Closing the Gap Welcomes Nine BIPOC Professionals to 2021 Program

ACUI has announced members of the second cohort of the Closing the Gap career advancement program. The program was initiated in 2020 as an education and mentorship program focused on Black, Indigenous, and other professionals of color looking to advance into senior leadership roles. Participants and supporters engage in virtual gatherings, one-on-one meetings, and offline connections. This year’s cohort may also attend the Aspiring Directors Institute, serve in a volunteer role, and attend the 2022 Annual Conference.

Members of the 2021 cohort are: Makana A. L. Agcaoili, associate director of student engagement, Drew University; Tiffany Brodner, associate director of campus life for building operations, Rochester Institute of Technology; Yabsera “Yabi” Demissie, coordinator for student engagement, Georgia State University; Denee Jenkins, student union operations and events manager, SUNY–Old Westbury; Andrea Trevino, program manager, University of Houston; Rouel Velasco, director of student life, University of Hawai‘i–West O‘ahu; Camelia Watson, event coordinator, Rutgers University–New Brunswick; Lai Sha Bugado, associate director, administration and operations, Campus Center, University of Hawai`i–Hilo; Allynn Powell, associate director, professional preparation, University of Maryland.

Supporting the program are a group of senior-level professionals who provide coaching, career sponsorship, and personal experiences with the participants throughout the program. Each supporter engages with an assigned participant and the entire cohort throughout the program, collaborates with the other supports and Central Office liaison to determine monthly educational topics based off of cohort interest and needs, collaborates to facilitate each month’s gathering, and participates with a willingness to share resources, advice, and feedback.

Volunteers serving as 2021 program supports are: Dr. Brandon Bowden, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Florida State University; Dr. Martia Brawner King, Director of Student Involvement, Purdue University; Tari Hunter, Director, Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers, Cal Poly–Pomona; Yakima Melton, Director of the Busch and Livingston Student Centers, Rutgers University–New Brunswick; and Dr. Jennifer Zamora, Director of Student Programs for the University Unions, University of Texas–Austin.  


  • Steve Chaplin

    Steve Chaplin is managing editor of ACUI’s The Bulletin and manager of the ACUI College Union and Student Activities (CUSA) Evaluation Program. A former newspaper writer, editor, and manager, he has volunteered as a student mentor as a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and received awards for his writing and reporting from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Kentucky Education Association, and the Kentucky Press Association.

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