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Blog

Yo Soy Chicano

Our former colleague, Cassandra Staff, created incredible momentum around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This blog is a continuation of that momentum, a new initiative by Miller Center for our team to tell their personal and diverse stories, encouraging ourselves to bring our whole self to work. But this is only a small part of the whole picture. Our internal work continues to bring DEI into our daily lives — implementing policy change, exploring our data in more meaningful ways, and carving out a space for diverse voices to be heard.

Our Brave Space conversations were launched in February and provide an outlet for storytelling with a DEI lens. The following prompts help Miller Center team members shape their own stories in preparation for sharing with the group.

    • “I identify as ____.”
    • What was one of the most significant experiences of your youth, and how did that shape you?
    • “I got where I am today because I ____.”
    • What is your personal brand? (Outside of work, what defines you?)
    • What is something surprising that we don’t know about you?
    • What can Miller Center do to help you bring your whole self to work?

Here is my story.

 

“Yo soy Chicano, tengo color, Puro Chicano, hermano con honor. Cuando me dicen que hay revolución, Defiendo a mi raza con mucho valor.” —YO SOY CHICANO LOS ALVARADOS (MANUEL, EMILIA, AND RAMÓN ALVARADO) From El Movimiento Chicano, LP, 1973.

I’m fortunate to have been raised by a family that placed Chicano culture as a pillar in our household. What is a Chicano you ask? “Chicano culture is a complex web of sub-cultures and movements. It is the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. It is the Chicano lowrider community. It is the Chicano art community. It is Chicano fashion. It is Chicano tattoos. It is pachuco sub-culture.” —Brandon Loran Maxwell. It’s this, much more, and everything in between. Cheech Marin has a really great breakdown of what it means to be Chicano.

But more importantly, I’ve realized over the years that this pillar sat on an incredibly strong foundation. A foundation that holds fast to the legacy of the Chicano movement, and stronger still, embedded in our rich family ancestry in Mexico. This foundation is what has allowed me to be unapologetically Chicano and accept everything that comes along with it. In retrospect, this foundation has permeated every pathway of my meandering journey.

Now that I am older, I am more clearly able to realize the sacrifices of my grandparents. Their perseverance through harsh cultural insensitivities as Mexican immigrants has granted me the freedom to be who I am without fear of judgment. And regardless of the obstacles they faced, they made it a point to give back to their community. From serving in World War II to creating social change marching alongside Cesar Chavez, I have much to be proud of and still push forward to create my own lasting impact in the spirit of giving back.

Outside of work, well it’s not that much different while I’m at work. I am a creator, artist, dad, and archivist of Chicano media. Having graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in art hugely influenced my artistic practice. It is where I discovered my voice and expression of my cultural identity through various media. Fast forward, I am now able to give my creative perspective and skill back to SCU as an employee supporting the great work that Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship does. As a Chicano artist, not only is it imperative that I continue to create culturally relevant work, but I have a personal drive to engage the community and preserve my heritage. To this end, I have embarked on a creative journey working with San Jose youth and adults exploring topics of lowrider history, New Media artists from diverse backgrounds, principles of engineering, technology, and art, and mixing all of this together to create sound reactive artworks. You can learn more at 408art.com.

In addition, I have started to digitally archive Chicano and lowrider print media in the name of open access so that future generations can easily access, explore, and learn about the rich history of the lowrider culture.

Taking on DEI work is a layer of my job I never expected, but I am forever grateful to be a part of an amazing team that embraces change and that seeks to carve out important spaces for our voices to be heard. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, and stay tuned for more of these over the coming newsletters.

C/S

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Introducing Millersocent.org

As I hit “publish” on the final blog, check it off of my to-do list, I sigh with relief and excitement knowing that in just a handful of days Miller Center will transition from a tired website to a contemporary, organized, user-focused web interface.

This isn’t my first rodeo rebuilding websites from the ground up, fortunately, having previously managed local government websites for the tenth-largest city in the U.S. As the trope goes, government websites are some of the worst on the web, riddled with legal verbiage, acronyms, broken links, unreadable scanned PDFs,… The list goes on. How can organizations focused on serving residents be so awful at communicating with them? As luck would have it, understanding and undertaking multiple government website redesigns would prove to be a valuable asset for me down the road.

Analyze. Discover. Re-Think.

A complete redesign is a massive project that can take months (sometimes years). They take up huge amounts of resources and if not done strategically, can be rife with pitfalls. Creating a clear organizational structure for our content was a top priority, along with a design refresh, of course (more on that later). Employing data-driven tools to gauge our user activity was our first step to understand our stakeholder needs. Our desire for more organized content forced us to think strategically through a user-focused analytic process, and what better place to draw experience from than the process used to redesign government websites whose sole purpose is to prioritize resident communication.

What do we want? Easy to find content! When do we want it? Now!

Through the use of specialized tools and outreach strategies, we were able to see in real-time where users visited most and their thought process by:

    • tracking mouse clicks over a period of months
    • analyzing years of page analytics
    • assessing call to action success rates
    • holding live usability tests
    • launching surveys
    • performing card sorting activities
    • analyzing user process maps

This gave us deep and invaluable insight into our visitors’ wants and needs. Oftentimes they’d been led astray from the content they aimed to find on our site by misleading links and redundancies. The goal of having users find the appropriate information within one or two clicks is the gold standard of good design and drove much of our organizational content structure, aesthetic, and calls-to-actions.

Step 4: Mix All Ingredients Together.

Having worked with a local design firm to help establish the look and feel, we came up with a contemporary design that will last for years to come while amplifying our mission and vision.

Some notable features include:

    1. Santa Clara University Center of Distinction is prioritized throughout the site
    2. Our bold color palette blocks sections of content
    3. Content is written in a straightforward manner that allows for better legibility and  translation
    4. Users are presented with multiple pathways to self identify with content relevant to them
    5. Accessibility features have been implemented to promote user equity
    6. We’ve reduced our page count from over 90 to fewer than 30 pages of specific content, increasing the rate of searchability
    7. Our newsroom is segmented by intuitive categories of blogs, published research, and resources for our original content. Once buried, now it’s a cornerstone of our website content.
    8. Use of proper heading and content tags helps with SEO and ADA readability
    9. Our students’ accomplishments and action research is housed in an easy to use page with individual projects highlighting all of their hard work
    10. Pages and articles now dynamically load related content that allows cross-promotion of content and initiatives

Our makeover has been a passionate effort over several months with contributions from design, program, marketing, and sales teams. We poured a lot of heart into it. We hope you love it as much as we do. Let us know what you think of the new site and take our quick survey.