA, NACADA, and U.S. Department Title V initiatives. Additionally, she is an active board member for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and also serves on the M.S. Advocacy committee, for the Rio Grande Chapter. With the MS society she advocates at the congressional level to improve federal policies for people living with MS

Dr. Teresa Brito Asenap - Community Liaison

Dr. Teresa Brito-Asenap received her doctoral degree in Educational Administration from New Mexico State University. The focus of her study was in community partnerships in the field of Education. This topic was in keeping with the long history she has as an educator and community organizer whose work has been directed at improving education systems and closing the equity-gap for Latino students, their families and their communities.

Dr. Brito-Asenap received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Albuquerque in Education and began her career as a Special Education teacher. After receiving her Master’s in Special Education/Educational Administration at the University of New Mexico, she then served as an instructor in the UNM Rural Master’s Program; Director of Education, Social and Economic Development for the All Indian Pueblo Council; Public Information Officer and Policy Aide to the NM Secretary of Human Services; Director of the Child, Youth and Family Development Program as well as the Education Programs at Central New Mexico Community College; and, most recently as Director of Community Partnerships and Extended Learning for Albuquerque Public Schools.

Currently, she is serving as a consultant to the Lumina Unidos Project Grant in assisting the Project in engaging institutional and community partners to the this initiative.

Dr. Meriah E. Heredia-Griego

Meriah E. Heredia-Griego currently serves as a research assistant professor at the Center for Education Policy Research and the Division of Equity and Inclusion at the University of New Mexico. Within this position she conducts research and evaluation on several large-scale projects, including the Lumina Latino Student Success Initiative and the WKKF New Mexico Learning and Evaluation Virtual Consortium. During the legislative session, she serves as the University Legislative Bill Tracker conducting legislative bill and policy analysis. She has over ten years of experience in working on college readiness, access, persistence, and graduation issues with students, families, leaders, and policy-makers. Her current faculty appointment is in Teacher Education, Educational Leadership and Policy in the College of Education where she teaches courses focused on developing emerging educational leaders. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Chicano Studies and Masters of Community and Regional Planning with an in Community Development from the University of New Mexico. In 2013, she earned her PhD in Higher Education Administration and Policy from Colorado State University. Her scholarly interests include education policy, narrative inquiry, construction of student identities in policy discourse, Hispanic Serving Institution leadership, and government relations and lobbying in higher education.

Lorena Blanco - Communication Manager

Lorena Blanco-Silva is currently the Administrative Officer for the Division for Equity and Inclusion at the University of New Mexico. Ms. Blanco-Silva has spent over 10 years working in higher education, particularly with issues regarding the recruitment, retention and attainment levels for Latino students.

A first-generation college student, Blanco-Silva received her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Communications from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a Public Management Concentration with an expected completion date of Spring 2015.

A former journalist, Blanco-Silva has served as the Director of Public Relations at Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum and most recently served as the Executive Director of Development and Marketing for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) in San Antonio, Texas. During her time with HACU, she co-founded the nationally acclaimed Lánzate – Dandole Alas a Tu Exito/Giving Flight to Your Success travel award program in order to bridge the distances for students traveling away from home to pursue a higher education. She continues to serve on the scholarship review and selection committee for the Lánzate Program and the HACU scholarship program.

Lorena serves as the Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic and Latino Charities of the US and the Americas, and has previously served as a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Hispanic Advisory Council. Additionally, she participates in the Association of Fund Raising Professional, NCLR, Las Comadres de la Americas, the Hispanic Heritage Committee and MANA. She was also been profiled in the Women’s Issue of Latino Leaders Magazine as a Latina Leader dedicated to community service.