Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Sheree M. Ohen arrived at Amherst in June 2023. As chief equity and inclusion officer, she works closely with President Elliott, faculty, staff and students to direct and shape priorities, policies and programming utilizing best practices around all aspects of inclusion, equity and community to advance the mission of the College. Ohen will lead a sustained effort supporting a vibrant campus culture in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive through a true sense of belonging. This includes promoting and incorporating equity, inclusion and accessibility across campus; supporting education and compliance around Title IX in particular and civil rights more generally; and assessing and evaluating initiatives already in place at the College. In addition, Ohen leads the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and engages with the Board of Trustees and alumni.
In her previous position as an associate dean at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Ohen co-founded, managed and oversaw the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. Before that, she served as chief officer of diversity and inclusion at Clark University; campus diversity officer for staff and students and diversity and inclusion program manager at the University of California, San Francisco; and an attorney specializing in criminal and employment law and civil rights litigation. She received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law.
Associate Director of Athletics for Equity and Inclusion/Compliance Officer
Jennifer Chuks serves as the Associate Director of Athletics for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and as Compliance Officer. In this role, Jennifer will develop, implement and assess measurable DEI initiatives to achieve institutional goals. She serves as the conduit for information related to issues of diversity and inclusion and supports diverse and inclusive practices related to athletics.
Jennifer came to Amherst from Dartmouth College, where she served as the athletic department's admissions and financial aid liaison, helping develop and implement strategies that support coaches in the area of recruitment, admitting, and matriculating a diverse student-athlete body. Additionally, she supervised several varsity sports and also oversaw the Dartmouth Black Student Athlete Alliance and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Starting in 2010, Jennifer spent eight years at Williams College, arriving as an NCAA Internship recipient to serve as an assistant women's basketball coach and an athletic administrator. She finished her tenure at the school as an assistant athletics director and assistant professor of physical education.
As Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assistant, Jenny Citarelli '14 supports the Office of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership, the MMUF Program, Academic Engagement & Student Success, and the Faculty Equity and Inclusion Officers. Her position includes management of the Inclusive Hiring program, data collection and analysis, workshop and event coordination, and general administrative support. Jenny is also a doctoral candidate in Music Composition at the Hartt School, University of Hartford. She is committed to support of equity-oriented initiatives in academia as an assistant, scholar, and artist.
Director, MMUF Program and Academic Engagement & Student Success
Ms. Effiom has extensive experience working with college programs that cross academic disciplines and continues to serve as a resource for students and alumni contemplating graduate school.
At Bowdoin College, Ms. Effiom managed and coordinated all aspects of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program, designed and administered an MMUF summer residential research training program, and established a distinguished MMUF Faculty Advisory Committee. In her role as pre-graduate school advisor, she created an advising network that paired students applying to graduate school with alumni in PhD programs. Ms. Effiom also coordinated the Faculty and Chamberlain Scholarships.
At Stony Brook University, Ms. Effiom managed and coordinated university-wide nomination process for major award applications, and assisted undergraduate students with obtaining competitive international fellowships, scholarships, and awards. She Co-chaired the Undergraduate Recognition Awards in Academic Excellence or Outstanding Achievement, Coordinated the Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, coordinated university and departmental honors, and the valedictorian selection process, and coordinated faculty participation in several admissions events, including Admissions Open House, Parents Day, and Admitted Student Seminars.
She is the recipient of several awards including the Sister Margaret Ann Landry RSHM Life Time Achievement Advisor Award (Campus Life Awards); Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Outstanding service to the University as Director of Fellowships; Student Choice Award; Best Academic/Pre-Professional Advisor and Mentor; British Marshall Recognition Award given by the British Marshall Scholarship Foundation; Honorary Membership Award, Golden Key International Honor Society; Admissions Office Staff Appreciation Award; and Certificate of Parent Appreciation-Stony Brook University Child Care Services.
Jodi serves as the Director of Accessibility Strategy and Resources. She provides technical and practical insights to offices across campus to enhance accessibility, emphasizing universal design and the social model of disability. Beyond day-to-day advising, Jodi assumes a project management role in setting the strategic direction of the College’s accessibility initiatives and liaising with various offices on campus to enhance the College’s policies, procedures, and practices related to accessibility. A key component of Jodi’s work is to contribute to ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of reducing systemic barriers, promoting disability awareness, and promoting a culture of accessibility. Jodi collaborates withAccessibility Services for students (which will continue to be the primary contact for student accommodation requests) and the Office of Human Resources (which will continue to be the direct contact for accommodation requests by faculty and staff).
