The SACNAS staff is a group of dedicated individuals passionate about advancing Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in science. SACNAS employees work to facilitate and support volunteer-led efforts, carry out staff-led efforts, fundraise, and direct overall operations.
Kristine (Tina) Garza, PhD, was named SACNAS Executive Director in July 2012, and has been involved with SACNAS since 1989 as a college sophomore, holding numerous positions of leadership, including board member, board Secretary, board Treasurer, and President-Elect, until her appointment as Executive Director. Dr. Garza earned her B.S. in Biology at St. Mary’s University, her PhD in Immunology at the University of Virginia, and conducted her postdoctoral studies at the Ontario Cancer Institute. She was a faculty scientist at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) for 12 years, where she was a tenured Associate Professor. Dr. Garza’s teaching and service, focused on underrepresented minorities (URM) training and mentoring, have been recognized by the state of Texas, regionally and nationally. For Dr. Garza, serving at UTEP and with SACNAS have been tremendous opportunities to give back. She is grateful to all her students and colleagues for making her professional life such a meaningful experience.
Marilú Chávez is Executive Assistant to the Executive Director (ED). She supports the ED in all administrative responsibilities and serves as the contact and support person to the Board of Directors, executive officers, and Council of Senior Advisors. Ms. Chávez graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2001 with a BA in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and has worked with SACNAS for 11 years in a variety of roles such as Student Presentations Manager, Accounting Coordinator and Human Resources Coordinator. Ms. Chávez was originally drawn to work with the organization because of the profound sense of community at SACNAS and she is proud to be part of a movement that is opening paths to science, education, and leadership to Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in STEM.
SACNAS’ Vice President for Science Policy & Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Robert E. Barnhill evaluates and writes on science policy issues and trends, recommends policy positions to the SACNAS board, represents SACNAS in multiple policy forums, collaborates with SACNAS’ Executive Director and department directors, and supervises SACNAS Science Policy Associates. He has been involved with SACNAS for approximately ten years, and together with his spouse and SACNAS pioneer and former president Dr. Marigold Linton, developed the conference-funding concept of “host institution.” As Vice President since 2009, he helped SACNAS establish its Washington, DC office. Dr. Barnhill received his BA from the University of Kansas and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, both in mathematics, and has had a lengthy career in academia and academic administration, always emphasizing teambuilding and robust collaborations. As an extension of this career focus, his favorite SACNAS activity is mentoring at the Summer Leadership Institute.
In her role as SACNAS’ Director of Operations, Ms. Roszman manages human resources, budget development, finances, and grant reporting. She has been with the organization since 2009. Prior to joining SACNAS, she served as assistant director of NASCIO, the National Association of Chief Information Officers headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, and as Executive Director at the YWCA in Monterey County, California. Ms. Roszman earned her Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky with a double major in psychology and English. Witnessing the transformative influence SACNAS has on students provides daily inspiration for her work.
Ms. Navarro is SACNAS’ Accounting and Office Manager, handling all aspects of invoicing, accounts payable, accounts reconciliation, payroll, internal controls and office procedures. She worked with SACNAS from 2008 until 2010, and after a two year leave from 2010-2012, she is excited to be back in Santa Cruz and working with SACNAS again. Ms. Navarro graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2010 with a BA in both Environmental and Community Studies with an emphasis in Food, Agriculture and Social Justice. For several years she has combined her passion for social change and nonprofit accounting and enjoys working with organizations such as SACNAS which champion educational equity and social justice within our communities.
As SACNAS Administrative Coordinator, Ms. Chavarría provides administrative support to the Operations Department/Human Resources, the Executive staff and other departments, handling general clerical and receptionist duties, accounting support, and special projects. She joined SACNAS in 2012. While her varied background includes certifications in health sciences and human resources, Ms. Chavarría’s primary focus has been in education for at-risk underserved youth, and outreach assistance to their families as to educational options irrespective of socio-economic status. Since SACNAS does similar work, on a larger scale, reaching out to the underserved and underrepresented Hispanic/Chicano and Native American populations in science—a philosophy and mission she wholeheartedly supports—she chose to work at SACNAS, where she greatly enjoys her role.
As Information Technology Manager, Mr. Alhabli oversees all aspects of IT to support SACNAS staff, and utilizes technology to maintain and promote a growing bond with our community. He joined SACNAS in 2012. He has successfully completed four Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system implementations during his career and at SACNAS primarily focuses on CRM and web development. Mr. Alhabli graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems with honors from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. A native of occupied Palestine, Mr. Alhabli identifies deeply with the struggle of the Native American community and was attracted to SACNAS because it is sculpting a strong, innovative scientific community out of the remains of an underprivileged minority who irrepressibly sprout in the face of poverty, underrepresentation, and limited mentoring.
