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Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence


We have begun posting 2018 Summit workshops below!

Eventually, this page will list all workshops by schedule, a summary schedule summary grid, and a compilation of presenter biographies. Details are subject to change, and will be included in the e-program and on posters/signs on site.

TO PROPOSE A WORKSHOP, please visit our Proposals page.

Culturally Responsive and Inclusive Practices for Developing and Sustaining a Positive Organizational Climate and Working Culture

All students do not come to school on a level playing field. Neither do faculty and staff. As a result, faculty and staff are constantly experiencing burnout via mental health issues, lack of motivation, and/or feelings of hopelessness. To combat these feelings, this session shares a Culturally Responsive framework which provides three approaches for participants to empower faculty and staff, develop a culture of inclusiveness and innovation, and to produce an organizational climate predicated by positive behaviors.

  • Aaron J Griffen, PhD, is the principal of Sierra High School in Colorado Springs. He earned his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Urban Education from Texas A&M University. He is a national presenter, guest lecturer, panelist, writer and reviewer for Urban Education Policy and Analysis and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. Dr Griffen currently serves as the Co-Chair of School-Community Partnerships SIG for the American Educational Research Association, and on the programming committee for the Educating Children of Color Summit in Colorado Springs. Dr Griffen has over 18 years of educational experience in K-12 and higher education; and his research interests include Cultural Competence, Curriculum and Instruction, and Qualitative Methodology.
  • Karen D Griffen, MEd, is a doctoral student of Educational Leadership in Interdisciplinary Studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She has over 22 years of educational experience in K-12 where she has served as an Ast Principal, Response to Intervention Specialist, Instructional Skills Specialist for English Language Arts and Social Studies, and a classroom teacher. Karen's research interests include Women's Studies, Spiritual Leadership, and Strategic Planning and Organizational Behaviors.

Equity in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics: Minority Perspectives on Major Privileges

For every 10 STEM professionals, only one is a woman, and just 12 per cent of engineers are people of color. Why are woman and minorities not being represented in the STEM field? In this session we will examine minority students' exposures to and barriers to access in the STEM fields. We will discuss the implications of Impostor Syndrome and its role in minority students' educational experiences. Finally, we will dialogue around supporting STEM students, specifically students of color, first-generation students, female students, and other historically underrepresented populations.

  • Megan Cuddihee Dempsey is a current graduate student in the Du Higher Education Master's program. She is an alumn of the University of Tennessee where she earned her degree in Communication Studies. Currently, Megan serves as the Inclusive Excellence Fellow for DU's Equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (E-STEM) program.
  • Christy Martinez-Saucedo is a current first year Master's graduate student in Higher Education at DU, and serves as a Graduate Resident Director for the Housing and Residential Education. Prior to DU, Christy graduated with a BS in Human Services with a concentration in Mental Health at California State University, Fullerton.

Just Sustainability: Examining the Intersection of Sustainability and Social Justice

This interactive session will involve an examination of what the intersection of sustainability and social justice looks like in theory and in practice. Audience will work in small and large groups to answer questions such as: What does sustainability and social justice mean to the University of Denver and the community in which it is embedded in? How does the intersection of sustainability and social justice differ from environmental justice? What does this intersection look like in practice? Who and whose voices are being included and excluded from this intersection? How can exclusionary processes and outcomes be addressed? How does ˜just sustainability" further the goals of inclusivity that sustainability and social justice, by themselves, do not? At the end of the session, participants will learn about how their values shape the intersection of sustainability and social justice.

  • Pranietha Mudliar, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in Environmental Justice and Sustainability at DU. Her research experiences are grounded in a global context including regions such as West Virginia and Colorado, USA, Karnataka, India, and East Africa. Together, they are united under the overarching goal of understanding how to increase the effectiveness of natural resource governance policies as well as improve the lives of poor and vulnerable populations. Specifically, she studies social dilemmas among socio-culturally heterogeneous groups of resource users situated in a context of poverty, inequalities, low state-institutional capacities, and scientific uncertainties.
  • Sarah M Bexell, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor who has been engaged in wildlife conservation, conservation education and humane education for many years. At GSSW, she supervises MSW students during summer internships in China. Currently the director of conservation education at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Bexell has participated in projects related to conservation, animal behavior, and education for 15 years.
  • Andrea Savage, MA, has a background in water resource conservation and community education. She has experience in working with municipalities, organizations, and community groups to forge collective, sustainable solutions to environmental issues. She has also established productive partnerships between governing bodies and organizations, schools, and community members, serving as a liaison for effective communication and cooperative solutions. She currently works at Groundwork Denver with community leaders to educate, develop, and grow grassroots community leaders and organizations through asset based community development. She also has expertise in sustainable living skills such as natural building, animal husbandry, grey water and rain collection, homesteading, and organic and low-water gardening.

Strategies of Survival for Critically Conscious Graduate Students

The direct determinism imposed on critically conscious graduate students is often overlooked in the University setting. By defining the limits of acceptable diversity, the University forces students to either suppress their authentic self or display a positionality that is administratively acceptable. This workshop will examine the various ways in which these students survive the threats to their authentic self. Participants will build skills to manage the oppressive and often psychologically devastating environment of higher education. Collaborative reflexive dialogue will be used to engage participants, along with the pedagogical tool of Reasoning Out Loud (ROL). ROL is a collective exercise that engages participants in reflexive recognition of the ways in which their authentic self can be accessed and preserved throughout their higher education experience.

  • Ceema Samimi, MSSW, MPA, is a second-year doctoral student in GSSW with interests in participatory and youth action research and other models that empower communities and flatten the hierarchy of academia. Her interests include alternative to incarceration and restorative justice as tool for positive youth development, youth voice, and inter-generational collaboration, especially with systems involved youth. She is specifically interested in how policies and structures of youth-serving organizations are influenced by legacies of colonization. Ceema earned her MPA at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and MSSW at Columbia University.
  • Amanda Thomas, MSc, is a second year doctoral student in Morgidge's Research Methods and Statistics program. She was a junior faculty member attached to the University of the Southern Caribbean and University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. This former Teacher of the Year nominee is interested in issues of access and equity for first generation and low-income students as well as the convergence properties of mixed methods approaches in creating post-colonial methodologies. Amanda earned her MSc in Sociology with Distinction at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus.

Validating Lived Experiences

How do your various identities create a unique perspective through which you interact with the world? Come participate in a group activity that will challenge you to reflect on how your identities intersect and influence your lived experience. In participating in this activity, you will be introduced to the concept of intersectionality and have the opportunity to share parts your own story. We will discuss how storytelling can serve as a method to validate yours and others' lived experiences.

  • Natalie Alvarado, MSEd, is in her 3rd year at DU as a Resident Director within Housing and Residential Education. She earned her Bachelors in Social Work and Spanish from Seattle University, and a MS in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University. Although originally from Southern California, she landed at DU due to her passion for social justice education and Inclusive Excellence being valued here. As a Resident Director, Natalie supervises Resident Assistants and Graduate Resident Directors in a 2nd year community. Outside of work, Natalie loves hanging out with her dog, Luna, and going to kickboxing classes.
  • Jillian Martinez is a Graduate Resident Director for DU Housing and Residential Education, and a second year graduate student in the Higher Education Administration master's program; and will graduate in Spring 2018 with an emphasis in Diversity and Inclusion. Jillian's passion for Inclusive Excellence, student organizations, and sense of belonging on college campuses at DU in undergrad led her to pursue a career in higher education. She continues to be involved on campus as the graduate advisor of the Latinx Student Alliance; and, in her free time, coaches ice skating at Joy Burns Arena.