Workshop Presenters

Natalie Fajardo

University of Arizona, Asian Pacific Islander Coordinator

Natalie Fajardo currently serves as the Coordinator of Asian Pacific American Cultural Center at the University of Arizona  In her role, she is responsible for providing leadership development, awareness building and training, programming, and service/leadership opportunities for students. She is also active within NASPA, serving as the marketing coordinator for the New Professionals and Graduate Students Knowledge Community (NPGS). Born and raised in the sunny state of California, she holds a moved to Missouri and received her Master of Science degree from the University of Central Missouri’s College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program. Asian identity development and Diversity and Inclusion Excellence are two areas of interest. She attended the first Circle of Change conference!

Douglas Phoenix

Holy Names College, Career Coordinator

From Vallejo and the middle child of six Douglas is the first in his family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and now his Master’s. He started his educational journey of as a graphic designer with dreams of working in Silicon Valley creating the new great video games. But one day that all changed and a discovery of a new profession started. Douglas found a natural talent and delight when working with students and those looking to improve their lives. He took on many leadership roles at his community college, BA and Master’s program. As a counselor Douglas looks to help those he work with the best way he can with the love and passion that drives him each day.

Patrick Fredricks

Fort Lewis College, Leadership Programs Coordinator

Patrick Fredricks serves as Leadership Programs Coordinator at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He is responsible for facilitating leadership development in and out of the classroom as well as helping to organize New Student & Family Orientation. He is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management and of Western Carolina University with a Master’s Degree in Higher Education. Throughout his collegiate experience he was involved in community service, Greek Life, leadership development, club sports, and student government. Patrick continues to volunteer for his fraternity through curriculum writing, conference planning committees, assessment of chapter awards, presenting at conferences, and much more. He also enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, two beautiful daughters, and his dog.


Meridith Balas

West Virginia University,

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Meridith Balas is a proud alumna of the Pennsylvania State University. Currently, she serves as the Assistant Director for New Student Orientation at the University of Georgia, where she embraces the opportunity to be the first to welcome new students and their supporters to the bulldog family. Not too long ago, she graduated with her Masters of Education in College Student Affairs Administration at UGA and went on to live her dream in an education and leadership development position at Disney Institute, a sector of the Walt Disney Company. Passionate about creating engaging communities and supporting individuals in transition, Meridith’s background in student affairs, professional facilitation, and summer camp operations guides her practice every day. She prides herself on being a lifelong camp counselor, Disney fanatic, and transition enthusiast, and in her free time, can be found practicing calligraphy, reading, and rewatching her favorite episodes of Parenthood and Downton Abbey.

Elizabeth Hernandez Hanna

Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, Director of Trio Program

An American of Mexican descent, Elizabeth Hernandez Hanna grew up in Wilmington, CA with both of her parents and four siblings.  The struggle of living in a low income and high crime demographic area made earning an education a lofty dream, but with the support of her husband and her mama, Elizabeth earned her GED, an Associate’s degree from L.A. Harbor College, a Bachelor’s degree from CSU Dominguez Hills and a Master’s degree from CSU Long Beach.

Professionally, Elizabeth serves as the Director for TRIO Student Support Services at CSU, Dominguez Hills.  TRIO Student Support Services, also known as SSS, is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Education and it is designed to support the academic needs of first generation and low-income students, former foster youth, and students with disabilities.  Her passion lies in assisting and motivating students pursue their academic goals, navigate the college system, and succeed in college and beyond.

When Elizabeth is not working, she loves spending quality time with her husband and 2 children, she enjoys volunteering in her hometown community, and she loves to dance!  Cheers to an amazing 2017 COCLC!

Krystle Tonga

Krystle Tonga was raised in Reno, NV and is currently a graduate student at CSU, Chico. As a student in the masters in Public Administration, Krystle is preparing to continue her work as an activist and hopes to start non-profit organization that helps advocate for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. By getting involved on campus, Krystle was able to obtain great leadership opportunities. After working with the Educational Opportunity Program, and being involved with various student organizations on campus, Krystle has continued her journey as an assistant program coordinator at the CCLC.

Heather Maclin

Heather Maclin, originally from Memphis, TN, is the Assistant Director of Wilson Commons Student Activities at the University of Rochester. In her role, she advises over 25 performance and entertainment focused student organizations, coordinates a subsidized ticket program for undergraduate students, and supports late night programming and other community building activities on campus. Heather enjoys crafting, traveling, and trying new restaurants.

