OCCE Team

Gabe Javier

Gabe Javier

Executive Director of Culture, Community and Equity

Joining the OCCE team with 18 years of experience as a diversity and social justice educator and administrator, Gabriel (Gabe) C. Javier serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Culture, Community, and Equity where he provides strategic leadership of the staff and programs of OCCE. Joining OCCE in January 2024, Gabe coordinates Michigan Engineering’s DEI strategic planning and implementation activities and serves as a DEI content and practitioner expert for the College. Gabe is originally from St. Louis, MO and earned his Master’s in Higher Education from the University of Michigan and his doctorate of education from New York University.

Community, Operations and Engagement

Lyonel Milton

Lyonel J. Milton (He/Him)

Managing Director

Lyonel serves as Managing Director and the Director of the Community, Operations and Engagement department within OCCE. He is responsible for the planning and management of OCCE resources. He leads fundraising efforts, contributes to the implementation of the college’s DEI strategic plan, as well as, the strategic direction of all departments within OCCE, and he creates and stewards internal and external strategic partnerships. He supports the Executive Director for Culture, Community and Equity in their efforts to help create and maintain a climate where everyone is treated equitably and feels valued for their contributions. Lyonel is passionate about helping students access the university’s resources to achieve their goals, especially students from underserved or underrepresented communities, including those who are first-generation college students like himself. Lyonel is committed to supporting several community-based organizations in Washtenaw County and he also serves as the university representative on the DAPCEP Board of Directors.


Michelle French

Michelle French

Program Coordinator

Michelle provides key support to ensure OCCE runs smoothly. She is one of the first points of contact for many of the constituents served by OCCE. Most of her time is dedicated to the operations and K-20 teams leading or facilitating processes for human resources, purchasing and reconciliation, and other administrative logistics. Additionally, Michelle provides support to Professor Sara Pozzi, the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). She enjoys co-planning the DEI Lecture series and working with faculty members who oversee DEI at the department level within the College.

Stephen Gonzalez

Stephen Gonzalez (He/Him)

Communications and Events Specialist 

Stephen creates and leads communications and marketing strategies/campaigns that promote OCCE’s mission and values. Specifically, Stephen develops and maintains all communications, including email campaigns/newsletters, printed and digital materials and high-level communication to both internal and external audiences. He also maintains OCCE and MEZ website updates and collaborates with office colleagues to create and curate resources for faculty, staff and students. Additionally, Stephen coordinates events of all sizes and provides support for staff members in various areas. Stephen has a passion for inclusive marketing, ensuring that no voice is left unheard.

LaToya Sherman, MBA, (She/Her)

Program Manager for Strategic Initiatives

LaToya oversees the practical programming and initiatives for OCCE. She advises in the area of organizational strategy, reviews and analyzes the performance of operational systems and develops and executes processes for improvement. LaToya is also responsible for fortifying opportunities that create discipline, transparency and efficiency as well as facilitating and monitoring inter-connected projects within the university. LaToya is a member of the American Association of University Administrators and encourages the development of relationships across institutions to share evidence-based best administrative practices. She enjoys traveling, cooking and volunteering in her community alongside the Coalition of Black Trade Union workers in effort to achieve economic, political and social justice.

Culture, Grants and Advancement

Michelle Campbell

Michelle Campbell, Ph.D. (She/Her)

Program Director of Culture, Grants and Advancement

Michelle leads the Culture, Grants and Advancement department within OCCE, supporting DEI-related components of large-scale grant proposals and fundraising efforts, leading foundational OCCE initiatives and designing and implementing DEI professional development opportunities for the Michigan Engineering community. She co-leads OCCE strategic planning and initiatives, project scoping and resourcing. Michelle also supports strategic partnerships with other units within and outside of Michigan Engineering by serving on committees and liaising with partners. She is passionate about supporting faculty and staff with their personal and professional DEI goals.


