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Women's Conference

Women's Conference

Schedule of Workshops and Presentations

Program at a Glance

8:00 - 8:45: Registration and Breakfast
Driscoll Ballroom (Room 225)

9:00 - 9:25: Welcome
Driscoll Ballroom (Room 225)

9:45 - 10:45: Workshop Session I
Chambers Center

11:00 - 12:00: Workshop Session II
Chambers Center

12:15 - 1:45: Keynote and Luncheon
Driscoll Ballroom (Room 225)

2:00 - 3:30: Workshop Session III
Chambers Center

3:30 - 5:00: Reception (sponsored by WAND)
Chambers Center Garden Room

Keynote Speaker

The Keynote Speaker this year is Johanna Leyba, Assistant Provost for Campus and Community Partnerships at DU's Center for Multicultural Excellence.

Johanna's Bio

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.

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 including Women, Latinos and Native Americans, and helped facilitate the Minority Intern and Scholarship Program.

Johanna began her professional career in the nonprofit sector working for Mi Casa Resource Center for Women directing an all girls career development program. She later served as the Executive Director of community based health clinic La Clinica Tepeyac serving primarily Spanish speaking uninsured Latinos with programming emphasizing women’s health. Johanna spent 11 years managing and supporting nonprofit programs and organizations focused on women and 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, fundraising planning, program development and evaluation and support of executive leadership. Lastly, Johanna served on a number of local political campaigns to elect Latinas into public office.

In 2002, Johanna was selected to participate in the National Hispana Leadership Institute—an executive leadership training program. She was the second youngest in her class of 20 selected from around the country. She later served as a mentor and supporter of the local Latina leadership program, the Circle of Latina Leadership, an organization for which she still supports.

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, Inclusive Excellence Collective, the Annual Diversity Summit and most recently began overseeing the Women’s Coalition. Under her leadership, the Women’s Coalition has created new infrastructures, increased participation and established stronger ties with the Women’s Leadership Council with the intention of shaping the women’s agenda at DU.

Johanna’s life and career have been dedicated to supporting the growth and development of People of Color and Women and feels blessed to be able to continue this work as an employee of the University of Denver.

Workshops and Presentations

All sessions are held in the Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women.

Session 1: 9:45 - 10:45

Leadership Management - Room 150

Peg Bradley-DoppesVice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation

Leadership is as leadership does. What are you doing to develop your leadership skills? What type of leader are you today and what type of leader do you aspire to be in the future. This session is a fun, hand-on session on how to develop yourself as a leader. 

Become an Energy Master Manager - Room 350

Alex Gil, Holistic Lifestyle Coach

Energy is the most important fundamental force of health, high performance and happiness. A holistic workforce is physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with both personal purpose and professional values.

This presentation is about teaching business leaders and their staff about the importance of expanding energy and deepen their abilities to handle stress. We can't expand time but we can expand energy. Time has no value unless met with energy and purpose.

About the Presenter: Alex is originally from Brazil and has been in the USA for 17 years. She is a Holistic Lifestyle Coach with 20 years of experience in the wellness and fitness industry. For the last 2 years, she has dedicated her time to deepen her knowledge on the effects of chronic stress in our health and how disease, poor brain performance and disfunction occur in our bodies, affecting our life, work, relationships and well being. She works with individuals and groups in how to achieve their highest levels of health, vitality and performance. She has been bringing this knowledge to the work force to teach business leaders the importance of having a healthy team in order to maintain the harmony and success of a company by cutting health care costs, absence rates and lack of engagement.

Women and Negotiation - Room 260

Michelle Sas, Business Administration Student, Colorado Women's College

This workshop will focus on the benefits of ethical, interest based negotiation. It will discuss different types of negotiation and negotiation strategies, including email negotiation. We will dissect the average woman's fear of negotiation and offer helpful techniques and practical solutions to overcoming that fear. Real life situations will be examined.

About the Presenter:  Michelle Sas comes to Denver, Colorado via Miami, Florida where she was an active member of the arts community. She is the former owner of an internationally renowned custom photography lab and fine art photography gallery. While in Miami, Michelle created internship programs for local high schools and colleges and was recognized by Miami-Dade County for her consistent and unique support of arts education. She is also the co-founder of the Lumpy Sue Acoustic MusicFest, an annual benefit for Habitat for Humanity that has helped over 700 families obtain affordable housing in south Florida. Michelle is currently a senior at the Colorado Women's College majoring in business administration with a focus on economics and business information. She is also a Supplemental Instructor for CWC's Negotiation and Bargaining course and Principles of Persuasion course taught by Robert Melvin, PhD.

