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Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission News

Asian American Pacific Islander Commission 

Asian American and Pacific Islander families photo collage

The Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) serves as a support liaison and facilitator between the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Denver, the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships and the office of the Mayor of Denver.  

Further it is the Commission's objective to act as catalyst, educator, collective voice, and respond to issues and/or advocate based on community assessment of need, and create awareness and visibility of AAPI community.   

Commission Meetings

Time:  6:00pm - 7:30pm

Recurrence: 3rd Wednesday of every month (meeting on Tuesday, January 17th instead of the 18th)

Location: Dill Auditorium, Denver Police Administration Building, 1331 Cherokee St, Denver, CO 80204

Note: All DAAPIC meetings are open to the public. If you are interested in presenting on a certain topic or would like past years minutes, please contact Jessica Jorgensen at  

Commission Goals

Enhance the infrastructure of the DAAPIC.

Increase the visibility of DAAPIC.

Connect AAPIs to opportunities, resources, and tools.

Identify and advocate for AAPI needs.

Commission Projects

AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the United States.  Currently, there are roughly 28,000 AAPIs living in Denver alone.

DAAPIC would like to help lend a voice to this growing population with #AAPIvisible. #AAPIvisible is a photo project that seeks to capture narratives from our communities to dispel myths, educate, and explore our diverse experiences.

Click here to participate or to learn more.

The Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) is conducting a listening session to understand the needs facing the Denver Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The Commission serves as a liaison between the Denver AAPI community, Human Rights & Community Partnerships, and the Denver Mayor’s Office.

The listening session will aid the Commission in gathering feedback from service providers and allied professionals who serve or engage with the Denver AAPI community. The session will be held on Thursday, February 23, 2017, from 9am to 5pm, at Mile High United Way, 711 Park Ave W, Denver, CO 80205.

In the fall of 2017, DAAPIC plans to host its second annual job fair event for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

This culturally inclusive job fair will connect the unique talents and skill sets of Denver's AAPI community with a broad range of government, nonprofit and private sector employers hoping to diversity their workforces.

Check back here for more information as fall 2017 gets closer!

Contact Us

To apply:
Complete the application and send it to

For questions, comments, or more information please contact:
Jessica Jorgensen, DAAPIC Liaison



Gerard AflagueGerard Aflague is from the Pacific island of Guam, but loves the vibrancy, climate, and outdoor offerings of Colorado which he has called home for over 8 years.

He is a Senior Information Technology Analyst working with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which is a congressional watchdog agency based in Washington, DC. As an auditor, Gerard reviews federal executive branch agencies' efforts to manage information technology systems and programs. Formerly, he was involved in custom border enforcement and worked with similar international agencies assisting smaller sister agencies in Pacific island nations build customs capacity. As part of his work, he traveled extensively to Australia New Zealand, South East Asia, the Orient, and the South Pacific regions.

Gerard earned his undergraduate degree in Public Administration at the University of Guam, and his graduate degree in Information Systems Management at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He has a passion for exercising his creativity on his spare time. Gerard loves to author and illustrate children’s books, and as an online entrepreneur, he enjoys designing and manufacturing interesting, useful, and innovative products which are primarily cultural in nature. 

He is an active member of the Littleton Seventh-day Adventist church and is married to Mary Ong Aflague with three children, Grant, Amanda, and Claire, and a dog named Dakota.

Ken Arellano, Jr is a Business Development Representative for Office of Economic Development’s, Denver Workforce Services. He possesses over 15 years’ experience is in Workforce and is currently working with the Health Sector Industry within the Workforce. Ken has connected businesses with jobseekers meeting the needs of Metro Denver’s business community for the past 10 years.

Ken was born and raised in Hawaii and attended the University of Hawaii. His passion is assisting underserved populations is honored to be part of Denver’s Asian American Pacific Islander Commission.

Gil AsakawaGil Asakawa is an experienced journalist, author and online media expert who is active in the Japanese American and Asian American communities and covers Asian American issues and culture on blogs and social media. He is Manager of  Student Media at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and serves as adviser to, the student-run news website. He is also a member of AARP's Multicultural Markets and Enagement team managing social media and  articles engaging Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He was the recipient of a Japanese Cabinet Social Media Fellowship to travel to Okinawa in January, 2015 to research the culture and history of Okinawa.

His journalism experience runs the gamut from being the music editor for Denver's alternative weekly newspaper Westword to managing the website. His Asian American experience includes a blog, at, and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social media. For his extensive pioneering online work within the AAPI blogosphere, he received the “Voice Award” from AAJA-LA during the 2013 V3 Digital Media Conference. Gil is currently chair of the Media Committee for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. He is also a board member of the Mile High JACL, and on the board of the Emily Griffith Foundation.

