COE Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee

As part of SDSU’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, the Division of Diversity and Innovation tasked every college to form a Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee. In the fall of 2020, the College of Education's committee completed the work to develop a general COE diversity and inclusion plan.

DEI Planning Committee

COE Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan

Diversity and Inclusion Action PlanOn December 17, 2020, the SDSU Senate and the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity approved the College of Education Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan that will guide DEI initiatives for the next five years and inform the development of school and department-level plans.


COE Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee

Below are the members of the College of Education Diversity and Inclusion Planning Committee.


Cristian R. Aquino-Sterling, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Teacher Education
Associate Dean for Diversity and International Affairs, College of Education

Cristian R. Aquino-Sterling holds a BA in Philosophy (Fordham University); a MA in Hispanic Cultural Studies and Literatures (Columbia University), and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction (Arizona State University). He has taught at various public and private schools in New York City, at Fordham University (his Alma Mater), and at the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies (University of Pennsylvania). Dr. Aquino-Sterling is currently pursuing two lines of research. The first examines 21st century innovations in (bilingual) teacher education theory, curriculum and pedagogies devised for preparing P-12 teachers capable of meeting the educational needs of minoritized linguistically diverse students attending mainstream or bilingual/dual language school contexts. The second employs contemporary social theory and discourse analytic methods to understand the logics of “ideology critique” in advocacy and critical discourses of education emerging as resistance to neoliberal, hyper-capitalist, and post-truth dynamics. This latter line of research is informed by his dissertation study, Systemic Anomies-Discursive Panaceas: A Critical Analysis of Critiques of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, written under the caring mentorship of Prof. Donald Blumenfeld-Jones, Emeritus, Arizona State University.

Dr. Aquino-Sterling is the recipient of the 2016 Early Career Reviewer Award of the Bilingual Research Journal (National Association of Bilingual Education) and currently serves as Assistant Editor of the Journal of Global Education and Research. His works have been published in Abriendo brecha: antología crítica sobre la educación bilingüe de doble inmersión (edited by Michael Guerrero et al.), Bilingual Research Journal; Boletín de la Federación Internacional Fe y Alegría; International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism; International Journal of Language and Linguistics; International Multilingual Research Journal; Multicultural Perspectives; Reading in a Foreign Language; Revista Comunicación; Revista Internacional de Educación para la Justicia Social; Teachers College Record, and Voices from the Middle. Dr. Aquino-Sterling has served as Research Fellow in the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) of the Graduate Center, City University of New York and, during the academic year 2018-2019, he served as Visiting Professor in the MIRCo research group at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, and at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Río de Janeiro.


Marva Cappello, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Teacher Education
Director, Joint Ph.D. Program

Marva Cappello, Ph.D. is a Professor of Teacher Education and the Director/Founder of the Center for Literacies at San Diego State University where her work focuses on visual-based methods as equitable and inclusive practice for literacy pedagogy and qualitative research. The Center is an international community for teachers and scholars and recently hosted the well-attended symposium Voices of Women of Color: Visual-Based Research Methods on campus. Recent publications of her visual-based research have been published in the International Journal of Education & the Arts, Literacy Research: Theory Methods and Practice, Issues in Teacher Education, and The Reading Teacher highlighting studies she has completed near the US/Mexico border, Samoa, and Belize. Dr. Cappello teaches courses in literacy methods and assessment as well as qualitative research methods at the credential, masters, and doctoral levels.

Dr. Cappello is also the Director of the SDSU/CGU Joint Doctoral Program in Education whose mission is “to develop scholars who are committed to research on democratic schooling, social justice, and equitable educational outcomes for all students, and the improvement of educational systems serving diverse communities.”


Idara Essien, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Child and Family Development

Idara Essien, Ph.D. is an early childhood educator who teaches in the Department of Child and Family Development at San Diego State University (SDSU). Her research focuses on the dynamics between educators and the children and families that they serve. In particular, her work employs counter-storytelling as a lens to illuminate cross-racial dynamics in early childhood contexts. Prior to joining the faculty at SDSU, Idara served as the Cohort Instructor and Facilitator for the bachelor’s degree completion program in Early Development and Care for Sacramento State University at Southwestern Community College. She is the owner of a California state-licensed home child care facility and is a mother of three children. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from Arizona State University (ASU). She also holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Child and Family Development from ASU and an M.A. in Bilingual and Multicultural Education from Sacramento State University. Idara holds a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of California – Riverside.


Audrey Hokoda, Ph.D.

Professor, Child and Family Development

Audrey Hokoda, Ph.D. is an Professor in the Child and Family Development Department. She received her B.S. in psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has been the Principal Investigator for over 15 studies and community projects focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating youth violence prevention programs. In 2018-19, she was the recipient of the SDSU Senate Excellence in Teaching Award making her a Senate Distinguished Professor.


Heather Jaffe, M.S.

Lecturer, Child and Family Development

Heather Jaffe is a lecturer in the Child & Family Development Department at San Diego State University. She is also a Ph.D. student in the Joint Doctoral Program with Claremont Graduate University. She received her B.A. in English from Hunter College and her M.S. in Child Development with an emphasis in Early Childhood Mental Health from San Diego State University. Her research is focused on LGBTQ youth and their experiences within our education system. Heather has a motto for the work that she does, “be who you need when you were younger” that she hopes to bring to her work on the Diversion and Inclusion Committee.


