For Doreen Tinajero, her lifelong career in the nonprofit world aligns with her key belief in the good of public service. She began working at a philanthropic organization in New York City after graduation and found her home there, experiencing an array of departments from grants management to the President’s Office during a tenure that lasted through three presidents. It was a fulfilling experience with many lessons and opportunities; “I learned to appreciate the relevance and possibility of taking small steps to achieve the greater good, as well as taking action and moving the needle,” says Tinajero. After over twenty years of service, though, it was time for a change. “When I learned the project that I had been working on was moving to the University of Michigan, I gladly accepted the invitation to come with it!”

Tinajero joined the Center for Social Solutions at its founding, and as project senior manager has played a large role in establishing the center at the university in addition to managing the Our Compelling Interests book series and developing other projects through the Diversity and Democracy initiative. “The aspect I enjoy most is connecting with different contributors across the university to brainstorm possible workshops, events and/or programs,” reflects Tinajero. Since the opening of the center, Tinajero has overseen its largest hosted events, including the launch of Volume 3 of the book series at the Art Institute of Chicago; a broadcast panel discussion on religious diversity from the country’s first public television station in Pittsburgh, PA; and most recently, a comprehensive conversation about diversity hosted at the University of Michigan itself. She also has helped oversee significant grant proposals for the center’s Slavery and Its Aftermath initiative, and actively engages in networking opportunities to expand awareness of and partnerships with the center.

While she embraces the mission of the center as a whole, Tinajero is most passionate about the center’s focus on leveraging diversity as an integral part of creating a prosperous democracy. “I am the daughter of two Latin Americans who emigrated to the U.S. in the ‘60s,” she explains. Although her family members were naturalized U.S. citizens, Tinajero has witnessed how no matter what industry or sector her parents and extended family worked in, there were barriers based on assumptions regarding their skin color, ethnicity, and accents. However, Tinajero notes, “despite the obstacles they stayed, continue to persevere, provide for their families. It reminds me everyday how this nation was built.” 

This personal connection fuels Tinajero’s work not just at the center, but her activities outside of the office. Besides volunteering for the SafeHouse Center, she also participates in the university’s Women of Color Task Force (WCTF) and the Facilitators Engagement Program, which often inspires her projects at the center. “These two avenues on campus allow me to unpack the pressing questions and ideas relevant to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Tinajero relates, “and think about the ways the center, and my work, can help advance those ideas in a measurable way.” 

Tinajero looks forward to the continuation of the center’s mission following a successful first year. “I hope our work serves as a catalyst for innovations in society that signal the value of diverse identities and inclusion while encouraging meaningful engagement between communities,” says Tinajero. In addition, she hopes to see a sustainable and far-reaching impact for its projects that benefit Michigan and beyond, “helping us leverage our power to do and be better.”