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About Human Rights & Community Partnerships

The agency of Human Rights & Community Partnerships is the umbrella agency for eight distinct offices that envision a unified city where capacities and partnerships have been built and leaders from city governments and all corners of our community are empowered and supported. This agency creates opportunities for innovation to take root in local government and throughout the community to impact local challenges. HRCP is the model of inclusiveness, recognizing that diverse perspectives, skills and resources strengthen the foundation for lasting solutions.

Our mission is to proactively protect human rights, build capacities, and strengthen connections that result in stronger relationships in the community through collaboration, communication and advocacy. We address issues concerning older adults, racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and families, people with disabilities, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, immigrants and refugees, neighborhood partnerships, and non-profit partnerships.

Staff Biographies

Derek OkuboDerek Okubo is a Colorado native and was raised in Littleton, Colorado graduating from Arapahoe High School. Derek then attended the University of Northern Colorado and graduated with a degree in Psychology and double minors in Communications and Sociology.

Derek was hired by Big Brothers of Metropolitan Denver as the services coordinator for Denver County. Three years later, Derek started the Big Brothers High School Program where he utilized high school students as mentors and tutors to the children on the waiting list.  Derek was appointed Governor Roy Romer’s staff as a community liaison to northeast Colorado. A few years later, Derek was hired by the National Civic League (NCL, the nation’s oldest “good government” organization) as the Assistant Director of Community Services. Through July 2011, Derek rose through the NCL ranks becoming the Senior Vice President where he oversaw NCL’s projects and programs.

In July 2011, Derek was appointed Executive Director of the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships by Mayor Michael B. Hancock. In this role, Derek oversees eight offices and 10 mayoral appointed commissions. The agency acts as a conduit of communication and convener of problem solving among local government, non-profits, businesses and residents.

Jamie TorresMs. Jamie Torres serves as Deputy Director for the Mayors’ Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships (HRCP) and Director, Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs.  In this position Ms. Torres coordinates city-wide immigrant and refugee integration efforts.  In addition, she provides staff support to the Denver Immigrant & Refugee Commission and Agency Advisory Board promoting collaborative opportunities and dynamic community engagement.

Ms. Torres is a member of the Board of Directors of Groundwork Denver and was appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Denver Housing Authority by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2013 where she serves as Board Treasurer and Chair of the Finance & Operations Committee.  She has recently joined the board of Denver Community Ventures, the non-profit arm of the Denver Housing Authority. She has previously served as Board Chair for the Denver Election ACCESO Spanish Language Voter Advisory Board within the Denver Clerk and Recorders Office, KUVO Radio/Rocky Mountain PBS, Denver Sister Cities International and the Denver Center for Crime Victims.

Ms. Torres is a native of Denver, born and raised in Villa Park, a neighborhood of West Denver. She received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from the Colorado College and her masters degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Denver.  She is a member of the 2011 class of Leadership Denver and was a 2009 Marshall Memorial Fellow.

Dr. Aisha Rousseau serves as the Director of the Office of Disability Rights for the City and County of Denver, Colorado. She earned a B.A. from Spelman College; a M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University; and a Ph.D. in Health Related Sciences from the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and an elected Board Member of the National Council of Rehabilitation Educators.

Aisha comes to the City and County of Denver most recently after serving several years as a professor at the University of Arizona. She has authored a number of peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and continues to write and conduct research pertaining to the intersection of disability, gender, and multicultural issues as well as minority women living with HIV/AIDS. She has extensive experience with Disability Rights and compliance toward the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Her former clinical experiences include serving as the first ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Coordinator for the Richmond, Virginia Public Schools as well as a vocational rehabilitation specialist in private and public sectors. 

Amanda GreggAmanda Gregg is the Director for the Office on Aging. She comes to the City and County of Denver with 6+ years of experience in the Nonprofit Sector, previously working as the Division Director of Volunteer Services for Volunteers of America.  Amanda possesses her Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University and graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver with her Bachelor’s in Sociology.  During her time at Volunteers of America, Amanda served as the Secretary for the Denver Commission on Aging for 4 years and enjoyed the opportunity to advocate and make Denver a better place to age.  In her career, Amanda has had the privilege to work with seniors through providing direct service, service oversight and advocacy.  Amanda is passionate about building safe communities and improving necessary services to promote growth and change for social justice, especially for the aging population in the community.

