Pride Month Panel: Leading with Pride

Pride Month Panel: Leading with Pride

pride_2022_panel.jpegUTSA faculty, staff, and students will share their leadership experiences and how their identity and experiences guide their leadership.

The virtual event is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22, 2022 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

For Zoom link please visit Rowdylink link below.


Presented by the Multicultural Student Center for Equity & Justice and the UTSA Civic Engagement Center

About the Panel

Kimiya Factory (she/her)

kimiya-factory.jpgKimiya Factory is the Executive Director of Black Freedom Factory, an organization that encourages data-driven activism, redefines professionalism for BIPOC LGBTQIA+ communities and youth, and dismantles racial inequity across the state of Texas. She also leads and is the co-founder of the #ChangeRapeCulture movement, which challenges Title IX policies regarding structural violence and sexual misconduct at institutions across San Antonio, and she is the Central Texas Regional Organizer for Black Voters Matter. Kimiya is actively engaged in many nationwide grassroots efforts that support vulnerable populations and has been a recurring political commentator for CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, The Grio and been featured in The New York Times, as well as local Texas news media.

Jalen McKee-Rodriguez (he/his/him)

jalen-mckee-rodriguez.jpgJalen McKee-Rodriguez is an educator who has committed to serving and empowering the community through representative policy-making. As the son of two veterans, and the oldest of three children, he was raised to value service to others, empathy, and integrity. Two years after graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BA in Communication, Jalen decided to continue living by family principles by working at Sam Houston High School as a high school math teacher. Through working closely with students and families in District 2, it became clear how heavily the environment impacts a child’s future -- how their housing, access to transportation, and access to recreational activities plays a huge role in these critical years of their lives. These observations are what inspired Jalen to run, and to make a difference for students and their families outside of the classroom. The Councilmember knows good representation is key for good policy - and listening is what is necessary for good representation, which will be done on the dais and in the city for District 2.

Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez was elected to serve District 2 on June 5, 2021 and began his term on June 15, 2021.

Jonny Garza Villa (they/them)

jonny-garza-villa.jpgJonny is a product of the Great State of Texas, born and raised near and along the Gulf Coast and currently lives in San Antonio. They are a Sagittarius sun, Capricorn everything else, an avid supporter of Hot Cheetos and cheese, and a breakfast taco aficionado.

Jonny is an author of contemporary young adult novels inspired by their own Tejane & Chicane and queer identities including their debut novel Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun, a Pura Belpré Honor Book, a Finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters' Jean Flynn Award for Best Young Adult Book, and a Kirkus Best YA Fiction of 2021 selection, and Ander and Santi Were Here, expected early 2023.

When not writing, Jonny enjoys reading, playing Dungeons and Dragons (bard main) and Super Smash Bros. (Inkling main), cooking, going to concerts, listening to Selena, caring for their many cacti children, and spending hours on airline websites, pondering on where they might venture off to next.

Jonny is a member of Las Musas, a collective of traditionally published Latina authors and Latine authors of marginalized genders writing children's and young adult literature. They have participated in numerous festivals including the Latinx KidLit Book Festival, Pride Book Fest, Bronx Book Fest, Border Book Bash, and YALLfest.

Elena Guajardo (she/her)

elena-guajardo.jpgElena Guajardo was elected to San Antonio’s City Council District 7 on June 7, 2005. Elena brought her unique combination of experiences in small business, corporate America, the non-profit sector and training as a social worker to City Council.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Elena grew up in the family’s grocery store, Guajardo Grocery and Meat Market. As a young girl, Elena worked in the family store learning the value and rewards of hard work and challenges of small business.

Elena is a proud graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. After high school, Elena earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree majoring in marketing from the University of Texas at Austin (1974). In 2000, Elena completed her Masters in Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University (member Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society Delta Chapter). In 2001, Elena graduated from the Community Leadership Institute.

Elena became the first open gay candidate to win City Council seat in June, 2005. On City Council, Elena served on the Quality of Life and Intergovernmental Affairs committees. She was a strong advocate for working families and protecting the environment. For her commitment to environmental issues the Sierra Club awarded Elena as an “Environmental Hero”. The Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) selected Elena the “Elected Public Official of the Year” in recognition of her dedication to supporting the needs of the community. Elena served one term on Council.


Dr. Rachel Cruz (she/her)

rachel-cruz.pngA native of Seguin, Texas, Dr. Rachel Yvonne Cruz’s love for music began at a very early age--inspired by her mother, Mary, who availed a variety of musical styles and genres. According to her mother, Rachel was singing before she could speak.

Cruz earned the degree Bachelor of Arts/Music from the University of Notre Dame (ND) in Indiana, under the direction of Georgine Resick, Soprano, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (UT), under the tutelage of Gilda Cruz- Romo, Soprano and the late Martha Deatherage, Soprano and Professor of Voice. Cruz has been a finalist at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competition and was the winner of the 1996 Roy Crane Award for Creativity in the Arts at UT. Cruz holds teaching certificates in Secondary Music and English as a Second Language. Her teaching career began at Fulmore Middle School in Austin, where she founded Austin Independent School Districts' first middle school mariachi ensemble and taught at Laredo’s Vidal M. Treviño School of Communication and Art.