41st Annual WCTF Career Conference

Grow. Advance. Succeed.
(GAS): Refuel Your Career

March 3, 2023 8:15 am - 4:00 pm

Smiling women sitting at desks listening to a conference speaker. The Women of Color Task Force is excited to host its 41st annual career conference this year on March 3, 2023. Pre-registration is required to participate in all events and sessions.  Morning conference sessions will be presented virtually. The keynote luncheon and afternoon sessions will be in-person at the Michigan Union.  All session times are in Eastern Standard Time Zone.

The keynote presentation will take place at 12:00 pm EST at a luncheon in the Rogel Ballroom at the Michigan Union. Please review the information below for workshop descriptions, speaker details, and the full conference schedule.

Please ask your supervisor for professional development leave now so that you may attend this valuable conference opportunity!

All U-M staff, faculty, students, and the public, regardless of gender or ethnicity, are invited to register to attend this inclusive professional development event.

The deadline to register is February 28th, at 12:00 pm EST.

Schedule at a Glance

Friday, March 3, 2023

  • 8:15 am Welcome Remarks/Conference Orientation
  • 8:30 am Workshop Session A
  • 9:50 am Break
  • 10:00 am Workshop Session B
  • 12:00 pm Keynote Luncheon
  • 2:30 pm Workshop Session C
  • 4:00 pm Conference ends

Keynote Speaker

Ritu Bhasin

Headshot of Ritu BhasinRitu Bhasin [RIH-thoo bah-SEEN], LL.B., MBA is the CEO and Founder of bhasin consulting inc. (bci) and an award-winning speaker, author and internationally recognized expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), authentic leadership, anti-racism, and personal empowerment for people from equity-seeking communities.

Since 2010, Ritu has worked with hundreds of top organizations and senior leadership teams around the world, and as a professional speaker, she has presented to hundreds of thousands of people globally. Ritu is also a certified cultural competence coach and a certified neuro-strategies coach who has personally coached over a thousand people, and very shortly she will complete a trauma professional certification program. As a passionate advocate for authenticity, inclusion and empowerment, Ritu has won numerous awards for her work, including SUCCESS Magazine’s Women of Influence Award, The Women’s Center Leadership Award, the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Diversity Award and the City of Toronto’s William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations. She regularly appears on national television and radio in the U.S. and Canada as an expert on leadership, inclusion, personal empowerment, authenticity, and antiracism.

Ritu’s Amazon-bestselling book, The Authenticity Principle, was released in the fall of 2017. She is also the co-author of the ground-breaking research study, Sponsor Effect: Canada, with the Center for Talent Innovation (now Coqual), which examines the experiences that People of Color, Indigenous peoples, and women have with advocacy and sponsorship in the workplace. She is currently writing her second book, which is slated to be released in 2023.

Before founding bci, Ritu spent ten years in the legal profession, first as a civil litigator and then as the director of legal talent for the preeminent Canadian law firm, Stikeman Elliott LLP.

Ritu, who is also a yoga and mindfulness teacher and practitioner, lives in Toronto, Canada, but travels all over the world to eat, swim, hike, dance, and work.

To learn more about Ritu, visit http://www.ritubhasin.com. Follow Ritu on Instagram at @ritu_bhasin.

Session A On-line Workshops (8:30 – 9:50 AM)

Leadership DevelopmentA1. Influence. Inspire. Impact: Reaching Beyond Your Title

There is a leader in us all. Learn to identify and uncover your hidden leadership gifts and transform these valuable traits into leadership skills that build business and shape organizations.

Professional Development/Career GrowthA2. 5 Brilliant Elements to Power-Up Your Communication

If you want to ”up” your communication using simple but powerful techniques, then this workshop is for you. The key to effective dialogue is everyone hearing and experiencing the message the way the senders intend. Understanding these 5 elements is critical to that happening. Whether you’re struggling with a communication issue or merely want to be a more effective speaker, this session will leave you with improved skills.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging/Health and WellnessA3. Understanding and Responding to Microaggressions

As the workplace becomes more diverse, discrimination and racism are not as blatant as they once were. This is not to suggest that workplace racism is a thing of the past. In the 21st century, both conscious and unintentional workplace biases are commonly displayed as subtle verbal, environmental, and/or transactional indignities, called microaggressions. Microaggressions, are covert derogatory offenses directed at a member of a marginalized group. Over time, being on the receiving end of microaggressions can negatively impact one’s mental health. This workshop will discuss the various types of microaggressions and provide practical strategies and interventions aimed at decreasing this modern-day tactic.

Financial WellnessA4. Write Your Next Chapter- 5 steps to setting your retirement date

For anyone starting to think seriously about when to retire, this webinar takes you through five steps to deciding when the time is right, including estimating retirement expenses, closing any income gap, and understanding key milestones that can impact your retirement finances. 

