March 1, 2023
The Women’s Leadership Symposium is a conference focused on women’s leadership for CU Boulder staff and students. People of all genders are welcome. Get ready to explore a variety of ways to develop authentic and empowered leadership skills! The 2023 symposium theme was The Stories We Need: Claiming Rest, Roots and New Realities.
Welcome and Opening (8:45-9:45 a.m.)
Location: Glenn Miller Ballroom
Presenters: Rumi Natanzi
Location: UMC 235
This session is aimed at being multifaceted, in order to truly encompass the entirety of the current, revolutionary movement in Iran, beginning with discussion of both the history of societal roles for Iranian women, while also including systemic implications often misinterpreted as Islamic dogmas. Through understanding the role played by intergenerational trauma within the Iranian people, specifically women, while also recognizing the deeper dilemma of the hetero-patriarchial driving force behind male control and dominance, one can easily surmise correlations with other instances of patriarchal societies around the globe, particularly that of the U.S. By finding commonalities between what’s materializing in Iran and similar instances, the gap of prejudice and stereotypes formulated to describe those in the SWANA region, and Iran particularly, can hopefully begin to dissipate, in seeing that the power of choice is the cornerstone behind calls for women’s rights movements worldwide.
In hearing from CU faculty members of Iranian, American and Kurdish descent, as well as members of the Iranian diaspora, a wide array of perspectives will be offered, with compelling testimonies that will linger in their gravity. Ultimately, integral and thought provoking questions will be posed to those that attend about what can truly be done to support the women in Iran from an anti-imperialist, anti-orientalist, anti-interventionist and feminist perspective. What does standing in solidarity with Iranians, both in Iran and within the diaspora look like when taking these important considerations into account? What can the bravery and commendable, consistent actions of the Iranian people teach us about strength, resilience and dedication in the face of monumental adversity and authoritarian regimes? We have a tremendous opportunity and amount to learn from the story of Iran and its incredible people, if only we open our hearts and minds to listen.
Presenters: Samiha Singh and Kristen Bruchko
Location: UMC 380s
Not only is engineering a challenging field of study, the engineering industry is heavily male-dominated. At CU Boulder, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) strives to build an inclusive community of women engineers and others who support this group. Our goal is to establish a support system and ensure that women engineers have a community where they feel supported and understood, are able to connect with peers who have similar experiences, and feel that women do belong in the engineering field.
At SWE CU Boulder, we recognize that belonging to a community makes educational experiences much more meaningful. In order to foster that sense of belonging among our members, our organization works to incorporate mentorship into our programming. Through anecdotes and our own experiences, we have found that personal, meaningful mentor relationships are often the key that empower women to set ambitious goals and advocate for themselves in their personal, academic and professional journeys. In addition, our community-building efforts have allowed us to expand the reach of our organization and host targeted events that support our members in their collegiate to professional transition.
In this session, two of SWE’s student leaders will discuss the impact that mentors have had in our lives, describe our work within SWE to foster a sense of community and belonging, and lead a short mentorship workshop.
Presenter: Brenna Merrill
Location: UMC Aspen Rooms
How can the ways you set boundaries on a team task help you to understand how you think you are valued? How does your emotional regulation during team meetings demonstrate your expectations of how your needs usually get met? What if collaboration could feel productive, generative and safe? In secure and healthy relationships, we get to be our own unique selves and we can reasonably rely on others for support. Our efforts and our ideas are celebrated. There is comfort, protection and delight. Yet all too often, the way we collaborate – for school projects, in activist groups, as a family and in the workplace – may not provide space for us to authentically show up, explore new ideas and come together for solutions. In this session, we will use components of attachment theory to reflect on the narratives we have about ourselves. We will then explore some skills and strategies to help us individually show up as the people we want to be. And then, we can begin to create behaviors that may shift a team towards more security and productivity.
Presenters: Peers Educating and Empowering Peers (PEEPs)
Location: UMC 415-417
This workshop is designed for audience members to recognize sexism and gender bias and learn strategies to promote gender equality.
