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Diversity Staff

George Sanchez - Vice Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiative

George J. Sanchez, professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History, was appointed Director of College Diversity in April 2008, and Vice Dean for Diversity in 2009.  He is responsible for ensuring that the USC College fundamental commitment to the benefits of a diverse College community is effectively translated into best practices in areas such as faculty recruitment and retention, graduate student programs, and undergraduate research experiences and advancement.  He works with all College departments to address what the commitment to diversity means in various disciplinary settings.  To ensure the College efforts have an impact beyond the immediate community, he works with a variety of national organizations and foundations on the development of special programs and research agendas.  Given the importance of this work and the breadth of these responsibilities, he reports directly to the Executive Vice Dean and the Dean of the College.

An award-winning scholar of Chicano history and immigration who joined the College faculty in 1997, Sanchez is director of the USC Center for Diversity and Democracy. He is the former director of American studies and ethnicity, a program he helped build into one of the top American and ethnic studies departments in the nation. Sanchez helped bring to USC a $3.6 million James Irvine Foundation grant supporting underrepresented doctoral students when he was director of the Irvine Fellowship Program. A renowned mentor, he has served on the advisory board for the McNair Scholars Program and now runs the USC Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. He has placed thirty former Ph.D. students in tenure-track positions throughout the United States.  A former president of the American Studies Association, he now serves as President of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association. Sanchez also has served on the minority scholars committees of the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association. 

Sanchez’s 1993 book, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (Oxford), earned six awards in fields such as immigration history and Western history. His article “ ‘What’s Good for Boyle Heights is Good for the Jews’: Creating Multiracialism on the Eastside During the 1950s” won the 2005 Constance Rourke Prize for best article appearing in American Quarterly. He is also series co-editor of American Crossroads: New Works in Ethnic Studies from University of California Press, which has published forty works in that field over the past decade, many that have won major scholarly awards in a variety of disciplines.  He is presently working on historical study of multiethnic interaction in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles.  Sanchez received his bachelor’s from Harvard in 1981 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1989. Before USC he taught at UCLA and the University of Michigan, and is a first-generation college student.

Mary Ho - Assistant Vice Dean of Diversity and Strategic Initiatives

Mary Ho joined the Office of Diversity and Strategic Initiatives in July 2015, but she is no stranger to the USC family. Mary joined the Trojans in the of fall 2012 where she served as the Director for Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS) until assuming the role of Assistant Dean for Diversity and Strategic Initiative.  Prior to coming to USC, she served as the Program Director at Santa Clara University where she managed the Office for Multicultural Learning and the Rainbow Resource Center (LGBTQ Resource Center). In this role she developed and supported students in their leadership and identity development as well as coordinated programs and initiatives to promote campus-wide diversity education.

Mary also served as the founding Director of the Delphine Intercultural Center at Saint Mary’s College providing advocacy, advising and program support to the Asian Pacific American student population as well as other communities of color. She received her M.A. in Higher Education Administration in the Steinhardt School of Education, Leadership and Technology from New York University and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, running and eating. She also spent a month serving as a Resident Director on the Semester-at-Sea, Maymester 2012 program where she had the opportunity to explore Central and South America with students from across the states as well as international students.


Kimberly Allen- Assistant Coordinator, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Program

Kimberly Allen currently holds the position of Director of Special Projects for the USC Dornsife Office of Academic Programs. Her duties include the management of administration, program data collection, and fellowship allocation for the 23 PhD programs at USC Dornsife and the oversight of USC Dornsife’s undergraduate research programs SOAR and SURF. Kimberly attended the George School in Newtown, PA and then earned her B.A. in Theater Arts from Brown University. She came to USC five years ago with a background in the entertainment industry and the field of education. She has worked in administration for theater, film and television productions, as well as educational programming development at Major League Baseball.

Jasmine Torres - Program Assistant for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives

Jasmine Torres joined the Office for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives July 2015 after a year of serving as a Development Associate for USC Civic Engagement. Jasmine attended USC and graduated in 2014 where she received a degree in Sociology with dual minors in Children & Families in Urban America and American Studies & Ethnicity. As a student, Jasmine was involved with the Joint Educational Project, Norman Topping Student Aid Fund, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, and the Neighborhood Academic Initiative. She was also an integral student voice in creating the USC Trojan Guardian Scholars program that serves former foster youth attending USC. 


Jasmine is passionate about helping underrepresented students achieve at the university level so they complete college and thrive after college graduation in fields they are interested in. Outside of USC, she is an active volunteer with the United Friends of the Children program that provides educational outreach to LA County foster youth and some of her hobbies include writing poetry, cooking, DIY projects, and reading.

