The Regents of The University of Colorado

04/18/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/18/2024 00:35

CU community members recognized with President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards

CU President Todd Saliman is pleased to announce the President's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award recipients. This annual recognition honors individuals and units who have demonstrated exceptional dedication and significant contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion across CU.

President Saliman and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards committee announced the 2023-24 honorees ahead of an awards reception scheduled for April 24 at 1800 Grant St. Recipients of the honor receive $2,000 and a commemorative award.

"Recognizing these outstanding members of the CU community is so important and such an honor," President Saliman said. "I'm incredibly grateful to this year's award winners, and to the members of the DEI Awards Committee, all of whom are going above and beyond to advance diversity, equity and inclusion across the university. It takes all of us working together to further this critical work and to reinforce CU's commitment to fostering a culture and environment on our campuses and at system administration where all students, faculty and staff can feel at home."

This year's CU President's DEI Awardees are:


G. Carole Woodall, Ph.D., is an associate professor of modern Middle East history in the Department of History and co-director of the Asian Studies Minor at UCCS.

G. Carole Woodall

She moved to Istanbul in 1991 and lived there for 11 years while pursuing a master's degree and later researching early jazz culture in 1920s Istanbul. The region informs her dedication to leading with compassion and centering the histories and lived experiences of marginalized people.

Woodall's commitment to the transformative capacities of a public institution expands to work in the classroom and in the community. In 2009 and 2011, she curated the interdisciplinary Intersections Film Festival on the UCCS campus and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, featuring the themes "Women's Lives and Experiences" and "Displacement."

In 2016, Woodall facilitated a three-day series at UCCS on "The U.S. and Islamophobia" in partnership with the University of Denver and the Washington, D.C., Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign. The series inspired a student-led chapter of Project Nur, which focuses on social justice through a framework of cultural acceptance.

Since the fall of 2023, she organized a two-part Palestine-Israel teach-in series with a commitment to the compassionate recognition of lives lost and the ways in which recent events have impacted the CU and broader Colorado communities. Cultivating empathy, acting with care, supporting community, and empowering students through the study of the Middle East are at the heart of her activism.

An expression of centering student voices was a collaborative, co-curricular project with students taking the Islam and the West course in the spring of 2023, which resulted in the "Getting Comfortable" podcast. The project is the subject of the Kraemer Family Library Third Digital Storytelling Exhibition beginning in April 2024. Woodall was recently awarded the 2023 Middle East Studies Association Undergraduate Education Award.


Benjamin Ototivo, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist at Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) at CU Boulder. A proud member of the Comanche Nation, he grew up on the southern side of his tribal reservation in his native Oklahoma. He currently lives with his family in Colorado.

Benjamin Ototivo

Ototivo earned his doctorate at the University of Oklahoma and completed his doctoral internship at the University of Northern Colorado, where he was the liaison to the cultural centers on campus. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on mental health outreach and community development on campus with Indigenous and first-generation students.

He is currently a multicultural specialist and staff psychologist at CU Boulder. Throughout his career as a clinician and advocate, he has worked toward supporting and developing DEI and social justice efforts in higher education spaces. He now balances carrying a caseload of therapy clients with teaching diversity, equity and inclusion concepts and competencies to staff and staff-in-training.

With the help of the Social Justice and Multicultural Committee at CAPS, Ototivo has worked toward retooling policies and procedures to provide more equitable care to students. He is committed to supporting equity in mental health for underserved populations in our community.


Fernanda Cerros is a fourth-year undergraduate student at CU Boulder and will graduate with her bachelor's degree in international affairs and political science this May.

Fernanda Cerros

Her advocacy and activism began as a senior in high school in Rifle, Colorado. In the thick of 2020, Cerros became aware of racial tensions in her community and was moved to action. She organized a vigil and march that amassed allies and gained press attention.

Upon graduating high school, Cerros moved with her family to Denver and has remained active in her community. She has been involved in several organizations including the Colorado Change Makers Collective, Public Achievement, Aquetza Youth Empowerment Program and the Puksta Scholarship program.

Through these organizations and experiences, she has mobilized for various causes including advocating for the undocumented community, serving as a mentor for youth, coordinating summer bridge opportunities for high school students, and advocating for underrepresented communities. She is passionate about educational equity and creating third spaces for students to create and learn.


Rebecca Henkind is a fourth-year medical student at the School of Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Originally from New York City, she studied mathematics and economics and minored in Chinese language and literature at Emory University.

Rebecca Henkind

In the years between undergrad and medical school, Henkind worked as a medical assistant at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and as an EMT on a county ambulance. During medical school, she co-founded and led the CU Street Medicine student group, and she hopes to continue serving people experiencing homelessness throughout her career.

Henkind will start her internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital this summer.


Established in 2001, the Office of Diversity Affairs (ODA) at CU Boulder's Leeds School of Business is dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment for its diverse student body.

The Office of Diversity Affairs at CU Boulder's Leeds School of Business.

Through various initiatives, the ODA actively engages with underrepresented students before and throughout their time at Leeds, while fostering partnerships with local schools, community partners, alumni and businesses.

The cornerstone of ODA's efforts is the Diverse Scholars Program, which supports about 300 undergraduates annually. Anchored in four key pillars - academic achievement, educational excellence, professional development, and community development - Diverse Scholars have access to high-impact programming and resources to ensure their success. Evidence of ODA's work is seen in the achievements of Diverse Scholars, who outperform similar demographics at CU Boulder in retention rates, graduation rates and job placement. Diverse Scholars' strong sense of belonging within the Leeds community also drives high engagement beyond Leeds, advancing scholars toward leadership roles, paid internship opportunities and mentorship.

Throughout its 23-year history, the ODA's efforts have extended beyond the Diverse Scholars, as seen in multiple recruitment initiatives targeting talented high school students from diverse backgrounds. This dedication to creating access to Colorado's flagship institution is a hallmark of the ODA's mission. High school students can participate in one-day explorations days via the Business at a Glance or in a summer program. ODA hosts two multi-day, residential experiences through the Women in Business Case Competition and the KeyBank Business Leadership Program. Those selected to the EXCEL Scholars Program have an even more immersive experience with a three-week KeyBank Summer Bridge Program that academically prepares them for their first semester at Leeds.

Regardless of the touchpoint from Leeds, all summer and outreach participants' paths lead to the Diverse Scholars Program, its comprehensive programming, and the support of the ODA team.