Women's Commission


The Denver Women’s Commission promotes the social, economic and political quality of life in Denver by assisting women in the attainment of equality and full opportunity by:

  • Advocating for women
  • Empowering women through coalition building, disseminating information and sharing community resources
  • Monitoring and recommending legislation and proposed policy changes affecting women

Our Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council.  They serve 2 year terms. Commissioners must live or work in the City and County of Denver.

Commission Meetings

Virtual Meeting Only

Join the Zoom Meeting : https://denvergov-org.zoom.us/j/82003033392

Meeting ID: 820 0303 3392
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Meeting ID: 820 0303 3392
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Commission Members

April Hansen *Chair

Zarah Levy *Chair

Adam Piasecki

Arielle Weaver

Cheris Berlinberg, DSc.

Dr. Cheris Kline Berlinberg is a fifth generation Colorado native who loves her state! She is thrilled to be on the Denver Women’s Commission and working for those who identify as a women or girls in Denver. She is a triplet and very close to her siblings, parents and family in-law! She has a daughter, Jora Moriel, and a wonderful partner, Adam.  She enjoys being active in the community and is on the board for numerous organizations.  Cheris is the President of Jewish Women International’s Young Women’s Impact Network in Denver as well as the Co-President of Jewish National Fund’s Future Mountain State Board.  She is also on the board for Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue and involved in Women in Healthcare and Jewish Colorado.  Cheris enjoys skiing, hiking, going for walks, enjoying Denver’s great restaurant scene and spending time with her friends and family.

Cheris attended Cherry Creek High School and received her undergraduate degree in Spanish for Professionals from the University of Colorado at boulder.  She graduated with her MS from Saint Joseph’s University in Healthcare Administration and completed her doctoral degree (DSc) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Healthcare Leadership.  Her doctoral dissertation was, “The Long-Term Care Partnership Program – Impact on the Long-Term Care Insurance Acquisition and Medicaid Expenditures in Nursing Homes.”  Cheris is a Manager in the Healthcare Consulting Department for Cognizant Technology Solutions. 

Demetria "Eejipt" Burgess

Elise Rahn

Elise Rahn is the Program Director of the Human Trafficking Unit at the Denver District Attorney's Office. Elise joined the Denver Women’s Commission in 2019 to further engage with efforts to support women and girls in Denver through inclusive and collaborative approaches. She is inspired by those she serves and is dedicated to advancing opportunities for women and girls, as well as being an ally for underserved communities across the state.

Elise studied international relations and human rights, and has limited professional fluency in Russian. In her free time, she is an avid sports fan, loves reading nonfiction, and enjoys spending time outdoors hunting and fishing. 

Julia Lazure

Laurie Heydman

Laurie Heydman is a senior assistant City Attorney for the Denver City Attorney’s Office where she largely performs transactional, financial, intellectual property, and general counsel work.

Heydman joined the commission because she believes strongly that it is necessary to do the work if you want to see the change. She is committed to supporting women from all walks of life. Laurie has been going it on her own or with colleagues from time to time in creating a now defunct OWLS (Older Women in Leadership and Support) group for older women attorneys who are often discounted by younger lawyers of both genders. She also mentors young people, mostly women, in several formal programs, as well as informally. In joining the commission, she was seeking an opportunity to join a motivated community working together to achieve bigger advances in gender equity.  In her position as an attorney, she writes the policies of others, but she thought it would be terrific to be able to share her thoughts as a policy maker instead of just a policy scrivener.

Laurie is a member of the Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Denver Film Society as well as a regular visitor to the Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Performing Arts Complex, and art galleries in Colorado.  She is also an avid gardener, reader, film buff, foodie, and the caretaker of two hilarious Pekingese dogs!

Kayla Frawley

Milagros "Mily" Jelinek

Nazia Hasan

Olivia Almaguer

Renee Larrarte

Renée is a Colorado native from Fort Collins. She is a Front Range Field Manager for Conservation Colorado, where she works to conserve and protect Colorado’s public lands, water, air, and communities. She works to mobilize her community to influence policy-makers to pass pro-conservation legislation here in her home state. 

