New Staff Strengthens Diversity

The Office of Diversity welcomes three new staff members from the Office of Public and Government Affairs (OGPA) to the team – Karen Coicou, Miguel Alba, Keith Lewis and Gabriela Peña.

Karen Coicou most recently served as Executive Assistant to the Senior Director of Public and Government Affairs. While providing organizational and administrative support, she also facilitated campus-wide projects at UIC and collaborations with external entities on behalf of OGPA. Karen is one of the esteemed veterans of UIC. Her longstanding service has provided stability to both east and west campus operations, including several Associate and Vice Chancellor offices. She will be continuing her role as Executive Assistant to the Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Diversity.

Miguel Alba served as Director of Bilingual Multicultural Communications and Marketing, where he helped create in-language content on UIC research, grants, news and projects for multicultural stakeholders and the media. Throughout his career in public affairs, Miguel has represented household names such as Jewel-Osco, AT&T and the offices of Mayor Richard M. Daley. As Senior Director of Community Relations and External Communications, Miguel will develop key relationships with external community organizations and will lead the development and implementation of partnerships and alliances with local corporations, Chicago area chambers of commerce and related entities. He will also contribute to the development and delivery of an integrated, ongoing Diversity and Community Engagement messaging strategy to internal and external constituencies.

As the Director of Community Relations, Keith Lewis focused on promoting community awareness and cultivating partnerships with external organizations. As an alumnus of the Latino Policy Forum’s Multicultural Leadership Academy, Keith’s outstanding body of work is deeply embedded in Chicago’s community networks, having held positions at Heartland Alliance, CPS, United Way of Metro Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, Columbia College, and DePaul University. As Senior Director of Community Collaboration, Keith will create and enhance key relationships with external constituencies and will lead the development and implementation of the plan for UIC community hubs in Auburn Gresham and North Lawndale.

Gabriela Peña will continue as Associate Director of UIC PACT, formerly known as the UIC COVID-19 Community Engagement Strike Force, to build upon the work and strengthen her ties to community partnerships and coordinate grant activity in tandem with the Office of Community Collaboration and other units within Diversity. This work will continue the OCC and UIC PACT goal of establishing robust infrastructure at UIC to equitably address community needs and to align UIC faculty and students with community partners creating mutually beneficial alliances.

With this new staff, the Office of Diversity plans to continue developing its partnerships and contributions to UIC and the greater Chicago community.