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regional student social justice leadership summit


CO-LEADS name title, spealling out COlorado Leadership for Equity, Advocacy and Discovering Social Justice
COLEADS program compass artwork


Friday, October 7, 2016

at the Auraria Higher Education Campus, downtown Denver

what | theme | keynote presenter | schedule | workshops | location | registration | volunteer | past | questions

What is CO-LEADS?

This annual leadership summit brings together college students from across Colorado to join in discussions of social justice, activism, advocacy, and social change. Students participate in a day of interactive workshops, speaker and networking sessions that challenge, grow, inspire and empower them to make change in their own lives and their communities.

CO-LEADS was established in 2009 by a group of individuals on the Auraria and DU campuses as a way to build intercampus connections and to bridge discussions of leadership and social justice in a meaningful way. The 2016 Summit is co-sponsored by the Community College of Denver, the Iliff School of Theology, Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver.

Theme & Goals

For 2016, we engaged Justice for the Vote: Electoral Equity in a Diverse Democracy . Our keynote and workshops focused on civic engagement, voter suppression, bipartisanship, ballot issue and the electoral process.

By actively participating in CO-LEADS, students:

  • Explore their role in systems of privilege and oppression in our society, specifically Voting Rights and Justice, Electoral Equality, and becoming involved in the political process;
  • Connect with students from their own and other Colorado campuses, creating a larger network for collaboration and change making; and
  • Engage a wide range of opportunities available to make positive change in our society.

Specifically, every participant will:

  1. Deepen their understanding of their own and others’ identities, and of the intersections of these experiences
  2. Consider at least one way in which electoral equality positively and/or negatively impacts in/equity in our society
  3. Leave each session, and the day overall, with action commitments for positive change on their campus and in their community

Keynote Presenter

Our 2016 keynote speaker was Rep Joseph Salazar, the state representative in Colorado House District 31, which includes most of Thornton and parts of unincorporated Adams County. Rep. Salazar is vice-chair of the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee and also serves on the Judiciary Committee. Full bio here


The schedule includes a common workshop for all participants, and breakout workshops by peers, colleagues and community members. The day-of program will detail these for attendees.


The Summit ran 8.30am - 4pm on Friday, October 7, 2016. Specifically,

8.30-9am -- Registration and Breakfast

9-9.30am -- Welcome, Energizer, and Opening Keynote

9.45-11am -- Common Workshop

11.15am-12.30pm -- 1st Breakout Session

12.30-1.30pm -- Lunch

1.30-2.45pm -- 2nd Breakout Session

3-4pm -- Closing Keynote, Reflection, and Action Steps


CO-LEADS takes place on the Auraria Higher Education Campus in downtown Denver. The campus is served by multiple bus (nearest routes 1, 8, 15, 16, 20, 30L, 36L) and light rail lines (nearest station = Colfax at Auraria). Hourly/daily rate visitor parking is also available.

We begin and end in the Tivoli Turnhalle (900 Auraria Parkway, Denver 80204), and hold workshop sessions there and/or in the classroom building next door. All facilities are ADA-accessible.


Most of the actual cost of CO-LEADS is underwritten by our sponsoring institutions as in investment in their students. However there is a nominal registration fee for each participant based on attendee's institution (sponsor or non-sponsor) and date of registration.

Online registration has CLOSED. Interested students could still register, pay and check-in on site; schedule and location above.

2016 Rates: 

  • participants from sponsoring institutions: $10
  • participants from non-sponsoring institutions: $20

An additional $5 late fee was added to ALL registrations after 8am on Friday, September 30th, including day-of registrations. (Registering well in advance is rewarded because it helps us best plan for and prepare food, space, materials, etc.) We are not able to offer refunds or waive fees for no-shows, as the committed purchases are already made.

Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and all conference materials and sessions. We strive to make CO-LEADS accessible to all interested by providing for a wide range of diets and abilities, and keeping the conference costs low. We encourage students to seek organizations or offices on your campus who will sponsor your registration fee as in investment in your leadership.

GROUPS: Interested in bringing a group of students from your institution? We encourage campus teams to attend, and can work with staff/faculty/advisors to coordinate sponsorship payment for groups. (A separate initial registration will need to be completed for each attendee; but we'll work directly with sponsor on payment via single invoice, direct pay or purchasing card payments, etc.) Contact us via Questions, below.


Previous CO-LEADS participants are invited to take a greater role in shaping this year's summit, by serving in one or more of roles below. Selected volunteers will have their registration fee waived.

  • Planning Committee member: An immediate way to enact your CO-LEADS and other learnings, is to help shape future CO-LEADS events for future participants. The committee meets all year long at the Auraria campus, and can make arrangements for joining by phone/video for those unable to physically join us.
  • Common Workshop Co-Facilitator: We hope to provide more experienced students the opportunity to co-present the common workshop (e.g., Privilege Beads in past years), with a Planning Committee professional member. If selected, you would have to attend a training session (TBD). TO APPLY: You'll be asked to submit a one-page description of why you want to facilitate, what you got out of previous common workshops, and what you would add to the discussion, along with your your name, and what year(s) you attended CO-LEADS.
  • Program Selection Committee: Did you love the workshops at previous CO-LEADS... but maybe some more than others? Did you feel like there was a topic or type of activity not included? Be part of the team that chooses the workshops for the conference. Your feedback as a previous participant is invaluable in determining which workshops should return and which new ones we should add this year. You'd join the Committee in September to review and discuss proposals. TO APPLY: You'll submit a ½-to-one page description of why you want to be on the committee and what you would add to the discussion, along with your name, and what year(s) you attended CO-LEADS.
  • Day-of Summit Staff: We'll also need help on the day of the conference with set-up/breakdown, registration or other logistics.

If you are interested in any of these roles, please contact us care of Steve Willich.


It is important to remember our history, both to honor the work of those before us, and to inform our actions moving forward. Click an annual theme below to open a PDF copy of the program/poster.

Questions? including day of...

Join us on Facebook for the latest updates on workshops, registration and more.

Please contact the CO-LEADS Planning Committee in care of Steve Willich with additional questions.