As Director of Communications Ms. Clarenbach manages the Communications Department and led the development and implementation of SACNAS’ Communications Strategic Plan. She writes and edits regularly for internal and external audiences and works closely with SACNAS’ science policy staff. Ms. Clarenbach joined SACNAS in early 2012, after practicing law for 35 years, followed by three years as Director of Advocacy, Community Engagement and Media Relations with a nonprofit healthcare organization. She earned her BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin and her law degree from UC Berkeley Law. Ms. Clarenbach wholeheartedly supports SACNAS’ mission in advancing Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in science, and is passionate about social justice, collaboration, and eliminating barriers to access in education, employment, civic engagement, and health care.
Ms. Kurzweil is the Publications Manager & Senior Editor at SACNAS where she shares the writing, stories, and accomplishments of SACNISTAS through print and digital communications such as the SACNAS News, social media, e-newsletters, the website, and annual reports. Ms. Kurzweil has served at SACNAS since July of 2001. She earned her BA from the University of Washington with a focus on creative writing and training in oral history. A passionate advocate for social justice and educational/career equity, she is honored to bring her communications skills into the realm of social change. Also an author, Ms. Kurzweil has written Fields that Dream: A Journey to the Roots of Our Food (Fulcrum Publishing) and articles for Science Careers, Science, Winds of Change, and Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education.
Ms. Longcor has been with SACNAS since spring 2012 providing strategic analysis and content/information management for various communication platforms. She earned a MBA/MS in Management of Technology from University of Alabama, Huntsville and BS in Microbiology/Genetic Engineering from University of California, Santa Barbara. She also pursued doctoral studies in Cell/Developmental/Molecular Biology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and worked with AMGEN, HHMI, NASA and other scientific institutions. Ms. Longcor is part Native American with formative experiences on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. She is deeply committed to changing the face of science, not only by diversifying STEM fields, but also by developing new paradigms of open access in education and research that will enable us to solve the global challenges of the future.
Programs and Scientific Professional Advancement
As SACNAS Director of Programs and Scientific Professional Advancement, Dr. Rodríguez oversees the development, implementation and evaluation of the Society’s programs. She has been a member of SACNAS since 1995 and joined the staff in 2011. Dr. Rodríguez earned her PhD in physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A first-generation college student, she is committed to supporting underrepresented students in STEM fields and is thrilled to bring her expertise as a scientist and mentor to SACNAS. Because Dr. Rodríguez believes that science is fun and engaging, she works to ensure that all communities have a pathway to their highest aspirations in science, free of obstacles and full of support. She encourages SACNAS community members to contact her to share their experiences and suggestions for programs.
Marina L. Ramon, PhD, is Senior Program Manager for Postdoc and Professional Programs and has been a SACNAS member since 2005. She coordinates, manages and develops leadership and professional development programs for SACNAS’ postdoctoral fellows and professional scientists. She earned her PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. As a research scientist she used molecular approaches to investigate fundamental processes in evolution and ecology of marine fishes. Before joining SACNAS, she was a NSF Minority Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California. Dr. Ramon has participated in several programs to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and women in science and has mentored students at different stages of their science careers. She continues to be active in biology research and mentoring.
As Senior Conference Program Manager, Ms. Ovrahim manages the development and implementation of the SACNAS National Conference. She joined SACNAS in late 2012 after working for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago where she designed innovative programming & managed delivery of graduate level science courses. After receiving her BS in Environmental Toxicology from UC Davis in 2001, and doing field work, she focused on science education and received her M. Ed. in 2009 from Mills College. Working in the Bay Area to expose underrepresented communities to STEM related fields for over eight years, Ms. Ovrahim is grateful for the opportunity to support SACNAS in achieving its mission and is honored to help serve the National Conference participants in achieving their professional and academic goals.
As the Student Program and Regional Meeting Manager, Mr. Moreno serves the SACNAS community by providing year-round programming to undergraduate and graduate students, overseeing the chapter program, and working with the SACNAS chapter committee to provide high quality programming to chapter members. After attending his first National Conference in 2009, he continued his involvement with SACNAS as the University of California, Santa Cruz Chapter President and thereafter as the Chapter’s National Liaison. In 2011 he earned his BS in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and joined the SACNAS staff. Having witnessed first-hand the support that SACNAS provides to its members, and the impact of that support, both at the National Conference and through year-round programming, Mr. Moreno is proud to promote the SACNAS mission.
