SUNY Chancellor King Announces Eleven Emerging Hispanic/Latinx Leaders and Allies Selected as Fellows for SUNY’s 2024 Hispanic Leadership Institute

November 16, 2023

HLI Has Graduated 60 Fellows Since It Began in 2017

Photos and Biographies Can Be Found Here

Albany, NY
– State University of New York Chancellor John B. King, Jr. today announced that eleven emerging Hispanic/Latinx leaders and allies have been selected as fellows for the 2024 Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) class, which will mark the seventh class since the program's inception in 2017.

Thanks to generous support from New York State and the State Assembly's Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, SUNY's Hispanic Leadership Institute has uplifted 60 of SUNY's brightest Hispanic/Latinx faculty and staff and allies. The program supports Hispanic/Latinx leaders and allies through rigorous executive training and provides a network to grow in their positions.

"By working to increase Hispanic and ally representation in leadership positions, the HLI provides its fellows with the skills needed to ensure they are represented at the decision-making table and know they'll be valued and supported throughout their careers at SUNY," said SUNY Chancellor King. "These eleven individuals are role models to colleagues and students, and we congratulate them as they start their HLI journey. I would also like to thank our legislative partners for their continued and unwavering commitment to the success of the HLI."

SUNY Board Vice Chairman Cesar Perales said, "It has been an absolute pleasure to watch the Hispanic Leadership Institute grow in its impact over the years. The success of our HLI fellows perfectly demonstrates the tremendous possibilities for our current and future Hispanic/Latinx students in their studies and careers. I congratulate our eleven new members as they take another leap ahead in their already successful careers by joining the HLI."

SUNY Board Trustee Marcos Crespo said, "As Hispanic higher education enrollment grows, we must continue to attract and retain Hispanic leaders and allies across SUNY who can drive our efforts to become a more inclusive system. Representation matters because we cannot set out to be what we cannot see for ourselves. Year after year, the HLI fellowship provides a powerful platform to celebrate and support emerging leaders across the SUNY system, who have a vital role to play in shaping the future of SUNY and New York State."

HLI is housed within SUNY's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI). It is a demanding six-month experience for SUNY leaders of Hispanic descent and their allies that positions them to further develop higher education leadership skills and proficiencies. HLI fellows participate in training sessions and webinars, converse with national and statewide Hispanic leaders, and master personal assessment tools. HLI creates a pipeline for professional opportunities across SUNY and ensures alumni are networking and receiving continuous support and mentorship.

This year's fellows, who will begin in January 2024, are:

  • Flor Araujo, SUNY Orange, Director, Center for Student Success
  • Diana Castellanos, Binghamton University, Talent Acquisition Specialist
  • George W. Contreras, SUNY Westchester Community College, Dean, School of Health Sciences and Wellness
  • Patricia Diaz, University at Buffalo, Professor of Empire Innovation, Department of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine; Director, UB Microbiome Center
  • Adam Gonzalez, Stony Brook University, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Behavioral Health, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Renaissance School of Medicine
  • Juan P. Hinestroza, Cornell University, Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, College of Human Ecology
  • Virginia Meléndez, Rockland Community College, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Giovanna Montenegro, Binghamton University, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Languages; Director, Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies (LACAS)
  • Julio Olaizola, SUNY Research Foundation, Project Manager, SUNY ATTAIN
  • Pablo Salinas, Fashion Institute of Technology, Director of Capital Budgets
  • Christina Seado Vasquez, SUNY Oswego, Project Administrative Officer and Director, SUNY Oswego Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)

HLI is under the direction of Assistant Vice Chancellor for Presidential Searches and Development Zulaika Rodriguez-Awoliyi. Rodriguez-Awoliyi is an expert in professional development who leads the SUNY system's presidential recruitment work. In October, Chancellor King announced 2023 HLI Fellow Doris Díaz-Kelly as the second director-in-residence of the institute, who will assist Rodriguez-Awoliyi.


The SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute serves as a resource for Hispanic and Latinx leaders and their allies in higher education, both in New York State and across the country. Its mission is to foster and support the professional development and retention of current and emerging leaders to create a more diverse university system. HLI fellows have the unique opportunity to meet with distinguished Hispanic and Latinx leaders and their allies from SUNY and the community at large, both locally and nationally; work with mentors; expand their network; and build connections. HLI creates a pipeline for professional opportunities across SUNY and ensures alumni are networking and receiving ongoing support and mentorship well after they graduate from the program. The program has graduated 60 fellows since its inception in 2017.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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