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Education Features

NU appoints two to board


NIAGARA UNIVERSITY – Dr. Elizabeth Ortiz, vice president for Institutional Diversity and Equity at DePaul University, and Joshua Stevens, founder, chief executive officer, and chairman of EmpowerMe Wellness, have been named to Niagara University’s board of trustees. The appointments were announced by Father James J. Maher, CM, president of the university.

Dr. Elizabeth Ortiz

Ortiz has more than 30 years of higher education experience. Her work has focused on multiculturalism and diversity initiatives in several areas, including recruitment, retention, training, programming, climate issues and, in particular, raising awareness for Latino representation and advancement in all aspects of higher education. Prior to joining DePaul University in 2002, she was the director of Affirmative Action, Diversity and Employee Relations at Northern Illinois University. 

She is a member of the board of the Illinois African-American and Latino Higher Education Alliance, past first vice president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and past-president of the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education. She holds a bachelor of science degree in business management from Calumet College of St. Joseph in Indiana, and a master of science in leadership and educational policy and a doctorate in Education from Northern Illinois University.

“Dr. Ortiz is a national leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, and her work and experience will be an invaluable resource on our campus as we continue to realize our vision of a community that welcomes, embraces and fosters inclusive excellence, equity and respect,” said Father Maher. “Additionally, her work at our sister school, DePaul University, provides her with insight and keen awareness of our Catholic and Vincentian mission, which will be instrumental as we embed DEI into our organizational fabric and leverage the power of diversity.”

Joshua Stevens

Stevens is a mission-driven entrepreneur and leader with a passion for improving the lives of seniors. Prior to founding EmpowerMe Wellness, he developed, owned, operated and acquired more than 40 senior housing communities across the Midwest and Southeast. This experience led him to found EmpowerMe, a fully integrated health care provider serving the senior living industry with onsite therapy, diagnostics, pharmacy and primary care services.

Stevens holds a bachelor of science degree in business from Eastern Illinois University and a juris doctorate, cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to his undergraduate studies, Stevens was an enlisted member of the United States Marine Corps. He is a long-standing member of The Journey Church in St. Louis, and a member of the board of directors of National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care Vision, the executive board of the American Seniors Housing Organization, the Young Presidents Organization, and the Chairs Council of Greater St. Louis.

“Joshua Stevens is known nationally as an innovative practitioner and transformative leader, and his focus of working for positive change in the health care services sector of the industry aligns with our Vincentian mission to serve all members of our society,” said Father Maher. “He is an innovative leader on the forefront of the shift in health care. His engagement and vision will be an asset to our leadership, and our students, for years to come.”


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