Conference Leadership

Sonia Zárate, Ph.D.

Chair, SACNAS Leadership Initiatives Subcommittee
Past President (2021), SACNAS

Senior Program Lead, Scientific Mentorship Initiative
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Sonia Zárate directs the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Scientific Mentorship Initiative. Experiencing the power of culturally responsive mentorship first-hand, Dr. Zárate sees mentorship development as a driver for culture change with the potential to make the scientific enterprise diverse, equitable, and inclusive. 

Prior to her tenure at HHMI, Dr. Zárate was the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of San Diego and the Associate Director for the Undergraduate Research Center-Sciences at UC Los Angeles. 

A longstanding SACNISTA, Dr. Zárate has given back to the organization as chair of the Leadership Initiatives subcommittee, facilitator for the various SACNAS Leadership Institutes, and an Executive Committee member, both Secretary and President. 


Charla Lambert, Ph.D.
Haida and Tsimshian
President, SACNAS

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Charla Lambert is the inaugural Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Officer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), a biomedical research institute on Long Island, just east of New York City. She has a B.S. in mathematics from MIT, a Ph.D. in genome sciences from the University of Washington in Seattle, and she was an NIH IRACDA postdoctoral fellow in genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. 

To date, Dr. Lambert’s career has spanned many aspects of science administration: from grant writing, program development, program evaluation, and scientific communication to postgraduate teaching and education. Currently, she leads and manages institutional change initiatives to increase access, equity, and belonging in research environments. She has been an active member of SACNAS since she was a graduate student more than twenty years ago, and she is honored to serve as your current President. 

Juan Amador, FASAE, CAE
Executive Director, SACNAS

Juan Amador, FASAE, CAE, is the executive director for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and responsible for leading the country’s largest multicultural and multidisciplinary STEM diversity organization.

He is adept at developing strategic partnerships and collaborations and championing strategic efforts within broader organizational goals and priorities, and his expertise and passion for association management focus on building the capacity of organizations to better serve communities that are historically underrepresented and underserved.

Mr. Amador previously served as director of constituent engagement at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). He was a critical leader in the development of AAMC’s relationships and partnerships with its many constituent affinity groups. In managing these relationships, he advanced the strategic value of the association for its constituents and members. In this capacity, he oversaw the implementation of learning and leadership opportunities that helped members to grow in their professional roles, enhanced their career development, and strengthened their leadership competencies. In the AAMC Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion unit, he directed the expansion of programs, tools, and resources that advanced diversity, equity, and inclusion for the executives, faculty, staff, residents, and students at U.S. and Canadian medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic societies. 

Mr. Amador has over 20 years of experience in recruitment and outreach to special populations, strategic planning, developing partnerships, and facilitating the work of national committees. Prior to joining the AAMC, he worked for the National Prevention Information Network (NPIN) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

As a distinguished leader, he received the AAMC Kat Turner Spirit of Excellence Award for his outstanding contributions to the association, and the AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion Special Recognition Award for service and commitment to members. Amador is a Fellow for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Chair-elect for the ASAE’s Certified Association Executive (CAE) Commission, leads the ASAE’s Hispanic Association Executives Community, and the 2022 recipient of the prestigious ASAE Professional Performance Award honoring top-level association executives. Mr. Amador earned his BA in Health Science and Policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and is a certified association executive (CAE).

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