Women of Color Task Force

About Us

The Women of Color Task Force (WCTF) is a University of Michigan staff organization, founded in 1979, that provides professional development, networking, and training opportunities for employees, with a focus on addressing the needs of women of color staff. The WCTF serves as a support network and a forum for the exchange of information about the status of women of color staff at the University of Michigan.


In 1979, Jennie Partee of the U-M Affirmative Action Office and Beulah Sanders of the School of Education created the Minority Women’s Task Force, a staff organization that would provide career development opportunities for minority women employed at the university. With additional support from the University of Michigan Affirmative Action Office (HRAA), the Human Resource Development Office, the School of Education, and the University of Michigan Hospital Office of Organizational Effectiveness (Medical Center), Ms. Partee and Ms. Sanders developed a series of workshops designed to build professional skills that would empower and support African American women in their career advancement efforts at the University of Michigan.

The format consisted of small groups of women coming together to discuss employment concerns and career development opportunities within the University. Over the course of the next four years, the membership grew and focused on enhancing the workshop training modules. These efforts culminated in a day-long career development conference on February 25, 1983, that featured eleven professional development workshops and more than two hundred conference participants.

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42nd Annual WCTF Career Conference

WCTF event graphic featuring speaker Tia White.

Leadership 2023-2024


  • Doreen Tinajero, LSA Center for Social Solutions (President, Policy Review and Advocacy Team)
  • Ellen Copeland-Brown, Michigan Medicine (Vice President, Outreach and Engagement)
  • Shante Galloway, School of Dentistry (Treasurer, Resource Development Team)
  • Katherine Weathers, LSA Scholarships (Secretary, Communications Team)

Executive Team Members

  • Zarinah Aquil, Office of the Provost (Membership Social Team)
  • LaTonya Berryhill, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (Program Development Team)
  • Patricia Coleman-Burns, School of Nursing (WOCAP Liaison)
  • Rachel Dawson, OAMI (Juneteenth Chair and Bylaws and Operations)
  • Mary Jo Gray, School of Dentistry
  • Linda Hart, Radiology
  • Monica Hickson, ITS (Technology)
  • Marlanna Landeros, Adolescent Health Initiative (Educational Assistance Team)
  • Janice Reuben, Alumni Association (Career Conference Chair, Resource & Recognition Team/Career Conference Team)
  • Sandy Zalmout, ICPSR (Resource and Recognition Team)
  • Robin Pankey, Program Coordinator (Historical Resource Team)

WCTF Committees

About the Committees

WCTF is committed to the professional development of our members. Our various committees provide avenues for individuals to explore new skills and areas of interest that are not only pertinent to their current roles but also align with their career advancement goals. Whether you have a knack for project management, a passion for event planning, a flair for social media management, or aspire to be a leader in your field, there’s a committee at WCTF that could benefit from your skills and expertise.

Resource and Recognition Team

Lead: Sandy Zalmout
Team Members: Liese Hull, Sade Wilson, Shareia Carter, Chanda Doxie, Linda Hart
Summary: Plans and implements the nomination, selection, and criteria process for a recognition awards ceremony.

Career Conference Team

Lead: Janice Reuben
Team Members: Michelle Curry, Zarinah Aquil, LaTonya Berryhill, Yatesha Robinson, Katherine Weathers, Ellen Copeland-Brown, Monica Hickson
Summary: The Career Conference Team is charged with planning and running the Annual Career Conference. They handle all aspects of the event, from determining the time and location to formatting the conference.

The Educational Assistance Team

Lead: Marlanna Landeros
Team Members: Vanessa Mayesky, Yatesha Robinson
Summary: Coordinates the approval and allocation of project funds used for the educational and career development of WCTF members using a PD Form. This team will also work with the WCTF Coordinator and ODEI Business Administrator to track the distribution of these funds.