Savannah Hall

Savannah Hall, Ph.D. (She/Her)

DEI Grants Consultant

Savannah consults with faculty to develop their grant proposals and writes proposals in support of OCCE’s K-20 programs. She consults on DEI-specific sections of grant proposals, such as broader impacts, broadening participation and culture of inclusion plans for federal (e.g., NSF, NASA, DoE) and corporate/foundation funders. She works closely with the Culture, Grants and Advancement Program Director to develop resources on DEI-related research and best practices, plan strategic initiatives and create thoughtful narratives for different audiences around this body of work. With a research background in the humanities, Savannah enjoys helping faculty articulate the potential social impact and ethical implications of their research.  

Zhanar Tuleutayeva

Zhanar Tuleutayeva, MA (She/Her)

Program Manager

Zhanar supports the Culture, Grants and Advancement department in the execution of various equity-centered engineering activities. She provides ongoing support and maintenance of various OCCE initiatives in alignment with Michigan Engineering’s DEI strategic plan, including the Culture, Community and Equity (CCE) Staff Network and the DEI Professional Development Platform. Moreover, she facilitates educational and professional development opportunities for faculty, staff and students. Zhanar was born and raised in Kazakhstan. She speaks Kazakh, Russian and English. She received her Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Eastern Michigan University, where she researched campus sexual misconduct, violence against women and gendered nationalism. 

Evaluation and Assessment

Amanda Milliken

Amanda Milliken, MPH (She/Her)

Program Director of Evaluation & Assessment

Amanda leads the Evaluation and Assessment department within OCCE. In this role, she manages the development and implementation of the evaluation and assessment process for the purpose of supporting institutional improvements and institutional effectiveness. She leads the content, design, quality, processes and procedures for new and existing evaluation products and services. She is also responsible for working with constituencies across Michigan Engineering to develop effective strategies for the assessment of key success indicators for the Culture Pillar. Amanda holds a Master in Public Health degree from U-M School of Public Health and she approaches her work with a commitment to advancing equitable data practices. Outside of work, Amanda enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling and making pottery at a local art studio.

Equity, Strategy and Innovation

Evan Marie Allison Pieknik

Evan Marie Allison Pieknik (She/Her)

Program Director of Equity, Strategy and Innovation

Evan Marie leads the Equity, Strategy and Innovation department within OCCE stewarding foundational strategic initiatives. In this capacity, she oversees the operationalization of the Michigan Engineering DEI Strategic Plan engaging in visioning, tracking and evaluation efforts. Fostering collaborative partnerships within Michigan Engineering and beyond is vital to this work, including serving as a co-DEI Implementation Lead to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Further, Evan Marie leads DEI Mapping System efforts among other OCCE foundational projects. Evan Marie is passionate about advancing equity and belonging to build a more just society and has over 10 years of combined experience in the non-profit and higher education sectors serving at the intersections of social justice, leadership development and coalition building. She is a Co-Active Training Institute-trained leadership coach and holds a MA in Higher Education from the U-M School of Education. Outside of work, she is a mom, an avid outdoorswoman, martial artist and animal lover.


Alex Cicalese

Alex Cicalese (He/Him)

Program Coordinator

Alex provides ongoing support to and maintenance of various OCCE initiatives in alignment with Michigan Engineering’s DEI strategic plan and the vision of the Program Director of Equity, Strategy and Innovation. He is instrumental to the implementation and tracking of DEI 2.0 efforts and maintains the DEI Mapping Project. Additionally, he serves as a key coordinator of the North Campus Deans’ Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Awards and represents Michigan Engineering as a co-DEI Implementation Lead to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI). Alex has been very privileged to work with many incredible youth and students since beginning his career in youth leadership development, youth voice and youth advocacy after graduating with an M.A. in Counseling in 2013. In his free time Alex enjoys games of all kinds, going to indie pop concerts and visiting dinosaur bones wherever they reside. 

K-20 Programs

Joseph Ballard II

Joseph Ballard II (He/Him)

Joseph Ballard II, (he/him/his), Director of MI-LSAMP & Student Access, Belonging, Engagement and Success

As the Director, Joseph oversees all student-facing efforts within the Office of Culture, Community and Equity’s (OCCE) K-20 department and continued leadership as the Statewide Alliance Director of the Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MI-LSAMP). Additionally, Joseph works collaboratively with partners across the College and University on efforts focused on the recruitment, retention, holistic success, sense of community/belonging and graduation of underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students throughout the University. With over a decade of experience, he is extremely passionate and committed to serving, mentoring and advocating for underrepresented students and paying it forward however he can. Joseph has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Oklahoma. Joseph is highly active in several professional and community associations, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). He enjoys traveling, cooking, attending concerts and spending time with his community.

