Patsy Sanchez

Board Member: ECA Hillsborough

Patsy Sanchez

Patsy Sanchez is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the University of South Florida System (USF) and serves as Director for USF Latino Scholarship Program.

As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, she plans, develops, implements and evaluates university-wide comprehensive diversity policies, programs and initiatives to support the university’s Diversity Statement and Strategic Plan and creates awareness about USF’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

During the past 15 years, she has held various leadership positions at USF. She has been instrumental in partnering with local, state and national organizations, corporation and foundations to raise funds for scholarships to support and mentor talented first generation in college Latino students with financial need. In 2008, Patsy secured a historic $2 million dollar gift from the Helios Education Foundation—the largest gift in the history of the USF Latino Scholarship Program.

Patsy has written articles for local and national journals including Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education and published research on Latino student success. For her work, she has been featured in national journals such as Diverse Issues in Higher Education and has been asked to speak at various leadership conferences and community events including the Mayor’s Latinos Unidos Leadership Conference, Florida Diversity Council, Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County, and Black, Brown and College Bound Annual Summit.

Patsy is a member of several community organizations including the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council and the Mayor’s Latin Community Committee. She received the USF Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award in 2002 and 2005. Siete Dias, selected her as the Hispana Ejemplar in 2007 for her contributions in the community. In 2006, she was selected to the Young Hispanic Leaders Program among 400 applicants—a national program which purports to strengthen relations between the USA and Spain.

Patsy came to the United States through the 1980 Mariel Exodus when she was 13 years old. Her unique experience after having been rescued by the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous in May of 1980, has been covered by the media and she has published articles in several national journals. After a 26 year-long search, Patsy found the ‘coastie’ who took care of her for 3 days about the cutter in the Gulf of Mexico and in May of 2006, she and her ‘hero’ were reunited during his retirement ceremony from the Coast Guard in Hickman, Kentucky where she was able to thank him for his kindness. She has shared her story about perseverance and paying it forward during Hispanic Heritage celebrations, Diversity conferences at local universities, high schools, and community organizations. Her goal is to write a book about her memoirs.

In 2011, she was invited to participate in a documentary that captured the unheard voices of 10 Cuban-Americans who talk about their experiences before and during their journey to the US. The documentary has won a number of national and international awards and premiered in National Geographic Mundo in April 2013. A book by the same title in Spanish is available through Amazon.  Patsy wrote her own chapter in the book, which will be available in English soon.

Patsy Sanchez earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish Literature and a Master’s degree in Spanish from the University of South Florida.