About

Photo of Human Services Staff

Partnering with the community to protect those in harm's way and help all people in need. 


 One in three people in Denver turn to us for support at all stages of life. Our employees help children, older adults, families, and individuals navigate social and economic pressures by connecting them to services and experts who support their overall well-being. Every day, our caring, trained professionals work with our community to protect those in harm’s way and help all people in need.

Our Strategic Vision

At Denver Human Services, we envision a healthy community where people are connected, supported, safe, and well. In collaboration with our community, clients, and workforce, we developed a strategic vision framework to guide our work over the next three years. Called Human Together, the framework outlines five strategic goals:

  1. Increasing equity and access
  2. Ensuring safety and wellness
  3. Improving connectivity
  4. Encouraging economic resilience
  5. Supporting our workforce

We invite you to review Human Together(PDF, 7MB) and partner with us in building well-being and resiliency for every child, adult, and senior in Denver.


Our Divisions

Denver Human Services is our city’s investment in the potential of its people. We serve our community through the following programs and divisions:

  • The Administration Division is responsible for the overall management of the department and includes the offices of the executive director and deputy managers.
  • Child Support Services is responsible for ensuring quality and timely child support services and resources.
  • Child Welfare is responsible for providing child protection services, adoption, and foster care resources, and advocacy for Denver youth and children.
  • Adult Protective Services provides protection services, resource, and advocacy for seniors.
  • The Community Outreach and Resource Engagement Division works with community partners to bring increased access to assistance, benefits, nutrition, and other wellness services to the neighborhoods that need it most. 
  • The Family and Adult Assistance Division is responsible for providing food, cash, and medical benefits assistance, as well as other help to Denver residents.
  • The Financial Services Division is responsible for providing timely and accurate financial services, contracting services, and fiscal management.
  • The Performance Improvement and Accountability Division oversees fraud investigations, internal audits, and Peak Performance improvement initiatives.

Our Leadership

Donald (Don) J. Mares, Executive Director

Don Mares photoFormerly the deputy mayor of the City and County of Denver in 2016 and 2020, Don Mares serves as executive director of Denver Human Services (DHS), which provides support to one in three Denver residents to help them build and maintain overall well-being. Under Mares’ leadership, DHS spearheaded a multi-agency effort to strengthen the child safety net for kids in danger by improving coordination between safety net agencies, overseeing the implementation of the Subcommittee for Child Safety into the Mayor’s Children’s Cabinet, and improving the agency’s outreach into communities with the formation of a new Community Impact division focused on community outreach, engagement, and charitable giving. 

Before appointing him to lead DHS in 2015, Mayor Michael B. Hancock tapped Mares to head the new Office of Behavioral Health Strategies in 2014. Denver was the first metropolitan city in the nation to establish an Office of Behavioral Health Strategies. Mares is also a founding member of the Caring for Denver Board of Directors, which is developing a strategic plan to identify priorities and distribute city funding to local organizations from the Mental and Behavioral Health Sales Tax.

 

Previously, Mares served as president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, the state’s leading behavioral health advocacy and systems change organization. He also served in Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.’s, cabinet as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. In addition, he was elected to two terms as Denver’s auditor from 1995 to 2003 and served as a Colorado state senator and Colorado state representative from 1989 to 1995.

 

Mares has received numerous awards for his work as a community leader, including his induction into the Denver Public Library Commission’s César Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame (2015), the Mental Health Corporation of Denver Outstanding Political Figure Award (1995), Labor’s Community Agency’s Community Service Award (1999), the Junior League Legislative Champion for Children Award (1996), and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Government Advocate of the Year Award (2000).

 

A Denver native, Mares and his wife, Ruth, live near Sloan’s Lake and have three children, Melissa, D.J., and Emily.

Jay Morein, Chief Operating Officer

emt_jaymorein_500x600.jpg Jay Morein serves as the chief operating officer at Denver Human Services, where he supports and advises the day-to-day workings of the department, including direct oversight of the assistance, protection and prevention, and support services sections, and works to ensure alignment of operations with our strategic goals. He served as the department’s chief of staff from 2015 to 2019.

Morein started his human services career in 1981 as the chief accountant for Denver Human Services. His role quickly expanded to include budget development and management, and later, he was appointed as the agency’s deputy executive director. In 2009, Morein assumed the role of director of finance and administration for the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services and in 2011, he was tapped by the Colorado Department of Human Services to serve as director of the Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes. In that position, Morein oversaw the $2.1 billion state human services budget, the audit division, the child welfare and food assistance quality assurance activities, and was instrumental in developing and implementing the statewide performance management system. Morein was deeply involved in the negotiation with the Administration for Children and Families for Colorado’s Title IV-E Waiver. On retiring from the State of Colorado, Morein was tapped by Casey Family Programs to consult with other states and tribes in their pursuit of Title IV-E waivers.