We’ll help you think through how to: 1)Estimate what you’ll need, 2) Adjust as needed, 3) Consider key milestones, and 4)Protect your savings.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging/Leadership DevelopmentA5. U-M Asian Pacific Islander Desi/American Women in Leadership: Lessons from the Path Less Traveled

This session will feature APID/A women leaders on the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus and offer insight into how they make meaning of their own leadership experiences as administrators at U-M. In a moderated discussion, panelists will discuss how historical and current contexts (such as erasure from history, anti-Asian hate, APID/A invisibility, exclusion from diversity conversations) impact the ways they have navigated their careers in higher education. Panelists will also share sources of strength, community and support along this path less traveled.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging/Leadership DevelopmentA6. Inclusive Leadership with our teams, on campus, and beyond!

At University of Michigan’s Center for Educational Outreach, developing and sustaining a high performing team has been a multi-year strategic priority. In this session, you will learn about the ways the leadership team learns, reflects, and supports each other and our respective teams to cultivate a caring and effective work environment across our unit and with outreach colleagues. There will be an opportunity to hear about how each team and committee uses ongoing structures and rituals to support high levels of engagement and performance. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and share tested and true practices from their repertoire and organizations.

Session B On-line Workshops (10:00 – 11:00 AM)

Career Growth and Professional DevelopmentB1. Salary Negotiation: How to Create a winning pitch as a woman of color

This 60-minute session will address the systemic challenges impacting women of color when it comes to negotiating their salary. Participants will learn tips and strategies for creating their salary negotiation pitch, and how and when to navigate difficult questions and challenges as it relates to salary in the job search process. This workshop is geared to current college students or early career professionals. This workshop is not for mid-level or advanced level professionals or those working in C-Suite level positions.

Career GrowthB2. Positioning Yourself for the Next Opportunity

Preparing yourself for your next opportunity provides a practical bridge from where you are to where you would like to be as a professional. We will discuss how to prepare your application materials, identify the right people to help you within your network and hone your interview skills (and post-interview skill sets).

Health and WellnessB3. Self-Care isn't Selfish: How to Actively Engage in the Preservation of You

Self-care has become a buzzword in recent years, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us to work more efficiently and not necessarily extended hours. Another important highlight of COVID-19 has been the continued inequality of negative impacts on women of color’s mental health. It did not take a pandemic to tell us what we already know; women of color often bear the brunt of society’s woes and are expected to fix them without breaking a sweat; all the while, we are dying inside. In this session, we will learn how to shed the flawed thinking that self-care is selfish, ways to actively and regularly engage in these practices, and how to set healthy limits while still caring for others.

Financial WellnessB4. A Woman's Guide to Saving and Investing

This session will provide an introduction to the basics of investing including assessing risk and asset allocation, budgeting basics and worksheets.  This seminar will also discuss savings options within the University of Michigan Retirement Plan.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging/Career GrowthB5. Do It Afraid: A Key to Curing Imposter Syndrome

How many times have you wanted to do something but didn’t? Received recognition and felt like you didn’t deserve it? Quit the job that you are overworked and underpaid at? Accepted a job offer without negotiating your worth? There are so many things…big and small…that we miss out on throughout our lives…all due to some form of “fear”. What is surprising is that most people do not recognize “fear” for what it is….an ingredient in the Imposter Syndrome recipe. During our session, we will share, overcome, and create a path forward to SMASH our fears while creating our own FEARLESS recipe.

Career GrowthB6. Refresh your Resume: Writing for the Future

Are you starting a new career? Just graduated and ready to explore your options? The first step is to evaluate your skills and get your resume ready by focusing on your strengths, and skills specific to your industry. In this session you will explore key steps for making sure your resume stands out!

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging/Financial WellnessB7. Let's Talk About Checks, Baby: Reducing the Racial/Gender Wage Gap

Our relationships with money begins to form during childhood. People of color have unique and often fraught relationships with money due to a lack of generational wealth and systemic inequities. Nonetheless, it is important that we learn all we can about how money works in this country as a means of survival. This session will provide several tips and tricks about how to manage money, investments, and debt because if you don’t manage your money, it will manage you.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and BelongingB8. White Supremacy Characteristics in the Workplace

White Supremacy Characteristics in the Workplace is a reflective-based workshop about how white supremacy covertly shows up and impacts our workplace. We will chat about some of the common white supremacy characteristics in office culture, such as perfectionism, a sense of urgency, etc. Dialogue about how we see the characteristics show up and how it impacts us as an individual and community members. Acknowledging, reflecting, and seeking out ways to mitigate the impact of white supremacy traits on our work community is a step towards creating a more inclusive and healthy work environment.

Career GrowthB9. Leveraging LinkedIn to Level-Up Your Career

Most professionals know they need to be on Linkedin, but most don’t know how to harness the power of the large professional social network. In this workshop, participants will learn the strategies I leverage to be named a Linkedin Top Voice in 2020, including: 1) The 8 sections to have an All-Star profile 2) How to strategically engage and the 3 categories of people to engage with 3) How to create content to boost your visibility

Session C In-person Workshops (2:30 – 3:45 PM)

Health and WellnessC1. Level Up your Self-Leadership; Manage Your Inner Critic

Many professionals are effective in managing their external professional lives, but still struggle with their internal dialogue which affects their sense of confidence, clarity, and wellbeing. This can include self-doubt, self-criticism, imposter syndrome, and perfectionism. Racism and other forms of oppression impact our mind-body responses in ways that make these patterns even more common among women and people of color. This workshop will utilize embodied self-reflection and teach effective strategies to calm and coach inner critics and disrupt internalized ‘voices’ and ways of being that interfere with pursuing excellence in healthy, authentic, fulfilling and sustainable ways.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & BelongingC2. It's Not About Race; But Anti-Blackness

Many scholars have written about anti-Blackness. Sometimes called “the Color Line”, the Negro Question, etc. they explore internalized as well as structural and interpersonal anti-Blackness and MisogyNoir schemas. Einstein wrote on “The Negro Question”, 1946 Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices …; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the “Whites” toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes.

