Dr. Maria Dixon-Hall
Chief Diversity Officer, Senior Advisor to the President for Cultural Intelligence

Dr. Maria Dixon Hall serves as the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer of Southern Methodist University. Dr. Dixon Hall joined SMU after earning a Ph.D. in organizational communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia; a Th.M. in homiletics from Emory University; an M.Div. from Emory University; and a B.S. in marketing from the University of Alabama.

Dr. Dixon Hall has been recognized throughout her SMU career by students and peers alike for her passion for teaching and research, Dixon Hall has received the 2005–2006 Willis M. Tate Award for service to the student body; the 2009 Golden Mustang Award for outstanding teaching and research by junior faculty; the 2010 Rotunda Award for outstanding teaching; and the 2011 “M” Award, SMU’s highest award for outstanding service to the University. In 2023 the US Congressional Foundation presented her with Education Champion Award.

Dixon Hall began developing SMU’s Cultural Intelligence Initiative in 2016 as a practical, effective alternative to traditional diversity training. Now trademarked as CIQ@SMU, it is the primary training for faculty, student, and staff. In addition to the development of SMU’s Diversity and Inclusion curriculum, Dixon Hall has served as a consultant to Southwest Airlines, The United Methodist Church, and a number of universities throughout the US on their diversity efforts. Her work has been featured in a number of national publications including, TIME.

Dr. Dixon Hall, a dedicated member of the Kappa Chi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also an ordained clergy member of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Married to Rev. Dr. Jeff Hall, Senior Pastor of Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church they work to wrangle their brilliant but feral children, Carnell (14), Harmony (12), and Faith (10).

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Brice Mallett
Associate Director of Training and Analytics

Brice Mallett joined SMU’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion in July of 2021 and currently serves as the Associate Director of Training and Analytics. He oversees the CIQ@SMU trainings: Hidden Scripts and Searching Intelligently while also analyzing faculty recruitment data for the university. In years prior, he’s served as a financial analyst and tax specialist while earning his Master’s in Human Resource Management from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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Myalinda G. Martinez
Program and Communication Coordinator

Myalinda Martinez joined SMU’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion in September of 2023. Myalinda specializes in social media management, analytics, communications and project management. She holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Texas at Tyler, and multiple certifications in SEO, Google Analytics, and Social Media Marketing. She is currently completing her graduate degree in Communication at the University of Texas at Arlington.


Johnitha Watkins Johnson

Johnitha Watkins Johnson
Research Fellow; Clinical Assistant Professor, Teaching & Learning

Dr. Johnitha Watkins Johnson is the Office of Diversity & Inclusion Research Fellow, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development and serves as the Vice-Chair of the Police Community Advisory Board. Her areas of expertise include urban education, cultural responsiveness, equity in higher education, and K-12 teacher education. Johnson's primary focus is to equip educators with research-based strategies that beget equitable educational opportunities for all student populations.




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Brenda J. Scott
Director of Inclusive Excellence

Brenda J. Scott, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, was an honor graduate of Chaney High School, Youngstown State University Cum Laude graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Masters in College Counseling and Student Affairs with Summa cum laude honors. Scott became the first in her family to graduate college. She was the Coordinator of Transition and Mentoring Programs, focusing on underrepresented, marginalized, first-year, and first-generation students at Youngstown State University for 4 years. She has helped to create programming that supports students’ transition into college, provided them with opportunities to become leaders and gain work experience on campus, continuously built a sense of belonging for students through social connections and mentoring, and done numerous speaking engagements and training on leadership, diversity, cultural competency, and more. Scott has over 15 years of experience in youth development, school transformation, character development, workforce development, DEI training, coaching, social-emotional learning, and more. She worked for well-known non-profit organizations such as United Way, City Year, and KIPP Columbus, where she held leadership positions with all of them and has grown into a well-rounded professional.



Tracy Scott

Tracy Scott
Senior Compensation Specialist

Tracy Scott has been with SMU since 2019 as senior compensation specialist in the Human Resources Department where she works with development and administration of SMU’s compensation and classification programs. She joined SMU after several years working as a middle school math teacher, during which time she earned her Master’s degree in education, helping to strengthen her teaching skills while working with a diverse student population.



