The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs acts as an advisory board to the Cultural Programs Department, within Arts & Venues Denver. The Commission is comprised of dynamic and accomplished Denver leaders in the areas of the arts, business and education, all of whom are appointed by the Mayor. The Commissioners are strong advocates of the arts and culture, and are committed to the mission and goals of Cultural Programs and Arts & Venues Denver. Meetings of the Commission are open to the public. They are held on the first Tuesday of every month at 4:00 p.m. Call 720-865-4320 for details.
Members of the Commission:
currently serves as Chair of the Commission. She retired from Metropolitan State College of Denver as Vice President for Student Services. Since then, she has been back serving Metro State in interim administrative positions. Currently, Ortega is serving as the Student Judicial Officer for the college. In 2006, she became part owner of Encantada Catering, Inc. with partners Jesse Ogas and Dee Burleson. Encantada Catering features fresh, homemade New Mexican food and live musical entertainment. Ortega has been a veterana
actress and musician for 33 years with Su Teatro, a Denver-based Chicano theatre company. She has been featured in main stage plays such as Las Tamaleras, Doña Rosita's Jalapeño Kitchen, El Sol Que Tu Eres, Westside Oratorio
and La Guerra Eterna
. Ortega serves on the Board of Trustees of Escuela Tlatelolco and Clinica Tepeyac. In addition to her active community service, she pursues her passion for road trips, photography, poetry and performing.
Erin Bassity is the advancement coordinator at PlatteForum, a unique and innovative arts organization and community center that serves artists, at-risk youth, and community. Prior to joining PlatteForum, she worked as the director of marketing and communications for the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a regional non-profit cultural policy and technology development organization headquartered in Denver, as well as for the state of Colorado at the Department of Public Health and Environment as a health policy and communications coordinator. In addition to serving as a commissioner, Bassity is a member of Colorado's state arts advocacy organization, Arts for Colorado; the former chair of the Denver County Cultural Council of the Science and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD); and a former panelist for the distribution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds by the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs. She earned a master's degree in communication from the University of Colorado Denver and lives in north Denver.
Denis Berckefeldt is the Director of Communications and Government/Public Relations with the Denver Auditor’s Office. Denis is an artist in his own right, as an actor, musician and photographer. He is a 35-year member of the Screen Actors Guild and serves on the national Board of Directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Jayne Buck has served as Vice President of Tourism for VISIT DENVER, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, since 1999. She is responsible for all leisure marketing efforts for Metro Denver, including international and consumer marketing, implementing an annual $3 million consumer marketing campaign. In addition, Jayne is responsible for visitor information centers and visitor services, the front line hospitality training (Go the EXTRA Mile), Denver Arts Week, the Cultural Tourism Committee, Denver 365 online event calendar and the DENVER2for1TIX program. She manages eight full-time staff and 18 part-time staff. She is active in cultural, multicultural and neighborhood tourism initiatives, and also works closely with Denver International Airport, the Colorado Tourism Office and international marketing alliances within the region. She served on the Cherry Creek Arts Festival Board of Directors for six years, and was Chair in 2010. She currently serves on the the Denver Theater District board and is also a member of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District’s (SCFD) Denver County Cultural Council. Prior to coming to Denver, Jayne served as Director of Tourism for St Paul CVB in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Rick Griffith has sought clarity about art and communication through the broad discipline of design for the last 21 years. He got his first job in the business with FCB/LKP on New York’s Madison Avenue working for ATT&T, Citibank, and The Berlin Board of Tourism, and since 1995 he has been working on design and branding focused projects across the United States for clients such as Columbia University (NY), Virginia Tech, The Rob Roy Kelly American WoodType Collection at The University of Texas, Austin, Hanover College, (IA), and Denver International Airport. His projects & commercial works and projects have been cited in several national and international resources including TDC, AIGA 365, Print, Dwell, and Good Magazine. He has works published by Rotovision in the UK, Lawrence King, and Rockport in the US. His work is included in the AIGA National Design Archives, the Denver Art Museum's Design permanent collection, The Butler Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Columbia University, and the Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Rick’s award winning work for the Democratic National Convention in 2008 was published in the book ‘Art for Obama, Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change’ published by Ginko Press. Rick’s devotion to letters during the last 20 years has lead him to teach graphic design and typography for the University of Colorado, Denver, The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, and most recently, The University of Denver. He serves as lecturer and panelist for conferences and presents frequently on either his method for teaching and practicing as a designer/typographer or the model of professional practice, leadership, and constant experimentation of the studio and typography laboratory called MATTER. His branding and strategic works are numerous including the data visualizations for the Western States Arts Federation, and his 2010 presentation for TEDx Boulder. is He is a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.
