Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan

The Business and Financial Affairs (BFA) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan is a representation of our division’s intention to continue building an environment premised on equity and equality in alignment with the university’s strategic plan and priorities. This plan is the collaborative product of our planning and development process, which required the necessary input of our colleagues. Accordingly, our plan thoughtfully and unequivocally considers the diverse backgrounds and perspectives within BFA and communicates our intention of supporting our collective values of diversity, equality, and inclusivity.

This plan will act as the framework for measuring our overall progress in meeting our target goals and implementing initiatives. BFA will reference this plan as a guide as we work toward our commitment to embracing diversity and inclusion within our division.

Mission Statement

The Division of Business and Financial Affairs (BFA) celebrates diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We understand representation is essential to our success, which is why we strive to recruit and retain highly-skilled, compassionate leaders. By prioritizing listening and learning, engaging in critical conversations, and thoughtfully considering the needs of our different populations, we are creating a culture of belonging. As a division, we aim to offer opportunities for advancement and foster an inclusive environment so all are valued and empowered to thrive.

DEI Steering Committee Members

The DEI Steering Committee, previously referred to as the DEI Planning Committee, was formed after a University Senate resolution was approved in February 2018, requiring all units to engage in diversity planning. This group and its past members were tasked with creating an individual DEI plan for BFA congruent with the university’s plan. The committee members work in different areas within the division and are committed to DEI work. They coordinate with BFA’s interim vice president and chief financial officer, the BFA DEI Council, BFA employees, and colleagues across campus to set priorities and implement initiatives.

Jessica Rentto is the associate vice president of Administration. She is originally from New Jersey but moved to San Diego after graduating from college and never left. At SDSU, Rentto oversees the Center for Human Resources (HR), the Center for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (CPHD), Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and University Police and Risk Management. Her favorite aspect of her role is sitting on the Associated Students (A.S.) Board of Directors as the BFA designee because working directly with our students serves as a great reminder of how our divisions’ work supports student success. Rentto believes DEI makes our institution stronger and results in a more engaged and productive workforce and a great environment to foster and support student success.
Dr. Eric Hansen is the associate vice president of Business Operations. Throughout Hansen's academic and professional career, he has been curious about cultivating high-performance organizations, including the support of diverse and inclusive work environments. Having moved many times as a child, Hansen experienced the challenges and opportunities encountered when someone is new and feels like an outsider. He also came to appreciate the value in people of different backgrounds, identities, and stations in life. His professional and personal experiences motivated him to engage in many DEI planning and implementation efforts throughout the years. Hansen has learned the importance of recognizing our privileges and honoring and valuing our differences while working to acknowledge and celebrate our common humanity. 
Michelle Barón is the senior communications specialist for BFA and assists with internal and external comms for the division, SDSU Mission Valley, and San Diego State University Police Department (UPD). Barón grew up in San Diego and was a journalist in New York before moving back. She feels fortunate to have lived in different states, studied in Madrid, and traveled nationally and internationally because it exposed her to different people, cultures, and history. Having worked in news, through her personal experience as a Mexican-Jewish woman, and as a result of her travels, she understands the importance of bringing DEI into the workplace and is passionate about contributing to BFA’s objectives and initiatives to ensure employees feel included, seen, and valued. 
Cynthia M. Cervantes is the executive director for the Office of Housing Administration (OHA). Along with her team, Cervantes is committed to providing enriching living and learning environments that support student success, both academically and personally. She is originally from San Lorenzo, California, is an SDSU alumna, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in educational leadership at Fresno State University. As a first-generation Latinx woman, Cervantes understands the challenges women of color face in the workplace and is excited to contribute to BFA's DEI efforts to integrate broader perspectives and foster a culture of continuous growth and learning. 
Johnny Eaddy is the director of Logistical Services and a native San Diegan. He oversees the Copier Program, Copy Center, Electronic Recycling, Mail, Shipping and Receiving Services, Material Management, Moving Services, and Reprographic Services within Logistical Services. Eaddy brings a unique perspective to the DEI Steering Committee, considering his career at SDSU began as a custodian on the night shift. He has actively participated in many programs and served on many committees throughout his three-plus decades of employment with SDSU, and he is always seeking ways to assist and support the underserved.
Thom Harpole is the director for Human Resources (HR). He is a native Southern Californian and a two-time alumnus of California State University (CSU), earning a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Fullerton and a master’s degree from SDSU. Harpole is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, a father of two, and a devoted partner. In his position, Harpole provides strategic human resources support and leads a team of top-notch professionals providing core human resources services to the campus community. For Harpole, it is an honor to be in a support role at SDSU, a university where students, faculty, and staff are able to provide transformative opportunities and are a critical part of creating a better community and a better world. Harpole sleeps well at night with the knowledge that the work we do at SDSU makes a difference.  