Personal Values and Social Identities: Overcoming Assumptions Based on One's Identities - Room 160

Aleja Parsons, M.A., Doctoral Candidate, Clinical Psychology

This workshop will consider the assumption that individuals have interests, beliefs, and values consistent with those (stereo)typically held by others with similar identities. The workshop will also focus on assumptions that those with minoritized identities have research interest relevant to her/his identity. Lastly, the workshop will discuss the issue of others questioning the credibility and validity of research that is relevant to one's social identities. The goal of the workshop is to provide strategies for individuals to (1) navigate such assumptions by reconciling conflicts between personal ideologies and the ideologies (s)he is presumed to hold and (2) explore strategies to overcome the detrimental effects these assumptions may have on personal health and professional development.

About the Presenter:  Aleja is pursuing her PhD as a third year graduate student at the University of Denver. Her research interests include exploring how race and culture impact African American marital relationships and family structures. Specifically, she hopes to conduct research that will advance the understanding of how contextual and environmental factors (e.g., culturally informed stigmas, racism) negatively impact romantic and family relationships, marital success, and child functioning among African Americans. Furthermore, she is interested in investigating potential protective factors (e.g., ethnic identity, community support) that may buffer against negative outcomes experienced by this population. She hopes to use this research to develop a culturally relevant intervention program that considers experiences unique to this population as well as those that transcend group differences. Aleja received her M.A. from the University of Denver in 2014 and her thesis focused on how attitudes towards marriage, divorce and cohabitation impact dating decisions and relationship satisfaction. Aleja graduated summa cum laude with her B.S. in psychology from Howard University in 2010. Aleja has also spent time traveling in Europe, West Africa and Southeast Asia which inspire her future goals to apply a global perspective to the advancement of research on African American couples and families.

Defining Leadership: Forging a Personal Path - Room 360

Pat Greer, MBA, Academic Director, University College
Nicole M. Russell, PhDAssistant Professor of Curriculum Studies & Teaching, Morgridge College of Education

This interactive and empowering session will explore definitions of leadership via the experiences of women from different backgrounds, profession levels, and experiences. The participants will learn from each other about ways to further develop their leadership skills as well as explore opportunities to provide leadership both on DU campus and within their own communities.

About the Presenters:
Pat Greer spent 23 years in municipal government before joining the University of Denver as the Academic Director of the Leadership and Change plus the Strategic Human Resource Management masters programs at University College in 2008. She is currently a co-investigator with Dr. Irene Frederick, University of Denver, on a grant addressing rural population health disparity, specifically the recruitment and retention of rural physicians. Antidotal research suggests current rural track medical school training does not adequately prepare either residents or physicians to establish ties to communities, leading to lack of attachment and retention. Their research will identify skills needed for community engagement and develop trial curriculum for students, residents, and practicing physicians through University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus."

Dr. Russell received her PhD from the University of Washington. She has over 10 years of teaching and coaching experience in urban schools. Dr. Russell previously held a mathematics instructional coach position at TAF Academy, a STEM and college readiness school in Seattle. Her research interests include examining the role of race and culture in mathematics teaching and learning specifically for African American students, working with pre-service and in-service teachers to operationalize components of culturally responsive mathematics teaching into explicit instructional practices, and the history of mathematics education of African Americans (1860s to 20th century). Dr. Russell enjoys spending time with family and friends and getting spa treatments

Session 2: 11:00 - 12:00

Sistah Network: Black - Room 150

Evette Allen, MA, Doctoral Candidate, Higher Education Program, Morgridge College of Education
Nicole M. Russell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Curriculum Studies & Teaching, Morgridge College of Education

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the audience to an organization, the Sistah Network, which is a mentoring program for Black graduate women at the University of Denver. One of the main goals of this organization is to enhance the educational and social experiences of Black graduate women. This presentation will highlight participant responses to the following broad themes: their perception of the program, why they participate in the program, academic or social benefits of the program, and strengths or areas of improvement for the program. Results offer implications for why such spaces are important for marginalized groups.

About the Presenters:
Evette Allen is a PhD Student in the Higher Education Program at the University of Denver. Her research interests include examining racial identity and the acting white label for academically successful Black college students, and examining best practices for engaging first year students in issues of diversity and social justice.

Dr. Nicole M. Russell is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Denver. With a research agenda rooted in the tenet of liberation, Dr. Russell uses critical race theory and multicultural education frames in pursuit of equity and social justice for Black females with a particular focus on mathematics education.

