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Diversity at Linfield

President's Diversity Advisory Committee

The Linfield College 2012-2018 Strategic Plan calls on increasing efforts to actively recruit and support a wide diversity of students and staff.

As a part of that commitment, the President's Advisory Committee on Diversity at Linfield College was created to promote initiatives to create a more diverse and inclusive community and initiate community-wide discussions about the value of diversity. President Thomas L. Hellie chaired the 15-member committee, made up of students, faculty and staff, during its initial years. The committee reviewed and assessed programs, proposed institutional initiatives and explored what diversity meant to the Linfield College community. It evaluated the changes in our student body, how we respond to and support those changes, and studied the implications of the changing demographics on our campus. After the initial three years, the President determined that the Committee should become a permanent standing committee of the College. The Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) is co-chaired by a faculty member and an administrator. The DAC welcomes all feedback, suggestions, concerns, and ideas. To contact the committee email

DAC Mission

The mission of the Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) is to promote, advance, and confirm Linfield’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The DAC fulfills its mission by:

  • Providing avenues for courageous and thoughtful dialogue in a climate of mutual respect
  • Fostering educational programming and open forums to address community needs
  • Ensuring a sense of place where ALL community members can engage, model, and celebrate our diverse identities and differences
  • Upholding academic freedom that encourages and supports innovative approaches to mentoring, teaching, research, and learning
  • Continually advising the President on matters that need attention and action in upholding the values described in this mission statement.

Committee Members

James Kela Grace is currently a Junior (Class of 2017) majoring in Applied Physics. He hails from O'ahu, one of the islands of Hawai'i. He is a proud three-year letterman of the Linfield Wildcat Football Team and is also the Treasurer of the Hawaiian club. Kela is also a continuing member the Theta Chi-Delta Alpha chapter. Kela is proud to be one of the student members in the Diversity Advisory Committee and hopes to provide an insightful point of view, which will help increase the positive atmosphere of the Linfield community. 

Maricela Vazquez Cortez is a senior pursuing her second bachelor’s degree in Nursing. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education from Western Oregon University. Maricela is a native from Zacatecas, Mexico. She moved to Oregon at the age of five with her parents and siblings. She is passionate about public health and educating Latinos. Before her acceptance to nursing school she worked as a public health worker distributing directly observed therapy to positive tuberculosis clients in Marion County.  Maricela’s goal while attending Linfield is to promote inclusion among diverse communities and serve as an advocate for peers at the Portland Campus. Once she graduates she wishes to utilize both her degrees to educate the community she lives in and work as a public health nurse. Maricela is currently married and has two leopard geckos Misty and Gwenie. 

Alleta Maier
, lover of the universe and equality, is one of Linfield’s Safe Space Coordinators and she’s the current president of Fusion: Linfield’s Queer Student Union. Her pronouns are she/her/hers and she proudly identifies as a queer woman. Often seen in Schrödinger’s Box or Math Alley, Alleta loves exploring the universe through the lens of math and physics (her majors), but can also talk about gender studies (her minor) for ages and she’s always interested in new perspectives. She’s on track to graduate Linfield in 2018.

Alleta is always trying to do her part in making her community more inclusive. This pursuit of inclusiveness really took hold in High School through her volunteer work with an advocacy organization for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in her hometown of The Dalles, Oregon known as HAVEN. She worked as a member of HAVEN’s teen theater troupe to teach audiences about the importance of consent and how to be an ally. This work became a passion of hers and she logged more than 1000 hours of community service with HAVEN. She’s been a part of and presented at many conferences focused on inclusivity: The Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference, the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference and HAVEN’s Healthy Teen Relationship Conference to name a few. Hopefully by now you’ve heard of the new gender inclusive housing options which Alleta is very proud to have helped to bring to the Linfield community. If you’re ever looking to learn more about how to do your part in making Linfield more inclusive you’re welcome to talk to Alleta personally, come to a Fusion meeting or sit in on one of the Safe Space Trainings that she coordinates and facilitates on campus.

Rita Martinez-Salas is a native Oregonian and has been a member of Linfield College since 2013.  She currently works as an Academic Records Specialist in the Registrar’s Office assisting students with transfer credit equivalencies and helps students meet Linfield Curriculum requirements for graduation.   Rita earned a BA from Western Oregon University in sociology and a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in sociology and ethnic studies from Oregon State University.

As a first-generation college student, Rita understands the importance of creating a campus environment that is inclusive and reflective of the diverse experiences of students, faculty, and staff.  She has taught Chicano/Latino Studies courses at the community college level and remains active, advocating for the needs of the Latino community.  Rita is currently coordinating an oral history project, recording, documenting, and preserving the stories and life experiences of Latino’s in Yamhill County.  Rita spends most of her free time with her family - trying to keep up with her active boys.  She also enjoys the outdoors, reading and recycling.

Dawn Graff-Haight is Professor of Health Education and has been a member of the HHPA Department faculty at Linfield College since 1996.  She earned a B.S. and M.S. at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, and a Ph.D. at Oregon State University. As a health educator, she teaches a variety of courses in which multicultural issues are addressed in the context of physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Dawn serves as co-advisor to Fusion and Kappa Sigma fraternity.  She is a member of the Oregon Healthy Kids Learn Better Cadre of Teacher Trainers, has served as President of the Oregon Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE), and on the Board of Directors for the American Association for Health Education. Dawn is proud to Co-Chair the President's Diversity Advisory Committee where she has the opportunity to enhance the supportive learning and living environment for all Linfield College students, staff and faculty.

