Published: Jan. 13, 2020

In 2000, CU Women's Resource Center student staff conceived the Women Who Make A Difference award to honor a woman from the community. They received eight nominations of such quality that they decided to honor all the women—and a tradition was born. Annually, the WRC celebrated women who have made a difference in our community and campus, and we are happy to continue the tradition as the Center for Inclusion and Social Change.

Mary Rippon, the first CU female professor, and Lucile B. Buchanan, the first African-American woman to graduate from CU, paved the way for women to succeed. These influential women were the first to accomplish what they did, but women who deserve appreciation surround us every day.

The 2019 class of Women Who Make a Difference impact our community by serving as teachers, mentors, mothers and advocates. They write, they blog, they include and make countless other contributions big and small. The 2019 class includes:

Alicia Sepulveda

Nominator comments: “During her day job, Alicia is an academic coach in the College of Arts and Sciences. Alicia loves what she does, and she will be the first to tell you how she feels her job is one of the best jobs on campus. She has passion and energy for helping her students succeed and loves hearing her students’ individual stories. Through her coaching, she helps them achieve their goals and dreams.”

Amanda Scuderi, Caitlin Stiltner and Sophia Surage

Nominator comments:  “Sophia, Amanda and Caitlin have been a bedrock of the Volunteer Resource Center this year. Watching them support students, take on challenges, and build a great atmosphere in the center has been incredible. They are setting such a positive example for our students to follow.”

Anna Polovin

Nominator comments: “Anna started this past summer, as the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)’s victim advocate intake counselor. In her short time at OVA, Anna has brought a grounded, compassionate and positive energy to the team. She jumped right into this role and is great with the clients she sees. She is compassionate and is the first clinician to see most of our clients and is committed to making sure their first experience with OVA is positive.”

Brie Waterman

Nominator comments: “In her role as a program coordinator in New Student and Family Programs, Brie has brought an attitude of positivity that has made a great impact on her team and the students she supports. I have had the pleasure of working with Brie on parent and family programming initiatives and in recruiting student Journey Leaders. I have watched Brie take on new challenges and develop strong relationships with campus partners. She is someone I can always count on to deliver and is always open to trying ideas.”

Cam Perdido

Nominator comments: “Cam has been developing as a leader through Public Achievement and INVST over the past several years. The piece of Cam's leadership development that is most inspiring is her process of discovering what she is willing to unapologetically stand for – and choosing it every single day.”

Elana Benitez

Nominator comments: “From day one of living in Hallett, Elana makes students feel seen and heard. Hallett residents feel as though they belong to something and that they have the right to occupy the space, just as their non-marginalized peers, and that’s because of the culture and expectations Elana has crafted. Elana, being a woman of color herself, has never backed down from standing up for herself or students in the face of adversity. There are countless times that I have seen Elana jump into action when a student experiences an act of prejudice or speak up against things that could be harmful to residents.”

Haruko Greeson

Nominator comments: “One of the remarkable things about Haruko is how democratic and inclusive she is as a campus leader. When she ran the Department of Political Science’s front office, she worked to find ways to grow the skills and use the talents of our work-study students supporting her. Now as department admin, she is working within our Department Action Team to create cultural change. She is democratizing decision-making in the department, and bringing faculty, students, and staff into the decision-making process.”

Jessica Gonzales

Nominator comments: “Jessie joined OVA this past summer, as well into a new position for OVA.  OVA moved again this past summer, into our own space, no longer sharing a waiting room. We never had a full-time dedicated office assistant and not only was the new position incredibly important for OVA, having Jessie in this role has made it invaluable. Jessie embraced this new position in OVA and has brought great attention to details, organized and care to her role, as she is the new face to OVA and our waiting room.”

Johanna Maes

Nominator comments:  “Johanna Maes has changed my life both in a personal and scholastic capacity. As an early collaborator in developing the Leadership Studies Minor, and specifically the LEAD 4000 course, Johanna has been a critical thought partner and provocateur in envisioning what this program could be, and challenging the directions that we may have gone without her guidance. I think of her as my 'school mom', though I have of course never said that. I look up to her profoundly.”

Laurie Langdon

Nominator comments: “Dr. Langdon has been directing the Learning Assistant (LA) Program since 2011. In addition to regularly consulting with and supporting faculty members, Dr. Langdon works with undergraduate LAs, LA Mentors, LA Inclusive Pedagogy staff, and software developers to ensure that the program runs smoothly and meets the needs of our faculty and students. The LA program has demonstrated success in improving student outcomes, retention, and sense of community on the CU Boulder campus and beyond.”

Lindy Stein

Nominator comments: “Lindy meets with students who are being held accountable for a large array of offenses. Consistently, I hear from students that she was helpful and supportive during their conduct process, helping them understand their behaviors and become more aligned with who they want to be. Further, the way Lindy talks about her meetings with students is always with the highest regard of the individual she is working with; there has never been a time when I have heard Lindy talk ill of a student, a very difficult task in this line of work!”

Margaret Murnane

Nominator comments: “Margaret makes a difference in everything she does; in her scientific achievements, her leadership, and her support and advocacy for the many people she meets and works with. She is an extraordinary human who shows everyone who meets her or even reads about her that anything is possible. Throughout her distinguished career, Margaret has worked tirelessly to create numerous opportunities for women and marginalized groups in physics and STEM, as well as provide input to countless national, regional and local efforts to broaden participation in STEM.”

Olivia Gardner

Nominator comments: “As an INVST student, a co-founder of Transformative Teach, an organization dedicated to creating more racial justice and economic justice in public schools, as a Black Student Alliance member and a CUSG officer who leads on diversity and inclusion campaigns on and off-campus, Olivia is MY role model. (And I am about 20 years her senior).”

Pilar Prostko

Nominator comments: “Pilar's work is about strengthening the fabric of community at CU and modeling what it looks like and feels like to authentically communicate with each other across and through our differences. Pilar is a (CU Dialogues) facilitator who TRULY is invested in helping human beings become more compassionate and tolerant, and in the process, making Boulder and our campus a better place.”

Ruscha Cohen

Nominator comments: “Ruscha and I have worked together for about five years. During that time, she has been a continuous inspiration to me. She is the most empathetic person I have ever worked with, and a remarkably devoted mentor and advisor to graduate students. Mental health issues are a challenge for a large number of graduate students, and Ruscha skillfully draws upon her training as a therapist to help them to work toward professional success while also growing emotionally.”

Shelly Bacon

Nominator comments: “In her current role overseeing the new Program in Exploratory Studies, she is the force behind the program. Recognizing that these students required more one-on-one guidance and advising than was formerly available, Shelly, with the support of Vice Provost Mary Kraus and Provost Russ Moore, has been instrumental in working out the details and hiring and training staff to implement the new program, which only this fall started directly admitting new students. Always student-centered and process-oriented, Shelly is a font of knowledge for all things CU, a trusted colleague, the funniest person I know, and a darn good cupcake maker, too.”

Victoria Hand

Nominator comments: “Vicki is deserving of this award for more than just the transformational impact she’s had on my life and others connected to me. Her devotion to the wellbeing of those marginalized by society, her students, and research participants is, in my experience, simply unparalleled. Vicki is relentlessly committed to her students; whether it’s office hours to meet busy doctoral students at a time and place convenient for them, or a dozen bagels to brighten a Monday morning for first year students, advocating for student rights on University boards, to giving feedback on CVs and job applications long after class with her was over, Vicki never ceases to go above and beyond for her students as family.”

Please join us in celebrating these women and also the women who make a difference in your life. We hope you will consider nominating a woman for this award in November 2020.