Texas A&M AgriLife’s mission is to be responsive to all Texans. We strive to improve the lives and environments of every Texan through education, research, extension and service. To accomplish our mission and fulfill our land-grant purpose, we must create an environment that welcomes all perspectives and prioritizes diversity and inclusion across our programs and activities.
AgriLife’s Commitment to Inclusive Excellence
We know that the greatest challenges facing us are incredibly complex and will require diverse teams who can work collaboratively and innovatively. We are proud of our progress to date and know that our work is not done. A few important initiatives include:
Increase diversity among our research community.
In a collaborative effort with the Texas A&M Office of Diversity, AgriLife will launch a new postdoctoral fellowship program to supplement the existing programs offered through Accountability, Climate, Equity and Scholarships (ACES) Fellows Program.
Offer further educational opportunities in cultural competency.
With the guidance of the Department of Multicultural Services, AgriLife will create a new certificate program in cultural competency. It will integrate programs, courses and service learning to help students prepare for participation in the modern global economy.
Encourage civil dialogue surrounding racial issues.
In a joint effort with Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, AgriLife trained the first cohort of AgriLife Extension employees to help communities engage in civil dialogues around racial issues as part of the Coming Together for Racial Understanding Initiative from the Southern Rural Development Center and the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy.
Work towards improving the health of underserved populations.
AgriLife launched an AgriLife Research Seed Grant Initiative in social and behavioral sciences. The priority areas for this research initiative include a focus on reaching and improving the health of underserved populations.
Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board
Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board members include:
Mayerland Harris | MBA from Texas A&M University
Mayerland Harris is an influential leader, speaker and innovator with an in-depth knowledge of Human Resources to provide unique solutions to her business leaders. As Group VP of Talent at H-E-B, her teams are accountable for designing, sustaining and enhancing all talent efforts to create a global talent strategy for the complete life-cycle of a Partner.
“I hope to enrich the educational experience at Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. We learn the most from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.”
Kalyn is a Senior Manager with ATKG, LLP. Kalyn’s expertise includes trusts and estate planning, real estate, ranches, and non-profits. She loves working with family groups and closely held businesses and often serves as speaker on estate planning for local and regional organizations.
“As a part of this board, I hope to help Texas A&M AgriLife further cultivate a sense of belonging among all, regardless of their backgrounds, traits, and experiences.”
As an Analytical leader, turning consumer insights and agricultural knowledge into action for today’s food system energizes Roots & Legacies co-founder, J.J. Jones. With a strong foundation in diversified agribusiness, he continues to enhance his communication and leadership skills while working in over 30 countries on behalf of farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses.
“As a member of the Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board, my goal is to help develop strategies to increase diversity recruitment of potential students and staff.”
James “JT” Reynolds
After serving in the U.S. Army, JT worked for the National Park Service as an Environmental Education Specialist. JT completed Park Ranger School and went on to hold numerous protection park ranger and regional office positions while serving on several agency recruiting and diversity task forces. Before retiring in 2009 as the superintendent of Death Valley National Park, he developed the Death Valley ROCKS program.
“As a member of the Texas A&M AgriLife Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board, J.J. looks forward to helping affect positive change in the agriculture industry and rural America so all young people can pursue a degree/career they are passionate about while being their authentic self. “
Dr. Rebecca Seguin-Fowler
Rebecca is an award-winning Associate Director for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Chief Scientific Officer for Healthy Texas, Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, and Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas with an expertise in intervention program development for rural and minority populations, food systems and food access interventions, civic engagement to catalyze policy, systems, and environment change, and dissemination and implementation research.
“As a member of the Advisory Board, I hope to share my own experiences as a first generation college student as well as more than two decades of work in diverse, underserved communities in a way that will enable us to promote and achieve the highest level of excellence in inclusion and diversity across AgriLife and beyond.”
Raymond David Vela
Raymond has held various roles including Deputy Director for Operations, director of the Texas Child Support Program, superintendent at four national park units, and as a Chair on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House before retiring in 2020. In addition, he served as a special agent with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Inspector General’s Office, special assistant for Hispanic affairs to the late U.S. Rep. George Thomas “Mickey” Leland, and federal investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“In my 38 years of public service, I have sought to promote and maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce and workplace for public servants and strategic partners. I want to utilize my experiences and abilities to help attract, build, and inspire the next generation of leaders and public servants. In addition, to help promote diversity and inclusion values and community.”
Jorge A. Bermudez is the president and CEO of the Byebrook Group, a small firm dedicated to advisory work in the financial services industry. Mr. Bermudez began his career with Citibank in 1975 where he held various positions including Head of Corporate Banking Risk North America, Head of Credit Policy Latin America, and Chief Risk Officer Citigroup. Mr. Bermudez currently serves as director/trustee for Moody’s Corporation, AllianceBernstein Funds, Texas A&M Foundation, and Community Foundation of the Brazos Valley.
“The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provides educational opportunities for Texas and the nation to deliver graduates who go on to solve our country’s food and health challenges. As our state’s/country’s demographics change, COALS must deliver excellent educational opportunities to students of all races, genders, beliefs and economic backgrounds. I hope this board will deliver recommendations to help accomplish this goal.”
Christina Williams is a current Agricultural Science, Texas A&M University student. Following her degree completion, she plans to continue her studies in the Department of Agriculture Leadership, Education, and Communications to to aid in removing the stigma around inclusive classrooms for students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She currently serves as an officer for Aggie ACHIEVEMates and the Collegiate FFA.
“As a part of the Texas A&M Agrilife Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board, I hope to play a role in promoting diversity and inclusion across campus, as well as work towards improving inclusive efforts made by Texas A&M Agrilife. I believe that my knowledge will help further establish the welcoming and diverse environment that serves a staple feature of Texas.”
Warren serves as the Senior Lead for Government and Industry Affairs for the U.S. Southern Region. He is responsible for state-level advocacy, public policy and government-related business collaboration initiatives. Warren possesses nearly two decades of experience in state and federal government working on agricultural issues. He is currently managing state and national relations for Corteva with organizations such as the Texas Association of Manufactures, Southern Crop Protection Association, Kansas Argi-Retailers Association, Alabama Agri-Business Association, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association and National and Texas Sorghum associations.
“I look forward to assisting Texas A&M and its system with designing an inclusion, diversity and equality structure that is comprehensive based on cultural and societal intelligence. Furthermore, I would like to create a plan that continues to place Texas A&M first in class in this space and serves a road map for other academic systems. We must hold a mirror to our past to create pathway to a future for all. “
Dr. Roel Lopez
Dr. Roel Lopez is the Director of the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute and a Professor in the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences. He has served over 25 years in the natural resource and land management fields within academia, federal and state agencies, and private industry. He’s also served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense-Installation and Environment and continues to work with the Department of Defense on various national and regional natural resource and environmental challenges. His research focuses on endangered and fragmented wildlife populations, sustainability of military lands, and rural land trends and demographics.
“In serving on the Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Board, my goal is to assist AgriLife in mirroring the state’s demographic population within its faculty, staff and student body, working towards offering all communities opportunities and service via the Land Grant mission.”