Sistah Network


The Sistah Network promotes and facilitates the psychological, social, and emotional success of Black women in DU graduate programs by providing opportunities for academic and professional development. This mission is grounded in Black Feminist Thought which posits that Black women need safe spaces to participate in activities that give them voice, self-definition and belonging.

The Sistah Network is committed to helping Black women who are graduate students at the University of Denver contend with the pervasive challenges they face related to graduate student socialization and academic persistence. The Network meets two to three times per quarter and membership is open to anyone, though its organizational priorities and aims are fixed.


The marginalization of Black graduate women at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) is a persistent problem in US higher education. Institutional factors such as few role models, less support for research, and unwelcoming, insensitive, and isolative environments can adversely shape Black women's experiences in graduate programs. The experiences of Black graduate women at PWIs often are aligned with their positions of differential status, wealth, and power within US society. Pervasive attitudes of racism as well as differential access and power continue to limit educational opportunities for Black women in graduate programs at PWIs in the US.

At PWIs there exists great potential for disconnect between espoused intentions, theory and practice as it relates to Inclusive Excellence (IE). Given these realities, Black graduate women are rarely afforded the opportunities to engage in the four dimensions of IE, including equity, positive campus climates, robust learning and development, and diversity in the curriculum. There is a need for Black graduate women to feel supported in their journey through graduate school. The Sistah Network aims to address some of these issues.

Black women have been extremely resourceful in using their position of marginalization to resist the oppression they have encountered within the academy and society at large despite the enduring history of disenfranchisement they have faced. In order to maintain this position of resistance, Black graduate women in the academy must pool their collective energy and continue to proactively identify and participate in formal and informal mentoring relationships, as well as pursue both conventional and unconventional connective opportunities. The Sistah Network is an example of such a connective opportunity.

Long-Term Outcomes

Long term, the Sistah Network aims to build and maintain a sustainable network of academic support for Black women in doctoral programs across the University of Denver, as well as a sustainable mentoring program that includes both African American and non-African American faculty and staff who are aware of the politics of difference and willing to mentor Black women in graduate programs.


Mark your calendars with the following Sistah Network Meeting and event dates — we would like you to participate! All meetings will take place in the Colorado Women’s College Garden Room from 6 to 8 p.m. on the following Fridays:

Winter Quarter, 2020

  • January 16
  • February 27–28: Sistah Network Conference (Location TBD)

Spring Quarter, 2020

  • March 13
  • May 22



  • Anthea Rooen Johnson, MBA
    The Cultural Center Director of Student Access and Pipeline Programs
  • Nicole M Joseph, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Morgridge College of Education