Staff Spotlight: Frank Garcia-Ornelas

Describe briefly what you do and how long have you been at Brown.
I have been at Brown virtually for a solid 15 days as of today March 22. Although I am still learning the specifics of my role I can say that I will be assisting the center with programing, providing holistic support to students, and creating a space that is equitable and inclusive for all who enter the center. As well as “other duties as assigned” of course J.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Honestly I initially would say being here at Brown would be my proudest professional accomplishment as you don’t grow up the way I grew up and aspire to attend a university, let alone work at one of the top universities. However I am equally as proud of being chosen as a fellow of the New Leadership of Academy (NLA) Fellows Program. The program was hosted by the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good at the University of Michigan. Myself and 19 other higher education professionals throughout the nation participated in a year-long leadership program that changed the expectations that surround leaders, leadership and leadership development across higher education. The learning strategies that informed the program’s curriculum were premised on a recognition that the demographic, democratic, and discursive foundations on which modern higher education has been built are changing. We participated in tailored programs and activities, which included online learning modules and discussions, an interactive case study simulation, written reflections, a week-long in person conference at the University of Michigan and coaching sessions throughout the Fellowship. It was really a transformative experience for me.

 What are your home office must-haves?
Post-it notes. I don’t know why but I have to have them even though they end up all over the place. Some artwork on my wall that is geared towards social justice. A diverse music playlist, some plants. Actually I had a real indoor avocado tree in my old office but apparently I don't have a green thumb like I thought I did because that poor tree didn’t last long in my care. Lastly, students. Supporting students is my passion and it is what I do best so having some visitors every now and then is alright with me as it gives me life and keeps me going when I am on empty. Oh chocolates and coffee are a must as well!

What work projects excite you?
I love to collaborate with people, especially students and other offices. I understand that I bring my own knowledge and creativity to my work but I am also limited by my own experiences. I love being able to bounce ideas off of other people and hear their ideas. I believe that we can achieve our outcomes better as a collective at times so why not take advantage of the amazing people that I work with.

Name something about you most people don't know.
I have what’s called a deuteranomaly color blindness. Basically I am unable to perceive green light. Meaning I often confuse mid-reds with mid-greens, blue-greens with grey and mid-pinks, bright greens with yellows, pale pinks with light grey, mid-reds with mid-brown and light blues with lilac. It’s funny because I majored in graphic art and I always had to ask if a color I was using was the color I thought it was. Good times!

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I would probably say I would have gone back to school to become a sociology professor. I never knew what sociology was until I worked at a university and talked with a few students. I am just fascinated with social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Doesn’t professor Garcia-Ornelas have a nice ring to it?!

Can you recommend a book that is important to you?
“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. It’s a book that shows me that we all have a purpose in this life, it’s just a matter of finding what that purpose is. The book follows Mr. Stevenson when he was a young lawyer and describes the immense challenges he faced while founding the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The EJI is a nonprofit law office in Montgomery, Alabama that is dedicated to defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned. I admire his courage and commitment to justice and equity within a flawed justice system.