Director: Women & Gender Center, University of Colorado Denver

I have worked in higher education since 2002, serving in faculty, research, and staff positions in a range of colleges and universities. My work has largely centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts: My dissertation work explored strategies for teaching elementary school students about gender diversity, and I have conducted postdoctoral research in equity and inclusion in STEM disciplines. I have served as the Director of the Women & Gender Center at the University of Colorado Denver since January 2017, and in this role I have advanced education, support, and advocacy efforts focusing on gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality. I’ve recently extended my work to online contexts, serving as the lead instructor for two MOOCs focusing on LGBTQ+ theories and identities and on LGBTQ+ inclusion in K-12 classrooms. I bring experience with hiring, training, and supervising staff; developing budget proposals and managing financial records; and developing grant proposals and reports.

PhD   Education, Indiana University (February 2015)
Minor: Gender, Sexuality, and Policy Studies
Dissertation: Trans*literacies: Designing for Gender Fluency and Transmedia Literacy in the Elementary Classroom
MFA   Creative Writing, Colorado State University (2005)
BA     English, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI (1999)

Director, Gender & Sexuality Center (Aug. 2018-present)
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Established the first Gender & Sexuality office on the Anschutz Medical campus; developed outreach, community-building, and education and advocacy programs for faculty, staff, and students; and worked with student staff and student leaders on projects and initiatives focusing on gender and sexual diversity in the biomedical and health sciences.

Director, Women & Gender Center (Jan. 2017-present)
University of Colorado Denver
Established the Women & Gender Center as a resource for gender-based education, advocacy, and support for the CU Denver community. Designed, implemented, and evaluated gender-based programming; hired and trained a team of graduate student assistants; managed the Center’s budget and financial commitments; built collaborative relationships with faculty, staff, and students across the Auraria campus. 

Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Education (2014-2016)
University of Colorado Boulder
Led design and implementation of research in undergraduate STEM education; collected, analyzed, and presented research data; and participated in curricular and program design within CU Boulder’s School of Education.

Lecturer, School of Education (2015-2017)
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Designed and taught UMSL’s online capstone research methods course for graduate Education students.

Instructor, School of Education & INVST (2015-2016)
University of Colorado Boulder
Designed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in CU Boulder’s School of Education and INVST Community Leadership Program.

Graduate Research Associate, School of Education (2009-2013)
Indiana University
Participated in all respects of research design, data collection, and analysis in high school English / Language Arts classrooms; guided research on new media literacies skills; participated in research on effective teaching and learning in higher education.

Teaching Assistant (2009-2014)
Indiana University
Designed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses within the university’s undergraduate Teacher Education, Educational Psychology, and core curriculum programs.

Curriculum Designer, Project New Media Literacies (2008-2009)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Led design and development of a teacher’s guide for supporting new media practices in the ELA classroom. Supervised undergraduate and graduate student research assistants and employees.

Education Outreach Coordinator, Project New Media Literacies (2007-2008)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Conducted outreach and collaboration with teachers across multiple school districts; coordinated research projects and data collection across implementing classrooms; provided administrative support for cross-university collaborative research and curricular projects.

Senior Lecturer, English Department (2005-2007)
Suffolk University / Bridgewater State University / Newbury College
Designed and taught undergraduate courses in composition, humanities, and general education.

Teaching Assistant, English Department (2003-2005)
Colorado State University
Taught undergraduate courses in CSU’s Rhetoric & Composition and Creative Writing programs.

Postdoctoral Researcher, Learning Ethnographies of New Engineers Project 
University of Colorado Boulder (Aug.2014-Dec. 2016)
Principal Investigator: Kevin O’Connor.
Responsibilities included designing interview and data collection protocols, participating in grant proposals and semi-annual reports to funders; and collecting, managing, and analyzing data collected at a variety of educational and workplace engineering environments.

Research Associate, StudentNet Project
Indiana University (2011-2012)
Faculty advisor: Joshua A. Danish.
Participated in drafting literature review and grant proposal; developed research and interview protocol; drafted and submitted IRB application; organized data collection in high school English classroom; collaborated with participating teacher on development of curricular materials.

Researcher, Center for Evaluation & Education Policy (CEEP)
Indiana University (May-Aug. 2012)
Principal Investigator: Jonathan Plucker.
Completed literature reviews on issues related to educational policy, creativity, and talent development; completed meta-analyses of educational intervention approaches; drafted and revised scholarly articles and press releases.

Graduate Research Associate, Participatory Assessment Project
Indiana University (2009-2011)
Faculty advisor: Daniel T. Hickey.
Participated in data collection; collaborated with participating teachers on development of curricular materials; participated in writing papers and delivering presentations; helped to develop interactive websites to showcase project work.

