LSSO Features Latinx Student Support Staff

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Jairo Leon

Jairo Leon

Jairo Leon is the Residence Hall Director for the Latino Living Center. He is dedicated to amplifying the Latinx experience at Cornell and sharing the richness of Latinx culture with the campus community. Before joining Residential Life at Cornell, Jairo was an Assistant Director at the UCLA Alumni Association. He received his B.A. in Literature and Writing from California State University San Marcos, and his M.Ed. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA.

Patricia Gonzalez

Patricia Gonzalez, the new Assistant Director for Student Development Diversity Initiatives (SDDI), comes to us from Emory & Henry College (E&H) in Emory, VA, where she served as the inaugural Director of Inclusion & Diversity at the Inclusion & Dialogue Center.  In this capacity, she participated in the Retention Committee, Russell Scholars Committee, and developed programming and trainings centered on promoting inclusive and safe spaces on campus for students, faculty, and staff.  Moreover, Patricia was instrumental in founding and serving as an adviser to the Multicultural Student Association and efforts to empower students to find a voice and a sense of belonging at E&H. Prior to her time at E&H, she served as Programming Coordinator and Co-Greek adviser at New York Institute of Technology, where she co-founded Common Ground Series, advised various student groups including the Student Programming Association, Student Government Association, multiple student groups and organizations, and Greek Council. Furthermore, she served as Site Coordinator and Servant Leader with Community Coalition’s CDF Freedom School Site at the University of Southern California. Additionally, Patricia served for two years as a College Adviser & GEAR UP Mentor with Franklin & Marshall College, Pennsylvania College Advising Corps at McCaskey High School in Lancaster, PA. She holds a M.A. in Higher & Postsecondary education and Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in Government and Philosophy from Franklin & Marshall College. Currently, Patricia is pursuing a doctorate of education with Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California in Organizational Change & Leadership.

Patricia, who identifies as a first-generation college graduate, is passionate in her commitment to using social justice as her platform to bring equity to college campuses, uplifting and empowering students beyond their circumstances, maximizing individual student performance; efforts to increase retention and persistence, and instilling self-worth and sense of belonging among all students.

Jessie Mancilla

Jessie grew up in the rural community of Decatur, Texas just northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Upon graduating from high school he attended the University of North Texas and received a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television and Film. Shortly after, he began working at FUNimation Entertainment- a Japanese animation company, as a video editor for roughly ten years. While working at FUNimation, he volunteered with various marginalized populations and was learning to become a servant leader. He moved to Minnesota to follow his passion in serving others and continued his education by receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership from Winona State University. He began working in higher education to create awareness for the historically marginalized populations in southern Minnesota.
Jessie continues to learn more about others as they share their own narratives and he shifts his paradigm. Jessie serves as Associate Director of Multicultural Affairs in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He will be a critical part of the Student Services team that advises and supports all ILR students.

Natasha Steinhall

Natasha Steinhall '14 grew up in Denver, Colorado and moved to Ithaca in 2010 to study Animal Science at Cornell. As a first-generation student at an Ivy League, Natasha struggled to find her “calling” for most of her undergraduate career. Natasha didn’t discover the Intergroup Dialogue Project until the first semester of her senior year when she took EDUC 2610. It changed her life and gave her direction, and she went on to facilitate a section of the course in her final semester and twice more after she graduated. In 2017 she joined the IDP team full time as the program assistant. Natasha also volunteered as a tutor with Tompkins Learning Partners helping ESL adults prepare for their US citizenship tests. Natasha loves meeting and engaging with people from different backgrounds than herself. She is also passionate about spreading the magic of dialogue as she has seen and experienced its transformative effects first-hand. Natasha also enjoys exploring the fantastic world of food and beverage and hanging out with dogs and people.

Natasha discovered the Intergroup Dialogue Project in her senior year at Cornell. She went on to facilitate the course and continued to be involved with the program after she graduated, first as a facilitator, and later as the program assistant. In her new role as the Program Coordinator, Natasha will be responsible for the day-to-day management of operational areas of the program, as well as developing and implementing operating procedures and practices. She will identify programmatic trends and new opportunities and assist in their development and will oversee communications and public relations efforts. Additionally, Natasha will manage the development and implementation of technological tools for teaching and learning.


Jazlin Gomez

Jazlin moved from the sunny Tampa Bay area in Florida to Ithaca in 2012. She studied inequality through majors in Sociology, English, and Performing and Media Arts as an undergraduate (‘16), and continued her studies in Human Rights and Social Justice throughout the MPA program at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs(‘18). In her time as a student, she was active in social justice, dance, and theater communities and was a proud member of Ordinary People Social Justice Theater Troupe, Teatrotaller, and Sabor Latino. Jazlin also struggled as a student with imposter syndrome, a lack of direction, time management, and the lack of good Cuban food in Ithaca. She looks forward to meeting with and supporting students who might be facing similar issues.

Jazlin now works for the Intergroup Dialogue Project, which uses dialogue to communicate across differences of identity, experience, and opinion. Jazlin has been a facilitator, coach, curriculum developer, and student engagement coordinator. She recently completed her MPA in Human Rights and Social Justice at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. In her new position as the Intergroup Dialogue Pedagogy Specialist and Lecturer, Jazlin will continue the development of IDP’s main academic offerings, and will co-teach the following courses:  

  • EDUC 2610: Intergroup Dialogue 
  • IDP Course for Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Scholars

Additionally, Jazlin will develop and lead ongoing trainings for graduate and undergraduate student facilitators, and will further collaborations with programs, departments, and institutions on campus.