Assistant Director of Workforce Equity & Inclusive Leadership
Raquel (Rocky) Wood serves as the Assistant Director of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership. Rocky brings her strong passion for cultivating diverse, equitable, inclusive, and socially just spaces into all of her personal and professional interactions. She works collaboratively across campus to support the college’s vision and continued progress toward developing an inclusive and anti-oppressive campus through offering various workshops, developing DEI initiatives, co-facilitating campus programs, and supporting the departments in integrating DEI into their work.
Before joining Amherst College, Rocky spent more than 15 years as a classroom teacher and educator in higher education, where she focused on incorporating culturally sustaining and humanizing pedagogy into classrooms. While completing her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, she had the privilege of working with Dr. Sherry Watt and her research group that explores ways to make DEI work more process-oriented rather than product focused. As part of the group, Rocky developed tools for facilitating difficult conversations around power, privileges, and identities and developing community-based initiatives.
Suzanne Belleci has been teaching conflict transformation, social justice, cross-cultural communication, and leadership courses at SIT for 18 years. She served as SIT’s first ombudsperson, bringing groups together, facilitating restorative circles for conflict resolution, and mediating one-on-one disputes. She has also taught global peacebuilding, conflict analysis, conflict Interventions, and restorative justice practices to international students in an SIT graduate certificate program.
For more than 20 years, Susie has led workshops and trainings for peacebuilders in conflict and post-conflict zones in Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Israel, and Palestine. She has also led trainings for youth from Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq, Jordan, and the United States. She served in the office of Senator Nick Petris, in Oakland, California, as an aide and advocate in the most economically depressed city in the wealthiest state in the union. In this role, she worked on legislation to create universal healthcare and represented the senator in the district for the 10 months each year that he was in the Capitol. Continuing her work in advocacy, Susie was the developer and director of Jardin de Maestros, a program to create pathways for students of color to become teachers in the very districts in which they were raised and have their roots. She was a teacher and trainer for years in Madrid, Spain; Dijon France; Florence, Italy; Porto and Lisbon, Portugal; Jenin, Palestine; and Pohnpei Island in the Federated States of Micronesia and was the associate director of world studies at Marlboro College. Currently, she is the director of the Greater Falls Community Justice Center in Southern Vermont and teaches Restorative Practices at Vermont Law School.
Married to a Dane, Susie spends her summers in Denmark with her husband and young son. When not working and mothering, Susie enjoys vegetarian cooking, reading with her son, picking fresh tomatoes from her garden, swimming in the summer, and Nordic skiing in the winter.
Fabio Arnaldo Ayala is the Assistant Director for the Center for Restorative Practices at Amherst College. He joins our community with rich experience in school and college-based restorative practices, conflict transformation, group facilitation, and training. With two undergraduate degrees in Spanish Studies and Religious Education from Andrews University, and a Masters of Arts in Intercultural Peacebuilding & Conflict Transformation from SIT Graduate Institute Fabio has committed himself to being a life learner and reflective practitioner.
Prior to joining Amherst College, Fabio served neurodivergent learners at Landmark College as their Assistant Director for Student Conduct & Community Standards and Residential Dean. During this time Fabio was able to put into practice his training in circle facilitation, program development, and community building with the goal of creating more inclusive and restorative spaces on campus.
Fabio’s professional journey also brought him to work with the Greater Falls Community Justice Center in Bellows Falls, Vermont where he served as a restorative practices’ trainer, community conflict mediator, youth advocate, and circle facilitator. Through his work at the GFCJC Fabio was able to complete his master’s thesis which centered around understanding how circles can be used as a tool for male-identifying teens to reflect on, and engage with, their masculinity with the hopes of cultivating a more nuanced view of masculinity and its expression. In May 2019 Fabio was able to co-present his restorative practices work on cultivating empathy at the International Institute of Restorative Practices’ European Conference on Community Well-Being & Resilience.
Fabio grew up in Windsor, Connecticut with deep cultural and familial roots in Puerto Rico. He is a lover of music and nature, avid swimmer, and adventure seeker. He also enjoys tending to his houseplants and spending time with his cat Pippen. His next adventure will be taking on community gardening.
