NBA superstar Stephen Curry and his world champion Golden State Warriors have a new teammate.
George Mason University graduate Jennifer Vasquez joined the Warriors this year as vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), a new position in the San Francisco-based sports and entertainment company that boasts some 2,500 employees.
She will also lead the franchise’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.
The Arlington, Virginia, native earned her bachelor’s degree in government and international politics in 2001 from what is now Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government—and says that her time at Mason, as a first-generation college student, made a lasting impact.
“It was transformative for me by how [Mason] embraced different cultures and prioritized the success of each student,” she said. “There was so much diversity that it prompted me to continue my passion in this work and to really venture into DEI with a systems-change lens.”
Her degree, she said, “gave me grounding in how to navigate multicultural and political environments. I felt that at George Mason I could be authentic, and it helped me define my identity and led me to realize the impact I wanted to have.”
Vasquez, whose parents immigrated from El Salvador to Northern Virginia during that country’s civil war, made the most of her college career at Mason, working as an intern at three embassies before interning at the Department of Defense. That position turned into a full-time job, she said.
As for her new job, Vasquez, who has worked in the DEI field for more than 15 years, said her goal with the Warriors is to remove barriers that exist, inadvertently and otherwise, in the male-dominated sports industry.
“There are not only barriers of entry for getting into sports, but also barriers of advancement and upward mobility,” she said. “My work is grounded in providing a safe space where everyone feels they can belong, and where everyone is in a position to thrive, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disabilities.”
As for working in an organization that also employs Steph Curry and has won seven NBA championships, Vasquez said “that’s an added bonus—the icing on top of the cake to be part of his legacy.”