This session will explore that as the University enters DEI 2.0, what guidance do women of color and especially Black women offer in creating a more inclusive and equitable campus, to address the question of the 21st Century—anti-Blackness? 

Leadership DevelopmentC3. Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation

Where there is a strong culture of appreciation, people are more than twice as likely to report that they feel included in their organization. An intentional system of authentic appreciation can help to build and sustain a culture that is inclusive and celebrates diversity. Additionally, studies show that when we deliberately pursue an appreciation for the goodness in our lives, the result is an increase in our well-being and happiness. This presentation offers ideas on incorporating authentic appreciation and illustrates how you can positively shift culture by doing so. Learning Objectives – Attendees will: Understand the benefits of gratitude on personal well-being Make the connection between appreciation and a sense of inclusion / belonging Learn specific strategies to shift organizational culture through appreciation.

Leadership DevelopmentC4. Supervisors: Develop Your Staff or Watch Them Go

The opportunity to grow and develop is highly prized by staff and is a key retention strategy. This workshop focuses on how leaders can co-create effective growth plans with their staff and how to have conversations about their development.

Financial WellnessC5. Wills and Trusts...WHAT DO I NEED?

Will or Trust? Which is best for you and how do you decide when the time is right? What about Long-Term Care? As costs continue to rise, how is such care financed, and does the State take your house in the process? Through an upbeat case study approach, Attorney Quinn corrects myths commonly circulated regarding wills, trusts and long-term care planning while helping participants find solutions to these common questions. Have you ever wondered, “What will happen to my children and assets when I die?” Or “If I cannot make decisions for myself, who will – and what will they decide for me?” This session is designed to provide support through experienced legal information for you by addressing these questions. The purpose of this workshop is to help participants leave with reliable information that will assist them as they plan for their own futures and provide care for their loved ones. During this informative and engaging workshop, Attorney Terrence Quinn will work through real life circumstances that may assist in answering these questions and perhaps many more such as: – What will happen to my minor or special needs child after I’m gone? – Why blended families need to plan ASAP – Is joint ownership really that bad? – What about Medicaid and Long-Term Care? Can the State really take my house? – Am I protected from rental property liability?

Health and WellnessC6. Dance to Enhance Your Life: For Fitness & For Fun!

Contrary to popular belief, everybody and anybody can dance! Dancing is a fun and easy way to get exercise as well. And while we all can’t be Beyoncé, spending thousands of hours dancing and working out, we can learn a thing or two about fitness from Ms. Knowles. Come channel your inner Diva and learn tips on how to use dance to enhance your own fitness journey, even while having an office job! Then get ready to slay the stage as you learn the hottest line dances, and a few old-time favorites. You’ll leave charged up, on fire, and with a plan to add dance to your daily life – for fitness & for fun!

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and BelongingC7. Understanding and Increasing Psychological Safety in the Workplace

This program aims to define psychological safety and provide tools for creating a healthier work environment. We will introduce the Four Quadrants of Psychological Safety (Learner, Collaborator, Challenger, and Inclusion) and discuss how psychological safety shows up (or doesn’t) in higher education, citing U-M climate data. Using a panelist format, we will learn how psychological safety has shaped the workplace experience while providing tools for creating environments that promote psychological safety and skills to navigate environments when it is not present for yourself and others. Participants will have a chance to reflect on their own experiences.


  • Headshot of Neeraja Aravamudan
    Neeraja Aravamudan, Ph.D.,  is Director of the Edward Ginsberg Center. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology & sociology from Purdue University and her M.A. and Ph.D in sociology from Northwestern University. Her commitment to social justice education is rooted in her personal experiences as an immigrant from India and her work in anti-bias education. Community-engaged learning brings together her interests in social justice, teaching and learning, and values-centered practices. Prior to joining the Ginsberg Center, Neeraja led graduate student development efforts at Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Advancing Teaching & Learning and as an anti-bias training facilitator with the Anti-Defamation League’s A WORLD of DIFFERENCE Institute.
  • Headshot of Christine Burgess
    Christine Burgess,  is a Sr. Financial Consultant at TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization and leading provider of asset management and retirement services for the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.
  • Headshot of Jessica Burmeister

    Jessica Burmeister  is a Sr. Financial Consultant at TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization, a Fortune 100 financial services organization and leading provider of asset management and retirement services for the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

    In her role as a Senior Financial Consultant at TIAA, Jessica is focused on helping participants plan for their financial well-being and retirement readiness. She meets with employees one-on-one and provides personalized counseling, education and advice, including specific asset allocation and fund selection recommendations based on the plan’s investment options.

