Delia Fernandez, Ph.D. (she/her)

Delia Fernández is an assistant professor of history at Michigan State University. She is a core faculty member of the Chicano/Latino Studies Program and the director of the Womxn of Color Initiatives. She was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan among a large, tight-knit Mexican and Puerto Rican community. Drawing on her lived experiences as a Latina in Michigan and extensive primary source research, her work centers on Latino placemaking in the Midwest. She is particularly interested in how this population transforms the places they live in to suit their political, economic, and social needs. She has two award winning articles on Latinos in Michigan. Her book, Making the MexiRican City, Mexican and Puerto Rican Migration, Placemaking, and Activism in Grand Rapids, Michigan (University of Illinois Press) will be released in February of 2023. In addition to serving as the chair of WOCI for 2022-2023, she is also the undergraduate coordinator for the Chicano/Latino Studies Program. 

Affiliated Faculty:

Estrella Torrez, Ph.D. (she/her)

DR. ESTRELLA TORREZ is an Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Her scholarship centers on critical pedagogy, civic engagement, multicultural education, Indigenous education and sociocultural literacy, particularly among rural migrant families and urban Indigenous youth. Dr. Torrez is a Gates Millennium Scholar, being awarded the prestigious award during its inaugural year. She attended The University of New Mexico, receiving an MA with dual concentrations in Early Childhood Multicultural Education and Bilingual Education, and a PhD in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies with a concentration in Bilingual Education. As a child, Torrez attended specific schools for migrant children until, at the age of twelve, she began working alongside her parents and grandparents in the fields. Later, she taught within the same migrant educational system, eventually working for the Office of Migrant Education in Washington, DC. In 2009, Torrez co-founded the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program (IYEP), a program serving urban Indigenous youth and families in Michigan. She presently serves as IYEP’s co-director and facilitates an afterschool program for youth in Kindergarten through twelfth grades, as well as organizes a summer cultural camp for 65 urban Indigenous youth. From 2011-2013, Dr. Torrez served as a Commissioner on the Metropolitan Detroit Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where she was charged with interrogating structural racism embedded in housing, education, and criminal systems. In the spring of 2013, she initiated the Nuestros Cuentos collaborative project with the College Assistance Migrant Program and Lansing School District. Nuestros Cuentos brought together students from MSU’s RCAH and CAMP with 4th-6th grade Lansing Latinx youth in a storytelling project. In her tenure at MSU, she has taught five experiential-based university courses on Latino and Indigenous issues in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest, as well as four on-campus collaborative courses with Migrant Student Services.


Yomaira C. Figueroa, Ph.D. (she/her)

DR. YOMAIRA C. FIGUEROA is assistant professor of Afro Diaspora Studies in the department of English and the African American & African Studies program at Michigan State University. Her work examines 20th century U.S. Latinx Caribbean, Afro-Latinx and Afro-Hispanic literature & culture. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in the department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in English, Puerto Rican & Hispanic Caribbean Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick (Douglass College). A native of Puerto Rico, Yomaira was raised in Hoboken, NJ and is a first-generation high school and college graduate. Along with Professor Rae Paris, Yomaira is the co-founder of WOCI at Michigan State. In her spare time Yomaira loves to travel, write short stories, create DIY projects, and spend time with her partner and pets: a dog and a turtle!

Websites: |

Ning Hsieh, Ph.D. (they/them)

Ning Hsieh’s research broadly concerns health, sexuality, aging, and social relationships. Their current work examines health and health care inequities faced by sexual minority and older populations in two focal areas: (1) how structural inequalities influence health and well-being through shaping social networks and relationship quality, and (2) the impact of intersecting social positions and identities, particularly sexuality, gender, and race/ethnicity, on health and health care experiences. Dr. Hsieh’s research appears in Demography, Gerontologist, Health Affairs, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, Journal of Marriage and Family, LGBT Health, Society and Mental Health, and other peer-reviewed journals and book volumes. Their scholarship has been recognized by awards from the American Sociological Association, Society for the Study of Social Problems, and IPUMS. They have also received the 2022 Teacher-Scholar Award at Michigan State University. Before joining MSU, Dr. Hsieh was a National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. They received their doctoral degree in demography and sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Terah Venzant Chambers (she/her)

