Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) Team
Profile of CIIS Office of Diversity and Inclusion team
The ODI works within a paradigm of shared leadership where partnership and reciprocity are encouraged and cultivated so that each of us may bring our unique voice to the conversation. We aim to embody and model the ideals of diversity and inclusion within our community, and to support our CIIS family through what is often challenging work, while maintaining an open and inviting heart. Please see our bios below to learn more about each one of us, and please do not hesitate to visit us in person.
"If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs." - Mary McLeod Bethune
Denise Boston, Ph.D., RDT. was appointed as Dean of Diversity and Inclusion in 2016. Since 2009 she served as Core Faculty in the Expressive Arts Therapy Program, was coordinator of the Glide-EXA pre-practicum program, and served as lead investigator of a university-community partnership three-year study which focused on arts-based social and emotional programming with school-age children. Denise has been an artist, social activist, researcher, and educator for over 40 years in a variety of community and advocacy settings. In collaboration with community partners, she has implemented several prevention/intervention programs and her African-centered methodology has been beneficial in increasing resiliency and in preventing and/or decreasing participants' harmful behaviors. She has taught psychology courses at HBCU's, religiously affiliated colleges, public, and private institutions, as well as instructed and facilitated training workshops abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.
Denise's interests in diversity and inclusivity in higher education have been shaped by her personal experiences as an underrepresented scholar in academia, and her community work where she provided creative and culturally-based interventions (CBI) with variations and extended African and African-American families. She is a registered Drama Therapist and has presented nationally and internationally on a variety of topics including Narrative Therapy, Participatory Action Research, Expressive Arts, and NTU psychotherapy.
Denise, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, earned her BFA in theatre from the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts, MA in psychology and counseling from Goddard College, and received her PhD in counseling psychology from Walden University.
As an immigrant from Colombia, I have had a first-hand perspective of what it is like to be a minority in the United States. I have developed a passion for equity, as well as an awareness of the fact that there is always more for me to learn about my privileged identities. I have a deep respect for underrepresented groups; my experience as an ESL student, my professional background working with autistic youth, and my spiritual practice inform a sensitivity toward the struggles lived by racial minorities, those who come from low-income backgrounds, disabled people, and people of LGBTQ identities. Along with understanding and honoring our differences, I am simultaneously called to explore how unity moves through our diverse expressions, and how to gracefully hold the paradox of our shared spiritual essence with the diversity of the struggles that arise in our day-to-day lives. I am honored to be in a position such as this, where I take part in making a difference in people's empowerment through their education. Aside from my work with the ODI, I am currently working on my Bachelor's degree, writing songs, drawing and painting; all while enjoying my journey.
I am excited to be a part of the CIIS community as a first-year Drama Therapy student, coming all the way to San Francisco from Columbus, OH. I graduated with Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Theatre from the Ohio State University in 2016. Not entirely sure what to do with both of those interests, I discovered their perfect combination through a service-learning class titled "Shakespeare and Autism." This experience opened my eyes to the field of drama therapy and its powerful healing potential, which led to my discovery of CIIS. My journey from Columbus to San Francisco, from the comfort of my hometown to this challenging new beginning, has drawn me to the work of diversity and inclusion and caused me to think critically about my experiences and my identity. Through my journey here, I hope I can help others do the same.