SHPE Speaks Out Against the National Crisis That Is Violence Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Co-Signed Statement of Solidarity with the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)

Los Angeles, CA – As an organization that advocates daily for a world where diversity is celebrated and inclusion is valued as integral to the success of the United States, it is our imperative to speak up on behalf of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) brothers and sisters. We must speak out about what has now become a national crisis.

According to the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), one in four Asians experienced a form of racism in 2020. While racism certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, it isn’t difficult to see the connection between this increase in hate and the rhetoric that’s being used in connection with the global pandemic. These falsehoods must be called out and the actors who use that rhetoric to justify hate crimes must be condemned.

“As a Hispanic woman, I’ve seen this kind of blatant racism and discrimination firsthand. It’s painful. It’s frightening. And it holds us back from bringing our full abilities to bear. None of us should have to live in fear that we’ll be targeted based on nothing more than how we look, our culture, or heritage.” says SHPE CEO Raquel Tamez.

Now more than ever, during this time when we are all battling a global pandemic and an economic crisis, we must embrace and support each other. And now more than ever, it is critical that we amplify Asian voices; and that we speak out loudly about how important the AAPI community is to the past and future success of our country.

To show our continued support, SHPE has co-signed a Statement of Solidarity from SASE. We strongly encourage all of our members and partners to share this statement and join us in taking this stand against hate.


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Source: Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)

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Remembering Rod Garcia

On Saturday we buried a great man.

Rodrigo “Rod” Garcia was laid to rest surrounded by his family, wife, kids, grandkids, and his SHPE family. He was eulogized in the House, his career was recorded in the Senate, the California Congress recognized him, and President Biden sent a condolence letter.

Why? Because he changed the face of our nation, the composition of our society, the state of professional Hispanic engineers, and he did it forever.

We all know what he did. It was celebrated yesterday and has been celebrated in many circles. It will be celebrated this fall in Charlotte and will be celebrated again in 2024 in Anaheim.

We all know what he did. So I want to illustrate what he DID NOT do.

Rod saw a need. A critically important need, for himself and for his friends. Specifically, he saw a lack of Hispanic engineers in the city of Los Angeles in 1974. At that point, however, he did NOT storm city hall, he did not organize a city wide walk out. He did not block the interstates, called for a boycott, or a strike, or sued the city, or started a petition, or got layers involved, or even picketed city hall. He did not do ANY of those things, things that everyone does these days for the slightest reason.

Instead, he created (along with 4 other friends), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. And in the process, he changed the world.

Rod’s personal work changed the lives of hundreds of thousands across the nation who in turn changed the lives of hundreds of thousands more. He truly changed our nation, our society.

I asked him many years ago how come he wasn’t more military at the time, like everyone these days does. His response spoke volumes of his intelligence and character. He said (paraphrasing), “if I had forced the city to hire Hispanic engineers and they tried but not found them, we would have lost all credibility, and the effort would have failed. We had to create the pipeline of talent before they could be hired.” Brilliant!

Rod served as the first president, executive director and many other positions including Board member on the recently created appointed professional board. His contributions continued to be significant, his wisdom very valuable, and he continued to dedicate a great part of his life to making SHPE successful.

Sadly, today SHPE enters a new phase. Today SHPE starts life without Rod. He is no longer present. However, his legacy will continue forever, and the next 50 yeas will be amazing. In everything we do, we will see Rod and his love for the SHPE family.

His only regret? He didn’t think he would make it to the 50th celebration. We told him he would, of course. But he knew better. But I tell you all, Rod will be with us in everything we do for the rest of time. SHPE is Rod’s legacy.

Remember Rod with love and admiration. He changed the world without any conflict, drama, battle, or negative words, he did it in the most productive way.

Rest In Peace dear friend.

Miguel Alemañy
Past Board Chair, Lifetime Member
Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

Board Member Spotlight: Carista Ragan

In April 2021, Carista Ragan, Vice President Legal at Goldman Sachs, joined SHPE’s Board of Directors. The path she took to end up here could be called unusual. “I guess it’s not a typical professional journey,” Carista says. “But I hope our students can see that all kinds of experiences can give you important and transferable skills.”

Carista’s first career was that of a professional dancer, and she started on one of the biggest stages in the nation. She was selected as an NFL Cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys. “It was an incredible opportunity,” Carista recalls. “And as fun as the bright lights, costumes, and games were, they weren’t the best part. The best part was who I got to work with.”

(Carista is the last cheerleader on the far right end, second row back, number 88.)

Carista as a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader

Because it was during this time that she met one of her most influential mentors. “I had terrible stage fright,” she explains. “And our cheerleading coach helped me see what I was truly capable of. They gave me the confidence to stand in front of thousands of people and shine. They really changed my life.”

