The Committee includes the following representation:


Sue James

Commission Chair (currently on sabbatical)
Professor, Mechanical Engineering


Dr. Susan James joined the Colorado State University (CSU) Mechanical Engineering faculty in 1994 as an assistant professor — she was the first female faculty member in the 125 year-old department.  Dr. James is now the Head of Mechanical Engineering Department at CSU, and was the founding Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering. She received her Ph.D. in Polymers from MIT and her B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from Carnegie Mellon.

Professor James’ research focuses on polymeric materials used in biomedical engineering. These include orthopedic and cardiovascular applications as well as regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. She and her students invented the BioPoly® materials, now in clinical use in partial resurfacing knee implants (  Much of her current work is on hyaluronan-enhanced plastics, which do not cause blood clotting and platelet activation like most synthetic plastics.  In collaboration with several faculty, students and researchers, she is working on developing hyaluronan-enhanced flexible leaflets for heart valve prostheses.  Her group is also researching new materials for small diameter vascular grafts.

Dr. James is committed to giving back and has been involved with many organizations over the years including Africa Higher Education Partnerships (AAHEP), Women and Minorities in Engineering Program (WMEP), and SWE.  She has also performed countless outreach programs for young girls to get them interested in engineering careers.  Dr. James was awarded the prestigious Margaret Hazaleus award this year for her strong commitment to mentoring and helping women.

Zinta Byrne

Commission Interim Chair
Professor, Psychology


Zinta Byrne is a Professor of Industrial and Organizational (IO) Psychology, in the Department of Psychology at Colorado State University. Prior to joining CSU in 2002, Dr. Byrne worked as the Western Regional Director and Sr. Consultant for Personnel Decisions International, a Management Consulting firm based in Minneapolis. Armed with a dual major bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics before earning her PhD in IO Psychology, she was employed at Hewlett-Packard Company in the Silicon Valley, in a variety of roles in Research & Development including Technical Marketing Manager, Technical Architect, Program Manager, Operating System Software Design & Development Engineer. Since becoming a CSU faculty member, Dr. Byrne has applied her expertise and research in employee engagement and organizational culture to help many organizations, including CSU, as well as foster local relationships such as with the City of Fort Collins and UC Health, and long-distance ones such as with Saratov State University in Saratov, Russia. Dr. Byrne teaches and mentors both undergraduate (over 50 since 2003) and graduate students (completed 16 Master’s and 13 PhDs since 2004). Her research has been funded by private organizations and NSF, as a CO-PI on grants in Computer Science and in Engineering. Lastly, Dr. Byrne is author of “Understanding Employee Engagement: Theory, Research, and Practice” (2014), “Organizational Psychology & Behavior: An Integrated Approach to Understanding the Workplace” (2015), and co-editor of “Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace” (2013).

Kelly Curl

Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture


Kelly Curl is an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and the MLA Graduate Program Manager in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Curl joined the faculty of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture as Assistant Professor in 2010. She is currently teaching graduate and undergraduate design studios, Digital Methods, Environmental Analysis, Seminar on Designed Landscapes, Professional Practice, and an online course on Topics of Landscape Theory and Garden Design. Curl was awarded the 2015 Charles N. Shepardson Faculty Teaching Award.

Curl’s current research is land reclamation within post-mined landscapes. Her interest is focused on the mining process so that reclamation and contour planning of the designed site would minimize cost and disturbance, while preventing further scarred landscapes. Her pedagogical research in landscape architecture is through analog, digital, and hybrid illustration. Her essay, titled Ideation of Landscape Representation was recently published in the book Representing Landscapes: Hybrid. The chapter also includes selected CSU Landscape Architecture student drawings that display various techniques of making hybrid drawings.

Curl received her Bachelor of Science degree in Comprehensive Science and Mathematics at Villanova University. In 2002, she received her Master of Landscape Architecture degree at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she was an ASLA Merit Finalist, a recipient the Van Alen Traveling Fellowship, and the Garden Club Scholarship at both the state and local level. After receiving her MLA, she worked at PWP Landscape Architecture, Inc., and became an Associate in 2005. At PWP, Curl’s past projects include The Cleveland Clinic, World Trade Center Memorial, San Jose International Airport, Novartis Headquarters, and the University of California – Merced.

Debbie Crans

Professor, Chemistry


Debbie C. Crans is a Professor of Organic, Inorganic and Biological Chemistry and of Cell and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University where she is Professor Laureate of the College of Natural Sciences.  She did her undergraduate studies in Denmark in Biochemistry and Physical Organic Chemistry and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University.  She did her postdoctoral studies at University of California, Los Angeles. She established the International Vanadium Symposium and in 2022 she will chair the 45th International Coordination Chemistry Conference in Colorado. She serves both the American Chemical Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry. She is a 2015 Author Cope Scholar and a 2004 Vanadis Awardee. Her research interests are in the areas of organic and inorganic drugs, metals in medicine, membranes, coordination chemistry and spectroscopy, and she works on diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and tuberculosis.  When Crans received tenure at CSU she was the 7th female in the US to received tenure in Organic Chemistry and has since then worked to improve the environment for underrepresented female chemists and other females in life sciences.  She has mentored many successful students and as a graduate of the first class of Fellows of the Faculty Institute of Inclusive Excellence continues to work to improve the environment for underrepresented groups.