Eric Aiken

Assistant Director for Student Support & Development and K-20 Programs

In his role, Eric meticulously oversees assessment and evaluation processes, fostering partnerships and collaborating with university stakeholders. Eric is a dedicated supporter and advocate for K-20 programs, focusing particularly on initiatives at our Ann Arbor campus. With a commitment to promoting access, belonging, engagement and success for students ranging from kindergarteners to PhD candidates, Eric continuously strives to empower those from communities traditionally underserved or marginalized within the engineering field. His efforts have consistently demonstrated strong support for stakeholders and a passion for advocating student success, reinforcing our commitment to inclusivity and progress. Having dedicated his career to the cause of inclusion and equity, Eric eagerly welcomes opportunities to interact with all individuals dedicated to advancing this mission on campus. With Eric, you will find a passionate advocate for equal opportunities, accessibility and successful outcomes for all students.

Dulmini Barupala

Dulmini Barupala, Ph.D. (She/Her)

Program Manager for K-20

Dulmini manages pathway programs for K-12 students, working closely with OCCE’s internal and external partners. These programs engage students in the field of engineering in order to ultimately prepare them for success in STEM college programs. With over 6 years of experience in pipeline programs in Higher Education, Dulmini also works to provide programs and initiatives that are designed to develop Michigan Engineering students in the undergraduate and graduate space. Dulmini has a doctoral degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Wayne State University School of Medicine. Guided by her own experience as a first-generation college student and passion for equitable access to education Dulmini helps create opportunities for all K-20 students to develop themselves academically, professionally and personally. When not working, Dulmini is a proud mother of two, who loves to read, try new food and travel to new places.

Cameron Beatty

Cameron Beatty

Robotics Program Manager

OCCE logo

Jessica Ely

Thinkabit Program Manager

As the Thinkabit Program Manager, Jessica brings a passion for STEM education and a commitment to empowering students through hands-on learning experiences and career exploration. She collaborates closely with staff and stakeholders to set ambitious goals for the Thinkabit Lab program, ensuring that every step taken aligns with our mission of fostering creativity, critical thinking and curiosity in young minds. Jessica serves as the primary point of contact for the Thinkabit lab, ensuring all stakeholders receive needed support and clear communication. She is deeply involved in the Thinkabit Lab curriculum and leads engaging activities that encourage students to explore their strengths, interests and values while encouraging them to engage in the Engineering Design Process. Her enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring extends to training and supporting other staff members, ensuring that every interaction with the Thinkabit Lab is impactful and inspiring.
Ivoree Griffin

Ivoree Griffin (She/Her)

Administrative Assistant

Ivoree is responsible for managing office administrative tasks for the Michigan Engineering Zone in Detroit during the academic year and the Engineering OnRamp outreach programs in Ann Arbor during the summer. Her responsibilities include the management of schedules and reservations, procurement of supplies, and the supervision of office emails and telephone lines. Furthermore, she is involved in financial management, event planning, student engagement, employee recruitment, and hiring. She is passionate about social and economic justice with a keen interest in the regulations surrounding technology and history-related education reform. Ivoree balances various beauty and wellness endeavors, where she promotes self-esteem and confidence for individuals of all ages. Ivoree’s overall focus is to draw attention to our continuous efforts to recognize and shift the gap of underrepresented minorities on all platforms by encouraging diversity and establishing innovative ways to learn and appreciate differences within the community.

Haley Hart

Haley Hart (She/Her)

Michigan Engineering Zone (MEZ) Director & Associate Director of K-20 Programs

Haley supports all K-20 programming, with a focus on the programs running out of the MEZ in Detroit, include FIRST Robotics, the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, and NAF Future Ready Scholars. As director of the MEZ, she is responsible for strategic planning, staff and resource management and fundraising assistance. An educator by trade, she also helps develop curriculum, lead instruction and manage programs for the MEZ. Haley has a Masters of Educational Studies from U-M’s Marsal Family School of Education, with a concentration in Educational Equity, Justice and Social Transformation. Her work focuses on ensuring all students have access to high-quality STEM educational opportunities. Outside of her work, Haley loves camping and canoeing, assembling IKEA furniture and watching women’s sports.

