Alexis Weightman is a Senior Policy Officer at the Colorado Health Foundation. Over the past decade, she has worked with stakeholders to influence and implement public policy solutions to improve the health of Coloradans and to promote health equity. Most recently, she has been actively engaged in efforts to address hunger in Colorado. As a HFDK Commissioner, she is passionate about the opportunity to provide nutritious, dependable meals and snacks for Denver kids. Prior to joining the Foundation, Alexis consulted on domestic and international health programs and conducted large scale program evaluations in Boston and Washington, D.C. Alexis holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Middlebury College and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Denver. She is a proud fourth generation Colorado native and enjoys spending time with her two daughters, husband and black lab.
Blake Angelo joins the HFDK Commission with over a decade of consulting work supporting hundreds of food businesses and demonstrated policy leadership in the development of the Denver Food Vision and the management of the voter-approved $100M+ Healthy Food for Denver Kids Campaign. He has also served as a CSU Extension Agent, helped draft multiple state-wide food and farm plans for Colorado, and executed multi-million-dollar health care business transformations. Blake has a master’s degree in Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Blake is a passionate about understanding how data can be used to make informed decisions to improve the Denver community. As part of the Commission, he is excited about analyzing and reviewing findings on the data that is collected. He is currently working as a Machine Learning Engineer at Nutrien which is an agricultural supply company in Loveland, CO that serves farmers throughout the region. Blake brings a historical knowledge of numerous food system initiatives throughout the region to the Commission. With his experience in teaching, consulting, research, and public policy, he brings skillsets such as: implementing community surveys/listening sessions, data analytics, building collaborative teams, and volunteer/community engagement. Ultimately, he is excited to learn about the incredible impact of HFDK and communicate the results both internally on the Commission and to the broader Denver public.
Chelsea is the Philanthropy Partnerships Manager for History Colorado. She brings five years of experience as a nonprofit professional and grant writer to the Commission. Chelsea has worked for organizations serving both small farmers and youth from Title I schools, and is passionate about equitable food access. Her driving reason for joining the Commission is to ensure that all kids in Denver know that their basic need for healthy food will be met by their community. On most weekends you can catch her on one of Denver's many bike trails.
Deborah “Debbie” Ortega
Deborah “Debbie” Ortega is an at-large member of Denver City Council representing the entire city. She was elected to an at-large position on Denver City Council in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015 and 2019. Born in Raton, New Mexico, Debbie is the daughter of a coal miner who was killed in a mine accident. Her mom raised Debbie, her three sisters and brother for a number of years before marrying her stepdad. The family came to Denver when she was 13. She attended Kepner Middle School. Debbie still regularly walks Sloan’s Lake with her middle school friend Michelle. Following graduation from West High School, the councilwoman was called to a life of public service. She worked for former Lt. Governor George Brown and U.S. Senator Floyd Haskell before accepting a position with Denver City Councilman Sal Carpio in 1979. She was elected as Carpio’s successor in 1987; was elected by her peers in 1994 and 1995 as Council President, and served until 2003 when term limits required she leave office along with nine of her colleagues. Councilwoman Ortega continued her public service after leaving office serving as the first executive director of the Denver’s Homelessness Commission that put together our city’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, also known as Denver’s Road Home. She serves as chair of Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corporation, a non-profit building affordable housing. She has also served on the board of directors and chair of the board of Latina Safehouse. Councilwoman Ortega raised her daughter Janelle in Denver. Janelle and her husband Gabe have raised their five children in Denver; three of whom are currently serving in the US Navy and US Air Force.
Councilwoman Jamie Torres, Denver City Council Member representing District 3, has been a community advocate and community connector for several years, which is one of many reasons that brought her to HFDK. Over the years in working for local government, Jamie worked directly on issues of poverty, equity, food insecurity, community and civic engagement, and immigrant integration. “As a lifelong resident of west Denver, I know our communities have the hardest access to healthy food. I am passionate about the HFDK Commission to quickly provide resources for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a group of dedicated individuals who are ensuring our underresourced communities are taken care of.” A fun fact about Councilwoman Torres is that she loves to read with her cat, Skippy, snoozing nearby. Gummy bears and watermelon are her favorite snacks.
Laine is the Food Systems Administrator for the city of Denver in the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment. She oversees the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council and leads the Food Systems team to implement the Denver Food Vision to make the city’s food systems more healthy, vibrant, inclusive, and resilient. Laine was previously the first Food Policy Director for the District of Columbia and the leader of the first public DC Food Policy Council. Laine holds a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning and a Certificate in Urban Design from the University of Pennsylvania and B.A. from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill in Environmental Studies. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and serves on the leadership committee of the American Planning Association’s Food Systems Division.
