Tony Garcia
Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in
Higher Education
Tony Garcia
reports, etc.— many of the foundational components of a diversity program. Today, I have the title of executive director of Diversity & Inclusion and special
advisor to the President’s Cabinet, and my role is largely forward facing and I partner closely with community organizations.
Away from Edgewood College, I consult on the topic of building inclusive organizations and assessing workforce climate.

Are there any new or stand out initiatives at Edgewood College that potential students should take note of?
A relatively new initiative (within the past year) was the introduction of inTuition. The inTuition Grant lowers Edgewood College tuition to $11,400 per year for
full-time undergraduate students that qualify for the grant. Students with a minimum of a 3.5 unweighted high school GPA and at least a 24 ACT qualify for the
award.

The inTuition grant benefits both in-state and out-of-state students, and undocumented students are also eligible for the award.
Credit for this initiative goes to Derek Johnson, former executive director of Undergraduate Admissions at Edgewood College, and I was honored to have
collaborated with him to ensure our DACA and undocumented students weren’t excluded from this opportunity.

What has been the most satisfying aspects of the work you do at Edgewood College?
All of us that work in higher education have at least one thing in common, the love for our students. One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is just being
part of their educational journey. I have met a lot of really great people while working at the College and it remains humbling to see a first year student
develop into a leader — not only as a student on our campus, but also as an alumni and community member.

What is an interesting fact about you that most people do not know?
I really don’t consider myself the most interesting person in the world, but one thing that many people do not know about me is that I love road cycling. I’m not
a big group rider, but give me a nice sunny day, a carbon-fiber bike, and back roads that aren’t too busy, and I’ll ride for hours.
Spending time in North Dakota and Minnesota, I’m also a diehard Minnesota Vikings football fan, but on Saturdays, I cheer for the Badgers.

Do you feel supported as a young professional of color in our community?
I have a solid support network in the Madison community — many friends and colleagues have seen me grow up here in Madison. I’m also blessed with a
very supportive family and a small circle of friends that I will always be able to count on.
I’m old enough where I don’t think I even consider myself a “young” professional anymore, and perhaps my circles reflect that. Of course I network with folks
my age, but I also have several elders in the community that serve as wise council to me and make up my personal board of directors.

What networks or organizations have you personally and professionally benefitted from here in Madison?  
I’ve benefited from several different organizations over the years, including the Latino Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP of Dane County, the PEOPLE
Program, LUCES, and SHRAC.

At the center of equity work is relationships and I believe that the many influencers in the city of Madison have helped either pave a path or open doors for me
— professionally and personally.

What current issues affecting our city are important to you and why?
Working in higher education, and understanding the income/wealth disparities in our community, I believe that accessibility and affordability to pursue a
college degree continue to adversely affect our city, especially first-generation, low-income students. I see a lot of young people pursue a higher education
and either stop-out due to financial constraints, or end up lost in the system attempting to navigate the world of academia.
I also firmly believe that the Madison culture of “Midwest nice” and undercurrents of “progressive” racism impacts this city greatly. Whether it’s the use of
racial epithets throughout local school districts, the (at times) unwelcoming working and learning environments at both four-year colleges in Madison, or
encounters with “allies” that leave you scratching your head… Madison is an interesting place.

What are some of the civic engagements you are involved in?
Over the years, I have been involved civically in a number of different ways, including volunteering my time on local non-profit boards, advocating for issues
I am most passionate about, donating dollars to support local organizations, and just showing up to do the hard work.

Over the last nine months, my priorities have shifted quite a bit, as I am learning how to balance being an active member in the community and a new father.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a young professional in our community?
When I first joined Edgewood College in 2010, I spent a lot of time building relationships with students, faculty and staff. I learned quickly that Edgewood
had/has a fairly large LGBTQ population (both in the student body and workforce) and I was made aware of several proposals to the administration to create
With the academic year in full swing this fall, there are many administrators behind the scenes working hard to
ensure student success.  As the executive director of Diversity & Inclusion and special advisor to the
President’s Cabinet at Edgewood College, Tony Garcia can tout playing an important role in one of the college's
goals of attracting and retaining the best and brightest students. Garcia is responsible for fostering an
environment where students feel included and valued as learners. Since arriving in the state in 2004, Garcia
now considers himself a “lifelong Badger” and his contributions to the higher education scene are noteworthy.  
Read more about Tony in this month's YP Spotlight.    

Where were you born and what brought you to Madison if you are not from here?
I was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and moved around quite a bit during my youth — living in Minnesota,
Washington State, South Carolina, before landing in Wisconsin. My older sister studied at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, and I followed in her footsteps and became a Madisonian and lifelong Badger in 2004.

What you are doing professionally in the workforce?
I joined the Edgewood College workforce in 2010 as an LTE inclusion coordinator charged with assisting
department chairs, deans and vice presidents with the development of department diversity plans. Over the
past nine years, as my responsibilities and role have grown, I have developed institutional assessment
surveys, first year bridge programs for students of color, college-wide diversity traditions and programs,
student scholarships, employee resource groups, bias reporting mechanisms, policies/procedures, annual
a dedicated LGBTQ Student Center. Last fall, I began working in
partnership with our former college president, Scott Flanagan, to garnish
support for a center. After a couple of months of discussion, I secured
presidential support to convene a committee of faculty and staff to begin
drafting a formal space proposal.


The committee met several times during the fall and spring semester and
we developed a nine page research-based proposal that had six inquiry
questions. After presenting the space proposal to several college
committees and leadership groups, we had the green light and a dedicated
space.
This past summer, the Division of Student Development began renovating
a former office suite to make way for our new Queer Student Center.
Shaunda Brown, director of Student Inclusion and Involvement, played an
instrumental role in getting the space ready for students.


This is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments at Edgewood
College, and put bluntly, it is because of over a decade of LGBTQ students,
faculty, staff, and allies advocating for a space on campus.

What advice would you give to young professionals of color that are new
to Madison
?
I have three pieces of advice for any young professionals (or grown
professionals):
1). Challenge yourself in meaningful ways and find purpose in your
vocation. Understand that this isn’t easy and it will require a lot of hard
work, but once you find your calling, everything begins to make a lot more
sense.  
2). Create your own personal board of directors. Don’t be afraid to step
outside of your circle and network like crazy.  My circle includes young
people, folks my age, and elders of the community. I get balanced advice
and I am challenged constantly to grow and think bigger.


3). Have fun. Life can be so overwhelming at times, and it’s equally
important to laugh, practice self-care, and do what makes you happy.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your work and civic activities?
Outside of work, I spend a lot of time on my road bike, putting in thousands
of miles throughout the year. I love listening to music and find myself
waking up Friday morning eager to press the play button on new albums.
Lastly, I enjoy spending time with my family. At 34, I’m still trying to figure
out what it means to be a father, a husband, a good brother and son, but I
know that I have some amazing role models to watch, learn from, and
guide me along the way.  

Trammell is an attorney and works in government.