Associate director of Oswego's Office of International Education and Programs, Alvarado was one of 14 SUNY leaders announced in January as part of the 2019 class for the institute, which is charged with developing and supporting the next generation of executive-level Hispanic/LatinX leaders across the SUNY system.
"We do have a shortage of Latinos in leadership positions," said Alvarado, who came to SUNY Oswego in 2001 as a study-abroad program coordinator. "I'm very humbled by this leadership development opportunity and eager to represent the interests of Latino leaders throughout SUNY, as well as the college."
Alvarado already has begun working with the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) and the other fellows. Meetings at SUNY's SAIL (Strategic, Academic and Innovative Leadership) retreat in the Carey Institute in Rensselaer recently kicked off an intensive six-month experience of in-person and independent learning activities designed to support the fellows' leadership growth.
“New York is strongest when we celebrate our diversity, and with programs like the Hispanic Leadership Institute, we can support some of the most dedicated leaders across the SUNY system,” Governor Cuomo said. “Congratulations to the incoming class of Fellows who will no doubt take the skills and knowledge they gain through this program to make a positive impact throughout the state.”
That's the goal for Alvarado and SUNY Oswego, said Joshua McKeown, associate provost for international education and programs.
"I nominated her for this prestigious and worthwhile program based on many years as her colleague and supervisor," McKeown wrote in a letter of support for Alvarado's fellowship. "Lizette is a hard-working and conscientious person. She believes in herself and the power of both education and study abroad. She has risen steadily over her career to the position of associate director in my department, and this opportunity is coming at an ideal time for her."
McKeown noted Alvarado has not previously had the kind of leadership development experience that HLI provides, though she has demonstrated the capacity to lead for years, including developing the college's much-honored "I, Too, Am Study Abroad" program and other efforts to diversify the study-travel population and their experiences.
"I would like for her to grow and develop professionally so as to help SUNY Oswego and our department, and also take that next step personally toward becoming an ever-stronger leader and colleague," he wrote.
Though she has experience in administration and supervision, Alvarado said her initial encounter with the fellows showed that "this experience is more personal. You have to dig deeper to define who you are and where you want to go both personally and professionally."
In her role at Oswego, Alvarado coordinates semester and summer programs in Ghana, Japan, Latin America, South America and Spain. She also provides leadership in the campus' effort that provides opportunities for more than 400 students to participate in over 80 academic programs in 30 countries.
The daughter of migrant workers, Alvarado was born in the United States, but her parents returned to their native Puerto Rico before coming back to live in the Fulton area when she was 13. "I had no words in English," said Alvarado. "An ESL (English as a second language teacher) helped us out. It took me a year to a year and half before I felt comfortable speaking."
Alvarado went on to graduate from Oswego High School, SUNY Cortland and, with a master's degree in cultural anthropology, from University at Buffalo.
The HLI offers six- and 12-month fellowships to SUNY Hispanic/LatinX faculty and staff in leadership positions throughout SUNY, including provosts, chief academic officers, chief business officers and others.
The fellows will attend a mid-term gathering in Albany this April and a closing retreat at SUNY's Executive Leadership Academy in New York City in June. Additionally, they will attend group videoconferences to discuss articles and emerging issues, and undertake a scholarly/applied-learning project that supports their development as a leader in higher education.
For more information about international education and programs at SUNY Oswego, visit oswego.edu/international.