Lisana Muñoz is the Deputy Director of Community Partnerships with Denver Human Services (DHS). Lisana has dedicated her entire career to helping bring food access and resources to the Denver Community. She has worked with DHS in a variety of leadership roles for over 12 years and currently has led the charge for multiple food initiatives, as well as worked in the Family and Adult Division, which focuses on enrollment of benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, and Cash Assistance. Lisana values the importance of community partnership and collaboration. Prior to working for DHS, she worked for Junior Achievement, which focuses on promoting financial literacy in schools. She currently serves as an Ex-Officio on the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council, and on multiple committees regarding providing emergency food support. She was fortunate to launch the Denver Snap Initiative Explorer Pass in partnership with multiple cultural institutions to provide $1 access for families who are currently receiving SNAP. This increased access for thousands of individuals to visit places like the Denver Zoo, Art Museum, Children's Museum, and more. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado, and her MBA from Regis University. She is an advocate for equity and access for the immigrant community, as her family came from Peru, South America. Most importantly, she believes in the value of providing holistic wrap around services through a trauma informed lens to all those in need. Lisana feels fortunate to be a part of the HFDK Commission because this allows her the opportunity to work with multiple stakeholders and make a big impact in the fight against hunger for our children. As a mother of three young children, she believes that ensuring that our kids have proper access to food and nutrition will help shape their lives and their future.
Patricia “Patti” Iwasaki
Patricia Iwasaki has a B.A. Sociology (UCLA), Masters Social Work (DU, Health & Soc. Administration) and finished coursework in UCD’s Health & Behavioral Science Ph.D. She served on Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council two terms (2014-2020), chaired the Minority Health Advisory Commission that advised the Director and Office of Health Equity at Colorado’s Dept. of Public Health and Environment. Patti has 25+ years working with low income, people of color, immigrant, asylee, refugee communities (Colorado, California, Texas/along the border) advocating health equity, capacity-building and local control. She has 10+ years teaching at DU’s Graduate School of Social Work (healthcare, chronic/terminal illness, community practice). Her community health research has been in Los Angeles (three Asian communities), London (government workers) and Houston (cancer control with Latinos). She’s a board member of Taking Neighborhood Health to Heart/TNH2H, focused now on NE Denver Environmental Justice. She helped qualitative data analysis: Denver’s Food Action Plan. She served on Denver’s Climate Action Task Force (2019-2020).
Sandra Stenmark is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at University of Colorado School of Medicine. The HFDK Commission goals of improving access to nutritious food and nutrition education align with her work as a pediatrician of 40 years. She directed the Kaiser Permanente Pediatric Obesity Prevention and Treatment program, which linked pregnant women and families to both nutritional education and nutrition resources, including federal nutrition assistance programs. Other relevant clinical work was improving food security through the lifespan. Sandra has presented at state and national conferences on the role of health systems in improving nutritious food access, diet quality and food systems. In addition to clinical interventions, Sandra has advocated and testified for state and national policies which promote nutritious food access and health equity. Sandra considers it an honor to work with other Commission and community members on advancing the goals of the HFDK initiative.
Shelby Miller leads the nutrition education and scientific affairs work of Natural Grocers. Much of her time is spent on researching the latest nutrition science publications and transforming them into educational materials for Natural Grocers' nutrition professionals, employees, and communities. She also uses this information to inform quality standards decisions. Shelby graduated from Iowa State University with both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Dietetics and Exercise Science. Her graduate research concerned the influence of gut bacteria on pediatric obesity. When not working, you can find Shelby curled up with a sci-fi/fantasy book or walking her dog.
Susan M. Gallo, Ph.D., is the Director of Health Initiatives for the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs. She oversees the Tasty Food program, which address a major goal of the City—that all children access nutritious meals. Annually, these programs serve between 150,000 to 175,000 meals. In addition, she addresses other health policy issues critical to the success of Denver’s children, including transportation, mental health, safe water and tobacco control. Dr. Gallo received her A.B. degree in Psychology from Stanford University and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She completed her Pre-doctoral Fellowship at the Ann Arbor Veterans’ Administration Medical Center and her Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Departments of Family Practice and Psychiatry at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. She is married and has two teenagers who help guide her work so that all children and youth in Denver receive the health and nutrition supports essential to them becoming thriving adults.
The HFDK Commission currently has one vacant seat that will be filled as part of the 2021 new member application process.