Wendy BarileWendy is half-Japanese, half-Italian, born and raised in Brazil. Wendy holds a Master's Degree in Linguistics and is now pursuing an MBA at CU Denver. With a background in research and analytics, she displays a great enthusiasm in the realms of strategy, from conceptualization to planning, and implementation. 

Growing up in Brazil, Wendy is proud to say that she has been raised in a very diverse environment. In the U.S., Wendy became inspired by the idea of preservation of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." She values the powerful message in Martin Luther King Jr.'s words: "We cannot walk alone." And so, she hopes to assist her fellow commissioners in invigorating the collaboration within the Denver AAPI communities and among other groups. 

Soyon BuenoSoyon Bueno serves as the Director of Asian American Student Services at the University of Colorado Denver.  She has over 14 years of experience in higher education specializing  on recruitment, retention, advising, and student support services.  She enjoys her role in helping students get engaged on campus, and providing cultural programming that raise awareness about the diversity and richness of the AAPI community. 

Prior to joining CU Denver in September 2011, Soyon lived in Durango, Colorado and worked at Fort Lewis College as the Assistant Director in the academic advising department and also served as the transfer coordinator and advisor.  She also worked for Illinois State University and co-authored a guidebook that serves as a road map to the Carl D. Perkins legislation of 1998. 

Soyon Bueno was born in South Korea, but immigrated to Denver, Colorado when she was five years old.  She attended Denver Public Schools and graduated from North High School.  She earned her bachelor's degree in Economics, and a minor in Asian Studies from Colorado College. She received her master's degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University. 

In her spare time, she enjoys watching her nine year old son play tennis, basketball and baseball.   

Will ChanWill Chan serves as the Program Administrator for Denver Public Library’s Services to New Immigrants which provides services to Denver’s immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations. He manages program development across eight library branch locations to engage migrants from all over the world in building Denver’s successful global community.

In his current position, Will is able to draw from an expansive professional background working with various cultural and nonprofit institutions including the Derfner Judaica Museum of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Shanghai Biennale, and also work in Puerto Rico with the New York Hotel Trades Council. Regardless of his role, Will is passionate in connecting information and people, focusing on an organization’s direct services, increasing institutional access, and empowering marginalized populations.

A Colorado native, Will received his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a master’s in nonprofit management from the University of Denver.

Phouratsamay (PC) ChanthavongPC and his family fled from communism and possible execution in Laos in 1975 and ended up in Thailand where they stayed in a refugee camp for nearly 3 years sleeping on dirt and barely having anything to eat. In 1978 PC and his family were granted a visa to come start a new life in the United States and on November 28, 1978 they landed at Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado.

PC attended Aurora Community College and then Metropolitan State College. In 1994 he became a police officer with the City of Aurora until becoming a police officer for the City and County of Denver in 2000.

As a police officer with DPD, PC has served in various roles, his favorite being as a Community Resource Officer (CRO) acting as a liaison between the community and the police department advocating for both DPD and community needs.

His current position is working in Chief Robert White’s office as Technician in the Community Relations Section.

Rachele C. EspirituRachele C Espiritu is a Partner of Change Matrix, LLC, a minority- and women-owned designated small business that motivates, manages, and measures change to support systems that improve lives. She brings substantive experience and passion in the areas of children’s behavioral health, behavioral health disparities and equity, cultural and linguistic competence, program evaluation, a public health approach to mental health, and systems collaboration. Rachele provides training and technical assistance at the local, state and national level to build capacity for child, youth, and young adult behavioral health services in multiple child-serving systems. She currently serves as the Project Director for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities (the NNED) in Behavioral Health, a federally-funded network of over 2100 members, including ethnic- and community-based organizations that are addressing disparities in behavioral health care. Rachele also serves as the lead evaluator for Kokora Koro, a Whole Health Training program for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (Office of Minority Health) and the Mental Health Interpreter Training program (a joint project between the National Latino Behavioral Health Association and the National Asian Pacific Islander Mental Health Association). She serves on the board for NAMI Colorado and chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Rachele was born in the Philippines and grew up in Michigan and California. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of California at San Diego and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she was a Patricia Robert Harris Fellow. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, eating out, reading, and experiencing the beautiful outdoors.

Tim HigashideTim is the Business Operations Manager for Sakura Square LLC. In addition to supervising the daily operations under the CEO, Tim also provides leadership and direction to the Board of Managers to assist in developing and implementing the overall strategic business plan. He brings a variety of experience in project management, marketing, and sales operations from both private and non-profit sectors.

