Meet the Diversity and Inclusion Team
Dr. Lacretia Johnson Flash (she/her)
Senior Vice President for DEI, Community, and Campus Culture and Climate
Dr. Lacretia Johnson Flash provides strategic vision and leadership for Berklee’s institutional diversity and inclusion initiatives and priorities. She advises Berklee’s leaders on strategies to achieve inclusive excellence and collaborates with stakeholders and partners across the institution to support the goal of becoming a more inclusive community. Flash oversees the Diversity and Inclusion team in the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Throughout her career, Flash has helped to lead institutional diversity and inclusion efforts, and has contributed to the national conversation on diversity and multicultural change in higher education organizations through her research and scholarship on multicultural organizational development, and through a nationally recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development series.
Prior to joining Berklee, Flash served as a senior advisor and chief of staff at the University of Vermont, where she helped establish the President’s Commission for Inclusive Excellence and led the implementation of the university’s Framework for Inclusive Excellence. As an educator, she has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on cultural pluralism in higher education, survey research methodology, leadership, and service learning. She believes that leading with compassion, authenticity, and humility are critical to creating spaces for deep learning and sustained engagement.
Flash earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Vermont, a Master of Education from the University of Maryland, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland. In addition to her professional work, Flash is passionate about the visual arts, dance, and being in nature.
Alex Cabal (he/him)
Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion
Alex Cabal has worked in higher education for more than 15 years as an administrator, consultant, trainer, and presenter in the areas of inclusive leadership, academic affairs, and student affairs including residence life, student activities, orientation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Cabal has been an active member of NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) since 2005 and has held regional and national roles within the association including national cochair for the Gender and Sexuality Knowledge Community (GSKC) and chairing the Region I Conference in 2018. He has been recognized regionally and nationally for his commitment and dedication to student affairs and for the work that he has done through the GSKC as well with Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community. Cabal is currently a member of the board of directors in his role of regional director.
The AVP has an expertise in the facilitation of training programs as well as performing institutional scans and program reviews. He has worked with higher education institutions and non-profits on their efforts to educate student government associations, orientation staff, student affairs, and academic affairs leadership on equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts. Cabal believes that authentic dialogue, reflection on our identities, an understanding of our history, and direct and consistent action are key to creating a more inclusive environment.
Born in Lima, Peru, Cabal moved to the United States when he was 12 years old. As a first-generation college student and son of immigrants, he believes that education is a right, not a privilege. His multiple identities have shaped the way he navigates his personal and professional worlds.
Outside of work, Cabal enjoys exploring new spots to eat, watching his favorite Netflix shows, traveling, attending concerts, plays, and musicals, and spending time with his husband, three kids, and two dogs.
Laks Indrakaran (he/him)
Administrator and Project Manager
Laks Indrakaran is the administrator and project manager with the Diversity and Inclusion team, working on multiple cross-functional initiatives. He assists Dr. Lacretia Flash with agenda, logistics, events, budget, and provides office support to the team.
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Indrakaran earned his post-graduate degree from SOAS University of London. During his nine years in the UK, he worked in hospitality at high-profile venues and volunteered for six years assisting London Contemporary Voices, who have worked with several artists including Imogen Heap, and played several well-known venues like the Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre, the Barbican, and several major music festivals such as Glastonbury.
He worked at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for five years, shortly before relocating to Massachusetts In September 2018, to serve as an administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) assisting with international student travel and emergencies. He has lived as an ethnic minority and immigrant across the globe and joined the Diversity and Inclusion office in September 2021 with the objective of translating his lived experiences into work to benefit the Berklee community and the performing arts industry.
Indrakaran is fascinated by stories about hermits and recluse communities from all over the world and ancient texts, yet remains interested in pop songs. One of his favorite films is Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente), loosely inspired by the expedition diaries of German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grünberg (in 1909) and the American biologist Richard Evans Schultes (in 1940) through the Amazon.
Mariana Paes (she/her)
Senior Advisor and Project Manager for DEI, Community, and Campus Culture and Climate
Mariana Paes is the manager of communications, assessment, and outreach, developing communications, marketing, and outreach strategies to engage the community in building a culture of mutual respect, cultural humility, continuous learning, and support to all individuals. Her goal is to be an active listener and support all groups by uplifting their voices and empowering people through information, discussions, and art. Paes is also part of the leadership team of SOMOS Latinx, a pre-orientation program for entering Latinx and Hispanic students.
Born in Brazil, Paes earned a degree in journalism and an MBA in management of cultural projects. With 17 years of experience working in communications, arts, and management, she has developed public relations, communications, and marketing strategies for global companies from Brazil, the United States, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and China. Besides her executive roles, she also worked as a voice coach for musical theater companies, and as a singer, songwriter, and flamenco dancer.
She moved to Massachusetts in December 2015 and served as volunteer and communications associate at the Dance Complex in Cambridge; international contributor at the New England Patriots; pro audio sales associate at Guitar Center; and market planning manager/ diversity committee at School of Rock. Paes is also a community organizer, participating in grassroots organizations focused on Latinx and immigrant populations, and a member of the Cultural Advisory Team at Boston Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture.
Paes’s hobbies are reading (especially murder-mystery or diversity and inclusion themes), sailing, dancing flamenco, and walking her dog, Sansa. At the moment, her favorite books are The Color of Courage by Cindi C. Bright, and The Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen.
Chloe Swindler (she/her)
Assistant Director of Engagement and Programming
Chloe Swindler is the assistant director of engagement and programming. Her mission is to foster a strong relationship between students from both programs and to create engaging programming centered around student experiences and community engagement.
Born in San Diego, California, Swindler earned her Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and her Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. As an educator, Swindler has taught as a lecturer of music at California State University, Los Angeles and as trumpet faculty for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA). In addition, she has taught in DEI-focused outreach initiatives including Yale’s Music in Schools Initiative and the Music Immersion Experience in San Gabriel, California. Swindler is currently completing the final year of her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation, “Compositions for Solo Trumpet by African-American Composers Since 1990,” focuses on how Black American classical composers blend together Western art music aesthetics and Black music aesthetics in solo trumpet repertoire.
During her time at UCLA, Swindler has served as co-chair of the Anti-Racism Anti-Discrimination Committee, working alongside faculty, administrators, and students to deliver recommendations related to DEI to the dean of students. While at Yale, she served on the Dean’s Student Diversity Committee and spearheaded the founding of the Yale School of Music Black Collective. In 2020, she created an online conversation series with topics focused on DEI, with panels focusing on Black artist experiences (music/theater/art), the impact of COVID-19 on music education equity, the experiences of Asian classical musicians, and more.
In her spare time, Swindler enjoys weightlifting, binge-watching shows like Watchmen and Succession, and teaming up with her husband Adam to chase their two cats, Uva and Sandia, around the house. As an avid jazz vocalist, guitarist, and trumpeter, Swindler is always looking for the next jam session.