Un Testimonio: ¿Quien Soy Yo? Who Am I?
A Chicago-born Latina’s Path to Ethnic Identity and Activism
Carmen Suarez, Director of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion
I was born and raised in Chicago, IL to a Mexican dad and “Heinz 57” mom. I grew up bilingual and bi-cultural—and what does that mean? I’m an American citizen who’s voted in every election since I was old enough, have the privilege of “white” skin, and have been called a spic on more than one occasion. How does being targeted for one aspect of one’s identity shape one? My identity wheel has many spokes: Mom, professional, activist, straight, scholar, partner, teacher---but the center of my identity wheel, from where the spokes spread, is “Latina”. Chicago Latina. I don’t presume my story may have meaning to anyone but me, but if you are interested in the narrative of an “other”, together we can explore the trials, tribulations, joys and wonder of the quest of discovering who we are.
Carmen Suarez is the Director of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion at the University of Idaho and a member of the President’s cabinet and executive leadership team. She develops and implements various diversity, bias prevention, sexual harassment and faculty/staff professional development training programs, initiates underrepresented faculty/staff strategic recruitment and retention plans, investigates and resolves complaints, monitors various dimensions of institutional equity, reviews and approves the hiring policies, practices and individual employment searches, and serves as Title IX and ADA Coordinator and Affirmative Action Officer for the institution.
Carmen has worked in AA/EEO compliance, diversity management and leadership, university enrollment management, law school career services administration, private sector management and human resources and public services program implementation. She began her career in graduate admissions, worked for several years assisting migrant farm workers, directed a comprehensive university minority student recruitment and retention program, served as a university affirmative action officer, managed a private sector company’s human resources and developed and implemented the company’s minority-owned business certification, researched and submitted business proposals and pursued government procurement opportunities. She has conducted numerous training programs on topics such as minority student higher education access, various diversity and managing diversity topics, sexual harassment, Latino and African American relations, bias prevention, gender communications, career development and employment hiring practices.
She has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in History and her Doctorate is in Higher Education Administration. She has received various awards throughout her career and has served on many committees, boards and commissions.
But there are two accomplishments of which she is most proud: Raising her daughter Amanda Radtke, and being advisor to student groups. Working with students of color in particular is where her heart is and from where her REAL professional success and satisfaction comes.
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