Jane Irungu, Ph.D
Executive Director, Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies
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 of Intercultural Initiatives in the Division of Student Life; Assistant Vice President of Student Engagement 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 of color resource groups; leadership development and training; scholarship administration, diversity and inclusion programs, 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 Council, and participated in strategic planning initiatives focusing on student success, campus diversity, equity, inclusion, and many others.
Prior to joining the UO, Irungu worked at the University of Kansas for twelve years in many different capacities: Associate Director for the federally funded Title VI Kansas African Studies Center; Program Director with the Office of International Programs; Outreach and Foreign Languages Coordinator, and Lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies. Irungu received her Ph.D. and Master's degrees in Higher Education Administration and Policy Studies, Graduate Certificates in African Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Kansas. She received her Bachelor's in Education in with majors in Kiswahili, Philosophy and Religious Studies from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, where she was a high school teacher and eventually principal. She migrated to the U.S. in 1997.
Irungu is multilingual and provides consultancy in curriculum design, translation and interpretation in her two native languages, Swahili and Kikuyu; diversity and inclusion initiatives, strategic planning, cross-cultural/intercultural communication, program evaluation; student engagement and success. She has been a member and contributor in several national organizations including Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education: NASPA, Association of International Educators: NAFSA, The Global Community for Academic Advising: NACADA, and the International Association of Student Affairs and Services: IASAS, among others. Dr. Irungu has received several awards for her outstanding work and leadership as an educator and a champion for social justice.
As a first-generation college student, Irungu believes education must be a transformational tool; transforming and improving the quality of life for individuals and communities at large.
Administrative Assistant to the 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 & 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.
NCORE Program Manager
Justin has served the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) for over 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.
Kathie Nicoletti, M.Ed., CGMP, CMP
NCORE Logistics Coordinator
Kathie has coordinated more than 200 conferences and events in her career. Her work with NCORE includes searching for future conference venues and hotels, negotiating contracts, and making arrangements of all kinds. She received a Certified Government Meeting Professional designation in 2006 and a Certified Meeting Professional designation in 2007.
Kathie creates jewelry, loves traveling, and can connect most everything in life to a Lyle Lovett song or an episode of Friends.
NCORE Audiovisual Coordinator and the Assistant to the Program Manager
Corey Davidson is the Assistant to the Program Manager for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). His work at the conference includes functioning onsite as the Audio Visual Coordinator, and the Staff Liaison to the NCORE Student Scholars, the NCORE National Advisory Council and the SWCHRS Executive Committee. Throughout the year he also works with the NCORE Program Manager to program the conference, creating the Digital Program Guidebook and being the NCORE Liaison for the Program Guide. Through the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies, Corey has been working 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 of African and African-American Studies, and Film and Video Studies. He is currently working on his Master's Degree in the 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 with third and fourth graders in Oklahoma City and also worked as 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.
Debbie O’Dell came to work for the University in the fall of 2009. She began her work as a office assistant in WebComm.. In January of 2012, Debbie joined SWCHRS as the Account and Budget Representative. She has since expanded her role to include exhibitor, advertising liaison for the NCORE Conference and also takes on additional tasks as needed.
Prior to her employment at the University, Debbie was a stay at home mom. She appreciates the flexibility that is allowed her so she can attend school parties/functions and be the homeroom mom while still succeeding at her professional goals in a great working environment.
Staff Assistant and Accessibility Coordinator
Born and raised in mid-Michigan, Josephine transferred to The University of Oklahoma to pursue a BA in Film & Media Studies, eventually graduating in 2010. Over the last decade she has worked on film and television sets as a script supervisor, costumer, and production assistant, while writing her own screenplays on the side.
Josephine has also spent the last ten years as a dedicated caregiver to family members with a range of mental and physical disabilities, a role that inevitably brought her to the Southwest Center as the Accessibility Coordinator for NCORE. When she is not at the Center or writing, you can find her snuggled up with a good book, at a horror convention, gardening, or geeking out over food with her husband and two dogs.
Elissa Ungerman, MHR
Graduate Student Intern & Staff Assistant
Elissa Ungerman is a two-time graduate of the University of Oklahoma hailing from Tulsa, OK. During her undergraduate career, Elissa served in student leadership positions in residence life, orientation, and campus programming. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Human Relations, Elissa moved on to the Master of Human Relations program. Throughout graduate school she has worked as a graduate assistant in educational research and student-athlete mental health services.
Elissa then joined the team at the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies and NCORE. Elissa hopes to pursue a PhD one day, researching mental health education and access for underserved students at colleges and universities.
Jasmine Austin, MA PhD Candidate
Graduate Student Assistant and NCORE Volunteer Coordinator
Jasmine joined SWCHRS in 2017 as a curriculum developer for the Freshman Diversity Experience and serves as a lead diversity trainer for SWCHRS, University Community, and Outreach Center. In addition, she is the Coordinator of Volunteers for NCORE, George McLauren Male Leadership Conference, and Sylvia A. Lewis Conference.
Jasmine is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor (UMHB), master's degree from the University of Wyoming (UW), and is soon to be a doctoral candidate in Organizational and Interethnic Communication here at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Jasmine fills her time with teaching a variety of traditional and online courses for both OU and UW. Though, when not indulging in research articles, books and grading, she enjoys bonding with family and friends, traveling domestically and internationally, spoken word poetry, and all things Butterflies. Her favorite quote is "Let It Shine."