Presenter: Kathy Nielsen
Location: UMC 235
Have you ever been the only one in a group? Perhaps you noticed being the only woman, the only one of your race or ethnicity, the only one who grew up on a farm, the only one who believes or doesn’t believe in God, the only one who wants to work collaboratively…
In this session, we will connect to our bodies and use movement as a technique for facing the feeling of being the only one or “the other” in a group. We will practice embodied ways to bridge from aloneness to inclusion. Feeling included is a primary element of psychological safety. As women leaders we experience and impact the feeling of inclusion amongst those we work. Improving our emotional and social skills with respect to inclusion opens opportunities for new stories and new realizations.
Presenters: Charla Agnoletti
Location: UMC 380s
In CU Boulder’s Public Achievement program, undergraduates and local K-12 youth engage in social change making programming and community together. Our work has become intergenerational as many of us have grown up together through our community work for justice in education. We’ve made waves on issues such as immigrant rights, ethnic studies curriculum, mental health supports and climate justice. Most importantly, our voices and experiences reflect a radical transformation, healing and reimagining. We are creating the world as we want it to be and learning to nourish ourselves, our community and our values through action and community. The 2020 pandemic taught us so much about rest and healing as part of our revolution, activism and justice in the process of local and intergenerational change making.
Presenter: Jessica Perea
Location: UMC Aspen Rooms
While “Chicano” meant power and resistance to some, it meant oppression to others, including the lesbian and queer Chicano communities pushed out of the mainstream movement. To understand queer Chicana feminism’s differences concerning the broader historical and contemporary Chicano movements within the United States, Jessica Perea analyzes the historical foundations and values of the mainstream Chicano movement and examines its limitations. With this understanding, she discusses the heteronormativity within the Chicano movement and the lesbian erasure that followed, necessitating a new movement. This discussion is guided through an analysis of two trailblazing queer Chicana feminists Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.
“Chicano” started as a political identity, however, because the Chicano movement failed to address the effects of coloniality it failed to achieve Chicano liberation. The exclusionary values of the mainstream Chicano movements pushed queer Chicana feminists to the margins. Chicana lesbians found community with Black lesbian feminists and together developed what would become Queer Chicana Feminism. Queer Chicana Feminism (QCF) emphasizes the intersections of the multiple identities of womxn of color and employs the framework of intersectionality to combat systems of oppression in the U.S. Where the mainstream Chicano movements limited queer Chicanas, Queer Chicana Feminism responded to these limitations with creative, anti-colonial, intersectional solutions borrowed from Black lesbian feminists.
By drawing from Queer Chicana Feminism, we can learn how to value each different identity of those we are in community with and go beyond the performative act of acknowledgment towards empowerment. As a Queer Chicana Feminist, Jessica Perea shares her testimony of navigating a predominantly white, cisgender, heteronormative campus such as CU Boulder.
Presenters: Jessi Follett
Location: UMC 415-417
A workshop that will examine how women on campus, specifically in leadership positions, feel they are or aren’t supported in their role and what the university can do to improve. Our presenters will provide the statistics behind how many women are in leadership positions on campus, current retention rates and what programs currently exist. Then we will discuss as a group what is missing or needs transformation, and deliberate implementation of changes and feasibility.
Keynote Panel and Lunch (12:45-3 p.m.)
Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez is a Sicangu Lakota, Apache and Xicana woman born and raised here in Denver, Colorado. She is a human rights advocate, a co-founder and adult mentor for the International Indigenous Youth Council 5280, co-founder and director of Womxn from the Mountain, program support coordinator for Creative Strategies for Change, and last but not least, an actress for the Anishinaabe Theatre Exchange and the Social Imagination with Creative Strategies for Change performative art project. She works hard every day to fight for climate change for those of us existing today, and for our future generations, but most importantly she works hard to bring women of all backgrounds together in a way that allows them to empower each other and create strong, matriarchal bonds for future generations. Her continued pursuit is to help spread awareness and stop the violence our women and two-spirit people who have endured for centuries.
