Ginger joined the Office of Diversity in August 2022. She previously worked in the Plemmons Student Union as the Information Desk & Ticket Sales Manager and PSU Art Manager. She is also one of several certified Koru Mindfulness instructors on campus. She enjoys painting, reading, and watching Marvel movies with her family.
Director of DEI Educational Development and Campus Climate Strategies
Jax Lastinger (they/them) joined the Office of Diversity in February of 2023. Previously, Jax served as a Residence Life Coordinator in University Housing at App State. They have a Masters of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelors in Anthropology and Gender Studies from McGill University. Jax grew up in West Virginia, and loves living and working in Appalachia, the region they call home. They enjoy spending time with their dog, Framboise, and cat, Valentin, as well as knitting and baking in their free time.
Faculty Directors of Communities
The Faculty Directors of Communities (FDC) role was established in the summer of 2022. The FDCs work with the Chief Diversity Officer to co-create community partnerships serving within Western North Carolina. They advise and support the work of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion through the lens of their respective community identities by leading and developing professional development experiences, fostering conversation around campus, and managing campus climate issues and special projects.
Dr. Kristen Benson
Faculty Director of LGBTQ+ Communities
Kristen E. Benson, Ph.D., LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is an Associate Professor and Program Director of Marriage and Family Therapy at Appalachian State University. She earned her B.S. in Family Science from Florida State University, M.A. in MFT from Appalachian State University, and Ph.D. in Human Development from Virginia Tech. Her research, clinical work and teaching centers on systemic inequality, social justice and inclusion, with a focus on providing ethical and inclusive therapy to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) people and relationships. She is committed to exploration and training about the relationships between systemic injustices and ethical practices.
Dr. Allen Bryant
Faculty Director of Indigenous Communities
Dr. Bryant is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the founder and director of Appalachian State’s Gadugi Partnership. The partnership is a dual enrollment program between Appalachian State University and Cherokee High School. He received his B.A. in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.A. in American Indian History from the College of William and Mary, and his Ph.D. in History Education from the University of North Dakota. His research is in American Indian history and the history of American Indian education, with a focus on the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Dr. Claudia Cartaya Marin
Faculty Director of Hispanic/Latine Communities
Dr. Cartaya Marin is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences where she served as chair for 16 years. Dr. Cartaya Marin is an organic synthetic chemist interested in developing synthetic methods and in the total synthesis of natural products that possess anti-cancer properties. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Universidad Simón Bolívar (Caracas Venezuela) and her Ph.D in Organic Chemistry from Brandeis University, and was a port-doctoral fellow at Cornell University. Additionally, she is a Co-PI on the NSF ADVANCE Appalachian grant, and she is coordinating the ADVANCE Appalachian Mentoring Program for STEM faculty. She is passionate about student success of Hispanic/Latine students.
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
- Major: International Business & Digital Marketing
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
- Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader
- Women of Walker
- International Business Student Association
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
- Major: Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management
- Human Resources Science
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
- Major: Middle Grades Social Studies & Language Arts
- Black Student Association
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
- Student Government Association
- Student Orientation Undergraduate Leader
Hometown: Hickory, NC
- Major: Actuarial Science
- Gamma Iota Sigma
- Actuarial Science Club