Skip navigation
panoramic view of campus buildings with Center for Multicultural Excellence wording across bottom

About CME

Staff Biographies

Learn more about our staff below, organized alphabetically within program area.

As part of ongoing structural changes at the University (Chancellor's summary), our staff has been shifted into two distinct units:

  • a continuing CME, including IESSLD, below; and
  • the new office of Inclusion and Diversity (jump).

Center for Multicultural Excellence

headshot of Johanna Leyba, MA, assistant provostJohanna M Leyba, MA
Associate Vice Chancellor for Inclusive Excellence
Executive Director of CME

(303) 871-7661 | E-Mail

Johanna is a native of Denver, Colorado. She earned a BA in Sociology with an emphasis in ethnic and urban studies from Colorado College in 1994, with a thesis on Identity Formation of Mexican Origin People Living in the United States. In 2002, she earned a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in Community Development from the University of Colorado at Denver.

more about Johanna Leyba

Johanna began her professional career as a Summer Minority Intern Scholar at the Coors Brewing Company. There, she assisted with Organizational Development Diversity Training for employees, supported community relation efforts among minority markets, and helped facilitate the Minority Intern and Scholarship Program. After her internship and undergraduate degree, she focused the next 11 years managing and supporting nonprofit programs and organizations focused on youth development, employment and training, healthcare for the uninsured, college access and leadership development of Latinas. She rounded this experience as a nonprofit management consultant where she facilitated strategic planning processes, fundraising planning, program development and evaluation and support of executive leadership.

She joined the University of Denver in 2004 as the Director of CME, where she assisted in the growth and development of the Center. In January of 2008, Johanna became the Assistant Provost for Inclusive Excellence which evolved into her current position, through which she helps support and coordinate cross campus partnerships to advance an inclusive agenda at DU. She also works to build new and strengthen existing relationships between DU and historically underrepresented communities in the Metro Denver area. Some of her most recent accomplishments include having led an effort to administer a campus climate survey and establishing the new Staff of Color Association. Johanna oversees the Inclusive Excellence Fellow Program that places master's students in departments across campus to gain work experience and produce inclusive projects for the unit.

headshot of Adrienne Martinez, MSW, Assistant Director, Student Access and Success ProgramsAdrienne Martinez, MSW
Assistant Director of Student Access and Success Programs

(303) 871-7660| E-Mail

Adrienne comes to the Center from the DU Office of Alumni Relations, where she was responsible for engaging alumni affinity groups by partnering with volunteer leaders to create meaningful and creative programming for alumni of color. Her work with the DU Latino Alumni Association (DULAA) culminated with the creation of the DULAA Scholarship Endowment, which will provide financial assistance to Latino undergraduate students at DU.

more about Adrienne Martinez

In line with her passion for supporting and creating strong pipeline programs for historically underrepresented students, she also served as the interim Director of Student Life at College Track, a national nonprofit that provides programming to increase a college graduates in underserved communities. In this role, she worked directly with freshman and sophomore students from Rangeview High School in Aurora to inspire social and community engagement by coordinating volunteer and leadership development opportunities. Adrienne also facilitated an all-girls support group designed to address the physical and emotional well-being of young women.

Adrienne earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder while working part-time in the community relations department providing campus tours for historically underrepresented middle school students. As a Denver native and Denver Public School district graduate, she is passionate about outreach and college access for the communities surrounding DU. In June 2013, Adrienne completed her Master's in Social Work at DU's Graduate School of Social Work.

Anthea Johnson Rooen, MBA
Director of College Access and Pipeline Programs

(303) 871-2270| E-Mail

Anthea Johnson Rooen brings over 18 years of experience in diversity, student success, and college access from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Ms Johnson Rooen worked as the Associate Director for Student Development, Co-Director for Recruitment and Acting Director for the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 2002–09.

more about Anthea Johnson Rooen

She was responsible for recruiting and retaining historically underrepresented students to the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The MEP offered a number of resources, scholarships and opportunities to all participating students in a welcoming and vibrant academic community. She also served as the adviser for National Society for Black Engineer (NSBE) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Regional Conference Planning Committee in 2005.

Ms Johnson Rooen was the Director of Outreach Programs for the two years at the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute from 2009–2011 where she successfully coordinated outreach programs and collaborated with on and off campus partners to expose students to opportunities in technology and college. She has won several awards for her work related to advising and outreach such as the 2007 Service Award from Colorado Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) and Outstanding Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) Staff Member in 2003 and 2009.

