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2020 12 People: Yvania Garcia-Pusateri

Diversity Trailblazer

Posted online

Yvania Garcia-Pusateri shows her passion for inclusivity in even the smallest ways.

When she talks about her career accomplishments, she uses the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, showing that she is quick to include and acknowledge others. She even lists her preferred pronouns in her email signature – she, her and hers – to help promote the practice that affirms each individual’s preferences.

Although she just began working as the chief equity and diversity officer, an inaugural position for the Springfield Public Schools district, she’s been fostering welcoming learning environments for diverse students for several years as the former director for multicultural programs at Missouri State University.

During her time in that role, she helped create the university’s first multicultural graduation ceremony reception and orchestrated 150 multicultural events per year with 8,000 total attendees.

“We really elevated the multicultural center and the level of programming that had been offered before,” Garcia-Pusateri says.

Her efforts are still sparking cultural conversations and creating inclusive environments. For example, as a sister of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc., a multicultural Greek organization, she played a crucial role with other affiliated staff members in bringing the sorority to Missouri State University as its first multicultural Greek organization. During the fall 2019 semester, the undergraduate women who founded the MSU chapter hosted its new member presentation to a full house in the Plaster Student Union theater.

Now, she’s not only working on student-facing programs but also creating change on an executive level at Springfield Public Schools. The position is new because of its elevation in title and structure, with Garcia-Pusateri reporting directly to Superintendent John Jungmann.

“I’m really excited to create recommendations that are going to help direct us in the way that is going to make our district affirming to all our students,” she says, giving credit to others who have laid the groundwork for inclusivity and welcoming diversity in the district in prior years. “As the biggest district in Missouri, we should take the lead when it comes to not just innovation and technology, but transformation and how we engage our students in the classroom and engage our families in the community. I think it’s time that we start looking at more policies and practices that affirm all our students and their various identities.”

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