Tim is very passionate about the community and dedicates many hours to volunteering. He is a founding member of the Colorado chapter of the NAAAP (National Association of Asian American Professionals) where he served as the President and the Chairman of the Board. Currently, he is on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival and for the Japan America Society of Colorado. He is also an active member of the Japanese Firms Association and the U.S. Japan Council, where he was a participant in the 2014 Tomodachi Emerging Leaders Program.  In 2015, he was selected as one of the commissioners for the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission.

Tim holds a BA in International Affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  He completed his graduate studies from the University of Colorado, Denver where he earned an MBA with focus on Entrepreneurship and MS in Finance.

Dollar LeeDollar Lee is a Colorado native and recent graduate at the University of Colorado Denver. He received a Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Health and Ethnic Studies in December of 2016. Over the years among Lee’s undergraduate career, he has been involved in various student clubs on campus and organizations including the CU Denver Dragon Boat team, and the Asian Pacific Development Center (APDC). For many years, Lee has been involved with APDC’s Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) assisting students with leadership training and college preparation. He is passionate to help students seek higher education and to serve the local AAPI community.

After graduation he hopes to pursue his Master’s degree at the Colorado School of Public Health. He strives to engage and educate the younger generations to be become aware of Asian American challenges. He strongly believes that we have to know where we come from in order to know where we need to go next. 

Peter LeePeter Seung-woo Lee, is a Health Insurance producer and works with Connect for Health Colorado, ACA market place for State of Colorado and is appointed agent for Medicare related products. 

He was born and raised in Seoul, Korea and was a banker for 18 years. He also worked as a Partnership Specialist at US Census Bureau Denver Regional Office where he was responsible for developing Census 2010 partnerships with Asian community-based organizations. 

He has held various community leadership positions including President of KAC Colorado Chapter, Secretary of Governor’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Council and Co-chair for Aurora Asian Pacific Community Partnership. 

He has served as President of the National Unification Advisory Council Denver Chapter, and is currently serving as an Advisory Board of Directors for the Heritage Camps for Adoptive Family and Chairman of Korean American Coalition National Board.

Tri MaTri Ma is a personal lines insurance professional, who is licensed and specializes in Medicare, Life, Auto and Home Insurance products. As a native Coloradan with humble beginnings, Tri Ma received his Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and went on to obtain his Master's degree at Walden University in Minnesota while building his own insurance agency (3T Insurance, LLC) in Colorado. Since obtaining the Rookie of the Year award with United Healthcare's Medicare and Retirement, Tri continues to provide a personal concierge service at no cost to the Denver-metro and surrounding area residents of Colorado regarding their Medicare healthcare. With over a decade of experience and service in the insurance industry, Tri also continues to manage 3T Insurance, LLC regarding life, and other personal lines insurance for fellow Coloradan residents. In addition to all of this, as a new member of the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission, he aims to further his reach towards helping his community. Tri's passions include improving the livelihood of seniors and the disabled, helping students succeed, board games and participating in various sports such as snowboarding, tennis, golf, and volleyball. You can always find Tri working hard to make sure everyone else is cared for, or eating and laughing away the time with others.  

Jen NguyenJennifer Nguyen was born and raised in Littleton, CO. Jennifer has a passion for supporting Asian American youth in the school system. She has been involved in the Miss Asian American Leadership Program on the Executive Committee for several years mentoring, training, and supporting Asian American young women. Jennifer has also been involved with the Colorado Dragon Festival in many capacities including: recruiting, managing and training the volunteers as well as recruiting and managing performing arts stages for the 100,000+ patron festival. 

Jennifer is passionate about mental health awareness and services for the Asian American community of Colorado. Jennifer has been a volunteer with the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association serving to break the barriers regarding mental health. 

Sylvia SmithSylvia S. Smith has enjoyed a career with the City and County of Denver since 1988. During her tenure she has served in a variety of capacities - from Director of Policy and Research under former City Auditor, Donald J. Mares to her current position as a Program Specialist for the Denver Office of Economic Development where she manages public service, neighborhood and facility improvement contracts.

A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, Sylvia holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Denver.

Sylvia has been an active member in many organizations including the Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CBWPA), Single Mothers of Color, Inc., National Council of Negro Women-Inc., Denver Section and Colorado Common Cause. She has volunteered numerous hours to various community, social and political events. In her work capacity she is active with the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), served as a board member for the Asian Chamber of Commerce and was appointed to the Asian Pacific-American Commission in 2013.

In 2002 -2006 she served on the Steering Committee of the Denver Foundation’s “Expanding Non-Profit Inclusiveness Initiative” project which studied the local non-profit community and their inclusiveness practices specific to people of color.