Dr. Terah Venzant Chambers is a professor of K-12 Educational Administration in the MSU College of Education. She joined The Graduate School as Associate Dean in Fall 2022 and in that role is thrilled to contribute to a variety of programs that will foster graduate student success. Dr. Venzant Chambers’ research interests include post-Brown K-12 education policy and urban education leadership.  Specifically, she is interested in the ways within-school segregative policies influence African American students’ academic achievement and school engagement, as well as the price of school success for high-achieving students of color (racial opportunity cost). Her 2022 book, Racial Opportunity Cost: The Toll of Academic Success on Black and Latinx Students is available from Harvard Education Press. Venzant Chambers is past president of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) and previously served as AERA Division A Secretary. She currently serves as co-editor of AERA Open and has previously served as associate editor for Educational Administration Quarterly, the Journal of Teacher Education, and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. She has an expertise in qualitative research methodology, particularly critical approaches to research methods and theory. At MSU, Venzant Chambers was selected as an Academic Advancement Network (AAN) Fellow (2020-2021) and a Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Academic Leadership Program (ALP) Fellow (2021-2022). She previously served as a Congressional Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) with placements in the Office of Rep. Diane E. Watson (retired) and the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Chambers also serves in an elected position on the East Lansing School Board.

Fashina Alade, Ph.D. (she/her)

Fashina (Shina) Aladé is an Assistant Professor of Advertising & Public Relations, and also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Her work lies at the intersection of media effects, developmental psychology, and early childhood education, with a focus on young children’s comprehension of and learning from educational media. Her research has won top paper awards from the International Communication Association, and has been published in journals such as Media Psychology and the Journal of Communication. Dr. Aladé is the Associate Editor for the Society for Research in Child Development’s Social Policy Report, and she has also worked with WTTW Chicago and MediaKidz Research and Consulting, Inc. on a variety of projects evaluating children’s television programs and online games. She earned her PhD at Northwestern University in Media, Technology, & Society, where she conducted research with the Center on Media and Human Development. She also holds an MA from Ohio State University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, both in Communication. Dr. Aladé is passionate about elucidating the ways that media and technology can be used to positively impact the lives of children and families. As a community-engaged scholar, much of her research is conducted in partnership with community organizations. She often engages in outreach activities, such as professional development workshops for educators and creating tip sheets for children’s television producers, to make sure that her research reaches the people who need it most: parents, educators, and children’s media creators. 

Leslie Gonzales, Ph.D.

DR. LESLIE D. GONZALES is an associate professor of higher, adult and lifelong education. Gonzales’s research agenda consists of three overarching lines of inquiry: (1) legitimacy within the academic profession and the broader field of higher education; (2) transnational relations of power that govern the recognition of knowledge and knowers; and (3) the possibility of agency among academics to negotiate, remake or resist marginalizing structural and cultural features of academia. Gonzales is a first-generation working class student-turned-academic, and earned all three academic degrees from Hispanic-serving institutions, including New Mexico Highlands University and The University of Texas at El Paso.

Womxn of Color Initiatives Graduate Student Assistants:

Vanessa Aguilar, (she/hers)

Vanessa Aguilar is currently writing her dissertation on how women in New Galicia sought relief in spiritual practices and magic to put social justice into their own hands. She was recently awarded a dissertation fellowship from the Center for Gender in Global Context. Other areas of interest include subversion of the Catholic structure and patriarchy in colonial Latin America, women’s rhetoric, curanderismo/brujería/mysticism, and representations of women in literature. She received a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in rhetoric from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In 2018, she received a master’s degree in English from Emporia State University.

Toni Gordon, (she/hers)

Antonia C. Gordon is a native of Muskegon Heights, Michigan. She joined the Political Science Department in the fall of 2021 as a PhD student. She earned a BA in Public Administration from Grand Valley State University. Her research interests include public policy, education policy, and urban schooling. Antonia currently serves on the Board of Directors at the American Society for Public Administration – MI Area Chapter. She is also a soldier in the U.S. Army reserves, a 2021 Michigan State Enrichment Fellow, and a member of Michigan State Interdisciplinary Training in Education and Social Science (MITTENSS) Fellowships’ second cohort.

Previous Members