Paul Luelmo, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Special Education

Paul Luelmo, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles, 2018) is an education specialist focusing on serving low-resourced, racial and ethnic minority families in urban public schools. His Latino background has helped him implement evidence- based culturally responsive teaching strategies such as culturally responsive educational systems. His efforts have been concentrated on preparing special education teachers serving Latino and African-American students with disabilities and Dual Language Learners. Dr. Luelmo’s research experience includes parent-centered autism interventions and parent advocacy in special education. His current research project involves a parent-to-parent advocacy intervention employing community-partnered participatory research in a low-resourced racial and ethnic minority setting.


Sarah Maheronnaghsh, Ph.D.

Lecturer, Dual Language and English Learner Education

Sarah Maheronnaghsh, Ph.D. is the Global Cultural Experience co-coordinator and a lecturer in the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education. She is thrilled to play a role in designing and implementing study abroad experiences for students within the College of Education. She particularly enjoys being a witness to the transformations that take place both during and after the variety of study abroad programs offered by the college.


Vicki Park, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership

Vicki Park, Ph.D. utilizes socio-cultural theories and qualitative methods to study the implementation of education policy, urban school reform, and organizational learning. The guiding goal of her work has been to bridge the research-to-practice and practice-to-research gap to improve educational opportunities for diverse student populations. She earned her Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy with an emphasis on K-12 administration from the University of Southern California and her M.Ed. and teaching credentials from UCLA. Prior to earning her doctorate, she was an elementary and middle school teacher. She is presently the principal investigator for the study funded by the Spencer Foundation, Co-Constructing Continuous Improvement for Equity and Excellence: The Role of Adaptive Assistance Partners for Organizational Learning in Low-Performing Schools.


Sonia Peterson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Administration, Rehabilitation, and Postsecondary Education

Sonia Peterson, Ph.D. CRC LPCC is an assistant professor in the SDSU Department of Administration, Rehabilitation & Postsecondary Education and serves as the Program Director for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Certificate and MS Rehabilitation Counseling specialization in Psychiatric Rehabilitation leading to the California LPCC license. She has conducted numerous educational seminars and presentations on various disability, social justice and advocacy related topics in her twenty-year career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, state vocational rehabilitation agency administrator, and counselor educator in California.

She has worked extensively in collaboration with high school, postsecondary school, and community partner agency staff throughout California to provide counseling, vocational training, and job placement services for individuals with psychiatric and other disabilities. She actively promotes the social justice principles of self-determination, advocacy, and inclusion in her coursework instruction which currently includes ARP 684: Foundations of Rehabilitation Counseling, ARP 687: Job Development for Individuals with Disabilities, and ARP 708: Human Development and Disability.

Her research areas of interest include promoting social justice in disability policy, promoting social inclusion of individuals with intersectional identities including disabilities, recovery-oriented mental health services, and evidence-based vocational counseling interventions for individuals with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. She currently serves as Policy Chair on the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association division board of the American Counseling Association and is an active member of the LGBTQ+ recovery community in her home of San Diego.


marcela polanco, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Counseling and School Psychology

marcela polanco, Ph.D. (Nova Southeastern University 2011) of Muisca, African and European Colombian origins, is a narrative family therapist, in English. In Spanish, marcela’s supervision, teaching, research and therapy practices are informed by decolonial, anti-racist Andean feminism and ethics of solidarity. She is interested in further researching fair trade knowledges in the training of family therapists between eurocentric practices in English and Aymara’s decolonial thinking in Spanish for the development of alternative inter-cultural responses to social suffering.


Nina Potter, Ph.D.

Director of Assessment and Accreditation, College of Education

Nina Salcedo Potter, Ph.D. joined the College of Education in 2008 as the Director of Assessment. Her background is in educational measurement, statistics and research design. Her research interests include formative program evaluation and outcomes-based assessment. She works with faculty and administrators to use assessment data to help make decisions at the student, class, program, and college level. Before coming to SDSU, Dr. Potter was the Director of Assessment for a school district in Washington and state and taught early childhood special education.


Manny Uribe, M.S.

Web & Multimedia Specialist, Dean's Office 

Manny Uribe joined the College of Education in 2013 as IT Consultant and Web Designer. Before joining the Dean's Office, Manny served as the web developer for the SDSU Division of Academic Engagement & Student Achievement and the Pre-College Institute. He has presented on topics related to web usability, accessibility, and other best practices at national conferences including the annual Council for Opportunity in Education Conference in Washington D.C.

Manny is an SDSU alumnus having completed his bachelor's in Liberal Studies in 2004. He has a Professional Certificate in Digital Media from SDSU as well. In 2018, Manny earned an M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology from CSU Fullerton.

Outside of SDSU, Manny volunteers as a web developer and graphic designer for Sharia's Closet, a non-profit that provides free, emergency clothing to individuals and families facing hardship or crisis. He also manages the social media for Voices of Our City Choir, a non-profit organization that helps San Diego's unsheltered neighbors reconnect with hope and possibility through the healing power of music.