Casie Martinez is the assistant director of employment services for Human Resources (HR). In her role, Martinez oversees the talent acquisition and classification, and compensation teams. She is a San Diego native who grew up in Chula Vista and earned her bachelor's degree from SDSU. As an alumna, Martinez serves as a mentor and speaker at the SDSU chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) student events. Martinez is grateful to have the opportunity to work at SDSU and enjoys being a small part of candidates achieving their career goals. She believes prioritizing DEI initiatives within BFA is extremely important, especially for the HR team, as the impact of these initiatives will be the collective experiences of everyone that applies or works for the university. 

Gail Mendez is the director of the Center for Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (CPHD) and Title IX coordinator. Mendez earned her Juris Doctorate degree from St. John’s University in New York City. Her legal career focused on working for nonprofit organizations dedicated to representing marginalized populations. Mendez officially moved to higher education in 2016 but has long admired SDSU’s commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. It is her strong desire that CPHD will be an integral contributor to SDSU’s mission to provide an environment where all members of the campus community can work, learn, and live in an atmosphere free from all forms of bias, harassment, and discrimination. 
T'Ante Sims is the manager of Student Account Services (SAS). In his role, he is responsible for overseeing the collection of tuition and other student fees. Sims works with students and parents to finance student education and helps give students a path to fulfill their dream of earning a degree from SDSU. For Sims, being part of the BFA DEI Steering Committee for the past three years has allowed him to expand his knowledge and awareness of the importance of creating a work environment that creates a culture of belonging and inclusiveness across all populations.

DEI Council Members

The DEI Council is composed of staff members within BFA who were selected to represent the various units within the division. The council members were nominated by departmental leaders because of past participation in DEI discussions, expressed interest during BFA’s DEI forums, a strong understanding of the importance and benefits of DEI, and/or are tenured at the university and have cultivated inclusive workplace relationships across campus. Each council member accepted their nomination and is committed to collaboratively working with the BFA DEI Steering Committee to implement the division's objectives and initiatives. The council will regularly assess the effectiveness of initiatives and make related recommendations to the steering committee.

Yesenia Acosta is a senior budget analyst for Budget & Finance. Acosta grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, and returned to California as a teenager. While learning English, she found reading and writing in a foreign language was easier than speaking but eventually adjusted well. In her position, Acosta appreciates being able to share the high-level perspective of the university's budget and operations. She believes prioritizing DEI within BFA is important for personal and professional growth because we learn more from sharing our different perspectives.

Jasleen Aguilar is an analyst for employment services in Human Resources (HR). In her role, Aguilar specializes in recruitment and is passionate about providing life-changing opportunities for students and employees. She is originally from Ontario, California, and earned her bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in human resources management at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). Prior to working at SDSU, Aguilar was employed at CSUSB, and held several HR positions, including Diversity and Inclusion assistant. She understands that representation matters and fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive division builds a strong university culture. 

Jena Colvin is a lead groundsworker in the Landscape Services Department. Colvin is from the Central Valley and has a background in natural resources and agricultural studies. She is currently in a communication studies program at San Diego City College and intends to transfer to SDSU to continue her studies. In her position, Colvin assists in maintaining the university's plant species, pruning trees, and installing new plant material throughout campus. She is passionate about her role on campus because there is an art to creating inviting living spaces to a structural human-made site. As a member of the DEI council, Colvin looks forward to participating, bringing forward knowledge, and encouraging BFA staff members to share different experiences and perspectives.

Deborah is a San Diego native. Up to this point in her life, she has not been able to see herself calling any other place home. The weather here is amazing and there is a diverse community with the border and military community influences and this is where the majority of her immediate family roots have been. Her background is in Business Management, Computer Information systems. Her previous career was in the telecommunications industry in data analytics. She enjoys working with data and learning software. Her passion is learning new things, problem-solving, figuring out new ways of looking at things and working with and understanding and transforming, and applying data.