    Jessica began her financial services career in 2006 and has been with TIAA since 2012. She serves our institutional clients in the State of Michigan from the local Ann Arbor TIAA office. She serves the following institutions: University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Albion College.

    Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance from Central Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University. She holds FINRA Series 7, 63, and 65 registrations while maintaining Life, Health and Variable Annuity licenses from the States of Michigan, Ohio and Florida.

  • Headshot of Dr. Patricia Coleman-Burns

    Dr. Patricia Coleman-Burns is a University of Michigan Assistant Professor Emerita of Nursing and affiliated faculty in DAAS. PCB began her career in the 70s studying Black & Black Women’s social movements. Appointed by former Dean of the UM School of Nursing Rhetaugh Dumas in 1991 as director of the Office of Minority Affairs; and trended renaming administrative centers as “Offices of Multicultural Affairs”. She founded the GENESIS Projects (1999 – 2011), creating “peer facilitated study groups” and residential boot camps for the recruitment and retention of persons from economically and educationally disadvantaged populations into nursing. After receiving her BA at Wayne State University in 1969, she worked for Motown Records in Detroit from 1969-1972 in public relations before resuming studies that culminated in her MA (1976) and PhD (1987) degrees in communication and rhetorical criticism at WSU. A long-time advocate for the right of all persons, and specifically women and their children, to be free from gender oppression, age discrimination, sexism, racism, and domestic violence, she has served as President of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Justice Center in Detroit and Member (1989-1994), Board of Directors and Executive Board, Washtenaw County SafeHouse Center, Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Prevention and Crisis Services, Ann Arbor, MI. (2011-2017).

    Her scholarship focuses on intersecting identities across safe policing, social justice, health equity, social determinants of health, and health promotion and disease prevention. Her research and science center on community impact and access of citizens to evidence based knowledge and skills. She conducts workshops on anti-racism and anti-Blackness narratives & schemas; microaggressions across intra-personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural domains; and “accomplices & co-conspirator” interventions. She collectively developed the EPIC Model of Giving and Receiving Feedback for empowering people to self-advocate in the process of obtaining skills and competencies in challenging dialogues.

  • Headshot of Catalina Concha-Ormsby
    Catalina Concha-Ormsby  has served as a higher education professional occupying various administrative and leadership roles at the University of Michigan for 20 years. Her areas of responsibility include building faculty, staff and student capacity in educational outreach efforts, leading initiatives to support and strengthen educational outreach, and advancing CEO’s ongoing partnerships and new collaborations across campus and beyond. She also serves as a lecturer at the School of Social Work where she teaches a graduate course on intergroup dialogue, diversity and social justice. She is passionate about serving students and providing them with tools and resources to maximize their potential while learning skills necessary for navigating their academic and social environments. She is a founder and chair of the Professional Latinx at U-M Alliance (PLUMA) and serves as one of the advisors for the Latinx student organization La Casa.
  • Headshot of Anne Cong-Huyen
    Anne Cong-Huyen is the director of Digital Scholarship at the University of Michigan Library, where she is also faculty in the Digital Studies Institute and Asian Pacific Islander American Studies. She was previously the digital scholar and coordinator of the Digital Liberal Arts Program at Whittier College, and a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She co-founded #transformDH and the SCRAM collective, and her work has been published in American Quarterly, The Global South, and The Journal of e-Media Studies.
  • Headshot of Ugochi Emenaha
    Ugochi Emenaha is a second generation Nigerian American, an educator, and mom. She is the author of two children’s books. The first is titled Beautiful, and the second book is titled Brave. Dr. Emenaha is passionate about writing and spends her free time presenting at conferences and sharing writing skills with students of all backgrounds.
  • Headshot of Kimika Garrett
    Kimika Garrett is the CEO of Organizational Kimistry. She is an experienced leader in human resources management, process and performance improvement, organization development and effectiveness, training and learning development, strategic planning and talent management, change management/organizational development, and performance management. Ms. Garrett is a versatile, forward-thinking organizational improvement champion with HR transformation experience in the technology, pharmaceutical, retail, automotive, non-profit/government and chemical/R&D industries. She is passionate about helping organizations achieve operational excellence through strategic planning, process improvement and human capital management.
  • Headshot of Ciera Graham
    Dr. Ciera Graham received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Community Counseling from Washington State University, and a PhD in Sociology in August 2015 at the University of Cincinnati. She owns her own business, Dr. C Graham consulting provides career coaching services. She became a career coach to help women, millennials, new/recent college grads and early to mid-career professionals build their confidence and level up in their careers. She strongly believe that career coaching isn’t just for those in C-Suite or executive level roles. She has a counseling background and seeks to empower her clients to realize their potential and activate the greatness that lies within them. Dr. Graham is a results-oriented career coach with an impeccable record of helping clients secure interviews and jobs. She is a past career columnist for The Seattle Times and the Everett Herald, a current editorial contributor to Career Contessa, Best Colleges, CollegeXpress, and the University of Washington Professional & Continuing Education department.
  • Headshot of Sherry Hawkins
    Sherry Hawkins is elegance defined on the dance floor! As the owner of Dance with Elegance Health & Fitness, Sherry teaches a variety of dance forms, from ballroom to Greystone, Aerobic Line Dancing to Hustles. In addition, she works tirelessly in the community spreading the health benefits of dance. She’s a sought-after instructor and most recently taught line dances at the Ypsilanti Juneteenth Celebration and weekly during the John E. Lawrence summer jazz concert series at Ford Lake Park.
  • Headshot of Vance K. Jackson, Jr.

