Women of Color Task Force

Click here to view recordings from the 2022 40th Annual Women of Color Task Force Career Conference

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. For more than 36 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.

Executive Team 2021-22

  • Diane Brinson-Days, Ross School of Business (U-M Dearborn Liaison)
  • Doreen Tinajero, LSA Center for Social Solutions (Career Conference Registration)
  • Gloryvee Fonseca-Bolorin, CEW+ (Leadership Development)
  • Grace Wu, Taubman Research Institute (Recruitment & Outreach)
  • Janice Reuben, Alumni Association (Program Lead/Conference Vendors)
  • Janis Williamson, University Health Service (Professional Development) – Retired
  • Katherine Weathers, LSA Advancement (Recruitment & Outreach)
  • Lorraine Robert, Michigan Medicine Medical School Administration (Professional Development)
  • Maria Flores, Eisenberg Family Depression Center (Conference Vendors/Programs)
  • Marlanna Landeros, DPSS (University Policies)
  • Mary Jo Gray, School of Dentistry Compliance (Leadership Development) – President
  • Rachel Dawson, Precision Health at the University of Michigan (University Policies/Juneteenth Chair)
  • Shante Galloway, School of Dentistry (Career Conference Chair/U-M Flint Liaison)
  • Zarinah Aquil, Office of the Provost (Leadership Development)


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.


WCTF General Meeting Schedule for 2021-2022

WCTF general meetings on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Please note that the WCTF meetings scheduled for the Fall 2021 semester will be virtual on the Zoom meeting platform.

May 19 – Writing Retreat – Work on annual performance reviews / IDP
June 09 – Juneteenth Planning
June 17 – 3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration (Friday)
June 30 – WCTF Member Career Talks

Career & 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.

Staff Coaching Pilot

(August 2021 – June 2022)

The purpose of this project is to provide formal, research-based training in career coaching; and to provide ongoing support for the career development of WCTF members and other U-M staff. More details will be provided in Summer 2021.

Conference History and Speakers

U-M Women of Color Task Force
Conference Themes & Keynote Speakers, 1983 – 2021

2022 – The Time is Now!
Tamika D. Mallory, Social Justice Leader and Movement Strategist
Click here to view all recordings from the 2022 conference.

2021 – “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
A. Oveta Fuller, PhD, Michigan Medicine
Preeti Malani, MD, Michigan Medicine
Alfreda Rooks, MPA, Michigan Medicine
Click here to view all recordings from the 2021 conference.

2020 – 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.

2019 – 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.

2018 – 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

2017 – 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”

2016 – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: A Staff Perspective (34th)
Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, “The Dilemma of Inclusivity: How Can We Make It Work?”
Click here to view the 2016 WCTF Opening Session and Keynote Address with Dr. Ruth Simmons

2015 – Tools for the Journey: Self-Awareness, Confidence & Respect (33rd)
Mr. Alfred (Al) Squire, Director of the Greenville Health System MedEx Academy
Click here for photos from the 2015 conference

2014 – Transforming the Face of Leadership (32nd)
Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut
Click here to view the 2014 WCTF Conference keynote address given by Dr. Mae Jemison.

2013 – Planning + Action + Perseverance = Success! (31st)
Ms. Donna Brazile, Political Strategist and Georgetown University Professor
Click here to view the 2013 WCTF Conference keynote address given by Donna Brazile.

2012 – 30 Years of Legacy, Leadership and Change (30th)
Dr. Johnnetta B Cole, National Museum of African Art
2012 Conference Event Announcement

2012 Conference Flyer

2011 – 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

2010 – Excel in Uncertain Times: Identify Resources & Maximize Opportunities (28th)
Ms. Gail Perry-Mason, Vice President – Oppenheimer & Co, Inc.