Hing Potter

Currently going into his 6th year as a student affairs professional in higher education, Hing Potter is currently in his second stint at Edmonds Community College helping new students navigate the admissions steps. Outside of higher education, he volunteers his time serving on the Board of Directors for the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce, Edmonds Young Professionals and Young Leaders United of United Way Snohomish County. Hing also has been holding his own speaking engagements called “Social Justice 101: Why Social Justice Matters,” speaking within the local community about equality, equity, intersectionality and human compassion through social justice. Other institutions Hing has served are College of Western Idaho and Boise State University, with overall experiences in residence life, new student programs, student life, and admissions. Hing Potter received his Bachelors of Arts from Boise State University in Political Science, International Relations. This fall, he is excited to start a master’s program in Higher Education Administration through Northeastern University.

Esther Gonzalez Freeman

Esther Gonzalez Freeman is a Latinx educator, speaker, writer, advocate, and certified life and career coach.

During her 16+ years in higher education, Esther has drawn on her experience as a first-generation college graduate to develop and lead programs focused on diversity and inclusion, leadership and career development, the retention of first generation and high financial need students, and more. She is currently the Director of the Odyssey Scholars Program at Elon University’s Center for Access and Success which provides need- and merit-based scholarships to over 100 promising leaders from diverse backgrounds.  She also serves as the Director of High School in the Village, which promotes leadership development and college-bound support to predominately Latinx youth. Esther has worked with John Gardner of the Gardner Institute to develop a sophomore success program at Salem College and has also served on several statewide committees including a statewide North Carolina committee dedicated to developing research-based mentoring models for marginalized student populations. Her work has been recognized by ACPA, the City of Winston Salem, Lehigh University, and NCICU, to name a few.

Esther is also passionate about motivating, empowering, and guiding others to create fulfilling, purposeful, and balanced lives.  As a speaker, writer, and coach, Esther is respected for her unflinching authenticity regarding her own experiences and “tell-it-like-it-is” bluntness concerning body positivity, mental health, wellness, faith, and more—all of which is delivered with warmth, humor, and empathy. The founder of E Powered Media LLC, Esther has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show and TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life (Season 1), and has been quoted and featured in Reader’s Digest, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Rumbo Austin, Forsyth Woman Magazine, and She has served as a speaker and presenter for noted organizations and events including Project Potential, Elon’s ALANAM Women’s Institute, NACAC, College Board, Diversity Abroad, and more.

Esther earned a BA in Political Science from The College of New Jersey, a MS in Leadership & Business Ethics from Duquesne University, and is currently pursuing her MBA at Elon University.

Dr. Tracy Pascua Dea

Saint Mary’s College of California, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success

Dr. Tracy Pascua Dea is the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success and former Co-Director of the High Potential First Generation to College Program at Saint Mary’s College of California.  Tracy has 15+ years progressive experience in corporate and higher education settings specializing in student success, diversity and social justice, career management, and leadership training and development. Tracy has worked with diverse individuals and groups and with internationally recognized programs. She has developed on-ground and on-line, domestic and international graduate and undergraduate programs and collaborated with Fortune 500 and non-profit organizations. Throughout her career, Tracy has been active in service to the community and has held leadership roles in professional organizations.  Her family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines. She is the first in her family to attend college in the United States. Tracy earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and B.A. in Psychology from Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. She is co-author of

Leo Young

California State University, San Jose, Residential Housing Director

Leo Young is originally from the great state of Texas, but is also a proud Californian; currently serving as the Conference Coordinator in University Housing Services at San Jose State University. Leo earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Educational Administration with a concentration in Student Affairs from Texas A&M University. Since graduating with his master’s degree in 2013, Leo has served as an Activities Coordinator for Student Activities at Georgia Southern University; working with student organizations and the University Programming Board. With a developed skillset in student organizations, event planning and risk management, Leo loves advising students and student groups and developing tomorrow’s leaders. In his current role at SJSU, Leo is working to improve the conference housing program to generate more resources for students and simultaneously develop an intentional, curriculum-based experience for conference assistants, as they learn from their summer job how to lead and serve.

Leo aspires to embody servant leadership as he impacts society as a catalyst for positive change. He is a devoted and loving husband to his beautiful wife and an outdoor enthusiast (backpacking, camping, hiking, etc.). Ultimately, Leo dedicates his life to being a faith-centered, values-based person that spreads love, enjoyment, and joy in every realm.