Researcher and Curriculum Specialist, Project New Media Literacies
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007-2009)
Principal Investigator: Henry Jenkins.
Led development of a curriculum for use in the high school English classroom; conducted observations and collected field notes from seven schools piloting material from this curriculum; collaborated with members of Harvard’s GoodPlay Project on design and development of an Ethics Casebook for use in junior high and high school classrooms.


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
  • McWilliams, J. (2016). Queering participatory design research. Cognition and Instruction, 34(3).
  • McWilliams, J., & Plucker, J. (2014). Brain cancer, meat glue, and shifting models of outstanding student behavior: Smart contexts for the 21st Century. Talent Development and Excellence, 6(1).
  • Yi, X., Hu, W., Plucker, J, & McWilliams, J. (2013). Is there a developmental slump in creativity in China? The relationship between organizational climate and creativity development in Chinese adolescents. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 47(1).
  • McWilliams, J., Hickey, D.T., Hines, M.B., Conner, J.M., & Bishop, S.C. (2012). Using collaborative writing tools for literary analysis: Twitter, fan fiction and The Crucible in the secondary English classroom. Journal of Media Literacy Education.
  • Hickey, D.T., Honeyford, M.A., & McWilliams, J. (2011). Reading Moby-Dick in a participatory culture: Organizing assessment for engagement in a new media era. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 45(2), Special Issue: Young people, Learning and Social Media.
  • Jenkins, H., & Kelley, W., with Clinton, K., McWilliams, J., & Reilly, E. (2013). Reading in a participatory culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
Book chapters
  • Plucker, J., McWilliams, J., & Guo, J. (2017). Smart contexts for 21st-Century Talent Development: Sociocultural approaches to gifted education. In J.A. Plucker, A.N. Rinn, & M.C. Makel, From giftedness to gifted education: Reflecting Theory in Practice. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
  • McWilliams, J., & Penuel, W. (2016). Queer theory in the Learning Sciences. In I. Esmonde & A. Booker, Power and Privilege in the Learning Sciences: Critical and Sociocultural Theories. New York: Routledge.
  • Plucker, J., McWilliams, J., & Alanazi, R. (2016). Creativity, culture, and the digital revolution: Implications and considerations for education. V. Glaveanu (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of creativity and culture research. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • McWilliams, J. (2014). Queering educational research and the politics of ‘conservatively queer’: Sexmuteness in American public schools. In G. Walton (Ed.), The Gay Agenda: Creating Space, Identity, and Justice. New York: Peter Lang.
  • McWilliams, J. (2013). Lessons from a classroom participatory culture. In H. Jenkins & W. Kelley (Eds.), Reading in a participatory culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • McWilliams J., & Clinton, K. (2013). Reimagining and reinventing the English classroom for the digital age. In H. Jenkins & W. Kelley (Eds.), Reading in a participatory culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Clinton, K., Jenkins, H., & McWilliams, J. (2013). New literacies in an age of participatory culture. In H. Jenkins & W. Kelley (Eds.), Reading in a participatory culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Kelley, W., Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., & McWilliams, J. (2013). From theory to practice: Building a “community of readers” in your classroom. In H. Jenkins & W. Kelley (Eds.), Reading in a participatory culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Hickey, D.T., Honeyford, M.A., & McWilliams, J. (2013). Participatory assessment in a climate of accountability. In H. Jenkins & W. Kelley (Eds.), Reading in a participatory culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • The Janissary Collective: Blank, P., Brown, W., Deuze, M., Ems, L., Lewis, N., McWilliams, J., & Speers, L. (2013). Participatory culture and media life: Approaching freedom. In A. Delwiche & J. Hudson (Eds.), The participatory cultures handbook. New York: Routledge.
  • Hickey, D. T., Honeyford, M. A., Clinton, K. A., & McWilliams, J. (2010). Participatory assessment of 21st century proficiencies. In V. Shute & B. Becker (Eds.), Innovative assessment in the 21st century: Supporting educational needs. New York: Springer.

Online Courses
Queering the Schoolhouse: LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Education (Fall 2019). Online MOOC on LGBTQ+ identities and issues for educators, offered through the Coursera Learning Platform.
Queering Identities: LGBTQ+ Sexuality and Gender Identities (Fall 2019). Online MOOC introducing LGBTQ+ issues and identities, and providing an overview of Queer Theory, offered through the Coursera Learning Platform.
University of Missouri-St. Louis (2016-2018)
  • ELE ED 6482, Research for Reading Teachers (online course for graduate students—taught 3 sections)
Indiana University 2011-2014
  • EDUC Y520, Strategies for Educational Inquiry (Survey of qualitative and quantitative methods for graduate-level education majors—taught 1 section)
  • EDUC P251: Educational Psychology for Elementary Education Majors (taught 1 section)