Steve Denson

Steve Denson
Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion

Steve Denson has provided strategic direction and coordination since 2002 to all activities that recruit and support underrepresented students for Cox programs. As assistant dean of diversity and inclusion, Denson maintains active relationships with organizations such as the National Black MBA Association, Prospanica, and Reaching Out, as well as with other local and national organizations and initiatives. Denson also is an adjunct professor in management and organizations at the Cox School.



Jill Kelly

Jill E. Kelly
Associate Professor and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, History

Dr. Jill E. Kelly is a historian of South Africa, Associate Professor and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the William P. Clements Department of History. She writes about gender and violence under colonialism and apartheid. Dr. Kelly is the faculty mentor of a team of undergraduate and graduate researchers who conduct oral history interviews with underrepresented alumni for the Voices of SMU Oral History Project to document the experiences of Black, Latinx, and Asian students at SMU. She is a recipient of the M Award, SMU’s highest honor bestowed upon students, faculty and staff who give unselfishly of their talents to better the University.

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LaiYee Leong
Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Presidential History and Lecturer, Political Science

Dr. LaiYee Leong researches and teaches US foreign policy and comparative politics. In AY2022-23, she served as Chair of AAPASA, the affinity group for Asian and Asian-American faculty and staff at SMU. She is the faculty advisor to the Asian Council, the umbrella organization for Asian and Asian-American student groups on campus. In recognition of her mentorship, the Asian Council created the Dr. LaiYee Leong Community Champion Award, given to a graduating senior every year.



John Georges

J.B. Georges

Dr. J.B. Georges has worked in higher education for over two decades with a firm commitment to helping students realize their potential, achieve their goals, and become lifelong learners. He earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and his Master of Science in Education in Higher Education Administration from Baruch College. At New York University, Georges earned his Master of Arts degree in Culture and Communication and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Individualized Study. He also earned his Associate of Arts degree in General Arts and Sciences from Pace University. In addition to spending quality time with his family and friends, Georges enjoys drawing, music, entertainment media, and the creative and performing arts. He also enjoys personal fitness and sports, traveling, writing, reading, politics, community service, and learning new skills and concepts. Even though he is still a New Yorker at heart, he loves his life in Dallas.



Erika Fadel

Erika Fadel
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Erika Fadel joined SMU in 2017 as a counselor in the Office of Career Services and as director of inclusion and diversity, a role first created in 2015. In her new full-time role, she will continue her work with diverse students and organizations, and launch new programs to support first-generation students, particularly focused on increasing their academic and professional success.



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Michelle Baehl
Director for DEA Staff Development

Michelle Baehl pillars of responsibility are recruitment, training and staff development for the division. Prior to joining SMU in 2017, Baehl worked for two years as the Director of Talent Management at the Center for Enhancing Philanthropy for the University of Texas System. Her main responsibilities were recruitment and to develop a system-wide internship program for the 14 UT institutions in development. Before returning to the UT System to work, Baehl was Vice President of Healthcare Recruitment with Performance Search Group in Houston, Texas. She was responsible for healthcare recruiting and for sourcing and attracting top talent for our clients while utilizing best practices to maximize satisfaction for candidate and client companies. Baehl has extensive recruitment and networking experience in physician and executive level positions for academic medical centers and prominent hospitals in The Texas Medical Center. For twelve years, she developed and operated the first in-house Executive Search Program at The University of Texas Medical, Branch (UTMB), the first academic health center in Texas and among the oldest in the nation.



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Kathy Hubbard
Assistant Dean of Student Success and Inclusive Excellence

Kathy Hubbard is the Assistant Dean of Student Success and Inclusive Excellence in the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University’s (SMU). She works with school and campus leaders to impact all Lyle students' education and career outcomes. Kathy leads the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan to increase the number of under-represented minoritized students and faculty in Lyle. She serves as a special advisor to the Dean to ensure inclusive policies and practices are developed and adhered to. She is the Lyle school’s National Society of Black Engineers advisor, and works closely with student leaders and advisors of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers student organizations. She sponsors and champions the Lyle Thrive Scholars Peer Mentoring Program.



