In the Fast Lane: Latoya Jackson-Lainez
Latoya Jackson Lainez
Director of Diversity, EEO and Title IX, Sierra College
This story is part of our July 2022 Young Professionals print issue. To subscribe, click here.
In a college system as large as the Sierra Joint Community College District (18,000 students and over 1,300 employees across four sites), you might think there would be three separate directors of diversity, equal opportunity in employment and Title IX compliance, but Latoya Jackson-Lainez fulfills all three roles.
Her friendly and approachable demeanor no doubt serves her well in tackling thorny issues such as implicit bias and the protection against sex discrimination that falls under Title IX, which includes intimate partner violence and sexual misconduct. She credits her experience in communication with enhancing her ability to empathize and connect.
Every day, she circulates between meetings where she could guide hiring by “reviewing screening rubrics and analyzing the demographics of the recruitment pools”, responding to a case in which a student disclosed sexual abuse. on children in a writing assignment, or responding to a worried student’s concerns about a possible bully. The EEO part comes into play if a student or employee has filed a discrimination report, after which Jackson-Lainez must determine if an investigation is necessary.
A lifelong learner, she is currently pursuing a doctorate in instructional leadership. She began her educational journey at the request of her grandfather and key mentor, Fidencio Cabral, a migrant farm worker from Mexico who told her he had come to the United States so that his family would have the opportunities he did not have. (Jackson-Lainez identifies as Afro-Latina, Black, and Mexican.) At Redding High School, some told her she “wasn’t college material,” but she recalled one teacher of color who countered that message and urged her to apply for Sacramento State.
There she joined a sorority and, in her own words, “started to blossom.” She obtained a bachelor’s degree in communications with a specialization in intercultural and international communications. While pursuing her master’s degree at San Jose State, she applied for a higher education program. This led her to discover her passion for education; she continues to teach public speaking as an adjunct assistant professor at American River College.
“I love that (students) come into space and see a woman of color, and I love sharing my story with them. Being able to see the students grow…it really fills me.
Latoya Jackson-Lainez, Director of Diversity, EEO and Title IX, Sierra College
This parallel career allows him to serve as a model. “I love that they come into space and see a woman of color, and I love sharing my story with them,” she says. “To be able to see the students grow…it really fulfills me.”
His move to graduate school was also an indirect introduction to the world of human relations. While working as a graduate assistant, she was pushed into some HR work and accepted a position after graduation as an Equal Opportunity and Workforce Planning Analyst. work at San Jose State, a position that revolved around diversity and hiring.
Wanting to return to Sacramento, she held human resources positions at UC Davis and the City of Sacramento, the latter gaining more experience in the area of labor relations. She laughingly compares HR work to a telenovela, a Mexican soap opera with “constant drama,” but her continued rise shows her ability to master every challenge, including her latest at Sierra.
She first applied for a different position in the Sierra District and got far in the interview process, but the job went to someone else. The jury invited her to apply for her current position.
“It’s just all this unique experience in different places that really prepared me for this super unique role,” she says. “I tell people that career paths are definitely not linear. A door opens and gives you all these skills, then you take the next position. …I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.
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