Jallissa Elias

Jallissa is a first-generation graduate. She received her A.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in science from Northeastern Junior College. Then received her B.A. in Africana Studies and Psychology and M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. Prior to coming to Cornell, Jallissa worked in cultural services as the Program Coordinator for the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, a member of a Multicultural Greek letter sorority, Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Incorporated, hosts workshops on identity, goal setting, activism, and the mensural cycle.

Currently, her role at Cornell is the Residence Hall Director (RHD) for Ujamaa, a first-year community on Cornell's North Campus. Jallissa's passion is to develop and create ways for students who hold marginalized identities to have positive experiences in higher education through access, retention, and policy.

Cindy Mosqueda

Cindy Mosqueda was born and raised in Los Angeles. She earned her B.A. in Chicana/o Studies and Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. As an undergraduate, Cindy was heavily involved in MEChA de UCLA and student government.

Cindy has dedicated her career to serving underrepresented students in higher education, specifically in STEM fields. Following college, she served as the Cihuacoatl (Director) of MEChA Calmecac, a student-initiated and student-run retention program serving Chicana/o and Latina/o students at UCLA. This cemented a desire to effect change on a broader level and go back to graduate school. Cindy earned a M.A. in Education with a focus on Higher Education and Organizational Change from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. As a graduate student, she studied issues of diversity and access in STEM fields.

Prior to joining Diversity Programs in Engineering as the Associate Director, she coordinated academic support and research programs for underrepresented students at the UCLA Undergraduate Research Center-Sciences. In her current role at DPE, she directs the LSAMP Scholars Program and CU-LSAMP Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, the Engineering Summer Math Institute, the CURIE and CATALYST Academies for high school students, and advises the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and National Society of Black Engineers.

Cindy is passionate about issues of access to higher education, broadening participation in STEM fields and creating an inclusive campus atmosphere for traditionally underrepresented students. When not working, she enjoys reading, writing and spending time with her family and adjusting to life in Ithaca.

Catherine Ramirez

Catherine Ramírez was born and raised in New Jersey.  She is a first generation graduate and the first in her family to be born in the US. She obtained her A.A. in Education from Brookdale Community College, B.A. in Psychology and Spanish and her M.Ed in College Student Affairs from Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She has experience in advising student organizations, creating workshops for first-generation college students,  planning large-scale community service events, and teaching a seminar for transfer students.  Catherine joined Cornell in 2015 as the Residence Hall Director for the Latino Living Center and Residential Liasion for the Prefreshman Summer Program (PSP).  In August 2018, she transitioned to Advising Dean/Senior Academic Advisor for the College and Arts and Sciences, working closely with first-year students and sophomores. In this role, she will also be advising HEOP students and working with PSP as one of the college associates. She is dedicated to supporting students through their developmental journey and on their path to graduation.

Angélica Keen

Angélica Keen is originally from a border-town called Laredo, TX. She obtained both her Bachelor's in Public Administration and Spanish and Masters of Education at Texas State University-San Marcos. Angelica has worked with a variety of communities through being a TRIO student herself, a member of a Multicultural Greek letter sorority (Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc), served on an MGLC executive board during her undergraduate career, advised and educated multiple sorority chapters throughout Texas and NY, and as a professional served on a Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee at Stony Brook University.

Angélica came to Cornell in June 2012 as the Residential Hall Director for Clara Dickson Hall and Multicultural Living Learning Unit and coordinated a variety of programs, bus trips, and led the community in re-establishing McLLUnity Nights for Fall 2013. In Summer 2013, she stepped in as the Residence Hall Director for the Latino Living Center and Residential Programs Liaison for the Prefreshmen Summer Program. During her time at Cornell, Angélica worked and served on multiple committees in many areas of student services including advising student organizations, First Year Parent's Weekend and is a co-founder of MOVEMENT: Professional Development Institute. Further, Angélica received recognition for her commitment to supporting underrepresented students by being honored with the "Rosa Dorada Award" from La Unidad Latina –Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, INC, Residence Hall Director of the Year 2014 & 2015, and the Tomas Bautista Mapúa Award for being an Outstanding OADI Staff Partner.

Angélica currently serves as the Assistant Director for Diversity Programs in Engineering since March 2015 where she advises the Society for Hispanic and Professional Engineers, works with the Robert L Ryan Scholars Program, CUEMPower Mentoring program, the Engineering Summer Scholars Program, and the Cornell University Engineering Success Program.

Florencia (Flor) Ardon

Florencia (Flor) Ardon was born in the heart of Mexico, in a beautiful colonial city, Queretaro, which was honored as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. She studied Animal Science in her hometown, but after a few years working in the private sector she moved to Germany for graduate school, where she specialized in animal reproduction. Flor's dissertation earned her the annual "Joachim und Irene Hahn Young Researcher Award."While in Germany, she met and married her husband, who is originally from Oklahoma, and after her PhD they went to live in Mexico for five years as Flor worked first on a postdoc in a very rainy city in central Mexico, and then as a university professor in a city located in the desert, on the border with California. They moved to Ithaca in 2010 with their two children where Flor started her career at Cornell as a researcher, working as a postdoc at the College of Veterinary Medicine for four years. As a researcher, Flor published several peer-reviewed articles, was a member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, and was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2014. However, since Flor really enjoys interacting with students on a daily basis, and believes her skills and life experience can be useful to Cornell undergrads, she decided to transfer to a position outside research, and has been working as the advisor for the Office of Internal Transfer and Concurrent Degrees since October of 2014.In addition to her current position, Flor participates in outreach by volunteering as a Spanish translator for the project "Celebrate Urban Birds" at the Lab of Ornithology, blogging about human reproduction and autism, taking part in different activities as a member of the Latino Civic Association and of the Ithaca Special Education PTA. Flor enjoys walking through our gorges, trails and parks with her family and feels right at home in Ithaca.