Center for Diversity and Democracy

Meet the CDD Staff: 

George Sanchez - Director

George J. Sanchez, professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History, was appointed Director of College Diversity in April 2008.  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 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 both the USC Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program and the McNair Scholars Program.  He has placed thirteen former Ph.D. students in tenure-track positions throughout the United States.  A former president of the American Studies Association, he now chairs its Committee on Graduate Education. Sanchez also serves on 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 twenty-five 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 a book about the impact of Mexican migration upon late 20th century Los Angeles culture, and a historical study of multiethnic interaction in 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.

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.

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.