Shaik L. Ismail is the Director of International Programs and Associate Professor of Political Science at Linfield College.  Born and initially educated in Malaysia, Shaik obtained a B.A. in Economics from Beloit College in Wisconsin and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Public Policy and Economics from The American University in Washington DC.  At Linfield, his work focuses on enhancing opportunities for students and faculty to engage in global and multi-cultural understanding and awareness through participation and teaching in programs abroad and in on campus learning. Shaik is also an advocate for our international students who represent more than 30 cultures around the world.   As Co-Chair of the President’s Diversity Advisory Committee, Shaik hopes that his service will help promote, guide and enrich thoughtful deliberation about matters of diversity and inclusion on our campus and in our community.

Marie Noussi is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone African Studies. Her research and teaching deal primarily with postcolonial ecocriticism. In other words, Professor Noussi’s work is mostly about marginalized beings and communities: oppressed people, people of color (mostly Blacks), women, and the environment. Her aim is to give these beings a voice and find strategies to counter different systems of oppression and marginalization.

Sara Gómez is a junior pursuing a double major in Political Science and English Literature with a minor in Law, Rights & Justice. She grew up on the island of Ketchikan, Alaska and is a proud Latina. Sara serves as a resident advisor, Director of Alternative Spring Break, a Student Career Specialist and Unidos intern. Sara will be interning in a congressional office with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute over the summer. She is passionate about social justice, especially as it pertains to Latino/as, considering it her life mission to see that the Latino/a community has equal access to higher education and all the tools necessary for success. Sara is excited to share her perspective as a member of the President’s Diversity Committee and hopes to see greater diversity and inclusion in years to come at Linfield College.

Gerardo Ochoa is an experienced intercultural and bilingual higher education professional committed to serving underrepresented students in higher education.  Gerardo’s passion to serve underrepresented students stems from his experience as a first generation college student who faced health and financial challenges as an undergraduate. Those challenge-filled years solidified Gerardo’s interest in higher education.  From then on Gerardo has devoted his professional career to helping students, colleges and universities, and developing his skills as an intercultural higher education professional.  Gerardo received his Master’s in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate school of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Minor in Latin American History from the University of Oregon. Gerardo serves Linfield as Assistant Dean for Diversity and Community Partnerships.  Gerardo is married, has a daughter in college, and a 5 lb. yorkie named Mambo.

Esperance Ibuka currently serves as the Area Director for Housing with the primary focus of providing a safe, diverse, inclusive, supportive, and welcoming environment that fosters personal development and academic success. Moreover she works directly with students in their quest for personal and leadership development. She provides guidance and opportunities that challenge individuals to explore and achieve their full potential, think critically, develop strategies to be successful in life and act as global citizens. She also serves as the chair of the Linfield Administrators Assembly.

Esperance has a passion for international development and international education. She considers herself an educator who promotes holistic development of individuals through inclusion, multicultural appreciation, mentorship, conflict resolution and relationship building. Esperance is a strong advocate for minorities and the underrepresented and currently works with numerous organizations involved in social justice and poverty reduction initiatives across the African continent.

Mary E. Bartlett, DNP is a recent immigrant to Portland and Linfield from New Haven, CT where she was the Medical Director for the HAVEN Student-run Free Clinic for the past 10 years. As a member of the 10th class of women to be admitted to Yale, she learned about the role of the outsider as a gay, half-Japanese, left-handed person. Throughout her career as a Family Nurse Practitioner and HIV Specialist, she has worked to provide access to health care to the medically underserved. She sees her role on the President’s Diversity Advisory Committee as an opportunity to support nursing students from diverse backgrounds as they strive to make change at Linfield, their communities and beyond.

Jason Rodriquez has served as the Director of Multicultural Programs in the Division of Student Affairs since 2011.  Since his arrival, Jason has facilitated an increase in the number of multicultural student organizations, and increased membership in existing clubs.  He has also worked with students to transform LCLA, a mentorship program for first generation Latino/a students, and launched WIN, another mentorship program for incoming freshmen from diverse backgrounds.  Jason is particularly proud of the creation of gender inclusive restrooms and housing options on campus, as well as the student-designed and led Safe Spaces Training, which raises awareness of LGBTQ+ issues on campus, promotes advocacy for inclusion of all students, and provides skills for confronting oppressive comments.  In addition to directing the Multicultural Program and serving on the President’s Diversity Advisory Committee, Jason has served on the Student Success Team, Professional Development Day Committee and the Administrator Assembly Social Task Committee. In 2014, Jason was appointed to a 3-year term on the National Advisory Council for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE). He is also highly involved with the Oregon Indian Education Association serving as a board member.

Jason completed his M.S. in College Student Services at Western Illinois University and a B. S. in Ethnic Studies from Oregon State University.  Prior to coming to Linfield College, Jason was Director of Diversity Education and Support, and Coordinator of the Bias Response Team in the Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Oregon, and the Assistant Director of Multicultural Services in the Office of International and Multicultural Services at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ.

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