Gwinavere Johnston founded JohnstonWells in 1971. Under her leadership, JohnstonWells is recognized as a leading public relations firm, both regionally and nationally. In 2008, the firm was named one of the best public relations agencies to work for in the nation, ranking fourth in the small agency category, by The Holmes Report, one of the most prestigious recognition programs in the public relations industry. The firm received the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts 2003 Small Business Award of the Year and the 2003 National Philanthropy Day in Colorado Award for Outstanding Small Business. In addition, the brightly painted walls and colorful folk art collection brought JohnstonWells the Creative Work Space of the Year award from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts in 2005. Johnston demonstrates a deep, longtime commitment to the community. She is a member of the Colorado Women's Forum, Denver Press Club, Arthur W. Page Society and numerous other community organizations. Johnston was the first person to be honored as Citizen of the Year by the PRSA Colorado Chapter. She also received the Outstanding Alumna award from the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences in 2001, the 1999 Athena Award from the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the PRSA Colorado Chapter in 1992.
Claudia Jordan is a Denver County Court Judge, a property and business owner in the Five Points Historic District and a community activist when Judicial Cannons allow. After graduating from the University of Colorado School of Law, a legal career as a Public Defender, then in private practice, Mayor Wellington Webb appointed Jordan as the first African American female to the Denver County Court bench in 1994. As a businesswoman, Jordan is a supporter of the arts, engaged in volunteer work with projects such as the Five Points Jazz Festival, the Black Arts Festival, Juneteenth and various other community-conscious projects. Commitment to the community, paired with her love of music and the arts, and a willingness to get things done makes it a pleasure for Jordan to serve on the Commission on Cultural Affairs.
Mary Louise Lee
Maruca Salazar is the current executive director of Museo de las Americas, a 20-year institution that promotes Latino Art from ancient to contemporary. She holds a Master Degree in Education with emphasis in art and culture. For thirty years she served as educator and arts administrator for Denver Public Schools, spending 23 years in the classroom and seven years as the Central Office Arts Coordinator for the district. Advocacy, Arts Education and Culture are her passion and her expertise. She hopes that her knowledge will contribute to the vision of the Denver Commission on Cultural affairs.
is the Director of Strategic Marketing for the City of Denver, overseeing
the overall marketing strategies for the City and its agencies, as well as providing senior-level consulting on a wide array of communication and branding issues. In his 25-year career, Sander has worked on a variety of large local and national consumer and nonprofit marketing campaigns. With an extensive web of relationships within the local community, he specializes in developing strategic partnerships to create unique communications opportunities for his clientele. Sander was formerly vice president/account supervisor for both Barnhart Advertising and Karsh & Hagan before forming Sander/GBSM in 1996. In 2007, he created Sander Marketing before being appointed to his current position. Sander serves on the board of directors for VISIT DENVER, the Metro Denver Sports Commission, the Metro Denver Health and Wellness Commission, the Friends of the Denver Firefighters and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. He is an alumnus of Leadership Denver. Sander earned a journalism degree from the University
with graduate study in marketing, and began his professional career as an award-winning sports photographer at the Boulder Daily Camera.
