Mayor's Diversity & Inclusion Awards

photo of a Mayor's Diversity & Inclusion award

Each year, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships honors individuals and organizations who stand firmly for the ideals of inclusion, acceptance, and opportunity. Below are 2021's honorees.

Diane Cooke & Families Against Violent Acts

Diane Cooks & Families Against Violent Acts, pronounced, “favor” – as in favor with God was established in 2007 by Dianne Cooks after her son Michael Hope was paralyzed from the waist down and his best friend Qutice McGaughy was murdered in an unsolved drive by shooting.  They were leaving the same club where Denver Broncos player Darrent Williams was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day.  After growing frustrated at the lack of progress in the police investigation, she sought ways to promote healing.  FAVA is a Christian-based organization whose goal is to empower families affected by violence and promote healing.


Rick Williams

This past August 2021, Mr. Williams influenced the Colorado Governor to rescind a piece of anti-Native American Language from State Law.  Mr. Williams, who is Lakota and Cheyenne, worked for many years to get the State of Colorado to formally repeal a 157-year-od proclamation used to incite the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, which had never been formally rescinded.  


Annie VanDan Guo

Annie Van Dan Guo is an integral leader and pillar of the AAPI community in Denver. She is the editor in chief of Asian Avenue magazine, which is a very well known and respected source of information within the Asian community and always includes ample content supporting, uplifting, and highlighting individuals and their talents from all ethnicities under the AAPI umbrella. Annie is also director for Colorado’s Asian Culture and Education Network (CACEN) where she tirelessly works to advocate on behalf of our respective communities through countless campaigns seeking to educate, raise awareness, and financially support vulnerable groups and other communities.


Donna Garret & Montbello Organizing Committee

Donna Garret and the Montbello Organizing Committee – thank you for the work you do in our community! This award is presented to you from myself and the Commission on Aging. Here is what the commission had to say about you and your team:

Since August 2013, Donna and the Montbello Organizing Committee has worked to build infrastructure to engage residents of Montbello around issues impacting community. The overreaching goal of MOC is to galvanize residents and help develop their leadership skills so that the community can proactively address the issues residents identify. MOC has laid the framework for success. The MOC has provided many resources, especially during COVID. Montbello is a food desert and they food bank they provided during COVID was especially helpful to families and the older adults in the Montbello neighborhood.


Black Pride Colorado

The annual celebration of pride could not have been made possible without the leadership and activism of many Black and queer individuals in 1969. Black Pride Colorado, a sponsored program through YouthSeen, was created to celebrate, honor, and engage Black LGBTQ+ people across our state while honoring those before them. Black Pride Colorado officially formed in February 2021 and quickly got to work to plan this year’s pride events. Founders Dr. Tara Jae and Tyrell Rae aka Miss Zarah were joined by 8 LGBTQ+ community leaders to form their planning committee. Black Pride Colorado hosted four inaugural Black pride events as part of our cities annual pride celebrations. These four events sold out and were the talk of the pride festivities this year. They have continued to host events from the community since pride and are already planning for next years pride festivities. 


Alice Olaniyan Soremekun

Mrs. Soremekun is the owner of TKS Pharmacy in Denver, Colorado. She is an immigrant from Nigeria who worked very hard to get her pharmacy degree and open her own pharmacy in 2016. In the last year, Mrs. Soremekun through her pharmacy has partnered with Denver Public Health, Front Door to Denver and the City of Denver to organize several Pop-Up Covid-19 vaccine clinics for New Americans. In addition to Pop-Up vaccine clinics, Mrs. Soremekun's dedication to providing care to patients and protecting our community during the pandemic caring is inspirational. Her courage, dedication, compassion, skills and professionalism during the pandemic and vaccine period was profound. Her actions are seen and appreciated by the communities that she serves. 


Maria Gonzales

Maria has been very active in the community during the pandemic, providing over 10K vaccinations at 30 events. Maria and Adelante have supported $500K in Left Behind Workers Fund cash assistance and rental assistance to undocumented families. They have assisted 300 families with basic human needs, and have also supported over 300 small businesses with business resources. Maria is grateful to have a team of 200 volunteers and 20 subcontractors for the work she is doing.


Tricia Downing

Tricia Downing is a local Paralympian, In addition to her sports pursuits, Tricia has become a leader in her community as a peer mentor to others with paralysis, she founded Camp Discovery and The Cycle of Hope non-profit dedicating 10 years to helping female wheelchair users gain confidence and self-esteem through a yearly sports and fitness retreat. Additionally, she serves on the board of USA Shooting, which is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of shooting. She is an author on disability related topics, and has created the Denver Disabilities Network, addressing various topics.


Yessica Holguin

Yessica Holguin is the Executive Director of the Center for Community Wealth Building (CCWB). She grew up in the Swansea neighborhood in Denver and has done grassroots community organizing with immigrant groups and low-income communities across the Denver Metro area since 2000. She has dedicated her life to empowering disenfranchised communities to break the cycle of poverty through education and entrepreneurship.


Micaela Garcia De Benavidez with Teatro

There is so much preparation and planning that go into productions and although Mica has been part of the stage all her life, she is the piston behind the scenes of Teatro programs and productions. She is the liaison with the community and her influence with the youth has enabled Teatro to flourish with its vision. Teatro is the space where both the young and aging come to be heard and Mica is always at the table with generous ears.