Past Event: The First of Women: The Urgency for Change in Institutional Leadership

Join us for a Heritage Months initiative in partnership with C+V

On the 20th of January 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first Women to hold the second highest position in the government of the United States of America. A century and half have gone by since the Seneca Falls Convention where women first advanced what was then a radical notion that American women were autonomous individuals with political power. However, even now women are still achieving “firsts” in various disciplines, leadership, and industry. In this conversation we ask some trailblazing women who are firsts in their positions in institutional leadership about the experience of shattering glass ceilings and the continuing struggle to shed patriarchal systems of thinking and practice.

Thursday, March 11, 2021 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

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Representative Iman Jodeh

Representative Iman Jodeh
Colorado House of Representatives, 41st District

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    Iman is the Representative for House District 41 in Aurora, Colorado. As a first generation American, born to Palestinian immigrants and refugees, she has call Colorado, specifically HD41, home her entire life. As the first Muslim and Arab woman elected to the Colorado State Legislature, she is passionate about social justice work and advocates for criminal justice reform, universal healthcare, fighting the rising cost of healthcare, increasing access to jobs and education, ensuring equal and civil rights for all, and combating our climate crisis.

    Iman is the Founder and Executive Director of the locally based non-profit, Meet the Middle East (MTME), which fosters relationships between the US and the Middle East through education and immersion travel. As the first female Spokesperson for the Colorado Muslim Society, the largest and oldest mosque in the Rocky Mountain region, Iman also plays a major role in representing the Muslim community on a variety of social justice areas statewide. She the form Community Advocate and Liaison at the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado where she has spent many years on the frontlines during the Colorado legislative session fighting for progressive legislation including, but not limited to, Repeal of the Death Penalty, Equal Pay for Equal Work, Ban the Box, Family Medical Leave Insurance Program, Protect Colorado Residents from Federal Government Overreach, Sunset Continue Civil Rights Division and Commission, Repeal Exception to Constitutional Ban on Slavery, and In-State Tuition for Refugees, Combat Interpreters and Other Foreign Nationals. She is also a proud board member at Ready to Work Aurora, and board member emeritus at the Village Exchange Center, and the Women’s Lobby of Colorado. Iman lectured at the University of Denver’s University College Enrichment Program and taught The Israeli Palestinian Conflict: From Ancient History to Today’s Headlines, as well as Life Under Occupation: A Palestinian Perspective, and Islam 101.

    In 2006, she received her master’s in Public Policy from the University of Colorado at Denver. Subsequently, she worked for the Abraham Path Initiative where she assisted with fundraising, women’s engagement, policy, and economic development in the Middle East. She also worked at the University of Denver’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning where she had the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge on structuring and implementing service-learning projects. Iman is fluent in Arabic and maintains a second home in Ramallah, Palestine. In her free times, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her large family, and fly fishing the beautiful rivers of Colorado.

Maria Salazar headshot

Dr. María Salazar
Professor, Teaching and Learning Sciences and Teacher Education Program, Morgridge College of Education

Deb Ortega headshot

Dr. Deb Ortega (she/her/hers)
Professor & Director, University of Denver Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship, GSSW

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    Dr. Debra Ortega is the founding director of the Latinx Center at the University of DenverLinks to an external site., and a Professor at the DU Graduate School of Social Work and the DU/Iliff Joint PhD Program in the Study of Religion. She is an award-winning teacher and mentor, whose academic work examines the process by which social power, exclusion, and dehumanization creates societal inequity and injustice.  Her scholarship addresses the way that everyday white supremacy affects Latinx people in health, education and immigration.  As the co-editor of Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work (2011-2017) she co-authored editorials such as Enacting and sustaining trauma and violence through policy enforcement; Benevolent Hegemony; From inclusion to radical attention to exclusion; and Complacency, violence and gender.  

    She earned her degrees from The University of San Diego in Religious Studies, Portland State University School (MSW), and University of Washington School of Social Welfare (PhD). She is proud to be a first-generation college student.  She recognizes her family (Robert Ortega, Rosie Ortega, Charles O’Bosky, and Venessa Ortega,), her mentors (Drs. E. Jane Via, Joseph Gallegos, Cheryl Richie and Lorraine Gutierrez), her partner Deborah Jean Carlson, and DU GSSW Dean Amanda Moore McBride without whom her professional and educational accomplishments would not have been possible. It takes more than a village to raise a child, it takes commitment, confrontation and love through the difficult times.

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Provost Mary Clark, Facilitator
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor, University of Denver

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    Mary Clark, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor, comes to DU from American University in Washington, D.C., where she has most recently been serving as deputy provost and dean of faculty. Mary previously served as dean of academic affairs and senior vice provost for four years before serving as interim provost from July 2018–January 2019. In these senior leadership roles, Mary has overseen American University’s Study Abroad Programs, Career Center, International Accelerator Program and Center on Teaching, Research and Learning. She also has led the implementation of strategic planning goals related to teaching and learning, inclusive pedagogy, experiential education, interdisciplinary education and the scholar-teacher ideal.