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Karen Thomas
Special Advisor to the Dean; Professor of Practice, Journalism

Karen Thomas leans on her 25 years as a daily journalist in teaching classes ranging from beginning reporting to literary journalism. She worked as a feature writer for 13 years at The Dallas Morning News, specializing in family issues, narrative writing and column writing. Prior to joining the Morning News, Thomas was a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and also covered education on a national, state and city level.



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Kerri Bennett
Associate Director

Kerri Bennett joined SMU in 2016 and works with Ph.D. and Dedman College Master's students to provide administrative support, maintaining academic records, and processing students for graduation. She is the main point of contact for dissertation format checks, graduate student travel grants, and similar Moody School resources. Bennett also works closely with the Doctoral programs under the Moody School purview to track student progression, from candidacy to the defense. She finds great reward when leading a few major events, such as, Research & Innovation Week Poster session and the Doctoral Graduation Ceremony Dinner. With more than15 years of higher education experience ranging from recruiting to admissions to student finance she looks forward to continued growth of SMU and the Moody School of Graduate & Advanced Studies.



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Jesus Martinez
Desktop Support Manager

Jesus Martinez is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who joined SMU in 2009. As an undergraduate he worked as an IT intern supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). He has nearly 15 years of experience in the IT field. He currently oversees the desktop support team, through which he has developed a vast number of personal connections across the SMU campus.



Herbert Coleman

Herbert Coleman
Director of Retention and Success

Herbert Coleman joined the Perkins School in 2007 as director of recruitment and admissions, transitioning in May 2018 to director of retention and student success. He arrived at SMU with several years of experience in student recruiting, as well as service as a Methodist pastor in Philadelphia and a community organizer in Washington, D.C. while pursuing his Master of divinity degree. Coleman’s undergraduate degree was in statistics and he spent ten years working for the Treasury Department at the U.S. Mint.



Terra Wagner
Interim Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Dr. Terra Wagner received her PhD in Counseling from the University of North Texas, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas. Dr. Wagner primarily teaches practicum, group counseling, and diverse communities as a Clinical Assistant Professor. Additionally, she serves as the Clinic Director for Family Counseling Clinic, overseeing operations at all SMU counseling clinics. She owns a private practice in uptown Dallas where she specializes in working with clients who have extensive psychiatric history and trauma; essentially, high-risk clients needing a therapist that understands the complexity of continual hospitalization and chronic mental illness. She has years of clinical experience in emergency rooms, shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and psychiatric hospitals. Also, she specializes in assisting overwhelmed and stressed professionals in achieving a work/life balance. Most of Dr. Wagner's research and passions are related to crisis, cultural diversity, inclusion, and best practices for new clinicians. She was a key figure in organizing and providing crisis counseling services for UNT Dallas Law School and El Centro students and police officers after the 2016 Dallas police shooting. Through her supervision work at the Resource Center and working with students on LGBTQ+ and multicultural inclusion research for conference presentations, she has been able to connect with aspects of each of her interests. Dr. Wagner has done numerous presentations about cultural humility and inclusion, including speaking as a panelist at the DFW Urban League Young Professionals Conference, speaking on the ASC LGBTQ+ panel, and serving as a facilitator on Conversations on Hate and Bias at SMU.



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Jennifer "JJ" Jones
Executive Director for Student Development and Engagement

Dr. Jennifer "JJ" Jones is the Executive Director of Student Development and Engagement, the Director of the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement, and the Diversity Officer for the Division of Student Affairs. She has been employed for over 30 years, 16 of those years in various positions within Residence Life and Student Housing. She received her BA in Sociology and Master of Liberal Arts both and her Ed. D from Southern Methodist University. In various capacities, Jones has given workshops on college campuses nationwide. She is the 33rd National President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. She served as the President of the NPHC for ten years and Vice President for four, and is currently working as the Program Lead for the Black Greek Letter Consortium for the All of Us Research Program in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.



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Monique Christian-Long
Assistant Director of Administrative Services 

Monique Christian-Long joined SMU in May of 2022 as the assistant director of administrative services for SMU Libraries. With her passion for equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA), she suitably acquired the role of diversity officer shortly thereafter. Throughout her 10 years of public library experience, she has served in various roles of leadership. During this time, she co-led a social awareness task force, managed grants, and partnered with community organizations to bring inclusive programs to Dallas. She is excited to expand upon the progressing EDIA vision of SMU.