Brenda J. Allen, Ph.D.

RootED Board Chair
Professor Emerita
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Brenda J. Allen retired in April 2019 as the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus. During almost 30 years in the University of Colorado system, Professor Allen developed a track record for scholarship, teaching, service, mentorship, and training related to organizational communication, social identity, and leadership, with an emphasis on higher education.

Dr. Allen was recruited from Howard University to the University of Colorado Boulder in 1989 as an Assistant Professor of Communication. After earning tenure and promotion, she moved to CU Denver, where she was promoted to Professor. There, she served in various leadership roles, including Chair of the Department of Communication, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Master Mentor at CU Denver. In 2012, she became Chief Diversity Officer for CU Denver and CU Anschutz.

Among Dr. Allen’s numerous publications is a groundbreaking book entitled Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity, which she conceptualized based on her experiences with students and colleagues at CU Boulder. One of her retirement projects is to write the third edition of this book. She is currently developing a global online course on inclusive leadership.

Dr. Allen offers highly-rated workshops, consultations, facilitations, and keynote speeches on topics such as inclusive leadership, cultivating inclusion in the workplace, strategic planning, implicit bias, and diversity recruitment/retention practices. She has received a variety of accolades for her accomplishments and contributions, including: the first Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement for Commitment to Diversity at CU Denver; the Women in Leadership and Management Award (named in honor of Wilma J. Webb, former legislator and Denver’s first African-American first lady); the first Annual Ally of the Year Award from the GLBT Alliance at CU Boulder; the first Annual Award for Excellence in Mentoring from CU Denver; an Excellence in Leadership Award from the CU System; and, a Leadership in Public Higher Education Award. She was appointed Chair of the Talent, Innovation and Equity Steering Committee for a Lumina Grant at the Colorado Department of Higher Education, where she co-created a free online Equity Toolkit for educators in Colorado. As a testament to her impact, Dr. Allen’s colleagues at CU Denver established a diversity and inclusion scholarship and leadership award in her name.