Debra Horensky

Adjunct Faculty & Associate Director, Infectious Diseases Research Center


Dr. Debra Horensky serves as the Associate Director of the Infectious Diseases Research Center at Colorado State University. As a board certified Clinical Pathologist, she completed her residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and Infectious Diseases fellowship at Harvard Medical School Channing Lab.  Her expertise in federal regulatory compliance includes CDC Select Agent, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),for research, medical, veterinary, clinical and public health laboratories. In addition she has been a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) clinical and technical consultant for public health clinical laboratories.  She is a former CDC Fellow, and prior to joining Colorado State University in 2012, Dr. Horensky served as the Chief of Biological Sciences at the New Mexico State Laboratory for 11 years and worked on CDC projects for category A and B agents for the Emerging Infectious Pathogens, Epidemiology and Lab Capacity, and the Public Health Preparedness efforts.

Ellen Fisher

Chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Faculty (SCSWF)
Professor, Department of Chemistry


Ellen R. Fisher is a Professor of Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU) and the Senior Faculty Advisor to the Vice President for Research.  She received a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics from Texas Lutheran College in 1986 (summa cum laude) and a Ph.D. in physical-analytical chemistry from the University of Utah in 1991, where she performed research on ion-molecule chemistry related to semiconductor manufacturing.  After a postdoctoral appointment at Sandia National Labs, she joined CSU in 1993.  Prof. Fisher has published over 145 peer-reviewed articles that span diverse topics in plasma chemistry, optical diagnostics and laser spectroscopy, biomaterials, sensors, environmental chemistry, chemistry education, and responsible conduct of research.  She has graduated 18 Ph.D. and 4 M.S. students (~60% women) and has mentored over 40 undergraduate research students (>50% women, ~15% underrepresented minorities).  She was an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar and is the recipient of 2 mentoring awards from CSU as well as the Hazelus Award.  She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the American Vacuum Society (AVS); she has served on editorial boards of several technical journals, is an Executive Editor of ACS-Applied Materials and Interfaces, and an AVS Director.  The CSU College of Natural Sciences named her Professor Laureate in 2009 and in 2010 she received the University’s highest award for research productivity, the Scholarship Impact Award.

State Classified

Kelly Hixson

CPC Representative, Housing and Dining Services Operations Management


Kelly Hixson works in Housing as an ES Supervisor. She is a member of the Classified Personal Council and sits on many committees; Work Life, Transportation/Parking Subsidy, CWGE, CWGE Awards, with Housing; Recognition Committee and Morale Focus to name just a few. Kelly is a 1998 CSU BSW graduate.

Shelly Lynch

College of Agricultural Sciences


Shelly Lynch serves as the HR Liaison for the College of Agricultural Sciences/Agricultural Experiment Station (CAS/AES).  She has served as School Liaison for the School is Cool committee for five years. She has worked for CSU for 23 years and is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Anthropology.

Administrative Professional

Caitlin Kotnik

APC Representative, Collaborative for Student Achievement

Karla Perez-Velez

Assistant Director, Apartment Life


Karla is the Assistant Director of Apartment Life for Staff Selection, Training, and the Development of Intercultural Teams. She joined the Ram Family at Colorado State University (CSU) in 2010 and has worked in higher education or the last 10 years. Her experience includes working in multiple Housing and Residence Life departments including Coastal Carolina University, Western Kentucky University and Colorado State University. Karla also served as an academic success coordinator and instructor for the Department of Health & Exercise Science at CSU. Additionally, Karla serves as a co-advisor to the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) Journal Board, a student led board which produces the Journal of Student Affairs.  She received Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Coastal Carolina University, her Master of Arts in Education from Western Kentucky University and is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Northern Colorado. Her research focuses on Women in higher education, internationalization and international students in higher education, Latinx college completion and academic support, and the intersections of race/ethnicity and gender in academia. Karla started her term on the President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity in the fall of 2015.  Her interest in serving on the Commission is to serve as an active participant in CSU’s effort to make CSU a community where women and men feel safe and empowered by pursuing their professional and academic aspirations.  She is committed to giving voice to the Administrative Professionals (APs) at CSU as one of the APs on the Commission.

Amy Swan

Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory


Amy Swan is a Research Associate at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University,  working on a variety of research projects, nationally and internationally, that evaluate the impacts of agricultural management and land use change on greenhouse gas cycling in ecosystems.  She completed her BSc in Environmental Management at South Dakota State University and MSc in Ecology at Colorado State University.  Appointed to the President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity in the fall of 2015, she is eager to serve the campus community in this role.  Outside of the office, you may see her cycling around our beautiful trails and roads, wearing the polka-dotted kit of the Fort Follies, a Fort Collins community-oriented, women’s cycling team.