The Historical Resource Team

Lead: Robin Pankey
Team Members: Tashia Munson, LaTonya Woods
Summary: Works with the WCTF Coordinator to document and facilitate the archival of WCTF materials (i.e. meeting minutes, conference promotional materials, training resources, etc.) for storage at the Bentley Historical Library.

The Membership/Social Team

Lead: Zarinah Aquil
Team Members: LaTonya Berryhill, Chanda Doxie, Stephanie Hare, Samantha Price, Kyrani Reneau, Charmayne Wiley, Sandy Zalmout, Nikesha Zambori, Linda Hart
Summary: Create and implement a strategic recruitment and retention plan to maintain a diverse membership; identify networking and social activities for the members; and will work with the WCTF Coordinator to update the membership list monthly. This team will also confirm the eligibility of members to serve on the Executive Team.

Outreach and Engagement Team

Lead: Ellen Copeland-Brown
Team Members: LaTonya Berryhill, Irma Guzman, Grace Wu, Dr. Pat, Monica Hickson
Summary: Develops and maintains partnerships with other University and community groups or organizations. Its members should also include staff who are members of other campus staff groups including the Coalition, which is a collaborative initiative between the staff and faculty of color affinity groups on campus.

Policy Review and Advocacy Team

Lead: Doreen Tinajero
Team Members: Anne Partington
Summary: Works to review University policies with a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) lens and ensures that WCTF are included in DEI strategic planning conversations conducted by U-M executive and administrative leadership.

By-laws and Operations Team

Lead: Rachel Dawson
Team Members: Alice Barnett, Chanda Doxie
Summary: Maintains and updates the bylaws as needed; develops standard operating procedures (SOP) to be approved by the WCTF membership; and reviews and updates any governance documents between WCTF and ODEI.

Resource Development Team

Lead: Ellen Copeland Brown/Robin Pankey
Team Members: Ayana Richardson, Shante Galloway, Mary Jo Gray
Summary: Works with the WCTF program coordinator and ODEI to create a strategic fundraising plan for the WCTF. The activities may include securing sponsorship for the annual career conference and other special events as well as writing grant proposals to support the cost of training workshops and speaker honorariums.

Program Development Team

Lead: LaTonya Berryhill
Team Members: Sandy Zalmout
Summary: Analyzes the annual membership survey data with the WCTF Coordinator to identify program goals for the year. These program goals, in consideration with current university priorities, will be discussed and approved by the general membership each year. Activities may include but not be limited to developing the workshop schedule for the annual career conference, planning the leadership training programs; facilitating the WCTF mentorship program; and defining event themes.

Communications Team

Lead: Katherine Weathers
Team Members: Karen Gates, Vanessa Mayersky, Linda Hart
Summary: Will work with the WCTF Coordinator and the ODEI Development, Marketing and Communications Team to create a communications plan for the conference and each public staff development event hosted by WCTF and the Coalition. These activities will include providing feedback on brand and promotional materials as well as assisting with outreach and marketing.

Technology Team

Lead: Monica Hickson
Team Members: Sandy Zalmout, Shante Galloway
Summary: The Technology Committee will share training on technology with the membership, host micro-learning sessions @ membership meetings, and support the Career Conference chair with technology support during hybrid events and the career conference.

Interested in joining a committee?

Fill out the interest form here and we will reach out with more information such as meeting information, current projects, etc.

Fill out the interest form

Meetings and Events

WCTF General Meeting Schedule for 2023-2024

WCTF general meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month. Please note that the WCTF meetings planned this year will be hybrid, with some being in-person and others on Zoom. Be sure to read all WCTF emails for meeting updates as scheduled events are subject to change.

  • Thursday, January 18, 2024 – General Meeting
  • Thursday, February 15, 2024 – General Meeting
  • Thursday, March 21, 2024 – General Meeting
  • Thursday, April 18, 2024 – General Meeting


Events Schedule 2023-2024

Please check back as additional events will be added throughout the year.

