Kathleen Wong(Lau)

University Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) Named Administrator of the Year

  • BY Kimberly Hawkins
  • April 24, 2024

The California State Student Association has named University Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) the 2023-24 Administrator of the Year.

According to CSSA Executive Director Joe Nino, this award signifies the deep appreciation and respect the student body holds for Wong(Lau)’s visionary leadership and the tangible differences she has made in their academic and personal development. 

In a letter, Nino wrote to Wong(Lau), “Your unwavering commitment to student success, inclusivity, and innovation has not only transformed CSUEB but has also set a benchmark for educational leadership statewide. The ' Administrator of the Year' award, driven by student votes, underscores the powerful connection and positive influence you have within our community. It reflects the collective voice of students who have experienced firsthand the benefits of your dynamic and compassionate leadership.”

Cal State East Bay ASI President Nolan Calara was given one minute for a speech to nominate Wong Lau and convince the 22 other CSSA student leaders that she was the clear choice. 

“When she won, I was very honored and blessed to have someone like Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau) on our campus,” said Calara. “As ASI President, I get to share the success of CSUEB students, staff and faculty in a systemwide, local, state and federal level. A small victory like this shows how great CSUEB does in making an impact on the community.”

“To be recognized by students for what I do as a University Diversity Officer means so much to me personally because my professional work in diversity, equity and inclusion is my life's calling,” Kathleen Wong(Lau). “And being here at Cal State East Bay, my alma mater, and in the Cal State system has been my career dream.”

Wong(Lau) came to Cal State East Bay in 2023, but she was no stranger. She received a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the university. She also grew up in the area having graduated from Hayward’s Mt. Eden High School. 

"I had the privilege of serving on the search committee for Dr. Wong(Lau), and it is no secret how great of an impact she has made throughout her career as well as her time in joining Cal State East Bay,” said ASI Executive Director James Carroll. “Even through her short time on campus, she is already making connections and partnering with others to make change happen on campus. It is no surprise that our students also are seeing that work; thus, CSSA is recognizing a true champion for change!"

Wong(Lau) says every experience — from being a first-generation student to serving as executive director for the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity — has led her to where she is now. Her student-centric approach is informed by what she has learned and by the relationships she has built. 

“I have multiple generations of students and mentees whose knowledge, development and leadership have humbled me, taught me and helped us grow mutually,” said Wong(Lau). “My approach is to help students see the brilliance they carry that they may not even see in themselves. Through my student-centered approach, I hope students are able to grow their voices, develop their intellectual and emotional empathy for others and develop their capacity to work with others whose viewpoints and life experiences limit their ability to see the lives of those who have been historically excluded. It is the current generation of students and young people who are holding us accountable for climate change justice, for example, in ways that are intersectional on race, gender, and economic status. They are holding the world accountable. I have so much hope in a sometimes horrific world when I work with our students.”

Students, including Calara, say Wong(Lau) is paving a new path for them and educating by example. 

“It is very important having someone like Dr. Wong(Lau) because she represents first-generation students who want to make an impact in their communities, such as myself,” said Calara. “Hearing her stories such as being a Co-Principal Investigator on a 3.5 million dollar grant for creating an AANHPI Behavioral Health Center of Excellence is very empowering. As an Asian American, it is very important to support my community by providing leadership and empowerment.  She was awarded Top 25 Women in US Higher Education for transformative change through her adversity and that is something that I aspire to be in the future.”