NSBE National Leadership Conference 2020 graphic

Above: CU Boulder is the 2020 and 2021 sponsor of the NSBE National Leadership Conference
Top: CU Boulder NSBE Executive Leadership Board, 2019-2020 

The University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science has been selected to host the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) National Leadership Conference (NLC) in 2020 and 2021. The conference is NSBE’s premier training program for approximately 250 national and regional officers who spend multiple days focused on leadership training and skill-building. The conference was created over 20 years ago to support NSBE’s mission to end the underrepresentation of Black engineering students in the U.S. by graduating 10,000 Black engineers annually by 2025.

“The University of Colorado Boulder is a perfect match for NSBE, not only as a venue that will provide great facilities for our National Leadership Conference but also as an institution with a proven commitment to diversity and inclusion in engineering,” said NSBE National Chair Jocelyn Jackson, a doctoral student in engineering education research at the University of Michigan. “The success of CU Boulder’s Broadening Opportunities through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center, its outreach to HBCUs such as Howard University, its partnership with organizations such as the National GEM Consortium and its longtime support of the CU NSBE chapter are just a few of the efforts that have led us to choose this university to host our leadership conference for the next two years.”

The NLC brings together regional and national student leaders for an opportunity to build community, share ideas and expand their professional development. They also study key leadership tools including effective communication, coalition-building, asset-mapping and conflict resolution.

Dedication to Change

The University of Colorado Boulder is dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive community and facilitating leadership development that supports growth and development on campus while also empowering students to create systemic change when they enter their professional careers. The university and NSBE started discussing this partnership in fall 2018 and in fall 2019, CU Engineering admitted its largest and most diverse class. Initially the conference was expected to be held on campus in Boulder. Due to the impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing, the organizations are hosting a virtual conference in July 2020. The goal for 2021 is to have the NLC on the CU Boulder campus and to partner with industry leaders to make it a high-impact experience that builds community and creates positive change.

CEAS is partnering with CU Boulder’s Office of the Provost to bring the conference to campus. "We're proud to host the NSBE National Leadership Conference, as it affirms our college and our university's commitment to diversity and inclusion in education," said interim Dean Keith Molenaar. "I anticipate this program to be full of learning and growth for everyone participating." 

Karl W. Reid, Ed.D, executive director of NSBE, has “witnessed incredible progress toward our mutual goal of increasing the number of African Americans and other underrepresented minorities in the field of engineering” since he first visited CU Boulder for the university’s Diversity Summit in November 2016. “The leadership of the College of Engineering Applied Science clearly knows that diversity matters, and I look forward to the growth of our partnership with the college in the years to come,” said Reid.

NSBE at CU Boulder

Community Involvement
CU Boulder Engineering and Applied Science seeks to engage our many local, regional and national partners to ensure that the 2020 and 2021 NSBE National Leadership Conferences are a success. Organizations looking to be involved or who are interested in supporting the 2020 and 2021 NSBE NLC should contact erin.gage@colorado.edu, senior director of development at CU Boulder Engineering.

The CU Boulder Engineering NSBE chapter, serving 74 students per year, hosted the 2016 NSBE Fall Region 6 Conference. This year the CU Boulder NSBE chapter is led by president Nadir Shakir BioChemEngr’21 and vice-president Ahmed Ashmaig MechEngr’23.

“I hope that having the NSBE NLC at CU Boulder, a predominantly white institution, provides support and encouragement to our Black student population,” said Shakir. Ashmaig added, “This type of partnership could inspire our students as well as Black youth to pursue engineering education and join the field of professional engineers.”

The CU Boulder chapter is supported by Tanya Ennis, their advisor and the BOLD Center Director. Ennis, who helped charter the NSBE chapter at Southern University, has a long history with the organization. “NSBE was a part of my engineering identity development. As vice-president of the chapter, I planned outreach programs for area high schools, hosted high school students on campus to teach engineering design and technology and conducted professional development workshops for NSBE members. The NSBE community
is like a proud family who cares for our members and fosters the academic and professional success of the membership”

About NSBE
With more than 600 chapters and more than 24,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States. NSBE, founded in 1975, supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” For more information, visit www.nsbe.org.

Maria Kuntz is the assistant director, admissions marketing and inclusive community in the College of Engineering & Applied Science.