    Vance K. Jackson, Jr.  serves in the Mayor’s Office as a Social Impact Development Officer. In this role, he serves on a 5-member Development team that has raised more than $1 Billion Dollars in public, private, philanthropic, and corporate investment.

    In his role, he integrates his background in Banking and Philanthropy to advise government leaders, corporate executives, and philanthropic leaders on the implementation and execution of Mayoral priorities to strategically serve the residents of the City of Detroit.

    Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office in 2018, Vance served more than a decade at J.P. Morgan, where his financial career spanned across the breadth of the global bank. In his last role, he served in J.P. Morgan’s Commercial Bank—Middle Market Treasury, where he specialized in constructing Global Treasury solutions for Multi-National Middle Market Corporations with annual revenues ranging from $100 Million – $2 Billion, as a Treasury Analyst of J.P. Morgan’s Michigan Middle Market Treasury Team.

    Prior to advancing to the Commercial Bank, Vance served as a Wealth Management Vice President—Financial Advisor, where he managed a multi-million dollar investment book of business. In this role he led, developed, and coached investment sales teams to provide a vast array of investment solutions for clientele across the Detroit market.

    Vance has been fortunate to serve as an Executive Board Member for several National Non-profit and For-profit organizations. Currently, Vance serves as a National Board Member on the For-Profit ‘Emerging Leaders Advisory Board’ of Huntington Bank a $150 Billion Publicly-Traded Bank where he advises on industry insights, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) recommendations, and strategic execution of National Banking strategy.

    Vance K. Jackson, Jr. holds a Bachelor’s Degree and Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, and currently serves on the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work Alumni Board of Governors as one of the School’s Board Members. Vance is married to Nina Jackson, for more than 13 years and they reside in Detroit, MI with their 2 children.

  • Headshot of Joslyn Johnson
    Dr. Joslyn Johnson  has been recognized as a thought-leader in the field as a Career Leadership Collective Fellow, National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy Fellow, and a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. Dr. Johnson currently serves as Assistant Dean for Student Development and Career Initiatives for the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, is an instructor in Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program, and operates as a consultant to national organizations, helping them rethink diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. Dr. Johnson’s professional affiliations are with the Career Leadership Collective, NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), Chief (as a Core Guide), SENG (Supporting the Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted), International Ombudsman Association, Women of Color in Career Services, and NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators). In 2020, she received the Gold award in Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice and the overall Silver Award for the 2020 NASPA Excellence Awards. Dr. Johnson completed her Ph.D. in Adult, Professional, and Community Education at Texas State University, where she was recently a recipient of the Young Alumni Rising Star award. Her research explored the life-long, life-wide, and life-deep experiences of high potential individuals who experienced a sense of purpose and career success in early adulthood. Her research led to several academic recognitions, including awarding the Top Research Paper at Texas State University’s International Research Conference and the Graduate Research Award, awarded by the Adult Education Research Conference.
  • Headshot of Tina Jordan
    Tina Jordan is an organizational effectiveness consultant and educator with the University of Michigan’s department of Organizational Learning. She specializes in DEI, culture, leadership, communication and learning. It is her privilege and pleasure to support individuals, teams and departments on the Ann Arbor campus and at Michigan Medicine as they work to be more effective in their relationships, systems/structures, and policies/practices in an effort to create an awesome workplace culture where faculty and staff can thrive, do their best work, and have a positive impact on patients, students and each other.
  • Headshot of Marlana Landeros

    Marlana Landeros is responsible for developing initiatives and practices designed to lead and promote a diverse and inclusive workforce in the Division of Public Safety & Security (DPSS), at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Among her core responsibilities, she advises leadership about strategic diversity, inclusive planning efforts and is responsible for the overall design, implementation and management of DPSS student programs.

    Marlanna is also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Schoolcraft College. She is passionate about serving students and providing them with tools and resources to maximize their potential. Her goal is to widen the array of student experiences that promote leadership development.

    Marlanna serves as a board/council member in numerous organizations that support education, social work and the success of women and women of color. Marlanna holds a master of social work and bachelor degree in sociology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

