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Our Board


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.

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Chance Vaughan

Board Member

Mr. Chance Vaughan is a Senior Account Director with Coupa Software. Prior to joining Coupa in 2019, Mr. Vaughan held several positions with SAP including being selected to the SAP Sales Academy, part of both the Analytics and Database/Technology divisions and Sales Operations. He was previously affiliated with the Austin startup circuit at Student Loan Genius (previously Student Loan Benefits). Chance received his Bachelor of Science in Communications from the University of Texas at Austin with a certificate in Business Foundations and Export Fellows.

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Dr. Charles Lu

Board President

Dr. Charles Lu currently serves as the Associate Dean of Diversity & Inclusion at The Johns Hopkins University.  Prior to arriving at Hopkins, he was the Director for the Office of Academic Support & Instructional Services (OASIS) at the University of California, San Diego and the Director of the Gateway Scholars Program at The University of Texas at Austin.  A published author, Dr. Lu’s research on STEM identity development, student success, and diversity in higher education has been highlighted in popular media, book chapters, and peer-reviewed academic journals.  He is the proud alumnus of several notable programs, including the U.S. State Department's Fulbright Program, Education Pioneers, Teach for America, and a recipient of the Toyota International Teachers Program.


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.


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 a Business Development Representative 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.


Cameron C. Merritt

Board Member

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.


Sarah Farnam

Board Secretary

Sarah Farnam is a digital marketing professional who has worked for a diverse array of clients across multiple sectors including AT&T, Microsoft, L’Oreal, eBay, Madison Square Garden, and Credit Suisse. She attended The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies. Sarah is an avid traveler and participates in fundraising events for The Iranian American Scholarship Fund and The American Cancer Society.

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