  • February 15, 2024 – Galentine’s Event
  • March 1, 2024 – 42nd Annual Career Conference
  • May 2024 – End of Year Luncheon
  • June 2024 – Juneteenth Symposium and Celebration


Career and Personal Development

The Task Force hosts three professional development events: the annual career conference during winter break; a fall semester leadership retreat, and a Juneteenth celebration in June. Throughout the year, WCTF offers various career development training sessions for U-M staff throughout the year during the general membership meetings.  The brown-bag, lunchtime training sessions cover topics in the following areas: career decision-making, project management, leadership development, health & wellness, and work-life balance.


Are you interested in becoming a member of WCTF? Any University of Michigan (U-M) employee is eligible for membership in the Task Force if they are an active, regular staff member.

The Task Force encourages the participation of individuals from all University of Michigan departments and units who are interested in the professional development of women of color staff and supporting the career advancement of all U-M staff.

Please contact WCTF about membership via email at wctf-faqs@umich.edu or fill out the interest form and we will contact you.

Career Conference Archives


Tamika D. Mallory, Social Justice Leader and Movement Strategist
Click here to view all recordings from the 2022 conference

“Defining the New Normal: Shaping A Post-COVID, Anti-Racist Workplace”

Corie Pauling, Senior Vice President, Chief I & D Officer and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, TIAA

The Honorable Rashida Tlaib, MI-13

Oveta Fuller, PhD, Michigan Medicine

Preeti Malani, MD, Michigan Medicine

Alfreda Rooks, MPA, Michigan Medicine

Click here to view the full interactive conference program. 

Please take note of the fact that the conference program is interactive; feel free to click on bolded words, images, graphics, and ads to read and learn more.

Click here to view recordings, presentations, workbooks, and resources from the conference


Click the links below to view recordings of the keynotes and some of the workshops:

Women on a Mission 2.0: Leadership, Citizenship & Advocacy (38th)

Dr. Joy DeGruy, nationally & internationally renowned researcher, educator, author, & presenter

Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist, author, social and political commentator, & businesswoman

Dr. Patricia Coleman-Burns, U-M Assistant Professor Emerita of Nursing & DAAS

Click here to view the 2020 WCTF keynote.

Amplifying Voices: Moving from Diversity to Inclusion (37th)

Cynthia H. Bowman, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of Bank of America

Dilip Das, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Laurita Thomas, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Facilitated by Taryn Petryk, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Ross School of Business

Click here to view the 2019 WCTF keynote.

Equity for All: Reclaiming Our Time (36th)

April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks D.C. Bureau Chief

Click here to view the 2018 WCTF Keynote Address with April D. Ryan

U-M Staff: The Heart of Maize & Blue (35th)

Jane Elliott, Anti-racism Activist & Educator & 

Roland S. Martin, Host & Managing Editor of News One Now “Race, Gender & Identity in the Workplace”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Staff Perspective (34th)

Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, “The Dilemma of Inclusivity: How Can We Make It Work?”

Tools for the Journey: Self-Awareness, Confidence & Respect (33rd)

Mr. Alfred (Al) Squire, Director of the Greenville Health System MedEx Academy

Transforming the Face of Leadership (32nd)

Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut

Planning + Action + Perseverance = Success! (31st)

Ms. Donna Brazile, Political Strategist and Georgetown University Professor

30 Years of Legacy, Leadership and Change (30th)

Dr. Johnnetta B Cole, National Museum of African Art

YOU First: Balancing Work, Family & Life (29th)

Rep. Shanelle Jackson, Michigan (D-Michigan)

Summer 2011 – U-M Staff Mentoring & Coaching for Diversity Conference

Dr. Howard G. Adams, Keynote Speaker

Excel in Uncertain Times: Identify Resources & Maximize Opportunities (28th)

Ms. Gail Perry-Mason, Vice President – Oppenheimer & Co, Inc.