  • Headshot of Tristan Layfield
    Tristan Layfield is a career coach and resume writer that has helped over 1000 people identify and leverage their unique value proposition to transition their careers. His practice, rooted in personal leadership and self-advocacy, helps empower job seekers to effectively communicate their value to attract their ideal jobs and employers. With his work featured on major platforms such as LinkedIn, Business Insider, Black Enterprise, and The Muse, Tristan aims to help job seekers build professional brands that transform their mindset and job search.
  • Headshot of Julia Locklear
    Julia Locklear, Founder The Locklear Group, LLC, has over two decades of experience as a social science researcher and consumer insights specialist. Julia completed her undergraduate studies in political science and masters and doctoral work in industrial and organizational psychology. She is also an executive coach, specializing in workplace crisis management (e.g., harassment, bullying and discrimination), salary and severance negotiation and career transition. She has taught at the graduate level and has corporate training experience as well. After honing her skills in the private sector, she now consults organizations in pursuit of transformational change resulting in high-performing, diverse teams thriving in cultures that promote inclusivity, belonging, and value everyone’s expertise.
  • Headshot of LaNeisha J Murphy
    LaNeisha J Murphy, LPC, NCC, ACS, is a Health and Wellness Counselor with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. She provides brief, confidential counseling services to students and postdoctoral trainees in the biomedical science departments. She is also an intern and licensing supervisor for novice counselors, in private practice, and is certified as a therapist and supervisor in Brief Strategic Family Therapy®. Ms. Murphy works in the consultant space with various governments and municipalities on providing trauma-informed care in supervision and curricula facilitation to first responders and government workers. Ms. Murphy earned a BA in Biology from Macalester College and her MS in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University, where she is pursuing her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision.
  • Headshot of Deborah Orlowski
    Deborah Orlowski, PhD founded Dahlia Keynotes and Workshops after retiring from the University of Michigan where she served as an UHR Senior Learning Specialist. Her passion is helping others create an environment where intercultural, diverse relationships develop and flourish. Dr. Orlowski has served in several leadership roles including developmental lead for the U-M Leading Change Practicum; and on the national level, as past chair of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR) annual (international) conference; locally she serves as the Vice President of the Board of Vincent York’s Jazzistry. She holds a Master of Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Transformative Learning.
  • Headshot of Karyn Procter-Wicks
    Karyn Procter-Wicks has been with the University for 19 years and partnered with both Michigan Medicine and the College of LSA on a variety of human resources topics. She is currently the Director of HR at the School of Dentistry. Karyn graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors in Industrial Psychology and is Certified HR Professional with both the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM-CP) ,and a Professional of Human Resources (PHR) through the HR Certification Institute . Before the U of M, she has been a branch manager with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and a Division Director with Robert Half International. Her specialties include, talent acquisition, employee relations and ongoing supervisor development.
  • Headshot of Terrence G. Quinn

    Terrence G. Quinn is an expert in estate planning, probate, and elder law throughout the state of Michigan. He trains lawyers on a national level how to navigate the many ins and outs of this practice of law. Terrence attended the University of Michigan where he fulfilled his life-long dream of playing football for the Wolverines when he became a starter for 1997 University of Michigan Championship football team. He graduated Law School in 2002. Since 2015, the National Black Lawyers have consistently named Terrence among the Top 100 Black Attorneys in Michigan. He was also named among their Top 40 Under 40. Terrence also serves as a contributor, speaker, and faculty member for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s (ICLE) Probate and Estate Planning Institute and ICLE’s Elder Law Institute. In addition, he serves on the executive board of ICLE’s executive committee. Terrence has also served on the State Bar’s character and fitness committee.

    Terrence is dedicated to spreading the message and awareness of estate planning: “What you don’t know can actually hurt you!” He understands that by providing sound counsel on proper estate planning, such as building a trust and selecting powers of attorney, his clients can protect their assets from probate court and keep their loved ones in charge of financial and medical decisions. He believes in treating people well; that all deserve the peace of mind knowing that their material assets and their loved ones will be taken care of in their absence. Through sharing his personal experiences of starting his own firm during the recession of 2008, his extensive knowledge, and his charismatic presence, he captivates audiences with engaging and informative disquisitions.

  • Headshot of Katie Reece
    Katie Reece is a DEI Specialist and Educator for Organizational Learning. She leads the Facilitator Engagement Program (FEP), supporting volunteer facilitators across the organization in developing and facilitating DEI educational programming while encouraging personal and professional growth, community and relationship building. Katie began her social justice journey at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, working in leadership and child welfare with a focus on anti-racism. Katie is a University of Michigan LSA alumna.
  • Headshot of Mishelle Rodriguez, PhD

    Mishelle Rodriguez, PhD has more than 12 years of experience providing counseling in university counseling centers, community mental health settings and private practice. She is often sought out by clients who are reluctant to try counseling (including people of color, men, athletes, and survivors of complex trauma). Mishelle is passionate about working with clients through times of intense difficulty, as well as everyday stressors and goals for growth. Her areas of specialization include family of origin issues, relationship concerns, self-esteem, perfectionism, sport psychology, multicultural issues, and trauma.

    Mishelle approaches counseling from a relational cultural perspective, with the goal of understanding each client as a whole person, with an appreciation for their intersecting identities, relationships, roles, and the environments they are navigating. She is trained in multiple approaches that promote healing and growth by focusing on the brain-body connection, including Brainspotting and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. She integrates tools like self-compassion, shame resilience and mindfulness with other therapeutic frameworks including Dialectical Behavioral (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment (ACT). Mishelle is also a Certified Daring Way™ facilitator. She uses the The Daring Way™ methodology, based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown, to help individuals, work teams, and organizational leaders examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding them back and identify the new choices and practices that will move them toward living and leading more authentically.

