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Diversity Matters

Presenter Bios

EEA Conference

Norman Ferguson

Norman Ferguson

Green Zone Training: Green Zone Training is for faculty, students and staff who wish to learn more about the military affiliated student experience. Our goal is to train members of the UNI community to know more about the issues and concerns faced by military affiliated students and to identify individuals who are available to support these students. These individuals are not expected to be experts who can “solve problems.” They are individuals who can lend a sympathetic ear and help the student veteran identify and connect with the appropriate resources.

Norman Ferguson, Jr., supports military members, veterans, and their families at UNI as they transition between military duty, college, and new careers. Norman is committed to faculty and staff education, on and off campus, resource networking, advocacy, and listening to each student to ensure that each military affiliated students' voice is heard and they are empowered to achieve success in class and beyond.


Emily Harsch

Emily Harsch

Emily Harsch, who uses the pronouns she/her/hers, is UNI's first LGBT* Student Services Coordinator. Emily works in an advocacy role across campus as a resource to LGBTQ+ students and their allies as the main point of contact for the LGBT* Center. Her work in the Center includes providing direct support to students, maintaining the Safe Zone Ally training program, collaborating with off and on-campus partners on inclusive initiatives, and overseeing the Center's events. 

Umaru Balde

Umaru Balde

Umaru Balde was born in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. He has travelled around the world before settling in the United States in 2007. He speaks multiple languages including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu and additional African dialects. Currently, he works at YWCA as the director of Latino and Multicultural immigrants or refugees. Balde says there are often misconceptions of what immigrants or refugees are doing here and who they are.

“There are a lot of misconceptions, who is who and what they are doing here. Taking away jobs of course. And criminals, bad guys, we don’t know them. They don’t have the right to be here,” he said.

The topic of immigration and refugees is a very personal topic for Balde. He has travelled all around Africa and parts of the Middle East, staying in countries as an immigrant as well as refugee before settling in the United States.

Beverly Smith

Dr. Beverly Smith

Dr. Smith serves as Associate Superintendent For Human Resources & Equity for the Waterloo Community School district. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre and elementary education from Cornell College, a master’s degree in educational psychology with an emphasis in teaching and a doctorate of education in educational leadership from the University of Northern Iowa.


Dr. Felicia Smith-Nalls

Dr. Felicia Smith-Nails

Felicia graduated from Wartburg College in Waverly in 1999 and the law school in 2004. She serves as the Neighborhood Services Coordinator with the City of Waterloo. She singlehandedly reinvigorated National Night out, with a profound belief in the strength of neighborhoods and community. She also has been involved in organizing a revived North End Fest the past several years and was program manager for the first-ever “Bridging the Gap” mayoral ball, initiated by supporters of newly elected Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart. She also helped organize a mentoring program for young girls at East High School in the early 2000s.



Dr. Alan Heisterkamp

Dr. Alan Heisterkamp

Dr. Alan Heisterkamp lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and serves as director of the Center for Violence Prevention and the Governor’s Office on Bullying Prevention at the University of Northern Iowa.  He oversees curriculum infusion of MVP Strategies’ bystander education and prevention strategies within the university’s pre-service teacher education and social sciences programming, as well as conducts MVP Strategies training and outreach to Iowa’s universities, colleges, secondary schools and NGOs.  Dr. Heisterkamp has presented multiple lectures, webinars and conference presentations nationally and internationally on topics such as gender violence prevention strategies on colleges campuses, secondary school leadership and multi-systemic approaches to prevention, student mentoring and leadership, and engaging men and boys in preventing violence against women and girls. Alan is a member of the steering committee for the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN), a multi-national organization within the international structure of Global MenEngage committed to ending men’s violence against women and to promoting healthy masculinity.


Dr. Wee

Liang Chee Wee, Ph.D.

Dr. Wee was named president of Northeast Iowa Community College in October 2011.  He joined the College as the Calmar campus provost in August 2007 and served as interim president from July through October of 2011. Wee earned a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in management information systems, a Master's of Arts in business administration and a Ph.D. in business administration, all from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

President Wee has transformed the culture of the college, gained the respect of the individuals in the communities served by NICC and of those who lead, govern and support community colleges across Iowa. Wee’s leadership and commitment to partnerships has guided many successful programs, such as Opportunity Dubuque, an advanced manufacturing initiative that has received state, national and international recognition. He was named a White House Champion of Change in 2011 and a Person to Watch in 2014 by the Des Moines Register. The NICC president has received numerous state, national and international honors.