Darius Lee SmithDarius Lee Smith (Navajo/Black) is the Director of the Denver Anti-Discrimination Office where he investigates, conducts administrative hearings and mediates civil rights discrimination complaints in accordance with Revised Municipal Code of the City and County of Denver [Chapter 28, Article IV, § 28-91, et seq.]. Darius’ high resolution and satisfaction rate is a result of his ability to apply Indigenous “peacemaking” principles based in respect for all parties, inclusion of culturally responsive perspectives, and the belief that all parties have the potential to reach common ground in a non-adversarial manner.

Darius also serves as the American Indian Liaison to the Denver American Indian Commission that promotes communications between the Denver American Indian Community and the City and County of Denver advocating for social and cultural awareness to promote economic and political equality. Darius has served the American Indian community since 1992 as the Director of Indian Education for Denver Public Schools (DPS), National Director of the Native Peoples’ Initiative for Habitat for Humanity International, Board Member of the several local nonprofits, including the Denver Indian Center, Colorado Indian Education Foundation and the Stronghold Society. 

Darius conducts many community outreach efforts including as a founding committee member of the annual Pathways to Respecting American Indian Civil Rights Annual Conference attended by local and national civil rights experts, activists and students.  Recognized for his service to the community, Darius has received various honors and awards including being selected for the American for Indian Opportunity-AIO Ambassadors Program, awarded a Denver Mayoral Proclamation declaring July 1, 1999 as “Darius Lee Smith Day,” and selected as a 2002 Colorado Trust & American Marshall Memorial Fellow.

An adjunct faculty member of the University of Colorado Denver in the Ethnic Studies Department on the topic of Indigenous Studies, Darius is a respected and in-demand speaker. He has published the following educational materials and papers:

  • The Dine’- The Navajo Nation, a graduate level course for Regis University.
  • Sports Warrior™ - A Physical Education Challenge Program, for the Native American Sports Council, (was taught in five New Mexico tribal/pueblo communities).
  • American Indian Mascot: Hype, Insult, or Ignorance, a high school level unit-of-study for the Denver Public Schools-Alma Project.
  • NAIG: Increasing American Indian Participation, a post-conference essay submission for the 2002 North American Indigenous Games Research Symposium “Proceedings".

Additionally, Darius speaks nationally on the topic of American Indian as Mascots and the negative effects it has on the self-esteem and self-determination of Native people.

A life-long runner, Darius is also a Denver Native and a graduate of Montbello High School. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Azusa Pacific University and his Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis University.

Debra Gomez is the Operational Coordinator for the Office of Disability Rights. Debra is a Denver native. She earned a Bachelors of Art in Interdivisional Studies: Sociology, Psychology, English and Business from Regis University.  She has 32 years of law enforcement experience and is a retired Police Chief and Law Enforcement Academy Director.  She has been married for 28 years and has 3 grown sons.  She has been an employee with the Denver’s Public Works Right of Way Enforcement Department since 2010. While there she was the liaison to the Disability Rights DPEP program and handled initiatives for improving education and enforcement of handicap parking issues.  She recently was appointed Operational Coordinator for Disability Rights.   She is a Peak Performance Black Belt – Cohort 9 graduate.  She served on Governor Owens’s appointed Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

Emily Sumner

Emily earned her B.B.A. in Accounting in 2010 from Loyola University of Chicago.  After working in Public Accounting, she traveled to Mobile, Alabama for a year-long volunteer program.  Her experience in the program as a caseworker in social services catalyzed her decision to pursue a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work, focusing on community & organizational leadership.  After interning at HRCP during school, Emily joined the team upon the completion of her degree.  She brings experience in grant writing, legislative tracking, policy research & analysis, and advocacy.  She is interested in combining research & engagement of all stakeholders to promote informed anti-oppressive policy solutions that benefit individuals, families, and communities.

