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.Read More
The Minority Women’s Task Force experienced a major shift in its recruitment focus in the mid-1980s as it actively targeted Latina, Asian, and Native American women for membership. During the 1985 summer retreat, the members voted to change the name of the organization to the Women of Color Task Force. The WCTF membership, which is comprised of staff from both the Ann Arbor and Flint campuses, has received support for the past twenty-one years from the University and the surrounding community and is currently an administrative unit of the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (ODEI).
The Women of Color Task Force has been recognized for its outstanding work in support of and advocacy for women of color, receiving two university service awards in May 2009. WCTF also received the inaugural 2008 University of Michigan Distinguished Diversity Leaders Team Award from Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts and the 2009 VOICES of the Staff Champion Award from Chief Human Resources Officer Laurita Thomas.
WCTF was recognized for its continuing commitment to provide career development opportunities for all university personnel: and to support the University its efforts in recruiting and retaining a highly skilled workforce. The group was most recently recognized by the Black Employee Association at the University of Michigan (BEAM) in 2022 for its service to U-M staff.
In 2013, WCTF along with representatives from University Human Resources, the U-M Health System Human Resources Office, and VOICES of the Staff Career Development Team, collaborated to create the Career Development Passport Pilot, a 12-month staff development initiative. The project was implemented in March 2013 and ran until February 2014. This project received the 2014 CUPA-HR Midwest Successful Practices Award.
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.
Fill out the interest form here and we will reach out with more information such as meeting information, current projects, etc.
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.
Please check back as additional events will be added throughout the year.
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.
Ritu Bhasin, Award-Winning Speaker and Author
Click the links below to view recordings of the keynotes and some of the workshops:
Tamika D. Mallory, Social Justice Leader and Movement Strategist
Click here to view all recordings from the 2022 conference
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
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 the links below to view recordings of the keynotes and some of the workshops:
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
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
April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks D.C. Bureau Chief
Jane Elliott, Anti-racism Activist & Educator &
Roland S. Martin, Host & Managing Editor of News One Now “Race, Gender & Identity in the Workplace”
Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, “The Dilemma of Inclusivity: How Can We Make It Work?”
Mr. Alfred (Al) Squire, Director of the Greenville Health System MedEx Academy
Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut
Ms. Donna Brazile, Political Strategist and Georgetown University Professor
Dr. Johnnetta B Cole, National Museum of African Art
Rep. Shanelle Jackson, Michigan (D-Michigan)
Summer 2011 – U-M Staff Mentoring & Coaching for Diversity Conference
Dr. Howard G. Adams, Keynote Speaker
Ms. Gail Perry-Mason, Vice President – Oppenheimer & Co, Inc.
Dr. Howard G. Adams, President – H. G. Adams and Associates, Inc.
Founding Director, GEM National Institute on Mentoring
Dr. Kenya Ayers, Executive Director of Esperanza Communications and past State Chairperson, Michigan ACE Network
Dr. Mary Frances Berry, University of Pennsylvania & Former Chair, US Commission on Civil Rights
Mr. Pete Thomas, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (Motivational Speaker)
Dr. Toni Hoover, Vice President – Pfizer GRD, Ann Arbor Campus
Ms. Beverly Jenkins, Author (Fiction)
President Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan
Ms. Sue Guevara, UM Women’s Basketball Coach
Chief Benny Napoleon, Detroit Police Department
Rev. Shaheerah Stephens, Author and Community Activist
Dr. Bertice Berry, Social Activist and National Talk Show Host
Ms. Laurita Thomas, CHRO – UM Health System
Ms. Vanna Novak, Motivational Speaker
Ms. Thelma Wells, Christian TV Personality (Dallas, TX)
Ms. Patricia Russell-McCloud, Federal Communications Commission
Dr. Benjamin Carson, Cardiologist and UMMS Graduate
Dr. Elizabeth Allen, R.N.
Ms. Helen Zia, MS Magazine
Ms. Sonia Sanchez, Activist
Ms. Valerie J. Johnson, Director of Native American Services
Ms. Susan L. Taylor, Editor in chief of ESSENCE Magazine
Dr. Gwendolyn Calvert Baker, Director – YWCA of USA and President of NYC Board of Education
Dr. Howard McCurdy, Microbiologist
Dr. R. Griffin
Ms. M. Susan Watson, Detroit Free Press Columnist
Ms. Laura Rendon, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of South Carolina
The Honorable Cynthia D. Stephens, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge
Ms. Rose Martin, Director of the Peace Neighborhood Center
Ms. Carman Harlan, WDIV news personality
Dr. Mildred Tirado, UM Counseling Services Center
Ms. Jennie Partee, WCTF Founder
Ms. Beulah Sanders, WCTF Founder
Dr. Bernadine Denning
View the recording that combines both The Role of Staff in the University Discussion and Response to the Global Pandemics of COVID-19 and Racism and Health Equity in the Midst of COVID (beginning at 56:51)
View the recording of Police & Justice System Reform
View the recording of From Ally to Accomplice: Working Together for Social Justice Reform