Face-to-Face & Hybrid Courses
University of Colorado 2015-2016
  • EDUC 6368, Adolescent Psychology and Development (graduate-level course for teachers) (taught 2 sections)
  • EDUC 4222, Language study for educators (taught 1 section)
  • EDUC P251: Educational Psychology for Elementary Education Majors (taught 6 sections)
  • EDUC P250: Educational Psychology (learning in out-of-school contexts) (taught 2 sections)
  • INVST Community Leadership Program, University of Colorado 2015-2016
  • INVS 4402, Nonviolent Social Movements (taught 2 sections)
Suffolk University, Bridgewater State University, Newbury College, Colorado State University
  • Freshman Composition (17 sections) 2003-2007
  • American and British Literature (4 sections) 2003-2007
  • Business Communication (1 section) 2006
  • Creative Writing (1 section) 2005

Workshops on Pedagogy & Higher Education
  • Empathy in an angry time. Presentation to Latinx Undergraduate Leadership Academy: Denver, CO (November 2019).
  • Multiple Pathways to Dialogue: A cross-disciplinary dialogues project. CSU Diversity Symposium. Colorado State University: Fort Collins, CO (November 12, 2019)
  • Fighting sexism, heterosexism, and heterosexism in 4 easy steps: A workshop for higher education professionals. University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus: Denver and Aurora, CO (Fall 2018-Spring 2019).
  • Invited panelist, Multicultural, Intersectional, Inclusivity Exchange—a conversation on transgender identities and experiences. Colorado State University: Fort Collins, CO (April 18, 2019).
  • Pedagogy workshop: Introducing Trans* Pedagogies: Living, Loving, and Teaching in Gender's High Tension Zone. Trans*Forming Gender Conference, University of Colorado Boulder: Boulder, CO (March 2015).
  • McWilliams, J., and Williams, B. (February 2015). Learning and Pedagogy: Strategies for Radical Honesty in the Classroom. The Scholar and Feminist Conference, Barnard College: New York, NY.
  • Invited panelist, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning event, Associate Instructor Workshop on Classroom Climate, Indiana University (August 2013).
  • How to make like an ally: Creating safe spaces in the college classroom. Invited talk for Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) roundtable: Avoiding student exclusion, fostering classroom inclusion, Indiana University (March 2013).
Conference Presentations
Gender and Sexual Diversity
  • Anderson, S., McWilliams, J., & Miller, K. (April 12, 2019). Stop talking about genitals! A workshop on gender-inclusive practices in addressing sexual assault. Presentation to the Sexual Assault Interagency Council: Denver, CO.
  • McWilliams, J., Seamont, M., & Wold-McCormick, K. (Nov. 13, 2018). CU's New Personal Identity Values: Definitions, Uses, Access & Security. University of Colorado Diversity & Inclusion Summit. University of Colorado Boulder: Boulder, CO.
  • Easton, D., & McWilliams, J. (June 27, 2018). Building an inclusive community for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Student Affairs Conference 2018: CommUnity. University of Colorado Denver: Denver, CO.
  • Smith, T.R., & McWilliams, J. (October 2017). A Transgender Man and a Homosexual Walk into a Room…: Challenging Messages about Masculinity and Gender Expression in Higher Education. LGBTQ + EMAC Symposium, 2017: Denver, CO.
  • McWilliams, J. (April 2017). Chasing Trans Inclusion When the Starting Line Keeps Shifting. AERA Annual Meeting 2017: San Antonio, TX.
  • McWilliams, J. (April 2016). Transgender Narratives, Drag Performance, and Gender Fluency in the Late Elementary Classroom. In symposium session: “We're Here, We're Queer, We're in Elementary Schools.” AERA Annual Meeting 2016: Washington, DC.
  • McWilliams J., & Penuel, W. (April 2016). Queering Safe Spaces by Design. In symposium session: “Power and Privilege in the Learning Sciences: Critical and Sociocultural Theories.” AERA Annual Meeting 2016: Washington, DC.
  • McWilliams, J. (April 2016). Against the Progress Narrative: Addressing the "Ambivalent Gift" of LGBT Legitimation. In structured poster session: “Social Movements, Learning Sciences, and Possibilities for Transformation.” AERA Annual Meeting 2016: Washington, DC.
  • McWilliams, J. (April 2015). “Maybe You Disagree--Most Boys Don’t”: Teaching Gender in the Age of “Not All Men!” In roundtable session: “Negotiating Masculinities.” AERA Annual meeting 2015: Chicago, IL.
  • McWilliams, J. (March 2015). Trans* behind the camera: Living our theories in gender’s high-tension zone. Trans*Forming Gender Conference, University of Colorado Boulder: Boulder, CO.
  • McWilliams, J. (April 2014). Queer behind the camera: The secret life of the queer educational researcher. In symposium: “Disrupting ‘safe spaces’ with queer bodies: Exploring perceptions of safety and vulnerability as teachers and researchers.” AERA Annual meeting 2014: Philadelphia, PA.

