Aspire Advisory Board

Diana Azurdia Headshot

Diana Azurdia

Director for Recruitment and Inclusion for Graduate Programs in Bioscience , University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Diana Azurdia serves as the Director for Recruitment and Inclusion for Graduate Programs in Bioscience. In this role, Dr. Azurdia leads the development and implementation of a strategic plan to enhance diversity in the biomedical graduate student population. Additionally, Dr. Azurdia uses her platform as a National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Master Facilitator to promote inclusive mentoring practices at UCLA where she is the Director of the UCLA Entering Mentoring Training Program. Read Dr. Azurdia's full bio here.

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Lynda Brown-Wright

Provost, Jackson State University

Dr. Lynda Brown-Wright currently serves as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Jackson State University. Prior to joining Jackson State University, Dr. Brown-Wright served in numerous leadership capacities at institutions of higher learning, including vice president for Academic Affairs and dean at Kentucky State University, founding associate provost for Faculty Affairs at Georgia State University, and assistant provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Kentucky. Additionally, she has served as Department Chair of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology and Associate Director of African American Studies and Research Program at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Brown-Wright is a former Fellow of the prestigious American Council on Education (ACE).

In addition to her administrative leadership roles, Dr. Brown-Wright has been a productive researcher, having served as the principal investigator for NIH-funded grants to study the risk factors of cardiovascular disease in African-American children and youth, as well as serving a principal investigator and co-principal investigator on a number of other NIH and foundation grants. She has also authored numerous scholarly publications, made many invited and refereed presentations at national and international learned society meetings, and served as Associate Editor for the Journal of Black Psychology.

A native of Louisiana, Dr. Brown-Wright received a bachelor’s in psychology from Grambling State University, an Ed.S. in School Psychology and a M.S. in Educational Psychology from the State University of New York in Albany, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Texas A & M University. She also completed a clinical internship at Medical College of Georgia and Veteran’s Administration Consortium in Augusta, Georgia.

As a testament to her work in higher education, she has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades acknowledging significant contributions to her discipline, to research, social justice and the community.

Sonja Feist-Price

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Michigan-Flint

Sonja Feist-Price was appointed the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs effective August 1, 2020. Dr. Feist-Price earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, a D.Rh. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, her M.S. from Southern University, Baton Rouge, and a B.S. from McNeese State University, Lake Charles. She is a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Kentucky, a nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in the state of Kentucky and a trained mediator. Dr. Feist-Price came to UM-Flint from the University of Kentucky where she served as the Vice President for Institutional Diversity. Her professorial tenure includes roles as a professor in the department of early childhood, special education, and counselor education at the University of Kentucky, and a visiting professor at the University of California San Francisco. Possessing an extensive history with externally-funded research, Dr. Feist-Price has authored numerous scholarly publications and made invited and refereed presentations at international, national, and regional conference venues. She has been the recipient of numerous awards acknowledging significant contributions to academic research and teaching.

Mildred García Headshot

Mildred García

President, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU)

Dr. Mildred García assumed the presidency of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) on January 22, 2018.

As AASCU's president, Dr. García is an advocate for public higher education at the national level, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses. She is the first Latina to lead one of the six presidentially based higher education associations in Washington, D.C. Read Dr. García's full bio here.

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Nicolle Grayson

Director of Communications, Educational Trust

With more than 15 years of experience in issues advocacy, media relations, and strategic planning, Nicolle advances the organization’s equity agenda by disseminating its work and message to a broad range of stakeholders nationwide, including policymakers, practitioners, advocates, parents, and students. Read Ms. Grayson's full bio here.

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Charles Henderson

Professor of Physics, Western Michigan University

Dr. Charles Henderson is a professor of physics education research holding a joint appointment in the Department of Physics and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at Western Michigan University. He is the co-founder and co-director of the WMU Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education. Read Dr. Henderson's full bio here.

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Robert Jones

Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Robert J. Jones became chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on September 26, 2016. Jones, who served as president of the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) since 2013, is an experienced and accomplished scientist and research university leader. Jones’ tenure at one of the SUNY system’s leading research universities followed a 34-year career at the University of Minnesota, a Big Ten land-grant institution, where he began as a plant physiologist in the department of agronomy and plant genetics and rose through a series of academic administrative appointments, serving as senior vice president for academic administration at the University of Minnesota System from 2004 to 2013.

A Georgia native, Jones, born in 1951, earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master’s degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He began his academic career as a faculty member at Minnesota and became an internationally respected authority on plant physiology. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.

In addition to serving as chancellor of the Urbana university, Jones is a vice president of the University of Illinois System, which also has universities in Chicago and Springfield. Jones also holds a tenured faculty position in the Department of Crop Sciences, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Jones is the first African-American scholar appointed as Urbana chancellor since the office was created in 1967.

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Shirley Malcom

Senior Advisor and Director of STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Shirley Malcom is the senior advisor and director of STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change at AAAS. She works to improve the quality and increase access to education and careers in STEM fields as well as to enhance public science literacy. Dr. Malcom is a trustee of Caltech and a regent of Morgan State University, and a member of the SUNY Research Council. She is a former member of the National Science Board, the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation, and served on President Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Malcom , a native of Birmingham, Alabama, received her PhD in ecology from The Pennsylvania State University, masters in zoology from UCLA and bachelor’s with distinction in zoology from the University of Washington. She holds 16 honorary degrees. Read Dr. Malcom's full bio here.

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Roy Wilson

President, Wayne State University

Dr. M. Roy Wilson became the 12th president of Wayne State University on August 1, 2013. Since assuming leadership, President Wilson has pursued his vision to transform the university into the preeminent, public, urban research university known for academic and research excellence. Read Dr. Wilson's full bio here.