is the Assistant to the Superintendent for Denver Public Schools in Community Relations. He was formerly the Director of Public Affairs for the Denver Center
for the Performing Arts (DCPA). His position at the DCPA included community relations, government affairs, arts and education policy/advocacy and the promotion of careers in the arts. Previous to the DCPA, Santistevan was the Minority Business Advocate for the State of Colorado
. His civic endeavors are many, including serving as a volunteer of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for the past 16 years, taking an instrumental role in the development of the Colorado Minority & Women Business Council, co-founding the United States Hispanic Junior Chamber of Commerce, being appointed to the Colorado Commission on Closing the Achievement Gap, and serving on the boards of the Colorado Hispanic League, Minority Enterprise & Educational Development, Inc., Colorado Alliance for Arts Education, Colorado Business Council and the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation. Santistevan is the recipient of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Youth Service Award and the Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award.
is an assistant professor of English and co-director of the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Colorado Denver
. She also co-directs the series “Feminism & Co.: Art, Sex, Politics” -- a program designed to address issues relating to women and gender at The Laboratory of Art + Ideas at Belmar. Her research and teaching interests include American literature and culture, critical theory and the history of the reading. She has published in academic venues and in mainstream venues including The New York Times Magazine
, The New York Observer
and The Los Angeles Times
. She is currently completing a book about reading practices in nineteenth-century America
R. Tony Smith has worked for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival since October 2000 and serves as the Marketing and Operations Director. Tony's passion for festivals and events is all about bringing people together through celebration and providing access to culture, and his personal statement is that he considers himself “A Specialist in the Art and Business of Celebration." His event career officially began with the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. His professional, Board of Director, volunteer and consulting services history includes the Colorado Festivals and Events Association, Denver Center for Performing Arts, Colorado Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness, Denver GLBT Commission, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Colorado AIDS Project, Downtown Denver Parade of Lights, Denver's Pridefest, Denver Gay Bowl 2012 and Team Colorado of the Rockies. Tony also currently serves as the Co-Chair for the 2016 North America Outgames, an effort spearheaded by Tony that will bring thousands of international GLBT sports competitors to Denver. Tony's other life passions include volleyball, yoga, scuba diving, weight training, visual & performing arts, auto design, international culture & travel.
Margie Soo Hoo Lee
Rick Tallman is a veteran entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of Renova Capital Partners – a private equity group that develops renewable power generation assets. He serves as the Executive Chairman of Main Street Power Company, a leading international solar development firm, sits on a variety of other corporate and nonprofit boards and frequently lectures on the subjects of social entrepreneurship and renewable energy. Rick has led multiple early-stage companies through hyper-growth to eventual public offering or acquisition. He was a pioneer of municipal water utility privatization in the U.S. and served as a Company Commander in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
continues a long teaching career in the Denver area. He taught English, social studies, humanities and alternative education at Northglenn High School for 29 years, 12 of which he was department chair. Talmage-Bowers has supervised interns in eduction at the University of Colorado Denver and Metropolitan State College of Denver. He was on the faculty of Front Range Community College and is in his seventh year at the Community College of Aurora in the Departments of Arts and Humanities and English as a Second Language. Talmage-Bowers writes poetry and is a practicing artist specializing in etching, with a particular interest in urban landscapes. He is a graduate of Colgate University and holds a master's degree from Brown University.
Nancy Walsh is Director of Museum Programs for Strategic Partnerships & Programs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. As the education lead for Expedition Health, she was a key team member in the development of the award-winning exhibition. Currently, she is on the development team for the new Education & Collection Facilities expansion. Nancy graduated with a B.S. from Earlham College and has a Master’s Degree in evolutionary biology from The University of Chicago. She has worked at The Field Museum in Chicago, the Bell Museum in Minnesota and the Virginia Aquarium. While in Virginia she was on the Board of Directors of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Hampton Roads. In 2005, Nancy was thrilled to be able to move back home to the Denver area and put her passion for science education toward creating outstanding educational and cultural experiences for Denver’s diverse audiences.