Issues in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education
  • McWilliams, J. (March 2017). Queering STEM: A Repeal and Replace Manifesto. Invited Talk for the University of Calgary Diversity Week: Calgary, Alberta.
  • McWilliams, J., & O’Connor, K. (April 2016). Feminism, Robots, and the Body in Becoming an Engineer. In roundtable session: “Situating Learning and Becoming in Practice.” AERA Annual Meeting 2016: Washington, DC.
  • Peck, F., O’Connor, K., Cafarella, J., & McWilliams, J. Producing Calculus (Un)Readiness (April 2016). In structured poster session: “Applying Cultural Construction Frameworks in Engineering Education Research.” AERA Annual Meeting 2016: Washington, DC.

Literacy and Digital Media
  • McWilliams, J., Danish, J., & Keene, J. (April 2013). ‘I Hate That Word Savage / Don’t Mind If You Use It’: Exploring the ‘Safe Space’ Construct. AERA Annual Meeting 2013: San Francisco, CA.
  • McWilliams, J. (April 2012). Silence at the Intersection: Essentialism and Truncation of Experience. AERA Annual Meeting 2012, Vancouver, BC.
  • Clinton, K.A., & McWilliams, J. (April 2010). A Model for Reading in a Participatory Culture. AERA Annual Meeting 2010: Denver, CO.
  • McWilliams, J., Baechtold, T., & Finn, G. (Oct. 8, 2010.) Today’s writing is social, collaborative, and multimodal—so how do we grade it? Roundtable discussion for the Indiana Teachers of Writing Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN.

  • Hickey, D.T., McWilliams, J., Bishop, S., & Soylu, F. (April 2011). Participatory Assessment for Engagement, Understanding, and Achievement in Online Learning Contexts. AERA Annual Meeting 2011: New Orleans, LA.
  • Hickey, D.T., McWilliams, J., & Bishop, S. (Nov. 2010). Participatory Assessment for Engagement, Understanding, and Achievement. Presentation for Faculty Research Seminar, Office of Research and Development, Indiana University School of Education.
  • Hickey, D.T., Honeyford, M.A., & McWilliams, J. (April 2010). Participatory Assessment: Remediating Curriculum and Testing for the 21st Century. AERA Annual Meeting 2010: Denver CO.
  • Honeyford, M., Rupert, R., & McWilliams, J. (Nov. 2009). What is Assessment for? Creating Participatory Classrooms for Readers and Writers. National Writing Project Convening: Digital Is...., Philadelphia, PA.

Democracy, equity, and social justice issues in education
  • McWilliams, J. (March 2012). “I would just stop that shit”: When kids question the world of the story they’ve been written into. In session: “Thoughts from DML's Emerging Scholars: Findings and Insights from Early Career Researchers, Developers, and Practitioners.” Digital Media & Learning Conference 2012, San Francisco, CA.
  • McWilliams, J. (March 2011). On the question of democracy and empowerment. Presentation for symposium: “Participatory Culture Reconsidered: Moving Beyond Rainbows, Unicorns and Butterflies.” Digital Media & Learning Conference, Long Beach, CA.
  • McWilliams, J. (Oct. 28 2010). When we tell kids they can make a difference…and we’re wrong. Disembodied citizens and communities: How new technologies are changing how students learn, collaborate and construct civic identities, panel for the International Association for Research of Service Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE).

  • Emerging Leaders Program, University of Colorado System. Appointee to the 2019 cohort of CU Emerging Leaders.
  • Queer Studies SIG Dissertation of the Year Award, for a dissertation addressing issues of sexual or gender diversity. March 2016.
  • Achasa Beechler Dissertation Scholarship. Award for outstanding dissertation research, February 2014.
  • Indiana University Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. Associate Instructor of the Year Award, March 2013.
  • Frieda Alice Renfro Fellowship. Award in support of dissertation research, March 2013.
  • Indiana University Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology. Award for outstanding student research, March 2013.
  • Point Foundation. Selection as semifinalist for LGBTQ scholar-activist scholarship, March 2013.
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA), Division C. National selection to Division C Graduate Student Seminar, AERA Annual Meeting, San Francisco. April 2013.
  • City of Denver LGBTQ Commission. Appointed Commissioner. August 2019-present.
  • Auraria Gender & Sexualities Alliance. Staff sponsor. January 2019-present.
  • CU Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Staff Council. Elected Staff Council representative. April 2019-present.
  • University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus Gender Equity Working Group. Co-chair, January 2017-present.