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For Immediate Release

Two leaders with professional backgrounds in diversity and inclusion building have joined Dominican University in newly created roles. 

Dr. Gail Phoenix, vice president of people and culture, and Dr. Lizette Rivera, director of Hispanic-serving initiatives and the Title V project, were welcomed by the university in March following nationwide searches.

Phoenix steps into a newly created position that incorporates the functions of human resources with cultivating a culture of belonging on campus. She will also contribute to the development of equity-minded policies and procedures. 

She joins Dominican with over 15 years of experience in human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion practices. This includes positions at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, College of Wooster in Ohio and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in Kentucky. She is also a global diversity and inclusion consultant and human resources adviser, and has previously taught as an adjunct professor of behavioral science and cultural diversity courses.

During a career with the U.S. Army, Phoenix held several leadership positions, including that of army first sergeant and drill sergeant. Other roles included senior human resources specialist at the Defense Intelligence Agency, human resources manager in Baghdad, Iraq, and assistant inspector general for the U.S. Army in Germany. 

Phoenix holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Columbia College; a master’s degree in education, personnel services and counseling from the University of Maryland; and a Ph.D. in human services from Capella University. 

Rivera joins Dominican in a position created out of the university’s Avanzamos: Advancing Dominican University from Hispanic-Enrolling to Hispanic-Serving program, which was developed through a U.S. Department of Education grant. The initiative focuses on improving the retention and success of undergraduate Latine students, and, in her role, Rivera will lead and support this work. 

Rivera most recently served as the director of diversity, equity and belonging at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis. She previously held the role of director of student inclusion and special assistant to the chief diversity officer at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Previous roles in diversity services included positions at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Suffolk University in Boston, and Westfield State University in Massachusetts. 

Like many of Dominican University’s students, Rivera is a first-generation college graduate. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Public Administration from Roosevelt University, and a Doctorate of Education in Community College Leadership from National Louis University. Her dissertation explored the student transfer success of Latine students from a two-year Hispanic-Serving Institution to a four-year non-Hispanic-serving university in Massachusetts.

Rivera is also a U.S. Army Reserves veteran, having served under Operation Enduring Freedom with a military police battalion and legal support organization. A Chicago native of Indigenous Puerto Rican descent, she is an enrolled citizen of the Guainía Taíno Tribe of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Gail Phoenix
Dr. Lizette Rivera