Leading as a Whole Person - Room 360

Helena Karchere, MBA, Marketing and Events Manager, Career Services

Feeling like your leadership is lacking authority? Or are you getting feedback that you aren't compassionate enough? Start the process of embracing ALL parts of yourself so you can be the powerful, visionary, wise, and loving leader you want to be!

Explore the four main archetypes that are a part of every person (Sovereign, Warrior, Magician, and Lover) through this powerful, experiential session with Shadow Work® coach Helena Karchere. Childhood teaches us what is "acceptable", so we understandably learn to highlight some aspects of ourselves and put others away in "shadow". As adults we may notice those shadows coming out in challenging and damaging ways in relationships, at work, as we parent, etc. In this introductory hour, get inspired to find out what gold might really be in your shadow and learn how to access those aspects of yourself in healthy ways.

About the Presenter:  Helena Karchere facilitates groups and coaches individuals to transform "stuck" patterns and embrace empowering ways of being in the world. She is a certified Shadow Work® coach, helping people access more of their wisdom, power, joy, and loving heart. Helena integrates that practice with knowledge of the Enneagram Personality System, and EnneaMotion--integrating movement into emotional healing processes. She works full time at DU as the Marketing and Events Manager of Career Services. Visit her blog at

Move Up or On - Room 350

Courtney Kirschbaum, CEO and Founder, CK Consulting and Her Next Move

This session is a transition inspiring experience for emerging leaders. If you've ever said to yourself "I'm as good or better than them, why am I not leading this?", this session is for you and will offer you insights on how to transition to leadership. Participants begin to learn a proven success framework to create a dynamic environment for success and authentic, confident leadership.

Using humor and real life examples from over a decade of working around the globe for the world's largest consulting firms, Courtney shares 'lesson's learned' from her own leadership and that of the leaders she's encountered. This material will help bring the clarity required to make authentic, inspired choices and mature as a leader. Tools to implement leadership vision are also introduced. It is not uncommon for people to leave this presentation galvanized and more clear on vision and ready to step into leadership roles.

About the Presenter:  Courtney Kirschbaum is a nationally recognized speaker and one of this year's semi-finalists in the eWomen Network's North America's Next Greatest Speaker Contest. For over 15 years, she held senior positions for Fortune 500 global consulting firms, KPMG, Deloitte and BearingPoint - while there, Courtney observed a gap in leadership and personal development. Her goal is to help people identify self-limiting beliefs, and give them the skills and knowledge to break through them to get the careers they want and deserve. She creates one-of-a-kind programs, helping professionals to make fearless, inspired decisions enabling them to go for and get what they want. Courtney also founded "Her Next Move" to guide soon-to-be and recently graduates successfully and happily transition from college to career and life.

Our Own Worst Enemy: How to Address the Challenges We Bring to the Workplace - Room 160

Shelly Smith-Acuña, Ph.D., Dean, Graduate School of Professional Psychology

This workshop will address some of the potential negative effects of gender socialization on workplace interactions, and how these can be recognized and corrected.

About the Presenter: Shelly Smith-Acuna is the Dean of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from Loyola University of Chicago in 1989, and completed postdoctoral training in couple and family therapy at the Family Institute at Northwestern University in Chicago. She came to the University of Denver in 1992 as an assistant professor, and served as Director of Clinical Training, Director of the PsyD Program, and Associate Dean before becoming dean. In addition to her responsibilities as Dean, Shelly teaches systems theory, family therapy, and couples therapy at GSPP. She is the author of Systems Theory in Action: Applications to Individual, Couple, and Family Therapy, November 2010 and maintains a small private practice in Denver with a specialty in couple and family therapy. 

Enhance your Cognitive and Leadership Superpowers with Neural Self-Hacking - Room 260

Debra Austin, JD, PhD, Lawyering Process Professor, Sturm College of Law

Thomas Edison said "the chief function of the body is to carry the brain around." Neuroscience reveals our brain needs our body to keep it healthy. Competence in body intelligence (BQ) requires three pillars: awareness of your body; knowledge of how to sustain optimal health; and engagement in a wellness action plan. An emerging component of BQ is brain health literacy. Neuroplasticity empowers each brain owner to improve cognitive fitness by neural self-hacking. Innovative leaders engage in neural self-hacking and cultivate cognitive wellness initiatives.

This workshop enhances brain health knowledge and encourages cognitive fitness engagement. It identifies the areas of the brain involved in cognition and describes the neuroscience of learning and memory formation. It explains the impact of stress on cognition and concludes by connecting the neuroscience with recommendations to maximize cognitive function. Participants will leave this workshop with a neural self-hacking cognitive fitness action plan.