After her NFL debut Carista traveled all over the world performing. “I danced in the Persian Gulf, Korea, Turkey, and Greece. I participated in two USO tours as an entertainer for our troops. Dance was literally my ticket to see the world!”

When she returned stateside, she began pursuing her second passion – the law. She applied and was accepted into the University of Houston Law School. And it just so happened that, toward the end of her first year, the Houston Rockets won the NBA Championship.

“The whole city was ecstatic. It’s the only thing anyone could talk about.” remembers Carista. “And that’s how I heard about the call for auditions to become a Rocket Power Dancer.”

She was paying her own way through law school and was looking for a job to help with tuition. So, she auditioned, and was selected as a Rocket Power Dancer.

“I guess you could say I used my first career to fund my second career.”

Carista spent the next two years in law school also dancing in the NBA. Her last semester, the Rockets made it to the playoffs. “I was studying for finals and the bar exam the same time we were performing at the playoff games. And once the playoffs were over, that was it. No more dancing.”

Carista with the Houston Rockets Power Dancers

Carista spent the next two decades and half as General Counsel for various STEM companies. “I’ve always been interested in the intersection of law, technology, and engineering,” she states. And her impressive resume reflects this. She’s held positions at Flowserve, The Weir Group, and StackPath until landing her most current executive role at Goldman Sachs.

Carista on a Women In Law Summit Series panel for DCEO Magazine

“And you know what, I still use the skills I gained while dancing. The courage and poise instilled in me by my Dallas Cowboys coach has stuck with me all these years later. Now, I have to get up in front of 700 people and present on legal policy, but it’s my performing roots that makes it possible,” Carista points out. “I guess if there’s a lesson here, it’s to take your mentors where you can get them, even if they aren’t directly in the field you’re pursuing. Maybe it’s a violin teacher or soccer coach, but you can gain valuable skills and experience anywhere.”

Carista loves serving on SHPE’s Board. She is constantly inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment of board members, staff, and students. “It’s an amazing feeling to all be so focused on one goal. It really feels like a family.”

While she isn’t Latina herself, she grew up in a Hispanic household. “My stepmom, who I love dearly, is Mexican. As are my two half-sisters. I saw first-hand some of the opportunities that were offered to me that weren’t readily available to them – especially role-models. Organizations like SHPE are so important in creating and supporting the next generation of Hispanic STEM leaders. I think my stepmom and sisters are really proud of what we’re doing here.”

SHPE is honored to have the expertise, passion, and leadership of Carista Ragan as a part of the Familia. We can’t wait to see where we go together in the coming years.

Carista with her 11-year old daughter, Harper

Dr. Joseph Silva Joins SHPE in the Newly Created Position of Chief Engagement Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 15, 2022

DR. JOSEPH SILVA JOINS SHPE IN THE NEWLY CREATED POSITION OF CHIEF ENGAGEMENT OFFICER

The SHPE Reorganization Includes the Promotions of Dr. Kimberly Douglas, Monique Herrera, and Rhonda McNeil to C-Level Positions

(City of Industry, CA) — On Monday SHPE welcomed Dr. Joseph “Jose” Silva as the inaugural Chief Engagement Officer for the organization. This newly created position comes as part of a larger reorganization for SHPE.

Four distinct offices have been created under the CEO Chris Wilkie. They include Administration, Research & Innovation, External Relations, and Engagement. The goal of this restructuring is to continue elevating excellent programming and enhancing corporate STEM partnerships, while placing new emphasis on member cultivation, influence, and investment.

Dr. Jose Silva is now responsible for the latter, and he is beyond qualified. A resident of Denver, Colorado, he has been an advocate for youth, education, and the community for over 28 years. He comes to SHPE from the Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health (CoAIMH) where, starting in 2019, he served as their first CEO. A specialty of Dr. Silva’s professional and personal approach to community engagement is his orientation of multiculturalism—the embracing and celebrating of individual differences. CEO Chris Wilkie said about Dr. Silva, “His extensive experience and his attitude toward diversity make him particularly well-suited to take on the Chief Engagement Officer role with its emphasis on member relations. SHPE is lucky to have his leadership and expertise on staff.”

The additional three offices find their leadership from internal promotions.