LaMar Thompson-Hightower

LaMar Thompson-Hightower (They/Them)

Program Manager for Student Support and Development

As a Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW), LaMar provides over 300 Southeast Michigan High School students with social and emotional learning opportunities, college advising and connections to U-M and Michigan Engineering programs. A member of OCCE’s K-20 Programs department, LaMar works directly with students from two specific pathway programs, FIRST Robotics and NAF Future Ready Scholars Program. In support of these programs, they develop new relationships, recruit students and mentors, and design social-emotional and college preparation curriculum. LaMar also works collaboratively with MEZ partner teachers and school staff to coordinate, refer and identify community and institutional resources for students and their families. Their work is driven by a desire to share resources, open doors and build bridges for minority and first-gen students. Their hobbies include national politics, policy debate, & portrait photography.

Maricella Reyes

Maricella Reyes

 Program Manager for Student Success and Development

Ann Arbor campus. In her role, she will develop, implement and evaluate efforts, programs and initiatives focused on student access, belonging, engagement and success for underserved students in Michigan Engineering. Maricella will also work closely with the DEI Student Advisory Board to assist in the fulfillment of their shared goals with OCCE. With over 5 years of experience in higher education, Maricella has a specialized interest in DEI efforts and supporting underrepresented students’ success and development. Guided by her own experiences as a Latina, first-generation college student, she has become a passionate student-centered professional. Maricella has a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Central Michigan University. Outside of work, Maricella enjoys spending time with family and her dog, meditation, all things Disney, being in nature, watching movies and playing volleyball.
Dante Vozza

Dante Vozza (He/They)

Lead STEM Instructor

Working primarily out of the MEZ, Dante leads hands-on teaching and instruction for K-20 students, covering the fundamentals of engineering and computer programming. They specifically support the University of Michigan’s Qualcomm Thinkabit Labs and FIRST Robotics programs by developing and teaching lessons centering around computer science, robotics and engineering. As a FIRST Robotics and University of Michigan alum, Dante has always been interested in connecting diverse voices with the tools they need to succeed in STEM fields. They are passionate about listening to the needs of the community they work in as they strongly believe that the best voices to understand a community’s challenges are the voices of that community. Dante has a Bachelors of Science in Astrophysics with minors in Computer Science and Physics. Outside of the MEZ Dante has a passion for experimental photography, live music and the Detroit art scene.

Elijah (Eli) Vasquez,

Elijah Vasquez (He/Him)

MI-LSAMP Program Manager

Elijah oversees the development, implementation, and evaluation of the alliance-wide and University of Michigan student-related activities, programs and initiatives as it relates to the Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MI-LSAMP). In his role, Elijah serves as a success coach in which he works with and supports our MI-LSAMP Scholars studying at U-M. In his work, Elijah works collaboratively with partners across the College and University on efforts focused on the recruitment, retention, holistic success, sense of community/belonging and graduation of underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students throughout the University. “By reflecting on and sharing my experiences, I am able to bring my identities to the forefront which allows students to know from their first interaction that they are welcome to be their authentic selves. As a first-generation, gay, Latinx professional, I believe student affairs allows me to truly engage my personal experiences into my daily work.”

Finance & Budget Support — Resource Planning and Management

Alex Wilkerson

Alex Wilkerson

Financial Specialist Intermediate

As part of RPM’s Finance Team, Alex provides support to OCCE to encourage responsible stewardship of financial resources

Alex works closely with the OCCE team to manage budgets, provide summary reports and projections to facilitate financial planning, and monitor financial activity for the unit.

Strategic On-campus Partnerships

OCCE works closely with Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Women in Science and Engineering Residence Program (WISE RP). Together, we focus on creating accessibility and providing support for gender-minoritized students.

View the WISE & WISE RP Team!