Dr. Lena Hill

Dr. Lena Hill

Lena Hill is the University of Iowa’s Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President.  She also serves as Senior Associate to the President and is an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies.  She holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale, and her scholarship focuses on nineteenth & twentieth century African-American literature and visual culture. 
Nationally regarded as an expert on Ralph Ellison, she has published three books: Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa during the Long Civil Rights Era (UP of Iowa, 2016; co-edited with Michael Hill), Visualizing Blackness and the Creation of the African American Literary Tradition (Cambridge UP, 2014), and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Reference Guide (Greenwood, 2008; co-authored with Michael Hill).  
Hill joined the University of Iowa in 2006.  An active member of the UI community, Hill has held a variety of leadership and service positions on campus as well as in local Iowa City organizations.  She currently serves on the boards of the Iowa City Community School District Foundation and the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce.


Charles Swanson

Charles Swanson

Charles Swanson currently serves as the executive director of Hancher at the University of Iowa.

Hancher supports The University of Iowa's mission of teaching, research, and service by presenting the world's finest performing artists; developing, engaging, and enlightening audiences; initiating and supporting the creation of new works; and providing artistic, educational, technical, human, and physical resources to the University and the people of Iowa.


Lisa Muñoz

Lisa Munoz

Lisa Speicher Muñoz is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Hawkeye Community College, and former adjunct instructor in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Northern Iowa.  She holds an M.A. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and a Graduate Certificate in Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion from the University of Colorado—Colorado Springs.  Since moving to the Cedar Valley in 2004, Ms. Muñoz has been involved in various community organizations, having served on the Boards of the YWCA of Black Hawk County, the ACLU-IA, and El Centro Latinoamericano.  She currently serves on the Community Development Board for the City of Waterloo, as well as the Mission Committee at the YWCA.  In 2014 she co-founded the community group, Cedar Valley Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (CVAIRR), which has conducted professional development for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office and Cedar Valley Friends of the Family, been featured on KWWL’s The Steele Report, organized community discussions, etc.  She was the recipient of the Sammie Dell Commitment to Diversity Award (in 2009) and the Outstanding Faculty Award (2010) at Hawkeye Community College, the YWCA’s Women of Persimmon Professional Woman of the Year in 2013 and Special Friend awardee in 2014, and the Alicia Schmidt Camacho Leadership Award recipient from New Jerusalem Ministries at Jubilee Church in 2017.  She resides in the Liberty Park Neighborhood of Waterloo with her husband, Antonio, who is employed at Omega Cabinets.  Together, they enjoy watching the Cubs win, spending time with family in Des Moines, and traveling in the U.S. and internationally. 


David HernandezDavid Hernandez

David I. Hernandez-Saca is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. He received his PhD from Arizona State University and MA from UC Berkeley. Dr. Hernandez-Saca is a former multi-subject teacher and his teaching responsibilities at UNI include undergraduate teacher preparation courses in the areas of post-school transition programming and issues and applications in special education. Dr. Hernandez-Saca's research nucleus of his research agenda is problematizing the common sense assumptions of learning disabilities (LD). Dr. Hernandez-Saca's two lines of research include: 1) (a) the emotional impact of LD labeling on conceptions of self. This work has implications for the problematization of LD that takes into account the sociocultural contexts of students living with this condition and the social construction of emotions about LD. Dr. Hernandez-Saca engages in this line of inquiry by documenting the perspectives of historically marginalized youth and culturally and linguistically diverse students with LD and in collaborative autoethnographic projects. Dr. Hernandez-Saca's second line of inquiry is (b) the role of emotion and affect in teacher learning about social justice issues. What ties both of his lines of inquiry together is his commitment to educational equity through an interdisciplinary research design and methodology. Overall, Dr. Hernandez-Saca investigates these as they relate to historical equity issues in general education and special education and current movements for inclusive education. He has published in journals such as Learning Disability Quarterly and the Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, and has presented at numerous national and regional conferences.

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