Jason SalasJay Salas is the director of the Office of Financial Empowerment, charged with the development and integration of financial coaching services, in to the existing City of Denver social and supportive services.  Jay has spent numerous years working and volunteering in the community as an advocate for human rights and the advancement of low income communities.  He comes from a family of public school educators and community advocates and, like them, is passionate about education and community.  For the past eighteen-plus years Jay has been the Co-President and Co-CEO of three successful apparel companies with headquarters here in Denver: JC Apparel Industries, Chingaso Gear, Inc., and Suavecito Apparel Co.  Jay has been featured in the New York Times style section, Westword magazine, CNN Money, Elle magazine, and Fortune magazine for his business ventures.  While operating as a business owner, he made time to volunteer many hours consulting, grant writing and working on community projects and serving on non-profit boards.

Prior to entering into the haberdashery business, Jay was intimately involved in serving disenfranchised people here in Colorado and New Mexico.  Jay has extensive experience working with children and families in array of settings and topics to include, mental health, domestic violence, drug and alcohol counseling, in school educational programs, environmental justice, and economic and job development.  Jay has worked for non-profits such as Escuela Tlatelolco, Servicios de La Raza, NEWSED Community Development Corporation, and Santa Fe Redevelopment Corporation.  Jay was also the Program Manager for an environmental justice program Vasquez Boulevard/I-70 Community Health and Cleanup for the Denver Department of Environmental Health.  Successful completion of that project and national recognition for work in the community in environmental justice was a springboard for serving as the Program Manager for West Denver CARES grant through the EPA.  Under this project, Jay with his team, was successful in leveraging grant dollars and developing a thriving community partnership to include:  non-profits, city, state, and federal partners, neighborhood organizations, foundations, and informal community helpers.

Jessica JorgensenJessica Jorgensen currently serves as Special Projects Coordinator for HRCP. Jessica brings six years of quantitative and qualitative analysis to her current position. Jessica has a passion for using data and research to make informed policy decisions which have a lasting impact on the community. In her current position she researches and analyzes various topics including but not limited to, civic engagement, inclusivity and performance metrics.

Jessica also acts as Staff Liaison to the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission (DAPAC) which operates as a conduit between the APA community in Denver, HRCP, and the Office of the Mayor. DAPAC aims to create awareness and visibility of the APA community to the community at large and works to respond to emerging APA community issues pertaining to youth, jobs, health, and cultural integration.

Jessica began her professional career as an appointee with former Denver Mayor Hickenlooper’s administration. She spent four years serving under three different Mayors providing scheduling and administrative assistance for various senior staff members. During her last year at the Mayor’s Office, Jessica had the opportunity to work with the community affairs team on multiple community focused projects and meetings, which is where she discovered the importance of and her love of community engagement and capacity building.

Jessica received her master’s degree in public policy and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Denver.

Jessica is a Colorado native, born and raised in Pueblo. She greatly enjoys the outdoors and can be found hiking trails all over Colorado in the summer. Once winter comes, she trades in her hiking boots for snowshoes.

Kathleen Martin serves as the Plans Review Tech for the Office of Disability Rights for the City and County of Denver. She earned her Associates Degree in Architectural Drafting and Design. She completed her Masters of Business Administration at Regis University in 2011. She has over 15 years of experience in GIS and the Architectural/Engineering/Construction industry. She has experience in grant management, project management, community outreach, and teaching.

In her current role, Kathleen reviews construction documents, project specifications, and plans for completeness and general code compliance for ADA and accessibility requirements. She attends concept meetings with City personnel and builders to clarify decisions and perspectives regarding ADA. Kathy also works closely with various City departments, developers and architects to incorporate accessibility and/or Universal Design criteria.

Ken SeeleyDr. Ken Seeley serves as a collaboration and evaluation specialist for the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships of the City of Denver.  Prior to his work with the City he served for 20 years as the President and CEO of the Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, the non-profit partner to five state agencies. He is an experienced educator, researcher and cross system leader having extensive background with at risk children and youth in early childhood, juvenile justice, mental health, and public schools. When he served as principal of the Laboratory School at the University of Northern Colorado, he was also a professor of education at UNC. Ken was a tenured faculty member at the University of Denver, College Of Education in the areas of Education Leadership and research design. He has broad cross system policy experience as a policy analyst and consultant for the Center for Study of Social Policy in Washington, and many foundations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Colorado Trust and the Piton Foundation.  He currently serves on the boards of the Colorado Association for School Based Health Centers, Qualistar Early Learning, and the Advisory Board for Sesame Street Workshop (NYC).

