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Milestone HerDU Conference Inspires Women to Make an Impact

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Nicole Militello

Senior Media Relations Specialist

Nicole Militello

Wayne Armstrong





The 25th event drew hundreds of women and allies together before International Women’s Day

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Shiza Shahid

Shiza Shahid was still a student at Stanford University when she decided to return home to Pakistan for a summer and host a secret educational camp for young girls being denied access to school. One of those girls was Malala Yousafzai, who would go on to dominate headlines as the youngest person to win a Nobel Prize. The two of them went on to make an impact for girls across the world by co-founding the Malala Fund.

“I knew we had shattered stereotypes about what courage looks like and what girls can achieve if they were just given an education,” said Shahid, remembering the moment a 17-year-old Yousafzai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

Shahid shared her powerful story in a keynote address delivered at the March 6 HerDU conference at Sturm Hall. Her story and topic — the significance of showing up and the importance of education for young girls and women — moved so many people that she was met with a standing ovation.

“There are moments where we decide who we are and, in those moments, all we can do is try to be guided by our hopes and not by our fears,” Shahid said, describing how small moments can make a big impact.

For 25 years, HerDU has brought together women across generations to honor the past, celebrate the present and inspire the future. This year’s conference was one the largest HerDU’s history with 700 people registered. 

“HerDU gives us the opportunity to renew our connection to one another and to the University,” said Ann Ayers, dean of the Colorado Women’s College, the University of Denver entity that organized the conference along with the DU Women’s Coalition. “We find out what we have in common, what makes us unique, and we build momentum around common causes. This event has grown to threefold what it was just two years ago. For the University to make this possible, for the volunteers to bring it to life, and for the attendees to show up — it’s all so energizing!”

The conference also takes time to recognize those at DU who go beyond their job responsibilities to advocate for women on campus. The Robin Morgan Outstanding Woman Awards recognize a faculty member, administrator, staff member, graduate student, undergraduate student and an alumna. An award-winning poet and novelist known for championing women’s rights, Robin Morgan served as a visiting professor in residence at DU in 1996.

Award winners

This year’s award recipients are:

Faculty: Anne DePrince

Anne DePrince is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the director of DU’s Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL). A scholar-teacher, she works with a team of student researchers to study trauma, particularly intimate violence, which disproportionately affects women and children. Using a community-engaged approach, DePrince collaborates with community partners to identify research questions that can inform policy and practice while advancing scientific understanding of trauma outcomes and interventions. DePrince has authored more than 100 academic articles and book chapters on violence and trauma. She is co-editor of the Concise Guides on Trauma Care Books Series, published by the American Psychological Association.

Administrator: Theresa Hernandez

An alumna of the Colorado Women’s College and the Morgridge College of Education, Theresa Hernandez came to DU in 2003 and currently serves as assistant vice chancellor for IT campus partnerships. Hernandez managed University Libraries’ operations for 14 years and Digital Media Services for more than nine years, and she served as the owner’s representative for the Anderson Academic Commons project. She served as president of the Staff Advisory Council for two years and as chair of DU’s Women’s Coalition for more than five years. In 2013, she received the Robin Morgan Staff Women Award.

Staff: Lindsay Gypin

As access services manager for University Libraries, Lindsay Gypin strives to create an inclusive community among her staff and for the campus as a whole. Gypin believes in leading by example and often can be found assisting library users at the main lending desk in the Anderson Academic Commons. Gypin has chaired the library’s Inclusivity and Diversity Committee and the User Services Committee. She also has participated in DU’s Leadership Academy Cohort IV. She presented a workshop on using gender-inclusive language to library employees in 2019, which she later adapted for a HerDU 2019 presentation and the 2019 Colorado Association of Libraries conference.

Graduate: Julie Olomi

Julie Olomi is a doctoral student in child clinical psychology and studies psychosocial mechanisms related to women revictimization. She decided to become a clinical psychologist after working with human trafficking and domestic violence survivors and after witnessing the systemic barriers women face following trauma exposure. Olomi uses a community-participatory-based approach to address such issues and hopes to put her research to work influencing public policy and mental health interventions related to preventing violence against women. She has seven publications with collaborators to her credit, and she enjoys mentoring undergraduate students.

Undergraduate: Shannon Saul

Shannon Saul is a fourth-year undergraduate student double majoring in gender and women's studies and international studies, with a minor in Hebrew. Saul has been co-president of DU's Collegiate Council on Gender Violence Topics for three years and currently serves as the Undergraduate Student Government Secretary on Gender Violence Topics. In these roles, she helped to plan events such as Love, Sex and Health Week and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. She also helped the Undergraduate Student Government pass a resolution notifying the DU community of the prevalence of gender-based violence and calling on the DU administration to take action. She currently interns at Planned Parenthood and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Alumna: Rhonda Richmond

Dr. Rhonda Richmond applied for and won The Women’s Vision Foundation scholarship in 1999, a scholarship that was valued at approximately $50,000. Rhonda worked full time during the day, going to school at night and in between times she was working with her children to support their learning disabilities at home. Seeing the results of the work she was doing with her children, she enrolled in a doctoral program where she dedicated all of her coursework to studying learning disabilities for individuals in higher education settings. Richmond received her doctorate in Higher Education Curriculum and Instruction in 2014. A three-time graduate of the University of Denver (2015, 2007, 2003), Richmond is a special education teacher, principal in training, full time student, educational consultant/evaluator, mentor, poet, author, wife, mother and friend with roughly 20 years of teaching in various settings under her belt.

John Nichols Male Ally Award: Kyle Inselman

Kyle Inselman works as a career advisor and instructor at DU. Inselman is a trans-identified feminist and entered student affairs to advance trans inclusion in higher education. Driven by his lived experiences as a transmasculine person who has experienced gender discrimination in school and work, he approaches his work through a lens of gender liberation informed by the reality of modern patriarchy’s impact on people of all genders. Most recently, he has focused on the issue of gender normativity in work and career development, seeking transformative approaches that positively impact all genders by centering women. At DU, he has facilitated workshops for staff and students bridging social identity and career development, taught the “Women, Careers and Leadership” job/internship search course, and developed tailored programming for marginalized students in partnership with the Gender and Women’s Studies department and the Cultural Center/Pride Lounge.