Dr. Kimberly Douglas has been with SHPE since 2019. Her promotion to Chief Research & Innovation Officer places her in a position to utilize her full range of considerable skills and experience to support SHPE’s mission. Kimberly has over 25 years of experience as an engineering educator and administrator developing and funding programs for increasing the persistence and degree completion rates of STEM students, with particular focus on Hispanics. She has expertise in creating mutually beneficial partnerships and programs to support student success and faculty development. Kimberly is now responsible for a growing team who manage all of SHPE’s programming including ScholarSHPE, MentorSHPE, InternSHPE, SHPEtinas, and Noche de Ciencias, along with the Academic Partnership Council (APC). She also secures key grant funding and leads the development of new, relevant services for SHPE members. Kimberly lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Monique Herrera has also had a storied career with SHPE. She began as a Development Associate and Membership Coordinator in 2014. During the next half-decade, she become a Manager, Director, and then Senior Director. Earlier this month, she was promoted to Chief External Relations Officer. She is a testament to the personal and professional development available at SHPE as well as the incredible quality of the staff. Today, with her team of two, she oversees the Industry Partnership Council, sponsorship for 9 signature events, and other partnership opportunities. In addition, she oversees organization-wide marketing and communications efforts, the evolving government relations outreach, and the all-important National Convention Career Fair. Monique lives in New York, New York.

Rhonda McNeil, previously SHPE’s financial Controller, is now the Chief Administrative Officer. She joined SHPE in March 2021, but before that she accumulated over 20 years of management, financial, and accounting experience in the nonprofit industry. Rhonda has both her Bachelor and Master of Business Administration degrees from Texas State University. Now, in addition to full financial oversight, she leads a team of six, overseeing all contracts, HR, IT and Facility matters. Rhonda lives in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Miguel Alemañy, SHPE’s current Board Chair, is optimistic about these additions and changes. “When the Board of Directors approved the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan earlier this year, we knew SHPE would need to think differently about how it deploys its resources, including our staff,” Alemañy states. “This restructuring is exactly what is needed to make our goals achievable. It is exciting to see our dreams become a reality. SHPE is now a national force in the STEM industry.”

To schedule an interview with CEO Chris Wilkie or with Board Chair Miguel Alemañy, please contact Jen Linck at jenl@shpe.org or 703-732-6701.

About SHPE

SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) is a nonprofit organization serving and advancing Hispanics in STEM. With more than 13,000 student and professional members, SHPE’s mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development. For more information please visit https://www.shpe.org.

SHPE Appoints Two New Additions to the Board of Directors Effective Immediately

January 25, 2022; Los Angeles, CA – After a thorough vetting process to identify candidates with experience complementary to the existing Board of Directors, SHPE has filled two previously vacant seats.

Effective immediately, Lifetime members Melanie Weber of The Boeing Company and Will Davis of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center are the newest members of the SHPE Board of Directors. Will is returning to the Board after serving as Secretary from 2019-2021, and Melanie is a first-time appointee.

Melanie LeAnne Weber is the Subsystem Lead for Crew and Cargo Accommodations and the Launch Pad Team Lead for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner. In 2019, she became the first woman and the first Hispanic to lead a Launch Pad Team on the day of launch of a spacecraft. Melanie was granted a U.S. patent for the crew’s seats on the Starliner and works to ensure safety of the astronauts during their missions earning her the NASA Astronauts’ Silver Snoopy Award. She was featured in an episode of the Science Channel’s Impossible Engineering describing Starliner’s landing airbag system and was integral in unveiling Boeing’s spacesuit on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Melanie is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and was recently recognized as an Outstanding Young Texas Ex. She takes an active role in the community to encourage students and adults to pursue fields related to STEM and is an active lifetime member of SHPE.

Will Davis is a double-degreed engineer from UTEP currently living in Houston where he serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager with NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (JSC-ODEO). In this role, he is responsible for advising JSC senior management on D&I initiatives and helping manage the center’s ten ERGs. Previously, he served for twelve years as an engineer with JSC’s Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate. He is a 2009 graduate of the NASA FIRST Program and holds a NASA Green Belt Certification in Lean Six Sigma. Service has always been at the heart of Will’s endeavors moving him to volunteer at the highest levels. From 2012-2018 Will served on the MAES Board of Directors as President and from 2019-2021, Will was elected to the SHPE National Board, having been a SHPE member since 2000. He is a lifetime member of MAES, SHPE, and the UTEP Alumni Association. Notably, he was the 2018 recipient of the Great Minds in STEM/HENAAC Santiago Rodriguez Diversity and Inclusion Award.

National Board Chair Miguel Alemañy said about the appointments, “We are thrilled to bring back Will to our Board. His experience and expertise, especially with human resources and DEI, makes him a critical player as we set and execute our new 5-year strategic plan. And I am equally excited to welcome Melanie to this role. She brings much needed passion along with fresh insight and perspective. She joins eleven other members who are serving their first term, meaning 75% of our current Board is new. We look forward to their fresh input and guidance as they shape SHPE’s future course.”

ABOUT SHPE
SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) is a nonprofit organization serving and advancing Hispanics in STEM. With more than 13,000 student and professional members, SHPE’s mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development. To accomplish this, SHPE provides a variety of programming, services, resources, and events, including hosting the largest Hispanic STEM convention in the nation. For more information, visit http://shpe.org.

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