2009 – Enhance U: Education, Empowerment & Equity (27th)
Dr. Howard G. Adams, President – H. G. Adams and Associates, Inc.
Founding Director, GEM National Institute on Mentoring

2008 – Work, Lead & Succeed In A Global Economy (26th)
Dr. Kenya Ayers, Executive Director of Esperanza Communications and past State Chairperson, Michigan ACE Network

2007 – 25 Years of Promoting Leadership & Diversity (25th)
Dr. Mary Frances Berry, University of Pennsylvania & Former Chair, US Commission on Civil Rights

2006 – Healthy Person, Healthy Society (24th)
Mr. Pete Thomas, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (Motivational Speaker)

2005 – Inclusion and Opportunity: Recognizing Everyone’s Contribution (23rd)
Dr. Toni Hoover, Vice President – Pfizer GRD, Ann Arbor Campus

2004 – Finding Your Path: Developing the Excellence Within (22nd)
Ms. Beverly Jenkins, Author (Fiction)

2003 – One University, One Community, One Destiny: Staff and the University’s Mission (21st)
President Mary Sue Coleman
Ms. Sue Guevara, UM Women’s Basketball Coach

2002 – Women on a Mission: 20 Years of Excellence (20th)
Chief Benny Napoleon, Detroit Police Department

2001 – Not Without A Struggle: Honoring our Past, Taking Control of Our Future (19th)
Rev. Shaheerah Stephens, Author and Community Activist

2000 – The Celebration of a New Era, New Opportunities and a New You (18th)
Dr. Bertice Berry, Social Activist and National Talk Show Host

1999 – Ready, Set, Go TEAM! (17th)
Ms. Laurita Thomas, CHRO – UM Health System

1998 – Reforging Our Lives into the New Millennium (16th)
Ms. Vanna Novak, Motivational Speaker

1997 – Looking Back, Moving Forward: 15 Years with the Women of Color Task Force (15th)
Ms. Thelma Wells, Christian TV Personality (Dallas, TX)

1996 – Building and Creating Opportunities for Growth (14th)
Ms. Patricia Russell-McCloud, Federal Communications Commission

1995 – Success: Beginning with the End in Mind (13th)
Dr. Benjamin Carson, Cardiologist and UMMS Graduate

1994 – Developing a Plan for Excellence (12th)
Dr. Elizabeth Allen, R.N.

1993 – Globally Pulling Our Cultures Together: Positioning Ourselves to Empower, Impact and Excel (11th)
Ms. Helen Zia, MS Magazine
Ms. Sonia Sanchez, Activist

1992 – 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

1991 – 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)

1990 – Progressing Towards Plurality: The Challenge of the 90s (8th)

1989 – Shades of Quality: Emerging, Excelling, Empowering (7th)
A. Deer

1988 – Imagine What We Can Be: Challenge, Create, Celebrate (6th)
Dr. R. Griffin

1987 – 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)

1986 – 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

1985 – Women of Color: Striving for Excellence (3rd)
MsCarman Harlan (WDIV news personality)
Dr. Mildred Tirado, UM Counseling Services Center

1984 – Survival, Career Development and Networking (2nd)
Ms. Jennie Partee and Ms. Beulah Sanders, WCTF Founders

1983 – Survival, Career Development and Networking (1st)
Dr. Bernadine Denning 

Current Members


A list of current Women of Color Task Force members may be found in this Google spreadsheet here.

A new affiliate group was formed in the Winter 2020 – North Campus Women of Color Group by WCTF member, LaTonya Berryhill. Members of this group are listed here.

Project Sponsors

U-M Sponsors: DAAS, Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine Human Resources, and University Human Resources

Corporate Partnerships: TIAA

Community Partnerships: Golden Limousine, Inc.


In 1979, Jennie Partee of the 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.

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. In 2002, the Women of Color Task Force became an administrative unit of the Center for the Education of Women (CEW+).

Awards: The Women of Color Task Force was the recipient of two university service awards in May 2009. The group received an 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.

Career Development Passport Pilot: 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 and CDPP team members (including Janice Reuben, WCTF Program Coordinator) conducted a panel presentation at the 2014 National CUPA-HR Conference in San Antonio, TX on September 30, 2014.


“Adjusting expectations is also self-care.”

“Education has always allowed me to help people near me. I take pride in providing useful advice and recommendations.”

CEW+ commends Marie Jeanne’s persistence and vision for her nursing career and names her the Sarah Winans Newman Scholar.