Cal Lutheran selects chief diversity officer

Honda leader is first VP for talent, culture, diversity

Beginning Aug. 1, Cristallea K. Buchanan will serve as the university’s chief diversity officer and oversee a newly configured division that includes Human Resources, Mission and Identity, and Hispanic-Serving Institution initiatives. 

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — July 9, 2021) Cristallea K. Buchanan, the head of inclusion and diversity for American Honda Motor Co., will be the inaugural vice president for talent, culture and diversity for California Lutheran University.

Beginning Aug. 1, Buchanan will serve as the university’s chief diversity officer and oversee a newly configured division that includes Human Resources, Mission and Identity, and Hispanic-Serving Institution initiatives. She will guide, accelerate and integrate established and new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts across the university as part of a coherent, mission-driven strategy. 

Prior to becoming Honda’s head of inclusion and diversity in 2019, Buchanan was the head of organization development, learning and DEI for American Honda Finance Co. for five years. She has two decades of experience in leading diversity initiatives in the corporate, nonprofit and education sectors.

“DEI, for me, is really a calling,” Buchanan said. “As I met with all the diverse stakeholders of Cal Lutheran, I saw the commitment of the university to DEI. I’m grateful for this opportunity to work with committed students and colleagues to move the needle forward in creating an inclusive campus where creativity and higher learning can take place.”

“Among a robust pool of impressive candidates, Cristallea stood out,” said President Lori E. Varlotta. “She comes to this important post with a well-honed skill set in leading cultural change, particularly related to DEI. That is exactly what Cal Lutheran needs at this moment: a change agent who mobilizes constituents from every corner of the university to be part of the exciting and positive transformation that is underway.” 

Buchanan has extensive experience in strategic planning and human resources. She led employee learning and development programs for Southern California Edison and Five Acres, an agency serving abused and neglected children and their families. 

When Buchanan joins Cal Lutheran, she will be returning to education, where she started her career. She spent 16 years managing workforce development programs for the Los Angeles County Office of Education and El Camino College.

She comes from a family that greatly values education. Buchanan’s mother brought her family to the United States from South Korea because she wanted all of her children, especially her daughters, to have the opportunity to get an education. Buchanan earned bachelor’s degrees in mass communications and psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Science in global leadership from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration.

Cal Lutheran serves about 4,000 students at locations in Thousand Oaks, Woodland Hills, Westlake Village, Oxnard, Santa Maria and Berkeley.

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