Jameka B. Lewis is a native of Guthrie, Okla. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Langston University and obtained a Master of Library Science degree from Texas Women’s University in 2012. She currently serves as the senior librarian at the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library in Denver by day. By night, she offers courses and consultations related to equity, diversity and inclusion in libraries and other institutions via her consulting company, Jameka Speaks. She is a true educator and educational researcher who loves teaching lifelong learners.
Jameka enjoys speaking at community events and is a regular guest speaker for numerous organizations such as the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (where she works as a teaching artist), the Denver Jewish Community Center, Windsor Gardens Retirement Community and many others. She has served as an Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards juror for Pop Culture Classroom for the past four years and has presented at Fan Expo Denver. Jameka has conducted interviews for various media outlets, including newspapers, radio stations and news stations and has been featured by organizations like Shoutout Colorado, Denverite, Vladimir Jones and the Denver Press Club. Jameka conducts presentations for educators, parent/teacher organizations, cultural institutions, retirement communities, various educational institutions and other organizations.
In her spare time, Jameka enjoys researching materials and artifacts pertaining to African and African American history. She is an admirer and forever student in the area of Black History and research and is passionate about arming people with the proper skills to conduct research. Notably, Jameka is the mother to Corrina and doggy mother to her ShiChi Max. She is the founder of Give a Child a Library, an organization that provides free books to K-12 children around the country and a longtime volunteer for the American Red Cross. Her philosophy is that everyone can learn when knowledge is presented in a way that appeals to them, regardless of age or ability.
Jennifer Knievel, professor and faculty director, leads the Researcher and Collections Engagement team and serves as co-chair for the Libraries’ liaisons group. Throughout her career of over 20 years in the University Libraries, she has served in varied roles, many of which have featured instruction and liaison responsibilities. Her extensive management experience encompasses more than 10 years as a department head as well as three years in the role of interim associate dean. She was tenured in 2009 and promoted to full professor in 2020.
Her research interests currently revolve around library leadership and management, especially mentoring and interim leadership (see her CU Experts profile for publications). Jennifer was featured by CU in the “Faculty in Focus” series in 2015; that same year she was the recipient of the Ralph Ellsworth Award, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the library, the university and the library profession.
Jennifer has a robust record of service and leadership at the national, campus and unit levels, one highlight of which was election to a three-year term in the executive position for the Association of College and Research Libraries’ instruction section, the premier professional community for academic librarians with teaching responsibilities. She currently serves as a member of the Steering Committee for the Conference on Academic Library Management (CALM), a virtual professional conference. Jennifer has also served in numerous leadership positions for committees at the unit and campus levels, most recently through an appointment to an important campus-level faculty committee, the Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Committee.
She holds a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and, from Colorado State University, a Bachelor of Arts in English with a writing emphasis and a minor in French.
Rest and Restoration (3-4 p.m.)
Closing Keynote (4-5 p.m.)
Location: Glenn Miller Ballroom
Imani McGee-Stafford is an abuse survivor, mental health advocate, poet and self-described unicorn. She is most notably known for her prolific basketball career. She played collegiately at the University of Texas at Austin where she became the first basketball player, man or woman, to garner over 1000 points, 1000 rebounds and 200 blocks. She was drafted 10th overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft to the Chicago Sky and has since played for the Atlanta Dream and Dallas Wings. She has also played professionally overseas in Turkey, China, Israel, Australia and Lebanon.
She currently is in her second year at Southwestern Law School where she hopes to use her to degree to combat the inequities in social policy when it comes to the black community. She founded Hoops and Hope Foundation in 2019, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe spaces for all who need one.
Her goal in life is to be whom she needed when she was younger. She does this daily by showing up as her authentic self and showing the world what being a black woman living and dealing with mental illness looks like. She is more than an athlete and encourages everyone to follow their passions and live their truth.