She is also the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Lobby of Colorado advocating and lobbying for gender equity at the state Capitol. Additionally, she received her B.A. in Political Science and Certificate in Women’s Studies from CSU and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Policy & Administration with a concentration in International Policy Management.  Renée previously worked for the 2012 Obama Presidential Reelection Campaign as a Campaign Field Organizer for Larimer County. 

Sara Hazel

Sara Hazel (she/her/hers) is the Vice President of Development at the Denver Public Schools Foundation. She has over fourteen years of nonprofit development and leadership experience. Sara has worked at global, national, and local organizations, including The American Red Cross, The American Cancer Society, and Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. Sara’s leadership has included leading the Colorado Red Cross Centennial Celebration, celebrating 100 Years of the Red Cross in Colorado, and co-facilitating and planning the first ever national fundraising conference for Girls Inc. As a volunteer leader, Sara worked with a team to found a scholarship fund to send kids to summer camp in the Colorado mountains at Geneva Glen Camp. In all her roles, Sara has held management and leadership responsibilities and loves to build and work with exceptional teams. She loves the nonprofit sector and fundraising because of a desire for social justice and the ability to help donors navigate a path to support a mission that they can impact. 

Locally, Sara is involved in many organizations including as a volunteer mentor for City Year Denver, serving as the Secretary for the Denver Women’s Commission, a member of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s Empowerment Council, and is an alumnus of Metro Denver Chamber Leadership Foundation Leadership Denver Class of 2020.

When Sara is not raising money for humanitarian causes, Sara writes a book review blog and enjoys Kansas City BBQ.  She loves spending time in the mountains, traveling, watching Kansas Jayhawk basketball, reading, and spending quality time with her husband, friends, and chasing around her toddler daughter.

Shahira Qudrat

Stacey Shigaya

Stephanie Puello

Stephanie Visscher

Veronique Van Gheem

Veronique Van Gheem is Senior Assistant Legal Counsel for the Colorado Judicial Department. Ms. Van Gheem works in the Executive Division of the State Court Administrator’s Office providing general advisory counsel for the Colorado courts, probation departments and the State Court Administrator. She has been a member of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association for three years, working with the Publications Committee to launch a blog on women in the law, The 1891. She represents an unaccompanied minor child in a pro bono asylum case through the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network and is helping a crime victim navigate the U Visa application process. She is also an active member of the CBA Spanish Speaking Lawyers Committee, which supports and organizes regional legal clinics in rural Colorado.

Prior to joining the Colorado Judicial Department in 2013, Ms. Van Gheem clerked for the Honorable Norman Haglund of the Denver District Court and served as the Conservation Easement Staff Attorney for the Colorado State Court Administrator’s Office.  Ms. Van Gheem, originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in Forestry and Biology.  She worked as a Restoration Ecologist from 2005 to 2007.  Ms. Van Gheem is a 2010 graduate from the University of Colorado Law School.  

Virginia "Ginna" Santy

Virginia (Ginna) Santy is Director of Research for X Genesis, a company devoted to combining entrepreneurship and social good. In her role, Ginna leads a research team in conducting primary and secondary research to inform market-driven solutions to the world's wicked problems. She is responsible for creating unique methods combining theories, paradigms, and tools such as design and systems thinking to facilitate innovation and problem-solving.

She presents at conferences worldwide on entrepreneurial approaches to problem-solving in various industries such as health, water, aging, and city planning and design. In addition to her work at X Genesis, Ginna is a researcher and thought leader in the areas of research design and processes in support of entrepreneurship, vulnerable populations, and re-conceptualizing the relationship between data and design to facilitate women’s economic well-being. A former professor, she has presented her research on women and work around the world and worked with a variety of clients to implement programs supporting women’s needs in the public and private sector. Her research on women and leadership in the workplace won her the Researcher of the Year Award from the Organization for Research on Women and Communication. Ginna also founded Women in Kind, the first coworking space in Colorado designed for women, and negotiated a successful sale of that business in 2019. She has consulted with the cities of Denver and Reno on designing spaces and policies to support women’s economic success, serves on Denver’s Women’s Commission, and is a recognized leader in the business community.

She was honored as Change-Maker of the Year in 2018 and Top 25 Women in Business in 2020 by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Last but not least, Ginna is the mother of a warrior-hearted daughter.