    Mishelle served two years as the president of the Metro Detroit chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. She is the founder of The Melanin Collective, an organization that serves as an online educational resource and host of local events for Black mental health and well-being. Through The Melanin Collective she is able to utilize her passion for incorporating Black films, television shows, music and art as a tool for opening up discussions about Black mental health concerns, and bringing the Black community together to use its internal strengths and wisdom for healing and growth. Mishelle does training and speaking engagements related to Black mental health, cultural trauma, self-care for activists, stress related to the socio-political climate, trauma-informed counseling, and multicultural consciousness/competence.

  • Headshot of Mary Lai Rose
    Mary Lai Rose is a cisgender, Taiwanese American, 1.5 generation immigrant woman, who was born in Japan, spent her formative years in Taiwan, and then grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she attended public schools, worked in the family’s restaurants, and was a mediocre but very enthusiastic violist and diving team member. She received her bachelor’s degree in Asian American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, master’s degree in Sociology and Education from Columbia University, and doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from the Pennsylvania State University. Mary currently serves as the program manager for the Anti-Racism Collaborative (ARC) at the National Center for Institutional Diversity.
  • Headshot of Kim C. Lijana

    Kim C. Lijana, PhD, leads the University of Michigan’s Center for Educational Outreach. She is responsible for supporting and advancing U-Ms commitment to pre-college learners and under-served schools in the state of Michigan. Dr. Lijana is passionate about providing life-changing opportunities for students and has developed a strong track record for increasing post-secondary education access and success for low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students.

    Dr. Lijana holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Miami University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from The John Hopkins University, and a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Michigan. She also co-authored two books, Left Behind: Urban High Schools and the Failure of Market Reform and Using Action Inquiry in Engaged Research: An Ongoing Guide.

  • Headshot of Mark Saine
    Mark Saine is the Managing Director of Strategic Leadership Solutions at TIAA. Mark supports TIAA’s clients by helping them to build leaders internally that are prepared to take on increasingly complex roles and to manage the demands of a rapidly changing environment. He provides leadership development services including workshops, retreats, consultation and coaching.
  • Headshot of Grace Sekulidis
    Grace Sekulidis  (she/her) is very passionate about approaching every situation with an intersectional, systemic lens and a diversity, equity, and inclusion framework. She believes that DEI work should be at the center of all work and in every conversation. Grace believes in identity-conscious facilitation practices and actively tries to practice indigenous restorative justice values. Her educational background is in social work. Grace has a Masters of Social Work from U of M. Grace currently works at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) as a Program Manager for Adaptable Conflict Resolution. Grace enjoys being outdoors, fishing, hiking, camping, and going for walks. In Grace’s spare time she enjoys cooking and watching lots of movies and tv-shows.
  • Headshot of Phyllis Taylor
    Phyllis Taylor is a dancing and drumming diva! Teaching both Pound and Cardio Drumming classes for MHealthy and around the state, she combines her love of dancing with exercise which helps her stay motivated and challenged. In addition, she enjoys Step Aerobics, Kickboxing, Zumba, line dancing/hustles and partner dancing (Ballroom, Greystone, Bop, Latin Hustle, Steppin’, Salsa). For Phyllis, it’s all about fitness, fun and feeling free to let yourself try new things!
  • Headshot of Marie P. Ting
    Marie P. Ting is an Assistant Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion and Academic Affairs. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology and her M.A. in higher education from the University of Michigan, and her PhD in higher education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to her current position, Marie served as associate director at U-M’s National Center for Institutional Diversity and also has held administrative positions at the Center for Educational Outreach and the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives. She has also served as the university director of student affairs and special programs at the City University of New York (CUNY) and held positions in both academic and student affairs at the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Headshot of Connie Tingson Gatuz
    Connie Tingson Gatuz  Born in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Connie Tingson Gatuz developed a heightened awareness of the impact of leadership and mentorship while growing up in a struggling multigenerational extended family of immigrants. After 20 years, she has returned to the University as Associate Vice President of Student Life. Previously for more than a decade, Connie served as vice president for student affairs and mission integration as the first Person of Color and only woman on the Executive Council at Madonna University at that time. She is the State-Chair Elect of the Michigan American Council on Education Women’s Network and co-director of the national NASPA Alice Manicur Symposium 2023 for aspiring executive women leaders.
  • Headshot of Michael Turner
    Michael Turner serves as the Associate Director of K-12 Partnerships for the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO). For more than a decade, he has worked for CEO serving in multiple capacities from leading external partnerships and field programs to managing K-12 outreach initiatives, and consulting U-M faculty, staff and department leads regarding best practices when exposing, engaging, and inspiring K-12 populations to post-secondary education. Today, he leads external direct service programs at CEO as Program Director for the Michigan College Advising Corps (MCAC) which hires, trains, and places recent U-M graduates in 16 under-served high schools to serve as college advisers, as well as, oversees the implementation of the federal GEAR UP program that serves ~1000 9th graders at 4 high schools in Detroit and Southfield. He is excited about streamlining and leveraging resources to create equitable space for all students to thrive.
  • Headshot of Dr. Tish Wade-Gallon
    Dr. Tish Wade-Gallon has over 20 years of experience in organizational management and talent development. Her industry experience includes higher education, human services, and executive coaching. Dr. Tish is known to collaborate with people and programs to align their strengths with larger goals and initiatives. Her work focuses on supporting the professional development of facilitators, educators, and health-focused leaders. These experiences benefit Dr. Tish in her current roles at TLC Life Plans and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she leads efforts such as the Health Communicators Early Career Initiative, Mentorship Program, and Pathway Achievement Series. Her passion for empowering others has led her to facilitate workshops across the country. For these efforts, she has been an honored recipient of the Excellence in Education Award and the Rouche Award by The League of Innovation. These accolades are not to be surpassed by her long-standing involvement with University of Michigan’s Atlanta Alumni Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Dr. Tish holds degrees in Psychology, Organizational Management, and Education. She continued her commitment to learning by recently becoming a DiSC certified facilitator and completing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate from the Muma College of Business.
  • Headshot of Deborah S. Willis
    Dr. Deborah S. Willis is a passionate and enthusiastic educator, facilitator and certified executive coach. She is currently an Assistant Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion and Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan where she works with the leadership team to develop strategy and tactics that lead to institutional transformation in the space of DEI. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Director for Professional Development and Engagement at Rackham Graduate School and led the Rackham Professional Development DEI Certificate, a program she designed to prepare participants to work in a diverse environment while fostering a climate of inclusivity. Throughout her professional career, Dr. Willis has provided vision and advocacy in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice and leadership development. Her engaging style of collaboration and coaching encourages progressive, actionable and tangible growth for the people she serves. She is committed to creating initiatives that support an inclusive community and promote institutional change. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful husband and two amazing adult children, enjoying nature, walking, and listening to music. Dr. Willis holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan and is a proud wolverine.