Kim DesmondKim Desmond is the Director of the Office on Women and Families. Kim is a Denver native who attended Manual High School. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Masters Degree in Community Counseling from Fort Hays State University.  In 2010, Kim was accepted into the Buell Early Childhood Leadership program at the University of Denver, where she received an Early Childhood Leadership certification and a Master’s in Education Administration from the University of Denver. She has several years of experience in the education field delivering services to parents/children in various capacities, which include management of program operations, case management, and strategic planning/implementation.

Kim’s passion consist of working with underserved populations to eliminate barriers to employment, health care, education, housing, and access to an overall quality of life.  In the past she has worked for the Denver Housing Authority as a Youth/Adult program coordinator; Clayton Educare as a Center Based Coordinator and Lead Child Family Educator; OpenWorld Learning as a Multi-Site Director. Kim’s hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and playing basketball.

Linda Keenan is the Office Manager for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships. Her primary responsibility is providing administrative support to the entire agency.

Linda has been with the agency for over eight years. Her educational background consists of three years of Undergraduate work on a Degree in Human Services, Paralegal Courses, a Certificate in Mediation and a wide variety of trainings and workshops on Civil Rights Law.

Lorrie KosinskiLorrie A. Kosinski is a nationally certified interpreter with a specialist certificate in legal interpreting (SC:L), and is the Director for the Office of Sign Language Services & Resources for the City & County of Denver. For the past 20+ years, Lorrie has been passionately working to ensure access to Denver’s programs, services, and events for people who are deaf or hard of hearing by providing sign language interpreting services; scheduling CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation); engaging the deaf and hard of hearing communities to assist in providing training and education to City agencies, including 911, Police, and Sheriff Academies on interpreter, communication access, and deafness-related matters. Lorrie also networks within the Deaf community to encourage involvement in local government as well as to provide support for Deaf community events; and provides information and referral to the citizens throughout the Denver Metro area.

Lorrie serves as an interpreter representative to the Legal Auxiliary Services Advisory Council for the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Chairperson for the Legal Interpreting Committee, Colorado Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; and an interpreter mentor & workshop presenter. She holds a BA in Mass Communications; a Master’s level Certificate as a Master Mentor for Sign Language Interpreters; and is a certified member of the Leadership Network of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center.

Megan DavenportMegan Devenport is the Denver Shared Spaces Program Manager. She is a community social worker with 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.  As Program Manager, Megan provides program planning, management and logistical support to Denver Shared Spaces as the project continues to expand its work to create and optimize mission-driven shared spaces.  Her position is a public-private partnership between DOSP and the Urban Land Conservancy.  Prior to her current position, Megan worked in nonprofit behavioral healthcare, providing counseling services to young people and their families.  Due in large part to her diverse background and training, Megan approaches her work with a lens toward social justice, inclusivity and diverse stakeholder engagement.

Megan received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver and her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign.

Michael Sapp is the Deputy Director of Community Affairs in Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s office. Michael serves as a Mayoral Appointee and advises registered neighborhood organizations on governmental and legislative issues that impact their neighborhood. In addition, he represents such organizations before administrative, regulatory, and land use bodies at state and local agencies. 

Michael’s greatest strengths are his compassion for people, work ethic, integrity and leadership. He focuses on building long-term relationships with community organizations, government agencies, and elected officials.

He thrives on challenges, particularly in delivering Mayor Hancock’s vision and strategic plan for neighborhoods.  He helps neighborhoods to develop and implement comprehensive strategies such as, beautification, safety, infrastructure, and public-private partnerships. 

Michael also is known for his work on local campaigns. Since 2009, he has worked on two successful mayoral campaigns in Atlanta, GA and Denver, CO. In that role he was responsible for the training and development of field organizers. He executed and organized initiatives to increase voter turnout in disconnected communities. 