Enhance U: Education, Empowerment & Equity (27th)

Dr. Howard G. Adams, President – H. G. Adams and Associates, Inc.
Founding Director, GEM National Institute on Mentoring

Work, Lead & Succeed In A Global Economy (26th)

Dr. Kenya Ayers, Executive Director of Esperanza Communications and past State Chairperson, Michigan ACE Network

25 Years of Promoting Leadership & Diversity (25th)

Dr. Mary Frances Berry, University of Pennsylvania & Former Chair, US Commission on Civil Rights

Healthy Person, Healthy Society (24th)

Mr. Pete Thomas, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (Motivational Speaker)

Inclusion and Opportunity: Recognizing Everyone’s Contribution (23rd)

Dr. Toni Hoover, Vice President – Pfizer GRD, Ann Arbor Campus

Finding Your Path: Developing the Excellence Within (22nd)

Ms. Beverly Jenkins, Author (Fiction)

One University, One Community, One Destiny: Staff and the University’s Mission (21st)

President Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan
Ms. Sue Guevara, UM Women’s Basketball Coach

Women on a Mission: 20 Years of Excellence (20th)

Chief Benny Napoleon, Detroit Police Department

Not Without A Struggle: Honoring our Past, Taking Control of Our Future (19th)

Rev. Shaheerah Stephens, Author and Community Activist

The Celebration of a New Era, New Opportunities and a New You (18th)

Dr. Bertice Berry, Social Activist and National Talk Show Host

Ready, Set, Go TEAM! (17th)

Ms. Laurita Thomas, CHRO – UM Health System

Reforging Our Lives into the New Millennium (16th)

Ms. Vanna Novak, Motivational Speaker

Looking Back, Moving Forward: 15 Years with the Women of Color Task Force (15th)

Ms. Thelma Wells, Christian TV Personality (Dallas, TX)

Building and Creating Opportunities for Growth (14th)

Ms. Patricia Russell-McCloud, Federal Communications Commission

Success: Beginning with the End in Mind (13th)

Dr. Benjamin Carson, Cardiologist and UMMS Graduate

Developing a Plan for Excellence (12th)

Dr. Elizabeth Allen, R.N.

Globally Pulling Our Cultures Together: Positioning Ourselves to Empower, Impact and Excel (11th)

Ms. Helen Zia, MS Magazine
Ms. Sonia Sanchez, Activist

Ten Years In Retrospect: Commemorating Our Past, Securing Our Future (10th)

Ms. Valerie J. Johnson, Director of Native American Services
Ms. Susan L. Taylor, Editor in chief of ESSENCE Magazine

See Beyond Today: Inspiring a Vision to Enhance the Quality of Life (9th)

Dr. Gwendolyn Calvert Baker, Director – YWCA of USA and President of NYC Board of Education
Dr. Howard McCurdy, Microbiologist

Progressing Towards Plurality: The Challenge of the 90s (8th)
Shades of Quality: Emerging, Excelling, Empowering (7th)

A. Deer

Imagine What We Can Be: Challenge, Create, Celebrate (6th)

Dr. R. Griffin

Working Constructively Toward the Future: If You Think You Can, You Can (5th)

Ms. M. Susan Watson, Detroit Free Press Columnist
Ms. Laura Rendon, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of South Carolina

Focus On: Effectiveness, Productivity, and Professionalism (4th)

The Honorable Cynthia D. Stephens, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge
Ms. Rose Martin, Director of the Peace Neighborhood Center

Women of Color: Striving for Excellence (3rd)

Ms. Carman Harlan, WDIV news personality
Dr. Mildred Tirado, UM Counseling Services Center

Survival, Career Development and Networking (2nd)

Ms. Jennie Partee, WCTF Founder

Ms. Beulah Sanders, WCTF Founder

Survival, Career Development and Networking (1st)

Dr. Bernadine Denning

Juneteenth Celebration Archives

U-M Campus wide Juneteenth Celebration
WCTF 2021 Juneteenth Celebration
WCTF Juneteenth Staff Town Hall on Social Justice, Health Equity and Police Reform

Contact Us

Please contact WCTF via email at wctf-faqs@umich.edu or contact members of our Executive Team based on their programmatic areas.

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