Podcast: All Things Equity

All Things Equity engages conversations with professionals in higher education and industry at various stages in their careers, working towards equitable workspaces. Our guest panelists share their knowledge, perspectives, and experience for diversifying the professional and academic workforce in the US in an equitable way. Your hosts for this podcast are Dr. Margie Vela and Dr. Rob Rivers.


*Special thanks to Elijah Vela, composer, and performer of podcast music.


All Things Equity Hosts

Margie Vela, Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)

Margie Vela is a researcher, educator and public servant devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in higher education and STEM. Currently, Dr. Vela serves as Senior Project Manager for the NSF Hispanic Serving Institution National STEM Resource Hub working to implement a project aimed to bolster STEM at 539 Hispanic Serving Institutions in grantsmanship, multicultural awareness, institutional capacity building and STEM pedagogy. Dr. Vela serves the NMSU Chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Chapter as founding co-advisor and has served as a national panelist for SACNAS in DEI training as an alumnus of SACNAS Postdoctoral Leadership Institute. Her career in higher education has been in service to student at Delaware State University, a Historically Black University; and to faculty across the nation at the Hispanic Serving Institution STEM Resource Hub.

Robert Rivers, Ph.D. (He/Him/His)

Rob Rivers, PhD is a program director in the federal government. In his role as a program director he leads programs focused on increasing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. His doctoral research focused on the study of intrinsically disordered proteins and their propensity to aggregate, and their implications in disease. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry (2008) from the University of Cambridge and a B.S. degree in Chemistry (2003) from Kentucky State University.


Coming Soon!

Episode 3: Inclusive Workplaces

Release Date: September 1, 2021

Leah Williams

Leah graduated from Delaware State University in 2015, making history, as the first person to ever be awarded both the Presidential Academic Award for her cumulative 4.0 GPA, and the Presidential Leadership Award for her campus leadership. Leah returned to DSU, earning her MBA the following year and currently works as a Supply Chain Analyst for Northrop Grumman, one of the top Defense Technology companies in the world. Leah obtained her second Master's Degree in Cybersecurity Technology, March 2020, with a 4.0 GPA, from the UMGC.

Leah has received several honors, and has been recognized worldwide for her outstanding leadership, performance, and service to the community. For 2017, Leah was selected as one of the top 30 under 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars in the Country by Thomas & The Institute of Supply Management. In 2018, Leah was recognized as the Top Supply Chain Analyst of the Year by the International Association of Top Professionals. In 2019, Leah was selected Woman of the Year by the Employee Resource Group. Leah has been featured on Aspire TV Network, the HBCU Nation Radio Show, HBCU Times Magazine, BlkWomenInBiz, and other media networks.

After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 22, Leah serves as an advocate and strives to be an inspiration to others who are battling illness. In 2020, Leah was selected to spread awareness of Crohn’s disease and other illnesses for the Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference. Leah is also an advocate for Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Leah was awarded the HBCU Young Alumni of the Year by the DCHBCUAA for 2019. Leah was selected by the White House in 2015, to serve as an HBCU All Star supporting President Obama’s Initiative to promote the excellence, innovation, and sustainability of HBCUs. Leah introduced Vice President Biden at the HBCU Week Conference. In addition, Leah currently serves as the President of DSU’s National Alumni Association and in 2016, DSU selected Leah as one of their top under/over 40 alumni. Leah was also selected as DSU’s 2020 Convocation Keynote Speaker.

A lifelong learner, Leah has continued to further her education by obtaining both the Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), and Security+ Certifications. A gifted musician, Leah plays nine instruments and arranges music. Leah enjoys spending time giving back to the community by speaking to students and inspiring them to reach their dreams. Leah plans to keep making her mark on the world and in her community any way she can.

Resources and Topics Mentioned in This Episode of All Things Equity (Season 1, Episode 3)

  • Employee Resource Groups

  • Safe Spaces at Work

  • Being in an effective mentoring relationship (as mentor and as mentee)

  • Executive Sponsors for ERGs

  • Belonging in the Workplace

  • The experience of an HBCU alumnus

  • Delaware State University Alumni Association

  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in University Alumni Relations

  • “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys

  • Nicholas Sparks author of The Notebook & A Walk to Remember

Episode 2: Transformational Leadership for Educational Equity

Release Date: July 30, 2021

Dr. Harry L. Williams

Dr. Harry L. Williams serves as President & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF’s 47 member-schools make up the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) which represent nearly 300,000 students.

Under his leadership, TMCF has expanded its innovative partnerships exponentially, increased organizational sustainability, deepened bipartisan support for HBCUs, and created a strong HBCU leadership engagement network. Since his tenure began in 2017, TMCF has grown its scholarship awards by over 200%, facilitating access to a college education for hundreds of HBCU students, and increased revenue three-fold.

A strategic thinker and visionary, Dr. Williams focused TMCF intentionally on talent development partnerships, forging new partnerships with leading Fortune 500 corporations including The Boeing Company, Hennessy USA, Visa, and Medtronic, while re-imagining long term partnerships with others such as Lowe’s, the NBA, and Wells Fargo. Dr. Williams’ leadership has solidified TMCF as the premier representative of the HBCU community, a hub for insight into the Black College community and the families they serve, a convener of HBCU-based researchers, and as a key partner for diverse talent and inclusion strategies.

Resources and Topics Mentioned in This Episode of All Things Equity (Season 1, Episode 2)

Episode 1: All Things STEM Equity

Release Date: July 1, 2021

Dr. Sonia Zárate (She/Her/Hers)

Sonia Zárate is a Program Officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Past-President of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and a Master Facilitator for the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER). In all of these positions, she leads efforts to foster an inclusive scientific enterprise so that science is able to benefit from the potential that diversity holds. Prior to her current appointment at HHMI, she was the Director for the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of San Diego, Adjunct Faculty at Miramar Community College, and the Associate Director for the Undergraduate Research Center-Sciences at UCLA. Sonia holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode of All Things Equity
(Season 1, Episode 1)

  • Sonia Howard Hughes Medical Institute

  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science

  • Woods and Harris SDSU- Race Lighting: https://diverseeducation.com/article/209668/

  • Darryl Wing Sue- Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence

  • Gilliam Fellows for Advanced Study

  • Ford Foundation

  • Sloan Foundation

  • Rita Allen Foundation

  • Book: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mesitza- Gloria Alzandúa

  • Musical Artist: Nine Inch Nails and 80’s synth music- All synth music!!!

  • Running Music: Trent Reznor, NIN


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