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April 28, 2023
April 19, 2023, Jersey City, NJ – Hudson County Community College (HCCC) is pleased to announce that Lori Margolin, Associate Vice President of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, and her Gateway to Innovation Team, and Natalia Vazquez-Bodkin, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), received awards from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE). The awards were presented at the NAPE National Summit for Educational Equity in Washington, D.C.
The NAPE Teamwork Award, which recognizes an education team that succeeds in promoting DEI in career and technical education (CTE) or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), was presented to the HCCC Gateway to Innovation Team. The team includes Associate Vice President Margolin; Workforce Pathways Director, Anita Belle; Career and Academic Counselor, Rimsha Bazaid; Business Developer, Dan Brookes; Healthcare Coordinator, Denise Carrasco; Associate Director, Laurice Dukes; Finance and Technology Student Success Coach, Evani Greene; Healthcare Student Success Coach, Afrodite Hernandez; Program Assistant, Ojanae Marshall; Finance and Technology Coordinator, Hiram Miranda; and Alumni Manager, Maria Lita Sarmiento.
The NAPE Heart and Hope Award was presented to Natalia Vazquez-Bodkin. The award recognizes a person who manages major projects or programs with hope, works intentionally with heart, and has made a major impact by ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in education leading to high-wage, high-skill, in-demand programs of study and careers.
“We are very proud to congratulate Lori, Natalia, and their colleagues for receiving these awards,” said HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber. “Student success and DEI are the bedrock of our core values and everything we do at Hudson County Community College. Thanks to their efforts and the commitment of the entire HCCC family, our students and community members benefit from cutting-edge programs that provide transformational opportunities.”
The HCCC Gateway to Innovation program was developed to achieve lasting, sustainable improvement in the county’s workforce ecosystem, reducing socioeconomic inequities for Hispanic/Latino and African American students. The program addresses the unprecedented, systemic challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, with the goal of achieving lasting improvement in the workforce ecosystem. GTI works to STABILIZE students’ basic supports and enhance financial health; ENGAGE alumni and provide job placement services; RECOVER by expanding access to short-term healthcare training and credentials and opportunities for recession resistant work; and PROSPER by deepening relationships with employers and creating experiential learning opportunities for students in recession-resistant industries.
HCCC GTI met or exceeded goals of training students, awarding credentials, job placement, screening students for benefits, working with area employers in recession-resistant sectors to define in-demand skill sets, recruiting industry experts as mentors, delivering workshops, developing experiential learning opportunities, and mapping competencies to curricula and degree programs. Through these initiatives, HCCC uplifted, empowered, and provided pathways to a better future for thousands of students and alumni, as well as dislocated retail, hospitality, and low-wage essential workers.
In January 2021, JPMorgan Chase awarded HCCC an $850,000, one-year investment to fund GTI. HCCC GTI was so successful that the award was increased by $200,000 and extended to January 2023.
As Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at HCCC, Natalia Vazquez-Bodkin leads by contributing to the creation of diversity policies and procedures and equitable services. She oversees the Opportunity Meets Innovation Grant (OMIG), an award of $500,000 from the State of New Jersey for Academic Year 2021-2023; co-chairs the President’s Advisory Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (PACDEI), which consists of more than 42 participants; and successfully led the College through the Method of Administration (MOA) Civil Rights Compliance Review for Career and Technical Education programs of study with the New Jersey Department of Education.
Ms. Vazquez-Bodkin notes that financial support from the OSHE Opportunity Meets Innovation Grant enabled HCCC to support faculty, staff, students, and community members through several innovative initiatives, programs, and events. One such program is the homegrown, grassroots initiative, entitled Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Passport Program (DEISPP), that was created in response to the emotional impact of COVID-19 and the social unrest that the community was experiencing. Another is the eCornell Diversity and Inclusion certificate program that is offered to HCCC employees free of charge. Many other programs were made possible with this funding, including Title IX and Sexual Harassment Training, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summer Retreats, and ALICE in-person active shooter training.