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Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Yeurys Pujols is the proud product of a Hudson County Community College education. He has a 14-year career in higher education as an administrative leader and History instructor. He earned his associate’s degree at Hudson County Community College and went on to New Jersey City University (NJCU) to receive his BA in History. He received his Master’s from Seton Hall University in Diplomacy and International Relations and is now a doctoral candidate in the NJCU Community College Leadership Ed.D Program.
Over the last 14 years, Yeurys has held positions as the Coordinator of Student Services, the Director of Enrollment and Student Services, and the Executive Director of the North Hudson Campus. Congruently, he held the roles as the Deputy Title IX Coordinator, the Deputy Compliance Officer for the College, Conduct Officer at North Hudson Campus, and the Co-Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Yeurys’ personal, professional and educational experience provides him with the needed perspective and empathy to address and understand the many issues that plague the students in community colleges, and with the means to create, support, and foster psychologically safe and inclusive spaces for all members of the college community.
Click here to view the welcome remarks from the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at HCCC.
Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Natalia Vazquez-Bodkin’s mission as an educator is to equip students with the skills needed for a society in which they will become moral agents of transformative change. Natalia has 13 years of professional experience in higher education in academic support. She is a graduate of Kean University and Arizona State University and has held professional academic support staff, administrative, and adjunct faculty positions at Kean University, Bloomfield College, and Bergen Community College.
Her area of research is in international and comparative education and situated in postcolonial and critical theory. Most of her research is grounded in the social-ecological model (SEM) to propose the use of the epistemological approaches within Indigenous knowledge (IK) and multiculturalism as cross-cutting interventions to develop curriculum that prepares students to combat both the climate crisis and issues of social injustice, in order to strike a balance between economic development, social growth, and ecological sustainability.
Quote: “Eurocentric hegemonic rule and western expansion have controlled much of the disseminated educational policy, practice, and research that inform both global and local curricula and pedagogical practices. Colonialism imposed social stratification, slavery, genocide, and the loss of cultural identities within the Indigenous and black and brown communities. To move away from the postcolonial condition, we need to deconstruct, decolonize, and reconstruct local systems of higher education that were created to support a colonial order and continue to reproduce the existing social system.” – Natalia Vazquez-Bodkin
Director of Cultural Affairs for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Michelle Vitale is a curator, educator, and exhibiting artist. For over two decades, Vitale has curated exhibitions and created supplementary programs which were featured on several platforms, including the New York Times’s Metro Section, on Verizon Fios, and at Parsons School of Design.
As an artist, she creates work to influence social change and draws inspiration from direct involvement with hurricane recovery, homeless advocacy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion community initiatives. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is included in the permanent collections of the Zimmerli Museum, Hudson County Community College Foundation Collection, Montclair Art Museum, among others.
Quote: “We all want something to offer. This is how we belong. It's how we feel included. So if we want to include everyone, we have to help everyone develop their talents and use their gifts for the good of the community. That's what inclusion means - everyone contributes.” – Melinda Gates, The Gates Foundation
Director Accessibility Services for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Jackie Safont is the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Accessibility Services. She knows how important it is to make the world more inclusive and has dedicated her career to eliminating barriers that impede success.
Jackie was driven to pursue a career in accessibility from her passion for helping others during their academic careers and developing programs, services, strategies, and implementing accommodations to provide access and opportunities for success.
She was educated at Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s in political science and achieved a Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University College of Law. She’s worked at public colleges for over twenty years with more than fifteen years of experience working in accessibility. She has worked at both four-year and two-year colleges and has worked with thousands of students.
Jackie is a native New Jersey resident, having lived in both Hudson and Passaic counties. She enjoys movies, photography, and exploring new places.
Quote: “I wish for a world that views disability, mental or physical, not as a hindrance but as unique attributes that can be seen as powerful assets if given the right opportunities.” – Oliver Sacks, neurologist, naturalist, and author
Director of Faculty and Staff Development
Lilisa Williams is the Director of Faculty and Staff Development in the Human Resources Department at Hudson County Community College. She oversees the planning, organizing, managing, facilitating, and evaluation of an array of professional development training for faculty and staff. Her other roles include coordinating Adjunct Faculty recruitment activities and other related HR functions. She is Co-Chair for the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She holds a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from eCornell University and is enrolled in the Community College Leadership doctoral program at New Jersey City University. Williams holds an Associates in Arts in Business/Public Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and an MBA in Human Resources.
Quote: "Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance; belonging is being asked to help select the playlist." – Verna Myers and Michael Seitchik
Associate Director of the North Hudson Campus
Amaalah began her journey in higher education in 2015 as a student and Peer leader here at HCCC. Over the past six years, she has been a dedicated student and employee of the College. She comes from the private sector where she supervised and worked with people from all over the world. She brings with her an invaluable wealth of knowledge and wisdom that has played an integral part in the development and execution of our DEI programs and initiatives. Amaalah is not only an advocate for equity and inclusion, she is often, the voice of the voiceless.
Quote: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller
Educational Opportunity Fund Director
Jose Lowe serves as the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Director at Hudson County Community College. He has served in this position since 2018. In 2008, he was named Assistant Director of EOF. Combined with his work as an Academic Advisor at Union County College and a Program Counselor at Kean University, he has over 20 years of experience in higher education. Jose also teaches courses in Psychology at various institutions, including Hudson County Community College, Middlesex County College, and Union County College.
Quote: "Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance." – Verna Myers
Administrative Assistant for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Candice Peterson is a Jersey City native who began her academic career at HCCC in 2019 as a student. She transitioned shortly after into being an essential employee within the Office of Academic Affairs. In 2021, she expanded her career as the Administrative Assistant for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With her personal background, diverse professional experience, and academic career, Candice has been granted the insight and experience to contribute to our ever-growing department. She takes great pride in working closely with the DEI team and HCCC community to ensure a seamless, caring, and progressive environment for students, faculty, and staff.
Quote: "Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things." – Claudia Brind-Woody