Jane N. Irungu, PhD
Executive Director, Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies
PhD, University of Kansas
MS, University of Kansas
BEd, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
Dr. Irungu has more than three decades of experience in the field of education, organizational management and intercultural relations. She has worked extensively with K-12, higher education professionals and private organizations in the U.S. and in Africa.
Prior to joining the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 2017, Dr. Irungu held different positions at the University of Oregon (UO): Assistant Vice President in the Division of Student Life; Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence in the Division of Equity and Inclusion, Director of Graduation and Post-Graduation Success, and Associate Director, Office of Multicultural Academic Success.
During her tenure at UO, her portfolio included, among others: oversight of programs for historically underserved, underrepresented, first-generation, undocumented and international students' network of support; faculty and staff resource groups; leadership development and training; scholarship administration; community outreach and pipeline programs; ethnic organizations; social justice initiatives through the multicultural center, and post-graduation success. Dr. Irungu also served in numerous campus-wide committees, was an elected member of the Officers of Administration Staff Council and participated in strategic planning initiatives focusing on student success, campus diversity, equity and inclusion strategic planning and many others.
Dr. Irungu is on leave to serve as Interim Associate VP for Office of University Community
Anthony P. Natale, MSW, PhD
Interim Executive Director, Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies
PhD - University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work (2005)
MSW - Portland State University (1999)
BS - Washington State University (1997)
Anthony P. Natale, MSW, PhD is Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, joining the faculty in 2005. Dr. Natale teaches across the social work curriculum including courses in Human Diversity and Societal Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice, Human Services Administration, Social Welfare Policy Analysis, Community Organization and Development, Human Lifespan Development, Counseling issues in Human Sexuality, and Social Work Practice with LGBTQQIPA2+ populations. He was inducted into the Social Work Hall of Fame for Teaching Excellence in 2015, and awarded the Regents Award for Superior Teaching in 2019. Dr. Natale has a distinguished research record that has evolved into four themes, health disparities among minoritized populations with a particular interest in HIV/AIDS prevention, Trauma and Gender Informed interventions in Social Work practice, Social Work practice with LGBTQQIPA2+ populations, and Social Work Pedagogy.
Dr. Natale had held several administrative roles prior to his appointment in SWCHRS including, Social Work Graduate Coordinator, Assistant Director of the School of Social Work, and Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence in the OU Graduate College. As a social worker, Dr. Natale has committed his professional and academic career to advancing social, political, economic, and environmental justice for marginalized and oppressed populations.
Office Manager and Assistant to Executive Director
Katherine joined our team February 2018 as the Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies. Before joining our team, she worked the past 16 years for the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma where she held the positions of Program Manager, HR, Property and Procurement and Program Coordinator for the CCDF program. Katherine has received her Administrative Assistant I & II and Business Core Competency Certificates from Caddo-Kiowa Technology Center in Ft. Cobb, Oklahoma. She has also attend Cameron University and Comanche Nation College.
She is a member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and comes from Kiowa descent as well. She and her husband Daniel moved to Norman in September 2017. She has three children and three grandchildren, whom she loves spending time with. Now that she has seen her children through high school and one through college, she is inspired to continue to pursue her education in Business Administration which she plans to do in the near future.
Assistant to the NCORE Program Manager
Corey Davidson is the Assistant to the Program Manager for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). He acts as NCORE liaison, working with the NCORE Program Manager throughout the year to create the digital Guidebook and hardcopy program guide.
From summer 2015 through summer 2018, Corey worked on behalf of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies as a trained Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator, assisting with the University of Oklahoma's Freshmen Diversity and Inclusion Experience as their Small Group Facilitator Coordinator.
Mr. Davidson earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma with a double major in African and African-American Studies and Film and Video Studies. He is currently working on his master's of Human Relations at the University of Oklahoma, with a focus on Social Justice. Before joining the NCORE Team, he spent time working as a Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Specialist, working primarily with third and fourth graders in Oklahoma City. He was also a freelance videographer and editor.
He enjoys spending quality time with his cat, Atticus, long-boarding, and both critically analyzing and leisurely reading comic books.
NCORE Program Manager
Justin has served the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) for more than 15 years. As Program Manager, he is responsible for orchestrating the efforts of NCORE staff to organize and develop the conference. He also manages the on-site conference event. Justin first joined the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies (SWCHRS) in 2001 as a temporary employee, working to update and digitize the NCORE mailing system. Over the years, he has served the conference in various capacities, including webmaster, marketing and public relations coordinator, exhibit coordinator, and audiovisual coordinator. He has also served as the secretary and coordinator for the activities of the NCORE National Advisory Council and the SWCHRS Executive Committee.
Justin developed a deep commitment to act in support of social justice and racial equity projects through his service to and emersion into the community of the NCORE conference. While a staff member of the Southwest Center, he also gained experience as intergroup dialogue facilitator, leading numerous dialogues on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. He has also facilitated caucus groups focused on anti-racist consciousness raising amongst white people. Justin has been a student of numerous developmental trainings focused on change making to create more just and equitable institutions. He is grateful for the opportunities he has had to attend trainings organized by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, the Social Justice Training Institute and the White Privilege Conference.
Prior to joining the Southwest Center, Justin served in the United States military as a highly decorated Weather Forecaster for the Air Force Air National Guard.
Ajia Meux, MSW, MA
Project Development Manager
Ajia joined SWCHRS part-time in January 2018 as Communications Research Fellow. She transitioned to full-time as Projects and Communications Manager in June 2018 where she is responsible for special department initiatives, including the NCORE Webinar Series, JCSCORE administration and strategic communication planning. She also manages communications and program development for the Public Service Institute at OU, under the leadership of Dr. Jane Irungu.
Ajia is an Oakland, California native and a graduate of University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Howard University’s School of Social Work. Her work has been featured in the Dallas Morning News, OU Daily, Renovator Magazine, and OKC Territory (forthcoming). Even though she can wordsmith just about any topic, her passion is critical cultural writing.
NCORE Event Manager
Kathie has coordinated more than 200 conferences and events in her career. Her work includes searching for future conference venues and hotels, negotiating contracts, and making all kinds of logistical arrangements. She earned a Certified Meeting Professional designation in 2007 and a Master of Education in 2016.
Kathie creates jewelry, loves traveling, and can connect most everything in life to a Lyle Lovett song or an episode of Friends.
Debbie O’Dell came to work for the University in the fall of 2009. In January of 2012, Debbie joined SWCHRS as the Account and Budget Representative. Within this role, she is the exhibitor and advertising liaison for the NCORE Conference and also manages all contracting, from speakers to vendors, for NCORE and the Center.
In her spare time Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children, volunteering, and game night with friends.
Josephine serves as the NCORE accessibility and volunteer coordinator, as well as copy editor and social media manager for both NCORE and the Southwest Center.
Born and raised in mid-Michigan, Josephine transferred from Michigan State to the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a BA in Film and Media Studies in 2010. Over the last decade, she has worked on film and television sets as script supervisor, costumer, and production assistant. Josephine has also spent the last ten years as a caregiver to multiple family members with a variety of physical and mental disabilities.
When she is not working or writing, you can find her reading, at the movies, nerding out at a horror convention, gardening, tabletop gaming, camping or having a food adventure with her husband and dog.