Professional Staff

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Ulli K.Ryder 

ISE Director

Ulli has earned degrees in English and American Studies, Afro-American Studies, Professional Writing and her Ph.D. is in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California.  Her dissertation topic was “As Shelters Against the Cold”: Women Writers of the Black Arts and Chicano Movements, 1965-1978. 


Coming most recently from Bristol Community College, Ulli served as Dean, Arts and Humanities.  In this role she managed approximately 300 faculty and 400 courses per semester across 4 campus locations and online.  In addition, she oversaw the Grimshaw-Gudewicz Art Gallery, which is designed to support the educational mission of innovation and creativity of college and the southeast Massachusetts region; the LusoCentro, which is dedicated to the study of language and celebration for the Portuguese and Lusophone cultures; and supported the art and theatre programs and international club as well as the Women's Center.  In addition, Ulli has experience as a McNair Scholarship mentor, as Academic Director of a women's leadership program with the US State Department, was a member of the Rhode Island Commission for Health Advocacy and Equity, and is Scholar-in-Residence in the Office of the Chaplains at Brown.

If you would like to book an appointment with Ulli, please use the link below.

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Jennifer Castro

Associate Director Intercultural Learning & Development 

​As Associate Director of Intercultural Learning & Development, Jennifer provides services and programming related to social identity, social justice, cultural diversity, and inclusion. Jennifer seeks to encourage community building, connecting across difference, solidarity, and allyship within the RISD community. As Associate Director, Jennifer's primary focus is serving first-generation college students through Project Thrive.


Jennifer earned a Bachelor's and Master's of Science in Human Development & Family Studies from The University of Rhode Island. Jennifer’s practice focuses on higher education administration, student development with a focus on social identity, development of cultural competence and critical consciousness, and design, implementation, and facilitation of social justice content. Prior to joining RISD, Jennifer served as Director of Multicultural Affairs & Student Inclusion at Lesley University, Assistant Director of The Urban Scholars Initiative at Lesley, and as an Academic Advisor at The University of Rhode Island.


Along with being a proud first-generation college student, Jennifer identifies as a disabled, Afro-Latina of Dominican descent. She grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and is honored to share her hometown with the RISD family.

If you would like to book an appointment with Jennifer, please use the link below.

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Mary Luz Fernandez

Administrative Coordinator 

Mary earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University. Her role in ISE consists of managing administrative tasks and services for ISE. As a welcoming face in the main office, Mary is the first point of call for issues, inquiries, and opportunities pertaining to the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement. Mary’s native Language is Spanish. She was born and raised in Dominican Republic and has lived in Rhode Island for the past 18 years. Prior to RISD, Mary worked at Jewish Family Services as a Lifeline Installer.

Student Staff

Ruihong Jiang | She, her, hers

ILL '23

I’m Rui, I am a sophomore in illustration. I work as a cultural programmer focusing on the international population at RISD. I am an Italian-born Chinese who loves anything sweet and mushroom-related.

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