By Jennifer Goodman, Rachel Medaugh, Taylor Schad, Sasha Strong, Natasha Viteri, Charissa Wood, WoCC Executive Board 2019-2020
The idea to start the Womxn of Color Collective (WoCC) came after finishing our first semester at the University of Colorado Law School. We noticed there was a void between the intersection of being a woman and a person of color that we aimed to acknowledge and fill. Women of color face different challenges in law school and we were lucky enough to have each other to find support and community throughout the highs and lows of our first semester. We wanted to make sure every woman of color has that backing during their time at Colorado Law. Putting our vision into action was both challenging and exciting. It was through our own stories and experiences that we found the drive to believe that WoCC could be possible.
Once our founding board members decided to petition the Student Bar Association (SBA) to create a new organization, we drafted a constitution and asked our classmates about their interest in joining WoCC. After receiving an overwhelming amount of interest from students, faculty, and staff, we petitioned the SBA in March 2019 to be placed on probationary status. During this time, WoCC would function as a normal SBA organization, with the exception of being able to access school funding for any of our events. Starting a new organization from scratch had its own challenges. Our founding board sent out dozens of emails requesting access to websites, email lists, and notifying people of our existence to get WoCC’s name out. Yet, even with a lack of funding, we were able to promote WoCC to the student body, recruit new members, and put on events. In October 2019, after a unanimous vote, WoCC was taken off probationary status and became an officially recognized organization within the SBA.
We created WoCC to accomplish three main goals. First, WoCC seeks to support and promote those who identify as womxn of color at the University of Colorado Law School. Secondly, WoCC seeks to encourage community among womxn of color at the law school. Lastly, WoCC seeks to establish a place where the concerns of womxn of color are heard, discussed and addressed to foster conversation(s) and uplift the student body. These are not simple goals. Our founding board members have envisioned a group that functions to provide support, networking opportunities, and space to allow womxn of color to create a community that can uplift them during their years at law school and as attorneys.
In order to achieve these goals, WoCC began by inviting faculty & staff to be our “advisors.” SBA does not require organizations to have advisors to be a recognized organization. However, we found it important to reach out to faculty & staff to encourage our members to get to know women of color on the CU faculty beyond just the classroom. Additionally, we have hosted two community dinners at different faculty members’ homes. The purpose of community dinner is to allow our members to share a meal together outside of the law school to build better relationships internally. As we move toward the end of the semester and into next year, WoCC is partnering with other affinity organizations on campus to put on different events. Each of these events is structured around highlighting issues that women of color experience in the legal field and giving back to our community within Boulder and Denver.
WoCC continues to be a work in progress. Our organization is always looking for ways to partner with attorneys & employers in the greater Denver area for events or job opportunities to share with our members. Our Executive Board routinely sends out employment listings that are shared with us. Additionally, we want our members to partake in the affinity Colorado Bar Associations as students in order to build their own network. WoCC is not possible without creating partnerships with employers, affinity bar associations, faculty, staff, and our classmates to create a support system for our members to succeed during and after their time in law school. Our members are the future of the legal field in Colorado and elsewhere, and WoCC is excited to see what walls they break down.
Student Bar Association Representative
Jennifer Goodman is a first-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School. She graduated from National University in San Diego with a major in pre-law studies and a minor in alternative dispute resolution. She is a citizen of the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma and is interested in pursuing a career in Tribal Law. She is involved in the Native American Law Students Association at CU and is a Student Bar Association Representative for the Womxn of Color Collective.
Student Bar Association Representative Rachel Medaugh is from Colorado and studied at the University of Miami and doubled majored in international studies and ecosystem science and policy. Currently, she is a first-year law student at the University of Colorado Boulder Law School, with a focus on Water Rights Law.
Treasurer & Co-Founder
Taylor Schad is a second-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School focusing on American Indian and International Law and in particular, the intersection between Indigenous sovereignty rights and international mechanisms of recourse. She is a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After law school, she hopes to work as a legal advocate with Indigenous peoples across the globe.
Sasha Strong Co-Executive & Co-Founder
Sasha Strong is a second-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School. Her main areas of focus are in American Indian and Family Law. Sasha currently represents clients in dependency and neglect proceedings through the law school's Juvenile and Family Law Clinic under the Colorado Student Practice Act. Sasha is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and is very passionate about doing work for and giving back to Indian Country. She is also a single mother to her seven-year-old son, Blake.
Natasha Viteri Co-Executive & Co-Founder Natasha Viteri is a second-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School. She is originally from Quito, Ecuador and lived in Houston, TX, prior to moving to Colorado. She graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in public health and a minor in social inequality, health, and policy. Natasha is on the board of the Environmental Law Society, the Latinx Law Student Association, Womxn of Color Collective and I Have a Dream Foundation. Natasha is most interested in environmental justice and civil rights and hopes to represent communities of color as an attorney.
Co-Executive & Co-Founder
Charissa Wood is a second-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School. She is from Southern California and graduated from North Park University in Chicago. Currently, her main areas of focus in law school are Immigration and Criminal Law. She is on the board of three affinity organizations at the law school and continues to pursue opportunities that allow her to give back to the Latino community.