About the Presenter:  Debra's teaching and research is focused on lawyering skills, the neuroscience of cognition, and how technology enhances teaching and learning. Debra received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Colorado; her J.D. from the University of San Francisco; and her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Denver. Debra received the William T. Driscoll Master Educator Award in 2001. Debra's CV and article, Killing Them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die from Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Cognitive Performance, 59 LOY. L. REV. (Winter 2014, Forthcoming), are available at:

Session 3: 2:00 - 3:30

Be a "B.O.S.S.": How to Harness Your Power to Prevent Violence - Room 350

Dr. Gillian Kaag, Ph.D, Program Director, Center for Advocacy, Prevention, & Empowerment (CAPE)

This workshop focuses on the issue of leadership on DU's campus and teaches practical bystander intervention skills for students to use in order to prevent violence from happening in our community. To "Be a B.O.S.S." individuals must: 1) Be aware, 2) Observe the situation, 3) Size up their options, and 4) Speak up and act. This interactive training provides participants with the tools to know when and how to "Be a B.O.S.S." and helps participants gain the confidence to take action when it is needed, particularly around the issue of preventing sexual violence.

About the Presenter:  Dr. Gillian Kaag joined the University of Denver in December 2012 as the Program Director for the Center for Advocacy, Prevention, and Empowerment and as a licensed psychologist for the Health and Counseling Center. Dr. Kaag has her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with additional specialization in community psychology and program evaluation. Specific to her community psychology background, Dr. Kaag has over 14 years experience in interpersonal violence prevention at organizational, community and state levels. Some highlights in interpersonal violence prevention include her work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Domestic Violence Enhancement and Leadership through Alliances (DELTA) program where she was a consultant in OH and later served as a state steering committee member in NC. Dr. Kaag also was selected for the Program in Research in Innovation in Disparities Education (PRIDE) track for her pre-doctoral internship where she led a program evaluation project with a domestic violence agency in NY. Specific to her clinical background, Dr. Kaag has a strong generalist background with clinical expertise in the areas of PTSD, trauma, sexual assault and interpersonal violence, relational problems, depression, suicidal ideation, dreams/nightmares, grief and loss, and life transitions.

What's Your Picture of Excellence? Explore how maximizing your top 5 signature strengths (StrengthsFinder 2.0) can lead to professional and personal success! - Room 160

Aimee Neu, Learning and Development Manager, Human Resources

Learn your top five signature strengths, what they mean and how to draw out the best in yourself and those around you for increased success and engagement. Prior to the course, participants will be asked to complete the online assessment and review their action planning guide. The online assessment will be provided at no cost to participants. This session has a capacity of 35 participants.

About the Presenter:  Human resources professional with a generalist background and experience in program development and management, volunteer management, fundraising, event planning and 18 years of teaching experience with all ages. Top 5 Signature Strengths: - Developer - Empathy - Positivity - Connectedness - Responsibility

Women at the University of Denver: A reflection on our past and present to inform our goals for the future - Room 260

Gina Johnson, PhD, Director, Institutional Research & Analysis
Meghan Gallo, MA, JD  

In this workshop, the presenters will share historical information and longitudinal data on women at the University of Denver including data on students, faculty, staff, and administration, reviewing areas where women are over- or underrepresented. A historical timeline of women at the University will also be presented. The workshop will also include small and large group discussions of data patterns, answering questions such as:

  • "How have gender roles changed at DU?"
  • "Are we moving in the right direction?"
  • "What would we like these data to look like in another 10 or 20 years?"
  • "What do we need to do individually and collectively to reach these goals?"

The workshop is designed to challenge assumptions about women at DU, reflect on our historical and current roles, and empower collective and individual goal-setting and achievement for women's leadership on campus.

About the Presenters:  
Gina Johnson serves as the director of Institutional Research and Analysis at the University of Denver. Prior to her arrival at DU in January 2013, Gina worked in institutional research at the University of California, Merced. She has almost twenty years of experience in the field of education as an instructor, faculty development coordinator, policy analyst, and institutional researcher. Gina received her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and focused on the use of surveys to measure involvement in program evaluation in her dissertation research.

Meghan Gallo is the Senior Research Analyst in Institutional Research and Analysis at DU. She began working in IRA in 2008 and has been involved since then in the internal and external reporting needs of the University. In 2013, Meghan earned her JD from the Sturm College of Law. Prior to working for DU, she completed her Masters in Political Science, studying state courts and institutions.