Michael holds a bachelors degree in Political Science from Morehouse College, Atlanta GA. Michael began his career as an intern for then-Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock and former United States Senator Ken Salazar. He currently serves on the Metro Denver Crime Stoppers board. Michael also serves on the Golden Triangle Neighborhood Association board. 

Michael loves to travel, read, and spend quality time with family and friends. 

 

Miriam PeñaMiriam Peña is the Director of the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships. Her role as city liaison to the non-profit sector involves development and delivery of training and technical assistance to better connect government and community; managing DOSP’s community collaborative work; leading DOSP’s nonprofit capital support projects; and overseeing the office’s energy efficiency priorities. Miriam’s role at DOSP allows her to work cross-sector bringing together private, public and nonprofit sector to engage on collaborative projects to make Denver a better place to live, in addition to providing general support to the 3,000 nonprofits connected to DOSP. 

Miriam began her nonprofit career as an intern 11 years ago at the Colorado Progressive Coalition, a public policy advocacy nonprofit. By the time she left the organization last spring, she had held every position in the organization including grassroots fundraising coordinator and development director before her promotion to Executive Director in 2010. Miriam became the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, having studied Public Policy and Communications at the University of Denver. She is currently pursuing an MBA from the Olin Business School of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to her work at CPC, she has served in various leadership positions on numerous nonprofit boards locally including Metro Denver Partners, New Era Colorado, Rights for all People, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, El Centro Humanitario (Humanitarian Center for Day Laborers), and nationally with the Alliance for a Just Society.  She co-hosts a weekly radio talk show, “Weekend Wisdom” in Denver and was appointed to the Denver Women’s Commission as chair of the Public Policy committee where she served for a year. In August of 2013, she became the foster mother to her three nieces.

Shawn DeBerry Johnson spent her childhood in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. During a 10 year professional modeling career, Shawn entered the United States Army where she served our country as a Petroleum Supply Specialist where she refueled military aircraft and set down portable pipeline, and is now an honored veteran. Shawn attended Colorado Christian University, where she majored in Christian Leadership and Communications with a minor in Business Administration. She also attended Global Change Network, School of Christian Vocational Training where she received her ordination.

Shawn served as Diversity Councilwoman for Kaiser Permanente and Community Coordinator for the Denver Rescue Mission, Mayor’s Clergy Council, the Governor’s Council and the Denver Leadership Foundation. And now serves in an appointed position, as Director of Community Affairs for Mayor Michael B. Hancock. She also serves as a commissioner for Denver Human Services. As the founder and servant leader of the non-profit, Pool of Bethesda Outreach Ministries, she provides services to the homeless, less fortunate and those in need.

 

As a motivational speaker, Shawn has been invited to speak for high school students, Young Life leader’s conferences and participate in youth and adult mentoring groups, and serve as a Community Leader and Facilitator for the Annual EspeciallyMe Conference for African American teen girls.

Shawn is the recipient of numerous commendations and appointments. A 2010 recipient of The Kaleidoscope Project’s African American Leadership Award and a 2011 Nominee for the Women of Hope Award, Shawn has served on several boards and steering committees including Tumaini Ministries (an Orphanage in Kenya), the Commission on Homelessness (an appointment by Governor John Hickenlooper), Denver Exploratory Committee in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Street Psalms Leadership Group. 

Swanhilda Lily was born in San Diego, CA and graduated from Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington D.C. in 1992. 

She received her BA in American Sign Language from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. in 2015 and began work on her Masters in Sign Language Education soon after. 

Her experience in research, development, teaching, presenting, sign language education, and Deaf and American Sign Language (ASL) advocacy makes Swanhilda a perfect fit for the new position of Deaf Programs Specialist with HRCP. 

 
Contact Us

The Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships

Webb Municipal Building, 2nd Floor
201 W. Colfax Avenue, Dept. 1102

Denver, Colorado 80202
Main: 720-913-8450
TTY:  720-913-8475
Fax:  720-913-8470

 

Office Hours:
8:00a.m.-5:00p.m.


Denver 311 Help Center Call 3-1-1
Outside Denver Call (720)913-1311
Emergencies: 911 
TTY Service: 720-913-8479