Sylvia was born into a military family of five. Her parents currently reside in Denver. She is proud of both of her siblings…one serves as a Firefighter with the Boulder Fire Department and the other as an Operations Manager in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in central Denver with her husband Darrick and enjoys spending time volunteering, exercising, enjoying the company of her family and friends, going to movies and travelling.

Favorite Quote – “Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth”
Shirley Chisholm

Tejas SrinivasTejas Srinivas is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Denver. As a graduate research assistant with the Traumatic Stress Studies Group and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at DU, she has been involved in the development and implementation of community-engaged research projects with diverse trauma and crime survivor populations. She is also a clinical intern at APDC, where she is involved in providing culturally sensitive behavioral health services to Asian immigrant and refugee populations. Tejas has been a recipient of DU's Doctoral Fellowship in Inclusive Engagement for three years. She is also a graduate of the Colorado Immersion Training in Community Engagement, Urban Asian & Refugee Track, which aims to expand the pool of researchers pursuing community-based participatory research in local communities. Tejas is passionate about bringing a research lens to public good work, using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the psychosocial consequences of trauma (e.g., interpersonal violence, institutional injustice, political conflict) within an ecological framework.

Raj VermaRaj Verma is an analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in the natural resources and environment team. In this capacity, he performs evaluations of various federal government programs to ensure they operate effectively and efficiently. He has served as the external affairs chairperson for the Asian American Liaison Group, representing all Asian American staff at GAO. In addition, he served on the Board of Directors of the Network of Indian Professionals of North America (NetIP) as Strategic Communications chairperson, where he helped expand chapters across the U.S. and Canada and bolstered  management tools to effectively advance NetIP's mission. Currently, Raj also serves on the Associate Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and volunteers with the Indian Nepalese Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families. Raj has over 5 years of experience in strategic planning, non-profit leadership, and policy analysis. 

Born and raised in Denver, he holds a special appreciation for the city and its people. Mr. Verma attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he earned his BA in Economics and Political Science, MPA, and JD. In his free time, he likes to play tennis and travel.

Nga Vuong-SandovalNga Vuong-Sandoval serves as an Investigator at the Colorado Department of Law and as an Affiliate Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver in the Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology and the Department of Sociology.  

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Criminal Justice at the University of Colorado.  Nga was honored as the recipient of the Outstanding Criminal Justice Student of the Year Award.

Nga’s prior professional background includes serving as the Lead Intelligence Analyst at the Office of the Inspector General-Intelligence Unit at the state homeland security office.  Her areas of expertise include: counterterrorism, counterintelligence, prison radicalization, security threat groups, and human trafficking.  During the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she worked at the Intelligence Operations Center in collaboration with federal, state, local agencies to ensure the security of Colorado citizens.  She also served as an Investigator at the Marijuana Enforcement Division and worked in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop regulations and protocols for the nation’s first marijuana testing program.  Nga is a local and national speaker and trainer for government officials, military personnel, and the community.      

Nga was born and raised in Việt Nam until the Việt Nam War.  She and her family fled their homeland, became “boat people,” and were displaced as political refugees.  They arrived on a U.S. refugee camp and began their journey as Vietnamese-Americans. 

Nga is proud of her Vietnamese culture, heritage, language, and refugee experience.  She embraces multiculturalism and diversity and is a tenacious advocate for social justice, civil rights, gender equality, and refugee and immigrant rights.  Nga believes that education, advocacy, discourse, and compassion are positive change agents to strengthen community relationships.       

Michelle Yi AlexanderMichelle Yi Alexander's most recent position was as Communications Director at the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the largest judicial district by population in Colorado with Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. 

In this capacity, Michelle focused on informing the public of the work at the District Attorney’s Office, which in turn helped to build and strengthen relationships with the community, media and law enforcement agencies. In addition, Michelle has worked on campaigns and is accustomed to rapid response and crisis communications. She has nearly 10 years of communications and public relations experience with groups ranging from government agencies to non-profit organizations. 

Being born and raised in Denver, serving the local community is important to Michelle. She serves as an appointed Commissioner with the Mayor’s Denver Asian Pacific American Commission; a member and communications liaison for the Junior League of Denver, a chapter of a national non-profit; and as a board member for Bella Boutique Denver, a local non-profit that gives at-risk young ladies free prom dresses.

Michelle earned her undergraduate degree from Boston University. 


Adam YouAdam You is originally from Taiwan, but has been in the Centennial State for over 26 years.

He is a Certified Public Accountant and has degrees in Accounting, Finance and Business Administration from both the University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver.

Adam currently works for the Internal Revenue Service. He is the former president of the Chinese American Council of Colorado and the U.S. China Chamber of Commerce

His passion lies in promoting community involvement and civil engagement in the local Asian and Chinese community. He also regularly organizes community volunteering events and educational seminars.