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Saray Lopez and Tondra Richardson

University of Phoenix leadership selected as leading women in higher education by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education

Left: Saray Lopez; Right: Tondra Richardson

By Sharla Hooper

Saray Lopez, MBA, and Tondra Richardson, MBA, highlighted among 25 outstanding women during Women’s History Month

University of Phoenix is pleased to share that leadership members Saray Lopez, MBA, director, Student Diversity & Inclusion, and Tondra Richardson, MBA, director, Student Diversity & Inclusion, both with the Office of Educational Equity, have been selected as honorees of the 2022 class of leading women in higher education by the publication, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

“Tondra and Saray are outstanding DEI leaders,” states Kelly Hermann, vice president, Accessibility, Equity & Inclusion. “We celebrate their achievement and this richly deserved recognition of their important work to make diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging an integral part of the University’s student and communities it serves.”

In honor of Women’s History Month, Diverse has published its eleventh annual special report recognizing the contributions of women to higher education. The March 3, 2022 edition highlights 25 women who are setting the stage for future generations in the academy by tackling some of higher education’s toughest challenges, exhibiting extraordinary leadership skills and making a positive difference in their respective communities. 

Diverse has been following the work of the Office of Educational Equity at the University of Phoenix for some time and we have been impressed by the many ways that the institution is actively working to promote inclusivity, not only in the Phoenix area but throughout the nation,” said Walter Hudson, assistant editor at Diverse who oversaw the project. “This important work, led by Saray Lopez and Tondra Richardson, should serve as best practice for other institutions of higher education looking to embrace diversity, equity and access at all levels. The outstanding leadership of Ms. Lopez and Ms. Richardson is the reason why both were included on this year’s distinguished list of extraordinary women.”

Lopez and Richardson provide leadership, training, and management for the University’s Office of Educational Equity focused to serve the University’s students, alumni, community and alliances. They host the University’s monthly Educational Equity webinar series and are leading the planning of the University-wide initiative, the Inclusive Leadership Summit, “Creating the Intentional Leader of Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.” Internally, Lopez and Richardson lead the Inclusive Café, a virtual place for staff to gather, connect, and build community through biweekly sessions focused on topics designed to discuss diverse perspectives and generate compassionate conversation. In 2021, they led University of Phoenix faculty and staff in a voluntary 21-Day Equity Habit Building Challenge, with the purpose to come together to develop a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism affect individuals and communities. They collaborate with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), the Center for Workplace and Diversity Inclusion Research, and other departments across the university to design programs and services that promote understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives.

Lopez recently completed the New Leadership Academy Fellowship at University of Michigan in partnership with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Lopez is a first-generation Ph.D. student and is passionate about creating access to education and career opportunities to enhance the quality of life of individuals regardless of their ethnicity, country of origin, socio-economic status, or any circumstance. Lopez currently serves on the board of Achieving My Purpose and on various regional committees including Tempe Union High District Community Diversity Advisory Committee, Arizona Multicultural Education Conference Committee, and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce DATOS Research Committee. Lopez was awarded the Inclusive Leader Award from the Diversity Leadership Alliance in November 2019.

Richardson has over 20 years of experience in higher education and is certified by the National Diversity Council as a Diversity and Inclusion Practitioner and completed Cornell University's Diversity and Inclusion certificate program. In addition to being a diversity and inclusion practitioner, her areas of expertise include conflict resolution and risk management with over 15 years of experience in the Office of Dispute Management at University of Phoenix where she was also certified by the Association of Title IX Administrators as a Title IX Coordinator. Richardson currently serves on the Board for the Diversity Leadership Alliance and chairs the Education Committee for the Diversity Leadership Alliance. She is a member of the Arizona Multicultural Education Conference Planning Committee and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce DATOS Research Committee. Most recently, Richardson was awarded the Diversity Leadership Alliance & Arizona Society for Human Resource Management Volunteer of the Year Award.

About Diverse: Issues In Higher Education

For more than three decades, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education has been America’s premier source of timely news, provocative commentary, insightful interviews and in-depth special reports on diversity in higher education. Savvy individuals who appreciate the crucial and ever-changing role that higher education plays in the lives of students, professionals, their families and their communities make reading Diverse a regular habit.

About University of Phoenix

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