  • Headshot of Doreen Tinajero
    Doreen Tinajero
    LSA Center for Social Solutions (President, Policy Review and Advocacy Team)
  • Headshot of Shante Galloway
    Shante Galloway
    School of Dentistry (Vice President, Resource Development Team)
  • Headshot of Grace Wu
    Grace Wu
    Taubman Research Institute (Treasurer, Outreach and Engagement Team)
  • Headshot of Katherine Weathers
    Katherine Weathers
    LSA Scholarships (Secretary, Communications Team)

Executive Team Members

  • Headshot of Zarinah Aquil
    Zarinah Aquil
    Office of the Provost (Membership Social Team)
  • Headshot of LaTonya Berryhill
    LaTonya Berryhill
    Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (Program Development Team)
  • Headshot of Patricia Coleman-Burns, PhD
    Patricia Coleman-Burns, PhD
    School of Nursing (WOCAP Liaison)
  • Headshot of Ellen Copeland-Brown
    Ellen Copeland-Brown
    Michigan Medicine (Outreach and Engagement)
  • Headshot of Rachel Dawson, JD
    Rachel Dawson, JD
    U-M Precision Health (Career Conference Chair and Bylaws and Operations)
  • Headshot of Maria Flores
    Maria Flores
    Eisenberg Family Depression Center (Policy Review and Advocacy Team)
  • Headshot of Monica Hickson
    Monica Hickson
    ITS (Technology)
  • Headshot of Marlanna Landeros
    Marlanna Landeros
    DPSS (Educational Assistance Team)
  • Headshot of Janice Reuben
    Janice Reuben
    Alumni Association (Resource & Recognition Team/Historical Resource Team)
  • Headshot of Robin Pankey
    Robin Pankey
    WCTF Program Coordinator

Thank You to Our Sponsors

TIAA logo
WCTF extends special thanks to TIAA, our Platinum Plus corporate sponsor, for its generous support of the 2023 Women of Color Task Force Conference.

The 41st Annual WCTF Career Conference is organized in partnership with the Office Of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and the following schools, colleges, and units who demonstrate their strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and staff development through their support of this conference:

Silver Level Sponsors

University of Michigan College of Engineering


Bronze Level Sponsors

University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the ArtsUniversity of Michigan School of Kinesiology University of Michigan School of Public Health


University of Michigan School of DentistryUniversity of Michigan School of EducationMichigan Medicine

University of Michigan School of NursingUniversity of Michigan College of PharmacyUniversity of Michigan Ross School of Business

With additional support from:

U-M Precision Health

U-M School of Social Work

U-M Taubman Institute

Special Thanks

The Women of Color Task Force appreciates the support of our conference attendees, presenters, and volunteers. Your participation ensures the success of this event. We also acknowledge our U-M and community sponsors for their special contributions to the annual career conference and our other professional development activities.

About WCTF

The Women of Color Task Force (WCTF) is a University of Michigan staff organization, founded in 1979, that provides professional development, networking, mentoring, and training opportunities for employees, with a focus on addressing the needs of women of color staff.

For more than 40 years, the WCTF has served 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.

For additional information about joining WCTF or participating in its staff development events, please contact Robin Pankey, WCTF Program Coordinator via email at [email protected].

2023 Career Conference Planning Committee


  • Rachel Dawson, JD, U-M Precision Health


  • Zarinah Aquil, Office of the Provost
  • LaTonya Berryhill, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research
  • Ellen Copeland-Brown, Michigan Medicine
  • Janice Reuben, Alumni Association
  • Katherine Weathers, LSA Scholarships
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