As Exhibits Program Manager, Ms. Ortega provides year-round direct service to SACNAS National Conference exhibitors through exhibits event planning, sales, and program development. She joined SACNAS in 2009, and has eight years’ experience in the nonprofit sector. Ms. Ortega holds BA in political economy of industrial societies and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. She recognizes the fundamental importance of sustained and meaningful relationships with our exhibiting partners, including diversity program directors, university faculty and administrators, and government representatives, and strives to provide excellent service to them, as they enable us to fulfill our mission of opening STEM educational equity to underrepresented minority communities, by connecting our students to renowned scientific opportunities in research and academia at their institutions.
As Sponsorship & Events Manager, Ms. Contreras is responsible for the sponsorship management and event logistics organization-wide and also performs duties associated with the SACNAS National Conference, including registration, travel, and lodging. A native of Santa Cruz, California, Ms. Contreras joined SACNAS in 2004 and has served in various capacities over the years. Throughout her eight year tenure at SACNAS, Ms. Contreras has continually drawn inspiration from stories of perseverance shared by our members. She fully understands the barriers and struggles confronting many underrepresented youth, and is passionate about motivating and supporting students to achieve their educational dreams in the hope that they will give back and make a difference in their communities.
Ms. Alvarez is a SACNAS Programs Manager, overseeing the entire SACNAS travel scholarship program which annually awards approximately 1,000 travel scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across the United States and Puerto Rico to attend the SACNAS National Conference. With SACNAS since 2011, she earned her BA in 2012 from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Sociology and Latin American Latina/o Studies. As a first-generation college graduate who participated in student organizations and at the Ethnic Resource Centers, Ms. Alvarez is passionate about working with SACNAS to support and increase the numbers of underrepresented students in higher education, a reflection of her drive to bring knowledge and resources into her community.
As a Programs Manager, Mr. Lopez handles all aspects of student research presentations at the SACNAS National Conference. Involved with SACNAS since 2008, he joined the staff in 2011. Mr. Lopez earned his BS from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Biomedical Engineering with an emphasis in Rehabilitation, and through student mentor programs, conducted research on medical robotics. He worked at UC San Francisco Children’s Hospital Pediatric Device Consortium on implantable and non-implantable prototypes for pectus carinatum, and also provided onsite health services in rural Honduras and Panama. As SACNAS staff he co-organized Community Day for the 2011 conference and organized the 2012 Summer Leadership Institute. With first-hand experience in minority mentor programs, Mr. Lopez is a strong advocate for diversifying the sciences.
As SACNAS’ Programs Assistant, Scerra Hassuk supports the Director of Programs and Scientific Professional Advancement in all phases of the Department’s work: implementation, management, supervision and evaluations of SACNAS conferences, year-round programs, and special projects. Ms. Hassuk joined the organization in 2012, after providing administrative support for Principal Investigators in a science lab at the University of California, San Francisco and for deans at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Additionally, Ms. Hassuk is a multi-faceted artist whose current mediums include floral design, textile arts, and paper arts. With a BA in Ethnic Studies from Mills College in Oakland, she brings to SACNAS her enthusiasm for community support and outreach coupled with her passion that higher education should be accessible to all.
American Indian Affairs
As Director of American Indian Affairs and Policy, based in Washington, D.C., Dr. Wilson manages multiple programs, services and outreach related to American Indian programs and initiatives, and works closely with Federal agencies to collaborate and promote opportunities for the SACNAS membership. Dr. Wilson has held this position for two years. He earned a PhD in molecular immunology from Arizona State University. As senior research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, he participated in SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute in 2010, which profoundly impacted his life and career, prompting him to join SACNAS. Dr. Wilson continues to create opportunities and programs to diversify the STEM fields that will lead to a stronger and more economically viable nation.
As the American Indian Affairs Programs Manager, Ms. Ortiz coordinates and oversees all Native American conference programs, manages email communication with federal and tribal networks, and provides ongoing support to the Director of American Indian Affairs and Policy in the development of American Indian initiatives. She joined SACNAS in 2010, after earning a BA in History and Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis (UCD). Her dedication to educational equity is rooted in her own experience while at UCD, where she worked for the Student Retention and Recruitment Center, addressing the needs of Native American students through holistic programming. Her commitment to educational equity continues at SACNAS, diversifying science while maintaining our community’s culture, traditions and identity.