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Our Board

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Dr. Charles Lu

Board President

Dr. Charles Lu is an accomplished leader and educator with expertise in strategic initiatives, organizational change, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) within the education, public health, and government sectors. Currently, he serves as the Branch Director for Strategic Diversity & Inclusion at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Lu held administrative and academic positions at research-intensive universities, including Johns Hopkins University, University of California, San Diego, and The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Lu has made substantial contributions to the field of education through a diverse publication record that includes academic journals, book chapters, policy papers, and popular media outlets. He holds a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy, a B.S. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, and an M.A. in Secondary Science Education from Loyola Marymount University.


Dr. Anthony Heaven

Board Member

Dr. Anthony Heaven is a higher education scholar-practitioner who specializes in advancement and diversity/inclusion work. He currently serves as an Associate Director of Development for the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. In his role he works as a relationship builder and philanthropic connector, brokering financial impact for his units. Anthony facilitates sessions on DEI issues within advancement and previously worked to strategize on diverse donor engagement strategies and reconciliatory efforts for African American alums who graduated during the 60s, 70s, & 80s. In addition, he has worked at the University of Mississippi , the University of Florida and The University of Texas at Austin.


David Lu

Board Treasurer

David Lu is a Manager at Deloitte Consulting, LLC with expertise in HR product development, process automation and workforce analytics.  He has spent the last 5 years of his career focused on serving clients across the public sector designing and implementing HR modernization solutions to streamline inefficiencies across various talent lifecycles.  Prior to joining Deloitte, David spent over a decade as a data analyst, transforming large data sets into intuitive insights through concise, compelling infographics, maps, and data visualizations.  A lover of the great outdoors, David spends much of his free time hiking with his girlfriend and dog and hopes to visit every National Park in the United States.


Kristy Tijerina

Board Member

Currently working in Austin, Kristy is a technology sales professional at Box who has been communicating with Fortune 500 companies since graduating in 2018. During her time at the University of Texas at Austin, she received her B.S. in Corporate Communications and served as a leader in programs such as Texas THON and Gateway Scholars. As the Texas THON Director of Event Operations, Kristy helped to increase fundraising efforts for Dell Children's Medical Center by over $100,000 and planned the annual 12-hour Dance Marathon fundraising event.


Dr. Kendra J. Royston

Board Member

Dr. Kendra J. Royston completed her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Stillman College and later received her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a dissertation focus in cancer epigenetics. She went on to continue her post-doc education at the University of Chicago before joining Eli Lilly and Company in their department of Global Scientific Communications. Since then, Royston has assumed higher responsibilities within Clinical Development managing oncology clinical trials. In addition,  Dr. Royston is a Lilly Talent Magnet Influencer and is featured on the company's website to aid in recruiting more diverse talent. She is a strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, and has been given additional responsibilities in helping shape the strategy for patient education in the clinical trial space. Dr. Royston is also the founder of Stupid Science Inc., a nonprofit organization that aims to increase diverse representation in STEM fields/ careers.

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Nikia Porter

Board Member

Nikia L Porter is a finance industry veteran with over 25 years of experience. He has held leadership roles at major financial institutions such as Wells Fargo Mortgage, Bank of America, US Bank, and BBVA. Currently residing in San Diego, California, Nikia is dedicated to helping others succeed in their careers and achieve their financial goals. In addition to his role at Thrive Mortgage as a Talent Attraction & Career Partner, Nikia also hosts the popular podcast "Knowledge 2 Currency," where he shares valuable insights and advice on personal finance and professional development. With his extensive knowledge and passion for helping others, Nikia is a valuable resource for anyone looking to grow and thrive in their career.


Jerry Palacios 

Board Member

Jerry Palacios is an Account Executive for Oracle under their NetSuite ERP, where he was nominated to be a BDR Ambassador for the class of +200 other BDRs in the program. Jerry is a former Ivory Bridges Fellow who was part of the inaugural class and graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2022, with a Bachelor of Science in Real Estate and Development and a Minor in Business. While at UC San Diego, Jerry was Treasurer for Hermanos Unidos de UCSD, a 501(c)3 non-profit with the goal of retaining the Latinx in higher education. In his free time, you’ll catch him playing outdoor sports. 


Sarah Farnam

Board Member

Sarah Farnam is a digital marketing professional who has worked for a diverse array of clients across multiple sectors including AT&T, Microsoft, and eBay. In 2017, Sarah was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer that can quickly turn fatal if left untreated. She spent the next three years undergoing chemotherapy and is now a very grateful survivor who engages with the cancer community in various ways. She is a member of The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship’s Cancer Policy And Advocacy Team (CPAT), an organization that champions for quality care for all people touched by cancer through public policy advocacy. Sarah also  volunteers as a “mentor angel” for Imerman Angels, an organization that provides support for cancer patients and their caregivers. Starting in August 2024, Sarah will be attending UC Berkeley to pursue a Master of Public Health. 


Cameron C. Merritt

Board Secretary

Cameron serves as a Director of Business Development in Executive Education for Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In this role, he manages corporate partnerships by creating
and deliver custom learning and development programs for the C-Suite. Prior to his role at Kellogg, Cameron had an almost 9-year sales and strategy career at Ford Motor Company where he held several
positions, including Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy Manager where he helped develop future EV product concepts. In 2019, he was a selected to of Ford Motor Company’s Thirty Under 30 leadership program, an honor started by Bill Ford to recognize and develop young leaders across the company.


A former competitive tennis player, Cameron can (and will) talk about tennis all day. He spends his free time on the court or planning his next trip to watch professional tennis or training for his next fitness competition.

Cameron holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Government from The University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he served as the President of Black
Managers Association.

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