In her current position, she works as a data analyst in the card office. She creates and runs various reports using tools such as SQL, Power BI, SQL. She likes data, numbers, the ability to transform what seems like meaningless numbers into meaningful insights, seeing its impact, and its ability to become actionable to really make a difference. It can be powerful. 

DEI is important to her because it allows us to fully tap into and appreciate the wide spectrum of what so many different humans offer. With varied backgrounds and perspectives, as individuals we can offer each other the gift of creating a complete insightful picture of the experience, capturing it from different angles and lenses with all of its complexities. If we limit ourselves by limiting our diversity, we limit our own potential.

Divisional Outreach Efforts

In order to best engage BFA staff, our division’s DEI Steering Committee implemented a participatory process through various outreach efforts:

  • BFA DEI Webinar - Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

  • BFA DEI Forum #1 - Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020
    • BFA Survey #1 - Monday, Oct. 5, 2020

  • BFA DEI Forum #2 - Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020
    • BFA Survey #2 - Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

This interactive approach allowed our staff members to collectively identify strategic objectives, provide feedback regarding drafted goals and initiatives, and then prioritize the strategic objectives. During this process, it was imperative to include input and perspectives from BFA personnel while listening and learning from diverse experiences, engaging in difficult conversations, and thoughtfully considering the different needs of populations within our division. 

Divisional DEI Objectives and Initiatives

BFA's DEI objectives and initiatives were determined and established from the webinars and forums held to generate conversation and input from our staff members and surveys soliciting feedback. As outlined in the DEI Plan, each objective includes a problem statement, and each initiative covers assessment/measures of success, timeline, responsible parties, and resources needed. Below are the objectives and initiatives in our DEI Plan:

OBJECTIVE 1: Foster an environment of inclusion for all BFA staff where different
experiences and perspectives are valued.

Initiative 1: Enhanced training for divisional staff and administrators on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.

Initiative 2: Develop and enhance programs to build cross-departmental relationships with the goal of building trust, respect, and understanding. Programs will include, but are not limited to: conversation circles (e.g., Paul Axtell program), BFA DEI Book Club, promoting and encouraging participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and intentional relationship building activities (e.g., BFA-wide meetings, BFA bowling events, etc.).

Initiative 3: Articulate and promote BFA’s shared values within and outside the division.

OBJECTIVE 2: Enhance the career pathways of BFA staff to create a diverse and inclusive division.

Initiative 1: Create and offer a training program to managers to educate, train and support managers on how to effectively mentor staff.

Initiative 2: Develop and provide workshops and programs to support career development and career pathing for divisional staff and administrators. Workshops may include, but are not limited to: how to create a career pathing plan, resume building, fee waiver informational sessions, panel discussion with staff/administrators who obtained degrees while working full-time, etc. 

Initiative 3: Provide networking opportunities for our divisional staff to build
relationships across campus to support career growth across divisions.

OBJECTIVE 3: Recruit divisional staff and administrators who are reflective of the diverse students
and communities served by SDSU.

Initiative 1: Rethink divisional standards for position descriptions and advertisements, including the use of intentional language in position ads and position descriptions regarding values specifically related to DEI and drafting job requirements to cast a wider net and broaden the applicant pool.

Initiative 2: Rethink the role of the search committee by providing clearly defined roles and processes for divisional search committees, including: responsibilities of committee members playing an active role in soliciting diverse applicant pools, providing a required search 101 training for search committee members, and utilizing inclusion representatives for BFA searches when available.

Initiative 3: Creating pathways for student employees to become full-time university employees after degree completion.

OBJECTIVE 4: Cultivate relationships with the local community that advance the well-being
of diverse individuals and communities.

Initiative 1: Engage and encourage minority- and women-owned businesses to partner with the university by hosting workshops to provide information and guidance on the university procurement process and develop evaluation criteria, consistent with state and California State University (CSU) policies, to ensure fairness and equity in university procurement processes.

Initiative 2: Providing divisional and departmental volunteer opportunities (e.g., a department can volunteer as a team for a shift at the San Diego Food Bank).

Initiative 3: Providing opportunities for divisional staff to participate as a team in community events (e.g., BFA team for the MS Walk).

Initiative 4: Providing opportunities for divisional staff to share information about their current involvement in the local community (e.g., spotlighting a divisional staff member in our weekly newsletter and providing information about their leadership efforts in the local community).