The Expanding the Bench® Team is thrilled to announce that as the ETB initiative is growing, so are we! Meet our new project coordinator, Nancy Vang.
Eager to make a difference through her career, after graduation Nancy Vang entered the field of education. In her role as an enrollment specialist, she served first-generation college students and students of color so that they could thrive both in academia at the University of Minnesota and abroad. Nancy was also driven to enter the political arena, bringing her passion for community support to her role as a marketing director. In that position, she worked for a candidate on St. Paul, Minnesota’s East Side — an often “forgotten and marginalized” and chronically underfunded community. However, as equity-focused as her career had been, Nancy still felt that she could use her skillset to expand her work even further. We caught up with Nancy to learn about her unique lens on equity work.
Why did an equity-focused role call to you?
During my time in education, particularly higher education, so much of my work was to support college students and find opportunities that would help them excel in college and beyond. I think what I continued seeing being a staff member of color in a predominantly white institution and working with minority and marginalized student populations, was that there were still so many gaps in not only higher-education systems but systems as a whole on so many different levels. I continued to see that despite my direct work being dedicated to improving that for students. And so, I think at the point I was in my career working in the study abroad office at the University of Minnesota, I just felt like my values and my organization’s values became more mismatched over the years.
What unique skill do you think sets you apart from others?
Not only my organizational leadership but collaboration. Whether I was working in education or politics, I found other allies who also cared deeply about equity work. When I was working with the East Side St. Paul community that really cared about making a change in the community, collaboration was a really huge underlying piece for me in all of the work. I know I can’t do it alone and it’s so important to find the community to be able to support one another and to be able to do this together. And so, I think that is the underlying skill I have and thrive on and want to continue striving for especially in equity work, because it takes people power to do this work.
This excerpt was taken from Nancy’s full interview with Change Matrix. Read the full blog post here.