Women of Color and Political Influence


Photo portrait of  Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkinds, PhD wearing a teal blue business suit.

Keynote speaker, Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, Ph.D.

Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins served as the 15th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States (1998–2002) and was the first woman of color to serve as national president. She led a career in public school and higher education for more than 40 years. Post-retirement, Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins continues to be an advocate and activist for civil rights, social justice, educational excellence, and stronger citizen participation in the electoral process for underrepresented populations.









Luchara Wallace, Ph.D., Director of the Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations and Associate Professor in Special Education at Western Michigan University

She leads research and advocacy on juvenile incarceration, generational wealth attainment, and policies impacting families and individuals with disabilities. Dr. Wallace's passion for family and policy studies is a continuation of her desire to support individuals and families with disabilities in creating the life they aspire to have.


Deirdre Courtney, Ph.D. Candidate, Climate Change Displacement, Western Michigan University

At WMU Deirdre teaches courses on Climate Change and Marginalized Populations. She founded Schools for Climate Action Michigan (s4cami), serves on the City of Portage Environmental Board, and is a member of the National Black Climate Action Network and Citizens Climate Lobby.

Chiante’ Lymon, Legal Assistant, Kalamazoo Defender

While earning her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice at WMU, Chiante’s proudest accomplishment was institutionalizing WeVote at Western. In 2015 she served as a Sally Appleyard Fellow at the 60th District State Representative’s Office, furthering her development while helping constituents. Earlier this year, Chiante’ participated in the Black Women’s Roundtable in Washington, DC, strategizing with over 500 people on getting out the vote for the 2020 election.

Dalia Sanchez, VP of Diversity and Inclusion for the Western Student Association, Western Michigan University

Dalia is a full-time first-generation college student at Western Michigan University (WMU). She is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Environmental and Sustainability Studies with a minor in Biological Studies. Dalia is the current VP of Diversity and Inclusion for student government, the Western Student Association, at WMU. In 2019, Dalia participated in a roundtable with elected officials and classmates to discuss renewable energy initiatives and policies in the state of Michigan. Throughout 2020, she has planned, executed, and participated in numerous town halls and panels to push for student issues regarding COVID-19 and social injustice at WMU. Dalia is also involved in Delta Tau Lambda Sorority, Inc., Latino Student Alliance (LSA), Project Big Sister (PBS), Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization, and Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity.