Keynote Speaker

Dr. Manuel Alejandro Pérez (he|him|his)

Interim Assistant Vice President for Equity & Community Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for San Francisco State University

Dr. Manuel Alejandro Pérez is first a son, brother, hermanx, tio, padrino, and esposo. Beyond this critical and important time with familia, Manuel has also committed over 15 years of service and work experience in the California State University (CSU), University of California (UC), California Community College, and private university systems in California.  He currently serves as the Interim Assistant Vice President for Equity & Community Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer for San Francisco State University. In this role, Manuel leads and supports campus climate and diversity initiatives to close the educational equity gap at the University, which includes management and leadership of identity-specific cultural centers. He is also part-time faculty in the Performing Arts & Social Justice, Latin American Studies, and International & Multicultural Education programs at the University of San Francisco. In his recent teaching experience, Manuel launched the first-ever “Folklórico, Danza, and Culture” course at the University of San Francisco as a way to teach about social justice, artivism, and identity through dance.

Prior to his SF Bay Area work experience, Manuel served as the Dean of Student Development and Dean of Equity Programs & Pathways for American River College (ARC). Over the course of his eight years at ARC, Manuel was responsible for equity and student success initiatives for underserved communities, student leadership and engagement programs, six Federal TRIO grants, the development of guided pathways for feeder middle and high schools to the college, and more. As a California community college transfer student from the Los Rios Community College District, Manuel enrolled in courses at both Cosumnes River College and Sacramento City College. He is proud to have served as a Student Services administrator in the same system that first introduced him to the possibilities of transfer in the first place.

Manuel received his Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Ethnic Studies from Santa Clara University, and his Master’s degree in Communication Studies from San Diego State University. He completed his doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco in International & Multicultural Education. Manuel is a scholar practitioner whose passion for performance, artivism, and story is grounded in his 23 years of experience with Mexican danza and folklore. His research explores testimonios of identity, community, and agency within social justice cultural performance, specifically through traditional Mexican folklórico.

People have stories to tell, and organizations that actively engage the community in the pursuit of justice and that value the lived experiences of people are what motivate Manuel the most. Manuel considers himself a scholar practitioner with a commitment to innovative practices that inspire imagination and strengthen inclusive spaces in our communities. He credits his passion for community engagement on his upbringing as a first generation son from a migrant, immigrant, and Spanish-speaking household. His passion has led him to co-found a non-profit organization that centers the experience of Mexican history, art, and movement in a traditional Mexican folklórico company named Grupo Folklórico Los Alteños. He also serves on various other Boards of Directors, including boards for Grupo Folklórico Los Alteños, SF Pride, and the University of San Francisco Alumni Board. His presentations, trainings, and discussions in education speak to this dynamic of engagement because Manuel believes in the power of transformational change and leadership that is rooted in and for the community.