Our Team

Rowena Alegría

Rowena Alegria headshot

Rowena Alegría is Denver’s Chief Storyteller, founder and director of the city’s first Office of Storytelling and the citywide storytelling and cultural preservation project #IAmDenver. She leads an award-winning team that has recorded nearly 400 video stories since 2019, including documentaries about Denver’s drag community; women of the Chicano Movement; the role Denver activists played in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act; how the internment of Japanese Americans in Southeast Colorado resulted in a robust Denver community; and so much more.

Alegría is an award-winning writer, editor, filmmaker, career journalist and communications executive. She was born and raised in Denver and is a graduate of DPS’ Lincoln High School. She received her BA magna cum laude with Honors from MSU Denver and an MFA in Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She served as Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s Chief Communications Officer and was an editor at The Denver Post and publisher/editor of their Latino multimedia news outlet Viva Colorado. She is writing a novel that plays with form and the history of the Southwest. 

Adopted at birth, Alegría is fascinated by inheritance and identity. From her bio and adopted families, she inherited a love of learning and a passion for words and justice. She believes we live the dreams and sorrows of our ancestors, and her novel in progress takes a particular interest in these ideas coupled with the legacy of colonialism on the indigenous and mestizo peoples of what is now Mexico and the southwestern United States. Alegría was the Ricardo Salinas Scholar in Fiction at Aspen Words 2021 and has won numerous writing fellowships and residencies. Her work has appeared in publications including The Rumpus, the Mississippi Review, the Hennepin Review and others. She’s a member of Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Writers Workshop. For more, please visit her website.

Roxana A. Soto

Roxana Soto headshot

I’ve felt passionate about telling stories for as long as I can remember. You might say I was born to discover stories. I guess I’ve just always had an innate ability to know how and where to dig. As a young girl back in Peru, I used to snoop around where I wasn’t supposed to and, while that got me in trouble more often than not, it also helped me uncover some mind-blowing family secrets! What I didn’t quite understand, however, was that I could one day make a living out of my insatiable curiosity unchecked nosiness as some in my family would call it). It wouldn’t be until I conducted my first interview for my high school newspaper and discovered the power of story that my path to a career in journalism was set.

I got my first byline as an intern at The Miami Herald my senior year of high school and have never looked back. In the many years since, I’ve had the privilege to tell all kinds of stories about all kinds of people for different media outlets — including newspapers, magazines, local TV stations, national TV networks and digital media platforms — in both English and Spanish. From the tropical shores of the Dominican Republic to the remote Amazon rain forest of Ecuador and from war-ravished Nicaragua to cartel-controlled Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, I’ve traveled near and far in the name of storytelling. I’ve interviewed musicians and actors; politicians and activists; scientists and economists; educators and authors; judges and detectives — but more than anything else, I’ve interviewed ordinary people with remarkable stories that hadn’t yet been told. Those have always been my favorite!

I like to believe that all those professional experiences coupled with my being a Latina immigrant who has lived in five countries in three continents have thoroughly prepared me for my current job in the Office of Storytelling — a job that, in all honesty, is hard to describe in just one word. Yes, I’m a storyteller, but I’m also a social justice advocate, documentary filmmaker and producer, researcher, writer, social media manager and webmaster. Telling the stories of vulnerable and disenfranchised people whose voices have been historically left out of Denver’s narrative is at the core of what the Office of Storytelling does every day — what an honor to be part of a team that’s making sure those stories are finally heard!

On a much more personal note, I’ve been married to a great cook, audiophile and fellow journalist for 20 years, and we have three kind, smart and funny kids and a cute rescue pup. In my free time, I love to read, travel, listen to podcasts and practice yoga. I’m also a runner, something I picked up during the pandemic, which is still unbelievable to me since I used to always make it known that I could not run even if my life depended on it! In terms of long-term plans, those always include moving back near the ocean, the only place where I feel I truly belong. 

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @roxalexsoto.

Emily Maxwell

Emily Maxwell Headshot

Emily Maxwell is an award-winning visual journalist and documentary producer whose adventures in storytelling have taken her from the forgotten streets of the Midwest to a rhino sanctuary in Indonesia.

Emily began her career as a freelance photojournalist working for a variety of outlets in her hometown of Cincinnati. She spent a year documenting the 2008 Election and covered several music festivals, including South by Southwest in Austin.

In 2010, she began workings for WCPO-TV, an ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, as a digital reporter and visual journalist, where she reported on topics such as childhood poverty, the opioid epidemic, public housing issues and wildlife conservation. Her poverty coverage included profiling the city's tent city crisis, which made national headlines in 2018.

During her 9.5 years at WCPO-TV, she traveled often for work. She flew 10,000 miles on a cargo plane with a rhino from Ohio to Sumatra; got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Terracotta Army in Xi’an, China; documented the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado; and investigated the effects of coal ash on rural communities in North Carolina and Ohio.

In 2019, before she left broadcast news, Emily was part of a small documentary team that produced a feature-length piece about the deaths of 11 people outside The Who concert in Cincinnati in 1979. The documentary marked the first time the band spoke publicly about the tragedy to media. That experience inspired Emily to< want to pursue documentary filmmaking full-time.

Soon after, Emily uprooted her life and moved to Denver to work for I Am Denver, a new storytelling project from the new Denver Office of Storytelling. As the team’s sole visual journalist at present, Emily shoots and produces documentaries and short features about missing history and stories of Denver’s underrepresented communities.

Emily earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. She was the first person to graduate from the school's photojournalism program. Over the years, she has received several awards including two regional Emmys, an Edward R. Murrow Award, Best Video Journalism from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and many more. In 2018, she was also appointed "Person of the Year" by the National Association of Social Workers for her ongoing poverty coverage

In her free time, she takes road trips with her elderly dog and binges crime docu-series. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @emaxphoto.