San Jose State Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) has been selected as an honoree for the 2020 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award. She is among 53 outstanding women leaders who will be honored by YWCA Silicon Valley at its annual Tribute to Women Awards. Now in its 36th year, the YWCA Awards honor women who have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their leadership.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by an organization whose work and history has focused on gender equity, not only through celebration but also through its hard work on the ground,” said Wong(Lau).
Wong(Lau) joined SJSU in 2016 and leads the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. With a clear vision and strong direction, she has worked to ensure SJSU has a safe and welcoming climate for all 36,000 students and 4,500 faculty and staff in the Spartan community.
She’s made significant advances in diversity, inclusion, and equity on campus by designing and implementing university-based diversity programs. The Intergroup Dialogue program is an eight-week session where small groups of people from different social identity groups meet to discuss various scenarios. The purpose of the program is to foster greater understanding and better relations between different groups on campus. Wong(Lau) launched faculty training on inclusive teaching, and designed and led mandatory diversity training for incoming freshmen. She also provides counsel and instruction on diversifying faculty through reducing bias in recruitment and serves as an advisor and liaison to community partners and constituents on a wide variety of diversity initiatives.
“Kathy has been instrumental in making San Jose State a much stronger institution, and her influence has changed the culture of our campus for the better,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Her vast knowledge of diversity issues, coupled with an empathetic and people-centric approach, has made her an indispensable member of my leadership team.”
Over the course of her career, Wong(Lau) has become known as a nationally recognized leader in diversity and inclusion initiatives. She joined SJSU from the University of Oklahoma, where she served as director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). At the University of Oklahoma and Michigan State University, Wong(Lau) trained faculty on inclusive teaching in STEM and administrators on diversity management. On the national landscape, she consults with other academic institutions on ways faculty and staff can support underrepresented and first-generation students.
Wong(Lau) holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from CSU East Bay and completed a dual master’s/doctorate program in communication with an intercultural concentration at Arizona State University. In 2015, Diverse Issues in Higher Education named her one of “Top 25 Women in Higher Education.”
YWCA Silicon Valley plans to honor Wong(Lau) at an upcoming Tribute to Women Awards dinner, date still to be determined. The awards are an effort to encourage women’s leadership and promote equal advancement opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds.