Our Team

Close up image of Dr. Mary Wardell-GhirarduzziDr. Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi 

Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer
Phone: (415) 422-2821 | Email: mjwardell@usfca.edu
Pronouns: she/her/hers

A 25-year executive in California public and private higher education, Dr. Mary J. Wardell is an educator, author, and thought leader on implementing equitable strategies and solutions. She is a nationally recognized diversity and inclusion expert who understands the unique duty of leaders to advance inclusivity, social justice, and love within their organizations. Dr. Wardell has served as the inaugural chief diversity officer at the University of San Francisco (USF) since 2011 and is the Vice Provost for Diversity and Community Engagement.  She teaches Leadership, Organizations, and Diversity Studies in the USF School of Education and School of Management and served as the USF Dean of Students from 2008-2011. During this time, she co-founded with student activists the Gender and Sexuality Student Resources Center at the University of San Francisco.
Mary received the Most Influential Woman award by the San Francisco Business Times in 2017 and won the 2018 Human Rights award by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 2015 San Francisco Human Rights Commission Hero Award. She is the Founder of Latinas in Leadership, an empowerment conference and leadership movement for emerging Chicanx-Latinx leaders. 

Mary serves as the President of the San Francisco Public Library Commission stewarding $160M budget for a system of twenty-eight city libraries. During her leadership, the San Francisco Public Library won the coveted National Public Library of the Year in 2018. She is a trustee for the National Urban Libraries Council, Washington, D.C, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Interfaith Council. 

She received a doctorate from Pepperdine’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology; a master’s degree in cross cultural counseling and social justice education from San Diego State University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of the Pacific. During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Arkansas and Texas to the south-side of Stockton, California where she was born and reared.  She resides in San Francisco and Stockton with her husband and daughters. Twice as Good: Leadership and Power for Women of Color, is her first book.


Gladys PerezGladys A. Perez, MA  

Program Assistant
Phone: (415) 422-2683 | Email: gaperez5@usfca.edu
Pronouns: she/her/hers

As the daughter of immigrant parents from Oaxaca, Mexico, Gladys A. Perez is a proud Bay Area resident, first-generation college graduate, and artist.

After completing her Bachelor’s in Sociology at USF, Gladys joined the administrative staff of the College of Arts & Sciences in 2015 where she helped foster community among faculty and students through supporting Latinx academic programs and events. Since then she has remained heavily involved in the university by serving as the staff advisor for the student club Latinas Unidas, being an active member of the Working Group to Support Undocumented Students, and providing support as a Process Advocate for the Bias Education and Resource Team (BERT).

A double-Don, Gladys completed her MA in International & Multicultural Education in the School of Education where her research interest included immigration, (counter) storytelling, and creative writing. She hopes to continue her work in higher education to help students explore their experiences through creative writing in order to create a more inclusive university community. Outside of USF, she pursues creative writing and painting to honor her immigrant and indigenous roots and enjoys tending to her indoor garden.

Headshot of Chanel A. OrtizChanel A. Ortiz

Graduate Intern, 2020-2021
Email: caortiz2@dons.usfca.edu
Pronouns: all pronouns welcomed

Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Chanel A. Ortiz is a Queer Boricua Femme currently living and working in community within the Bay Area. As a first-generation undergraduate student, Chanel attended Colorado State University to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies, with a focus in Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies. Over the last decade, Chanel has worked in nonprofit, corporate, and academic settings assisting programs focused on empowering community health and eliminating food and housing insecurity. As a birth doula and reproductive justice advocate, she works to provide empathetic emotional and physical care to low-income, Undocumented, Black & Brown families. Currently a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s program at USF, Chanel brings a holistic healing and wellness lens to all social justice equity work both on and off college campuses.

Headshot of Nyssa BacaNyssa Baca

Graduate Intern, Diversity, Engagement, and Inclusion Programming (Fall 2020)
Email: njbaca@dons.usfca.edu
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Growing up, Nyssa Baca experienced a variety of cultures as she moved around the United States with her military parents, living in such places as New York, South Carolina, Idaho, and California, and attending 12 different schools before graduation.

Nyssa then attended the University of Arizona where she received her BA in Journalism with a minor in Spanish. During her undergrad, she worked for the bilingual South Tucson newspaper, El Independiente, as well as in Residence Life at the UofArizona. She continued her education by attending the National Hispanic University in San Jose, California, where she received her California Teaching Credential. Nyssa spent almost a decade teaching middle school classes in Salinas, California. During her time as a public school teacher, she taught English, ESL, and Reading Intervention classes. Nyssa was able to put her Journalism background to use by also teaching the Yearbook class. As the Activity Director for her school, she advised the Leadership class in creating inclusive programming for students, earning the Bob Burton Spirit Award for her work.

Nyssa is currently a graduate student, working towards her Master’s in USF’s Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program. Her focus is on creating inclusive programming for students of all backgrounds and creating events that allow students to interact in safe places, while creating opportunities for students to learn, struggle, and grow, with support.

Headshot of Diana E. Garcia RodriguezDiana E. Garcia Rodriguez

Practicum Intern, Undocumented Student Support
Email: degarciarodriguez@dons.usfca.edu
Pronouns: she/her/ella/suya

Diana (DeeAH-Nah) is an UndocuQueer, first-generation femme from Stockton, CA who was born in Jalisco, Mexico. She is currently a second-year student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs masters program at USF and graduated from the University of California, Merced in 2019, where she discovered her passion for working with students.

Upon her arrival to USF, Diana became involved as an advocate for the undocumented student community. Now serving as the Intern for the Working Group to Support Undocumented Students, her intent is to serve as a bridge between USF students and the members of the working group while simultaneously advocating for the needs of students. She is also currently a Graduate Intern for New Student and Family Programs where she serves as one of the advisors for GO Team, and leads programming for the Spanish Speaking and Latinx communities.

In her free time, Diana enjoys spending her time on TikTok, listening to music, and FaceTiming her friends and family. She brings in an encouraging energy wherever she goes, and aims to empower others to tell their truths and never stop learning.