Damarea Parker

Cal State University, San Bernardino, National Pan-Hellenic Council Program Coordinator

Damarea joined the Office of Student Engagement in Winter of 2016. Damarea graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering with an emphasis in high performance and embedded systems. In addition to his amazing computer skills Damarea also has 5 years of experience as an event programmer.

Damarea oversees the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which is comprised of nine (9) historically Black Greek Lettered Organizations, and the United Fraternity and Sorority Council (USFC) comprised of our Multicultural Organizations. His reputation amongst the Greek advisors consist of being a “passionate and inspirational figure to students.” Damarea is committed to enriching the lives of students through co-curricular and academic programs. Damarea also continues to challenge students provide a safe space for discussions so that all students can have a great experience at California State University, San Bernardino.

Sabrena O’Keefe

Sabrena O’Keefe, Associate Director, Center for Leadership & Service
Florida International University (FIU), Biscayne Bay Campus, Miami, FL

Sabrena began her higher education journey by being an overly involved student as she earned an A.A.S. and B.S. from the Pennsylvania College of Technology then headed to the University of South Carolina where she graduated with a M.Ed. in Student Affairs and Higher Education.  After working in New York, the sunshine helped attract her to Florida International University where, in addition to working full-time, she has earned a graduate certificate and is finishing her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration.  Her research interests include global leadership, student leadership competencies, student learning outcomes, and assessment practices, which she has presented about at several national conferences and co-authored an eBook.  Additionally, she serves as an adjunct professor for Public Administration teaching an exploring leadership course.  Sabrena is very passionate about the intersection of leadership and service because she sees it as a starting point for successful global leaders and thrives on helping students become their “best selves” through experiential co-curricular involvements.

Sharzad Mozaffar

Saint Mary’s College of California

Sharzad Mozaffar is originally from the United Kingdom, but is also a proud Californian; currently working as a High Potential Graduate Student Counselor Intern at Saint Mary’s College. Sharzad earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Science & Rehabilitation from the University of Florida and is currently wrapping up her Masters of Counseling College Student Services degree at Saint Mary’s College. Since graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in 2011, Sharzad has served as Site Supervisor for Napa County Office of Education; working with middle and high school students on their personal development and academic enrichment. In her current role at SMC, Sharzad is primarily working with a diverse population of first-generation/low-income students to improve access to campus resources, assist with college transition, and ensure all students that they deserve an education. Sharzad’s passion is to serve as a counselor within higher education and her community, in order to have an impact on first-generation/low-income students who are aspiring to make a change in this world. She is a committed student who embodies passion and empathy not only in her academics but also her professional work within the nonprofit sector. Her interests include staying active, (gym, hiking, dancing etc.) and spending time with family and friends.

Heidi Elmer

California State University, Fullerton

Heidi Elmer was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. A proud alumna of Mount Holyoke College, she went on to earn her M.Ed at the University of Louisville. Heidi currently serves as the Coordinator for Community Service and Leadership Programs, in the Office of Student Life and Leadership at California State University in Fullerton, CA. She is responsible for overseeing multiple leadership development and community service programs, as well as several large scale social justice focused programs on campus. Previously, Heidi has worked with Alternative Breaks, Student Programing, Residence Life, and Disability Support Services.  Her passion for relational leadership stems from the opportunities she was given while attending community college that showed her how compassionate leadership can change lives. In her free time, Heidi loves to hang out at the beach, visit Disneyland, and play with her favorite pup, Charlie.

Tracy Stokes

Tracy Stokes currently serves as the Director for African American Programs & Services. Originally from Dayton, Ohio she holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from Wright State University. Upon graduation from Wright State, Tracy was an Academic Advisor at Indiana University- East in Richmond, Indiana and returned to her alma mater as an Academic Advisor, and Coordinator of Retention and Training. Tracy is dedicated to the academic success of students, and knows that all students have the potential to achieve all of their dreams.

Tracy has a heart for helping women reach their potential, and during her tenure at NKU, she founded Sister Circle a networking initiative intended to bridge the gap between African American women at Northern Kentucky University. She is also the founder of Young P.E.A.R.L.S., a mentoring group in the Northern Kentucky community for young women ages 10-17. She is the mother of three, and LOVES to spend time with her immediate and extended family. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and loves to read, and write poetry.

Ms. Tracy’s Favorite Quote is by Dr. Maya Angelou:  Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.