A Denver native, Morein and his wife June live in the Denver suburb of Parker and have four children—Rachel, LeAnne, Sarah, and Alex.


Judé Liguori-Oliver, Deputy Executive Director of Assistance

emt_judeligourioliver.jpg Judé Liguori-Oliver brings more than 30 years of experience serving Denver children and families to her work. As deputy executive director of assistance, she is responsible for overseeing both the Child Support Services and Family and Adult Assistance divisions. 

Previously, she served as director of the Child Support Services division, where she developed an engagement model for all levels of staff. Under her leadership, the division employed inclusive decision-making to expand outreach and education for non-custodial parents to help them meet their financial obligations, participate in their children’s lives and contribute to their well- being. 

Prior to that, she served as a child welfare administrator over the Child Protection Section and the BETA Section-integrated paired teams. In her leadership roles and as a prior trainer, she developed and supervised programs that increased collaboration with families and communities to achieve child safety, well-being and permanency. 

Liguori-Oliver has been invited to speak throughout Colorado and at national conferences on multiple issues affecting child welfare and community collaboration, as well as on innovative ways to change agency cultures. She holds both a master’s in administration with a concentration in social work and a bachelor’s in social work from West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

 

Mimi Scheuermann, Deputy Executive Director of Protection and Prevention

emt_mimischeuermann.jpg Mimi Scheuermann joined Denver Human Services in 2017 after serving for nearly 10 years with the Colorado Department of Human Services. As the state's child welfare training manager, she was responsible for trainings offered to caseworkers, supervisors and foster parents. Prior to that, she served as the ongoing child protective services administrator and provided direct, continuous, and as-needed support to all 64 county human services departments in Colorado. She was also responsible for training the Colorado state judicial staff on general casework practice, decision-making, and safety and risk assessments.

At Denver Human Services, Scheuermann leads the protection and prevention programs for vulnerable children, youth, families, and at-risk adults. She holds both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Patrice Hawkins, Deputy Executive Director of Community Impact and Strategic Planning

Don Mares photoPatrice Hawkins serves as the deputy executive director of community impact and strategic planning at Denver Human Services. In this role, she guides and directs our community impact, strategic planning, and marketing and communications efforts. 

Hawkins previously was deputy director of customer experience for our Community Outreach and Resource Engagement team, for which she led multiple outreach teams based at over 30 community partner sites throughout the Denver metro area. She supported the employment and training program, a complex care team that offers integrated behavioral health to DHS customers, and programs focused on removing barriers related to poverty, housing, and food security. She began her career at DHS in the Family and Adult Assistance Division (FAAD) and also served the City and County of Denver as a management analyst in the city’s budget office. 

Hawkins holds a master’s degree in social work from New York University, where she specialized in policy, advocacy, and juvenile justice. While in New York, Patrice was a Philanthropic Fellow with The New York Community Trust and supported projects at NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research such as data analysis for Queens Library New Americans Program, and was a teaching assistant for Social Work Policy Practice and Advocacy course in Washington, D.C. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa.

A self-described “social justice warrior,” Hawkins’ passion for working with youth is evident in her prior work with Americorps’ Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, where she supported a dropout prevention program for Denver youth. She currently serves as an adult commissioner on the Mayor’s Youth Commission. She also provided program evaluation for programs serving justice-involved youth for New York’s Good Shepherd Services.

Hawkins is an avid museum and concert goer and traveler, and equally enjoys Denver’s eclectic coffee scene, distance running, and listening to podcasts. 

Katie Smith, City Attorney, Director of Denver Human Services Legal Team

katie smith photo

With a career that began in public service, Katie’s experience includes advocating for homeless families, defending juveniles and adults in criminal proceedings, and representing the best interests of children as a guardian ad litem. For the past 18 years, Katie has provided legal counsel and representation to Denver Human Services. She served for 14 years as an attorney and supervisor in the child welfare legal unit, before being promoted in 2015 to Division Director of the Denver Human Services legal section. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Katie earned her juris doctor degree from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. Outside of the office, Katie enjoys time with her family and spending time in the great outdoors.

Kat Barker, Director of Human Resources

Photo of Katt Barker Kat joined the Denver Human Services management team in 2016. In her role, she provides strategic HR counsel on employee engagement and leads key initiatives in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources for the City and County of Denver. A proven leader in her field, Kat brings in-depth experience in all aspects of human resources, including leadership capability, organizational development, compensation administration, recruiting and retention, international HR, succession planning and preparing for demanding organizational situations. She has more than 20 years of progressive HR experience in a broad range of industries, including high-tech manufacturing, education, technology, telecom and semi-conductor. She holds a master’s in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, as well as her Senior Human Resources Professional certification.