Consultant / Special Projects Assistant
Yaquelin Montes de Oca ’21 goes by Yaqui (pronounced "Jackie") and is from Miami, Florida. She was a Psychology and Asian Languages & Civilizations double major with a concentration in Arabic. Interested in the intersections between psychology and criminal justice, she is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work and Master's of Science in Criminology at Florida State University. She plans on obtaining her LCSW to conduct group and individual therapy in prison settings. Working with the Center for Restorative Practices has and continues to teach Yaqui about effective alternatives to dealing with the population she is interested in working with. She is also very excited to see how these restorative practices improve and unite the Amherst community she is proudly a part of.
Outside of the CRP, she is a remote research assistant for Envisioning Justice Solutions in California. She loves to share her Cuban and Honduran roots as a former member of La Causa and the African and Caribbean Students' Union (ACSU). You will almost always find her listening to Drake.
Randy Valdez has been identified as a core and recognizable pillar of the Amherst community. A distinction that he has earned during his fifteen-year career at Amherst College. He has earned a Liberal Arts degree with concentrations in Fine Art, Psychology, and Sociology from Westfield State University. Focused on becoming a constructive and reflective agent of change in higher education, he is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Education and Human Development, majoring in Critical and Creative Thinking from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Randy comes to the CRP serving in a dual role between the center and Amherst Athletics. Becoming a member of the CRP is a reflection of Randy’s commitment to serve and uplift all members of the Amherst College community. Utilizing his years of DEI experience and focusing his efforts through a restorative lens. In Athletics, Randy serves in an equipment and operation management position. Furthermore, Randy also serves on the Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force. Assisting Pride Day celebrations, the creation of an evolving wellness survey for student-athletes, facilitated virtual discussion groups on race, and co-facilitated virtual restorative discussion groups. His commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives were honored when he was named the college’s first recipient of the 1821 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award.
Additionally, Randy has also earned several other Amherst College recognition awards based on his work with international students and his mentoring of students coming from low socioeconomic backgrounds. In 2019, the graduating senior student body voted Randy to graduate with them as an honorary class member.
Randy resides in Chicopee, Massachusetts and is inspired daily by his wife Lauryn and their daughter Lola. Outside of being a proud family man, Randy is an artist of multiple mediums, huge marvel fan, and an inspiring grill master.
Laurie Frankl is Amherst's Director for Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator. A civil rights attorney, Laurie has served as Amherst's first full-time Title IX coordinator since 2013. Prior to joining Amherst, she litigated in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. The mom to boy/girl twins who are active in sports, Laurie adores recreational running, cycling, and cross-country skiing.
Civil Rights and Title IX Intake, Care, and Education Coordinator
Sara Kragness joins the Civil Rights and Title IX Office (CRTIX) as the inaugural Intake, Care, and Education Coordinator.
Prior to joining the CRTIX, Sara was a dedicated entrepreneur working on her own venture helping fellow small businesses embody their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion beliefs in their business practices. She comes with a background from over a decade of student advocacy, and she's worked with students across the Midwest and Pioneer Valley on topics including inclusive leadership, legislative advocacy/GOTV, and personal storytelling for change. Sara is passionate about bringing the student community into the work of CRTIX and is charged with developing more opportunities for students to engage with the office in meaningful ways. Additionally, Sara serves as the Chair of the Bias Education Response Team (BERT) which has been reconstituted under her leadership.
Sara was born and raised in Wisconsin, and after a stint in Chicago where she earned her AA in Political Science from Harold Washington College, she relocated to the Valley to attend Smith College as a Ada Comstock Scholar; In the spring of 2021 she received her BA in American Studies. Outside of her professional career, Sara enjoys being in her garden, playing video games, crafting, and hanging out with her dog.
Civil Rights and Title IX, Data Specialist and Office Manager
Jizelle Sanders (she/her) is a Data Specialist & Office Manager for the Civil Rights and Title IX Office. Jizelle recently finished her Masters in Higher Education from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Her research interests include access to higher education, the ways intersecting identities impact students' experiences, out-of-state student experiences, and the challenges racialized students face at predominantly white institutions. Prior to moving to Nashville, she was a Peace Crops Moldova and served as a Community Development Facilitator. She raised in Washington, D.C. In her free time, Jizelle enjoys travel and Pilates.