Undergraduate Student

Emma Pattison

Business Administration


Emma is a junior at CSU pursuing a double major in in Business Administration and Political Science. She is involved around campus in multiple extracurricular activities ranging  from volunteering to a business professional fraternity.

Emma joined the Commission on Women and Gender Equity to voice common concerns from the undergraduate population and to achieve the shared goal of making CSU the best school to be as a female.

Graduate Student

Kelly Hassell

Cell and Molecular Biology


Kelly N. Hassell, originally from the NW corridor of Philadelphia, PA, obtained her MS in Biology from Rutgers University in 2014.   After earning her M. Ed in Multicultural Education, Kelly taught various science courses and coached sports; lacrosse, soccer and softball, at the K-12 level.

In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities with her puppy, Angus Bleu and snuggling indoors with her cat, Pumpkin Tails.  Kelly is currently a second year Cell and Molecular Biology PhD student conducting research in the Chemistry Dept. with the Crans’ Group.  Kelly’s research interests focus on developing applications for characterizing the Tuberculosis membrane and designing nanoparticles for drug delivery.  Kelly’s future aspirations include securing a tenured-track research faculty position and creating a start-up biotech company in Colorado.

Ex Officio

Tracy Hutton

Associate Director, Human Resource Services


A graduate of the University of Michigan, Tracy Hutton joined CSU as an Employee Relations Manager in 2005 and was promoted to Associate Director of Human Resources in September 2006. Tracy was a participant in University of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Leadership Program in 2009. She serves as HR Representative for various ad-hoc and standing committees including the Employee Consult Team, College Administrative Advisory Group and the President’s Commission for Women and Gender Equity and is a certified trainer for Crucial Conversations. Involved in key campus initiatives including implementation of Parental Leave, establishing job families/classifications for Administrative Professional positions and establishing a revised compensation policy and strategy for State Classified staff.

Jennifer Mayhew

Assistant Director, Office of Equal Opportunity


Jennifer Mayhew grew up in a small town in Indiana.  While in the Midwest, she obtained a B.A in English from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a J.D from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.  After working as a defense litigator for seven years in Chicago in many areas of law including fraud investigation, civil rights, and workplace discrimination and harassment, she relocated to Colorado.  Jennifer previously taught Education Law & Policy to educators seeking a Masters in Educational Leadership for a Distance Learning program, served two terms as a Section Coordinator for Colorado State University’s online MBA program, and worked as a Workplace Investigator for a non-profit organization. Now, Jennifer applies her skills and knowledge in CSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity as the Assistant Director for Complaints and Disabilities where she assists employees and faculty members seeking reasonable accommodations due to disability, helps the campus community understand CSU’s policies, and assists with complaints relating to discrimination and harassment based on protected status. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys stand-up paddle boarding, playing tennis, reading, and pretending she is a modern-day Ethel Merman (while in the confines of her own home and for which she apologizes to her husband, cats, and dogs).

Mary Ontiveros

Vice President for Diversity


As Vice President for Diversity, Mary Ontiveros leads Colorado State University’s diversity efforts and reports directly to the President. Ontiveros has been an employee of CSU since 1974, working in leadership positions in Admissions, as a faculty affiliate, and special assistant to the president of CSU-Pueblo. She has served on numerous CSU committees, councils, and task forces, and is a member of several professional organizations. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and son.

Monica Rivera

Interim Director, Women and Gender Advocacy Center

Caridad Souza

Director, Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research
Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies


Dr. Caridad Souza is the director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at Colorado State University. Her teaching and research interests include contemporary race & ethnic relations and theories, poverty, multiracial and decolonial feminisms, and critical ethnography. Caridad has written about teenage pregnancy, work, gender and households, Latina sexualities, and feminist pedagogies. More recently, her intellectual interests involve well-being and inequality, and she trains this fall in Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to use in her work.  She is fascinated with the concept of Social Healing towards a more equitable, just, and free society.

Cori Wong

Director, President’s Women and Gender Initiatives
Instructor, Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research/Ethnic Studies


Dr. Cori Wong is Special Assistant to the President of Colorado State University, Director of the Women and Gender Collaborative, and Special Instructor in the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research.

Dr. Wong earned a dual-title Ph.D. in Philosophy and Women’s Studies from the Pennsylvania State University after graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in Philosophy from Colorado State University. With a passion for teaching, learning, and approaching education as a practice of freedom, Dr. Wong empowers others to think through everyday life experiences to realize personal transformation and greater social justice. Committed to engaging diverse audiences on issues of gender, race, class, sexuality, inequity, injustice, and political resistance, Dr. Wong strives to showcase how critical reflection and genuine dialogue can be as fun and exciting as they are important and challenging.

In addition to supporting campus-wide research, outreach, and advocacy efforts related to women and gender, Dr. Wong teaches Women’s Studies courses on contemporary feminist theory and feminist friendship as a form of feminist practice.