Ms Johnson Rooen earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Denver Daniels College of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

headshot of Thomas E Walker, PhD, Director of Educational Programs & LGBTIQA ServicesThomas E Walker, PhD
Director of Educational Programs & LGBTIQA Services

(303) 871-4614| E-Mail

Thomas previously served as the Assistant Director of Arizona State University's Intergroup Relations Center, where he coordinated diversity education programs, provided social justice training, and served as a diversity consultant for the ASU and larger community. In his eight years at ASU, he also served as liaison to the LGBTIQ community and Advisor to the LGBTQ Student Coalition.

more about Thomas Walker

He has been engaged in the diversity and social justice field for more than two decades, working with NCCJ-Anytown, the National Coalition-Building Institute, the Southern Institute for Education and Research, C Harris Companies, Inc, the Social Justice Training Institute, and the University of Michigan-based Multiversity Intergroup Dialogue (MIGR) Research Project. He has taught in DU's undergraduate International Living-Learning Community and graduate Higher Education programs; and currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal on Diversity in Higher Education.

Thomas studied at the Victoria University of Manchester (England), completed his bachelor's degree in Interpersonal and Group Communication at Tulane University, and earned both his Master's and doctorate in Intercultural Communication at Arizona State University. Thomas' DU Portfolio site

Martin Drafton, BA
Office Manager

(303) 871-2507| E-Mail

Martin comes to CME with over five years of university-level administrative and customer service experience.  Before joining CME, Martin worked in the Division of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences serving as the Assistant to the Chairs of Political Science, Gender & Women’s Studies, and Socio-Legal Studies. Martin currently represents CME on the Staff Advisory Council serving on the Staff Issues Committee, as well as serving on the Communications Task Force for the Division of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence.

more about Martin Drafton

Martin graduated from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University with a BA in Global Studies.  His undergraduate thesis analyzed the rhetorical similarities and differences between the U.S. and Spanish constitutions and how they framed the nations’ same-sex marriage debates. While at ASU, Martin served as the senior associate and interim supervisor of the University’s information center and as an instructor for the Barrett Summer Scholars Program.

Office OF Inclusive Excellence Student Success & Leadership Development (IESSLD)

headshot of Tracey Adams-Peters, MA, Director of Student and Leadership Development Tracey Adams-Peters, MA
Director of IE Student Success and Leadership Development

(303) 871-7659| E-Mail

Tracey is a proud native of Denver, Colorado. In her role at CME, Tracey is responsible for student success programs and leadership development opportunities for all undergraduate and graduate students on campus, as well as within the state and across the nation. Tracey's work is to underscore the academic, social, leadership and personal development of the students at the University of Denver as it relates to Inclusive Excellence and diversity. Tracey is dedicated to the Denver community and works tirelessly to increase the awareness and involvement of communities of color in pre-collegiate preparation and access.

more about Tracey Adams-Peters

Tracey earned her BA in African American Studies from Metropolitan State University of Denver, and her MA in Higher Education with an emphasis in Leadership and Organizational Change from the University of Denver. Tracey is a proud graduate of the 2010 Chamber Connect Leadership Program and recipient of their 2010 Inclusive Excellence award, serves as a board member for the national Association of Black Culture Centers, is currently the chair for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Epsilon Nu Omega Chapter's I.V.Y. League college preparation program for high school girls in the Denver Metro area and serves as the chair for the organization's scholarship committee.

CME graduate staff

(303) 871-2942 | Brenda Sifuentez, MA E-mail | Jason Shankle, MA E-mail | Sydney Spiller, MA E-mail

Brenda Sifuentez is originally from Oregon, but comes to DU most recently from Fresno, California. She is an alumnae of the University of Oregon, where she earned her BA in Ethnic Studies. After finishing her BA, she worked for the Oregon Student Association, a non-profit organization working on issues of access and affordability in public postsecondary education in Oregon. She then moved to California to attend California State University, Fresno where she earned her MA with distinction in Higher Education Administration and Leadership. She is a PhD student in the Higher Education program at the Morgridge College of Education. Her overall research is grounded in social justice and equity for historically underrepresented students, faculty, and staff. Her current research interests are examining how educational policies are affecting underrepresented communities and  the role of Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Jason is a native of Denver, Colorado. He is a Higher Education doctoral student at the Morgridge College of Education. He earned an MA in Psychology from Regis University and a BA in Marketing from Sam Houston State University. His research interests will focus on African-American students attrition, and social change education in underrepresented communities and curriculum development.

Sydney  is a second year Higher Education Masters student at the Morgridge College of Education. She earned her BA in Spanish from BSU in Idaho, her home state. Her areas of research interest include social justice education and critical Whiteness studies.

Office of Inclusion and Diversity

headshot of Dr Frank Tuitt, associate provost for Inclusive Excellence Frank Tuitt, EdD
Sr Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity and Inclusion

(303) 871-2591 | E-Mail

Dr Frank Tuitt is also an Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University's Morgridge College of Education. Dr Tuitt is a scholar devoted to the examination and exploration of topics related to access and equity in higher education; teaching and learning in racially diverse college classrooms; and diversity and organizational transformation. His research critically examines issues of race, Inclusive Excellence and diversity in and outside the classroom from the purview of faculty and students.

more about Dr Tuitt

Dr Tuitt is a co-editor and contributing author of the books Race and Higher Education: Rethinking Pedagogy in Diverse College Classrooms and Contesting the myth of a post-racial era: The continued significance of race in U.S. education. Some of Dr Tuitt's recent publications include: Enhancing visibility in graduate education: Black women's perceptions of inclusive pedagogical practice (International Journal of Teaching and Learning); Black like me: Graduate Students' Perceptions of their Pedagogical Experiences in Classes Taught by Black Faculty in a Predominantly White Institution (Journal of Black Studies); and Enacting Inclusivity Through Engaged Pedagogy: A Higher Education Perspective (Equity and Excellence in Education).

In the past, he has served as the Cabot Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University. Dr Tuitt is a Boston native of Caribbean descent and earned his doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2003. In 1997, he earned his MEd in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University, and his BA in Human Relations from Connecticut College in 1987, where he recently finished serving as a member of its Board of Trustees.

headshot of Debra Mixon Mitchell, PhD, Director of Diversity RecruitingDebra Mixon Mitchell, PhD
Director of Diversity Recruiting

(303) 871-2502 | E-Mail

Dr Mixon Mitchell performs work focused on the recruitment and hiring of university employees to fully utilize the resources gained from diversity and Inclusive Excellence. She is also teaches courses in the University's Graduate School of Social Work and The Women's College. Dr. Mixon Mitchell co-authored Beyond the question of color: Diversity issues in child welfare supervision (2009) and was a contributing author to Colorado's Child Welfare Practice Handbook (1998). Her areas of expertise include intercultural communication, organizational communication, clinical supervision and the development and delivery of competency-based and culturally competent pedagogy.

more about Debbie Mixon Mitchell

Dr Mixon Mitchell maintains a commitment to service within the professional community. She was awarded Governor Bill Ritter, Jr's Service & Leadership Award as an intercultural specialist (with expertise in youth development and cultural competence) during the Haitian Orphan Operation following the tragic earthquake in Haiti. Dr. Mixon Mitchell also served on the Governor's Cultural Competence subcommittee to the Colorado Child Welfare Action committee in 2008-09. Previous to that she was a member of the Colorado Department of Human Services' Minority Over Representation committee in 2003. Her service work within the community connects large and small scale projects, and has opened up dialogue about diversity and social justice issues for diverse constituencies.

Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (In)Equality (IRISE)

headshot of Tom I Romero, II, JD, PhD, Assistant Provost for IE Research & Curriculum InitiativesTom I Romero, II, JD, PhD
Assistant Provost for IE Research & Curriculum Initiatives

(303) 871-7784| E-Mail

Tom is an Associate Professor at the DU Sturm College of Law and an Affiliate Faculty of the Department of History, who joins us for the 2013-14 academic year to oversee the implementation of the IRISE initiative. In his role as Assistant Provost, Tom will be working to make the University of Denver one of the premier institutions in the country for the rigorous study of social and institutional inequality.

more about Tom Romero

An undergraduate alum of DU, Tom received his JD and PhD from the University of Michigan, and has long worked and researched on issues related to race and the American West. He is currently revising a book manuscript on multiracial formation and the law in post-World War II Denver, Colorado. He also is the author of a forthcoming chapter on State Responses to Immigration analyzing the history of state-level immigration enforcement against Mexicans in the United States, an essay on the ways to understand immigration law and policy as part of the new Jim Crow, and an article on the future of race and education law.

Tom has also served as an expert witness or has been part of the litigation team in cases involving the legal history of education in Colorado, the rights of Latinos in voting rights and redistricting cases, and affirmative action litigation. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Latino Leadership and Research Agency (CLLARO), and is an active member of Latino/a Critical Theory (LatCrit), the Law and Society Association, and the Western History Association. Further information on Tom, including his most recent research, can be found on the School of Law website.

Graduate staff

(303) 871-2942 | Kawanna Bright, MLIS E-Mail | Varaxy Yi, MLIS E-mail

Kawanna is a native of Tennessee who comes to DU most recently from Miami, Florida. She is an alumnae of the University of Oklahoma, where she earned her BA with Distinction in Psychology, and of the University of Washington, where she earned her MLIS. She is currently a doctoral student in the Morgridge College of Education Research Methods and Statistics PhD program, with a focus on institutional research. Kawanna is transitioning from an eleven year career as an academic librarian where her research interests focused on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented populations into library and information science, academic library management, and information literacy and critical thinking skills development.

Varaxy is a Higher Education doctoral student at the Morgridge College of Education. Varaxy earned a BA in English and BS in Business Administration from the University of the Pacific; she also holds an MLIS degree from San Jose State University. Her research interests center around underrepresented students, specifically Southeast Asian American college student attainment, and graduate student socialization.