Cristina Faiver - Coordinator, Trojan Guardian Scholars Program

Cristina Faiver is a second year doctoral student in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She earned her B.A. in Latina/o Studies and her Masters of Public Health from the University of Michigan. Ms. Faiver spent nine years focused on social justice issues in public health systems and healthcare practices on federal, state, and, local levels. Through her research Ms. Faiver aims to peel back the numerous layers of structural, political, and cultural processes that enable and perpetuate unjust and disparate systems of care. Further, through careful historical and ethnographic research Ms. Faiver is interested in further understanding the practices and beliefs of those that disrupt institutionalized racism, homophobia, sexism, and classism in the realm of public health. As a first generation undergraduate, and now doctoral student, Ms. Faiver knows first-hand that mentorship and guidance from a variety of levels within the university can support students' development of longterm vision for an intellectually and professionally satisfying career, and well-rounded life. As such, she is honored to be a part of the Trojan Guardian Scholars program, and to serve some of the best minds and most creative spirits of the Trojan family.

Carlos Francisco Parra - Graduate Research Assistant

Carlos Francisco Parra is a doctoral student in the USC Department of History. Based on his experiences growing up along the Arizona-Sonora border, he focuses on the issue of cultural identity formation among Mexican and other Hispanic groups in Northern Mexico and the greater U.S. Southwest. His research focuses on the political and economic development of the international boundary between Mexico and the United States as well as the ideological forces that played a role in the ways in which borderlands residents on both sides of the border came to understand themselves as either Mexicans or North Americans. Prior to attending USC, he attended the University of Arizona and the University of New Mexico and also served as a public high school history teacher in his home community. His current work within the Office of Diversity and Strategic Initiatives centers on the History in a Box Project in which he coordinates a public history research project on the Los Angeles east-side neighborhood of Boyle Heights.

Kristie Valdez-Guillen - Graduate Research Assistant

Kristie Valdez-Guillen is a first generation PhD student in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. Prior to arriving at USC, she earned her B.A. at Scripps College in Political Science and International Relations, with concentrations in Race and Social Movements and a minor in Latin American Studies. She was also a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and Harvard Law Union Scholar. Kristie’s research interests lie at the intersections of cultural history, critical race theory and musicology. Through in-depth qualitative field work, her current research shows the multilayered process of transnational state violence that Latino youth experience and how they sonically carve out spaces for affirmation, joy and resistance throughout the diaspora. Her work is guided by a deep love for her community and the hope that together we can build bridges and tear down borders—one protest, show and dissertation at a time.


Felicitas Reyes - Undergraduate Research Assistant

Felicitas Reyes is a double major in American Studies and Ethnicity and Communications. She began working for PERE/CSII last November and has helped assist in outreach events and other administrative duties. She is also the undergraduate research assistant for Vice Dean George Sanchez in his office of Diversity and Strategic Initiatives. Felicitas has just begun her second year at USC and has already dove into multiple organizations that she finds very important. One of these include working with the Roots Foundation as the administrative director, which focuses on creating events that promote mental health and wellness for the women of Skid Row.  She will also continue involvement in Chicanos for Progressive Education as the executive assistant and continue involvement as a member of the Latino Fellowship.  Not only that, Felicitas will continue to work on a community engagement project known as History in Box that works to collect certain items that depict historical themes which will be utilized in Boyle Heights’ classrooms. Lastly, Felicitas hopes to start her own research project with undocumented youth and Freedom University in Georgia as an extension of her previous immigrant research in Japan.

Katrina (Rissi) Zimmerman- Undergraduate Research Assistant

Rissi Zimmermann is an undergraduate student studying Theatre and Dance at the University of Southern California. Rissi joined the Office of Diversity and Strategic Initiatives in August 2014 focusing her work on the planning of events for the USC POSSE 1 and USC Visions and Voices. Rissi has performed in a variety of Dance productions throughout Europe, New York and Los Angeles and during her studies at USC has conducted a variety of research projects regarding community building and moral engagement through the performing arts. In 2013 she took her research to Europe and, under Dr. George J. Sanchez’s mentorship, explored in what way culture and moral values can influence the work ethic at dance institutions. That same year Rissi founded the Los Angeles based SOKAMBA Performing Arts Company which she has been co-directing since January 2013 and meanwhile has produced three shows with. The SOKAMBA Performing Arts Company is emphasized on fostering community through the arts and eventually hopes to provide a space in which classes, workshops and projects of all art mediums can be provided to people of all ages and from all backgrounds in a warm and welcoming way.