Achieving Authenticity as a Woman Leader - Room 360

Dr. Kelly Kinnewbrew, Senior Faculty Member, Center for Creative Leadership

This interactive session will focus on the learnings gained from years as an organizational strategy consultant and executive coach, in particular what women leaders struggle with in holding these roles in business. Stories and suggestions of ways to maintain and recover one's own authenticity in the face of multiple pressures to morph into something less than one's true and centered self will be discussed. An issue of our time as women continue to find paths to excellence and prominence in their leadership roles.

About the Presenter:  Dr. Kinnebrew holds 15 years of experience in organizational consulting, business transformation and strategy, change leadership, consulting psychology, and executive coaching. Kelly's career has merged organizational and leadership psychology in roles with large and small consultancies including Andersen Consulting, Oracle Consulting, and Right Management in the capacities of change management consultant, HR generalist, organizational consultant, engagement design lead, and executive coach. She has specialized expertise in organizational assessment and feedback and held the role of key account consultant and educator with Consulting Psychologists Press. Additionally, Kelly holds years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist in two university settings and as a partner in an established executive career development practice. In her current position with Center for Creative Leadership, she splits her time between coaching senior leaders and teams, partnering on the design and delivery of strategy and transformation solutions for large organizations and multinationals, and classroom-based training and coaching intensives. She specializes in organizational culture, cross-cultural strategy and leadership, and M&A strategy.

Identifying and Developing Leadership Skills and Strengths - Room 250

Rosalynn Feagins, MBA, Treasury Specialist, Controller's Office
Dan DeLaTorre , Manager of Cost Analysis, Controller's Office

No one is a natural born leader. We all have leadership qualities just waiting to be discovered and put to work toward our success. Learn to see yourself as a leader. Discover your leadership style by taking the time to do an honest assessment and developing a plan for improvement to catapult you toward endless possibilities.

About the Presenters:  
Ms. Feagins graduated from North Texat State University in Denton, texas in 1984 with a Bachelor's Degree in Management. She began her career with Westinghouse Credit Corporation as a credit analyst working in Dallas, St. Louis and Minneapolis. After Westinghouse, Ms. Feagins spent 14 years with Wells Fargo in positions including credit analyst, collector, bankruptcy specialist, banker and branch manager. She transitioned to the University of Denver in 2000 as a Treasury Specialist where she performs cash management and treasury analysis and also serves as Assistant Secretary for the University.

Mr. DeLaTorre gradutated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration degree with an Accounting major and also holds a graduate certificate from the University of Denver in Leadership and Organizations. He is currently pursuing another Centificate in Organization and Professional Communication. Mr. DeLaTorre has been with the University of Denver since 2008. Prior to the University of Denver, Mr. DeLaTorre served as Controller and Strategic Planning Manager at Louis Dreyfus Citrus' North American Headquarters in Winter Garden Florida and auditor at Ernst & Young in Toledo, Ohio

Leadership as Learning: Effective Leadership by Understanding and Applying Learning Principles - Room 290

Virginia Pitts, PhD, Associate Director, Office of Teaching and Learning
Bridget D. Arend, Phd, Director of University Teaching, Office of Teaching and Learning

John F. Kennedy wrote, "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." To be effective leaders, individuals should be lifelong learners, modeling and applying effective learning principles in their personal lives as well as in their organizational practices. This competence is built by having an understanding of how learning works. In this session, the facilitators will provide some background on how people learn, drawing from literature in cognitive science, education, and psychology, with a focus on learning as a constructive process in which motivation and engagement are essential. Participants will reflect on the barriers and opportunities for learning in their own organizations and communities, identify ways in which they might practice "learning leadership" in these contexts, and discover how the notion of oneself as a "learning leader", combined with an understanding of how people learn, can empower not only those of us who lead but those we lead as well.

About the Presenters:  
After an 11-year career as a business process and change management consultant, Virginia's love of learning led her to return to graduate school at Northwestern University, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences, with a research focus on student motivation and engagement in project-based curricula. Upon completing her Ph.D., she spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow studying distributed leadership and culture in schools, and then spent several years applying her understanding of learning, motivation, and engagement to leadership roles at National Geographic Education (where she was a professional development consultant) and as an adjunct faculty member with the masters of education programs at Regis University and the University of Colorado-Denver. She is now the Associate Director in DU's Office of Teaching and Learning.

Bridget D. Arend is the Director of University Teaching at the Office of Teaching and Learning at the University of Denver and also teaches as an adjunct in the Morgridge College of Education and University College. She organizes and facilitates teaching-related initiatives for higher education faculty and has consulted in the areas of teaching, learning and assessment for both educational and corporate settings for over 15 years. She publishes in the area of online learning and educational technology in higher education and recently co-authored "Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning: A Resource for more Purposeful, Effective, and Enjoyable College Teaching".