Professionals of Color Coalition: Working Toward Diversity

By: Kylie Ramos

Though the Professionals of Color Coalition is one of the newest organizations on campus, its members have set high goals for progressing diversity efforts at Chico State and are determined to achieve them.

Katie Peterson, vice president of communications for POCC, describes the coalition as a group of faculty and staff dedicated to recognizing, uplifting, and moving forward the diversity efforts on campus.

“We are looking for professionals of color and allies who are passionate and committed to forwarding diversity on the Chico State campus,” she said. “We want to bring together people who are looking for a space to be passionate about diversity, creating change, taking action, and being able to connect with people on a deeper level.”

The foundation of POCC is the idea that in order for students to thrive on campus, a support system and a family-like atmosphere is necessary. As Kaitlyn Baumgartner, vice president of finance, explains, the coalition strives to form relationships across all university departments. It works to provide mentors to guide students of diverse backgrounds into their chosen careers.

“POCC provides mentorship and a sense of connection to students of diversity by being a resource to them,” said Baumgartner.

POCC Aurora Soto, Kaitlyn Baumgartner, Malcolm McLemore, Lupe Jimenez, and Katie Peterson congregate to spread the word about Professionals of Color Coalition. Photo by Oscar Aquino.

Malcolm McLemore, president of POCC, said its focus has two parts. The first is getting people to come to Chico State, and the second is getting them to stay by making sure they feel connected within the community.

He said ensuring that people feel connected is challenging, and that struggle is the initial reason POCC was founded.

“As faculty and staff, we have to make sure that we model the behavior we want to see in students in terms of reaching out and being connected to other faculty and staff,” said McLemore.

He explains that when students feel connected, they are more likely to graduate. POCC wants to be a resource for students, faculty, and staff to get connected and stay connected. The coalition works hard to reach out to the campus community first, instead of waiting for the community to make the first move.

McLemore said it’s important to understand that POCC is not a replacement for any other group on campus-it is an addition to other groups on campus.

Black Faculty and Staff Association, Chicano/Latino Council, and LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Association are some other Chico State organizations working to progress diversity. Some POCC members belong to several of these organizations at once, enabling them to work together.

Faculty, staff, administration, and students across campus are noticing that the campus is becoming more diverse every year. Though Chico State is making large strides toward becoming more diverse, McLemore said there is still a great amount of work that must be done.

“As the student body becomes more diverse, so will its needs,” he said.

POCC members said the coalition is still growing and trying to find its place on campus.

In the future, McLemore said POCC hopes to link senior professionals of color with new professionals to share their wisdom within their field.

To learn more or connect with POCC, please email at