Alicia Sanchez views equity and inclusion as goals needed to help Kansas thrive economically and culturally.
“When the quality of life and opportunities are good for all people, regardless of ethnicity and gender . . . we can grow the state and grow the economy,” she said. “It’s quality of life for all Kansans.”
Sanchez works toward those goals as assistant dean of students and director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Wichita State University. In May, she added to her commitment to public service with her senate-confirmed appointment to the Kansas Human Rights Commission as an at-large member.
KHRC’s mission is to prevent and eliminate discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Sanchez will serve a four-year term with an option for a second four-year term on the volunteer group.
“The (KHRC) staff hears all kinds of complaints or issues,” she said. “When those things come in, they send them out to commissioners like myself. I will make a determination based on the information gathered and facts of an investigation on a complaint filed of either ‘Probable or No Probable Cause’ to the commission.”
Her experiences at Wichita State and as the past board chair for the Wichita Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in addition to others, prompted her to expand her public service outside of Wichita.
“Public service is a part of who I am,” she said. “I want to be able to give back.”
Wichita State President Dr. Rick Muma watched Sanchez exhibit that enthusiasm during her eight years as director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She helped develop Diversity in Action, a training program for faculty and staff to explore diversity facets.
“Alicia strives to promote an all-inclusive environment for all campus stakeholders,” he said. “She works to ensure underrepresented students are provided opportunities for social development and academic success.”
Sanchez, who also serves as a City of Wichita District Two Advisory Board member, said she believes it is important to solve issues regarding access and equity throughout the state. At Wichita State, she helps students graduate on schedule and limit their debt. That can boost them to a good start to their career and post-college life, which helps Kansas’ economy. She views her role at KHRC in a similar manner.
“When I think about helping people and supporting people – diversity and inclusion and equity work doesn’t just exist on a college campus,” she said. “All of these things are happening in the workplace. It’s about making sure people are treated the way they need to be treated.”