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.
Derek 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.
Ms. 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. Her passion for community engagement and serving others has led to a more than 18-year career at the HRCP, where she has keenly focused on immigration integration strategies and helping to make Denver a welcoming place for all residents. During her time in HRCP, she has also worked on gender equity, anti-poverty, and anti-racism issues, while reforming institutional and systemic barriers for marginalized populations.
Ms. Torres was appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2013 where she serves as board chair and chair of the finance & operations committee. She also serves on the Friends of DHA Board, the non-profit arm of DHA. She has previously served on the board of directors of Groundwork Denver, the Denver 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 was monumentally impacted by mentors in her life and returns that gift through service to Colorado Youth at Risk, Goodwill Industries and Girls Inc. of Metro Denver.
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 master’s 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. She was recognized by the Denver Public Library with the Lena L. Archuleta Community Service award in 2015, by the Denver Business Journal as one of Denver’s 40 under 40 in 2017 and honored by her alma mater, Colorado College, with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa in 2016.
Anthony Aragon is part of the Community Affairs team in the Agency. His community outreach efforts are focused on the LGBTQ & Latino(a) communities. He also serves as the Mayor’s LGBTQ Liaison and staffs the Denver LGBTQ Commission.
He previously served as Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s Director of Boards & Commissions where he managed over 130 different civic boards and commissions.Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Anthony worked for the State of Colorado as a member of Governor John Hickenlooper’s transition team and helped coordinate the Governor’s inaugural events. On January 11, 2011 he was named Chief of Staff to First Lady Helen Thorpe. Anthony also served as Governor John Hickenlooper’s GLBT Liaison.
Anthony is a Denver native and has been a proud member of Denver’s GLBT community for over 25 years. Anthony lives with his husband of almost 21 years, David Westman & their Spanish Water Dogs, Andale & Arriba in Stapleton.
A first-generation Coloradan and Denver native, María Corral is a proud daughter of immigrants from northern México. She has served the community working and volunteering in non-profits, education and labor. Her diverse set of skills include advocacy, building collaborative relationships, outreach, public relations and communications. María is a proud alumna of the University of Denver where she studied Law and Society and Communications and a fellow of the Latino Leadership Institute. She also serves as the co-chair of the University of Denver Latino Alumni Association.
Most recently, María served as the Communications Coordinator for the Service Employees International Union, (SEIU) Local 105, where she managed communication strategy for campaigns like Justice for Janitors seeking good jobs, safe working conditions, and fair wages.
María is a founding board member of the Colorado Organization of Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). For 18 years, COLOR has focused on building a movement of Latinas, their families and allies through leadership development, organizing and advocacy.
Outside of work, María shares her passion for social justice and civic engagement with her daughter, Iriana, a sophomore at the University of Redlands in California and member of the board of directors for GALS Inc., public college preparatory schools for girls and boys that encourage their students to become lifelong learners and leaders by integrating academics and personal development.
Kim 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.
Perla Gheiler’s experience and expertise span over 20 years as a marketing professional, providing strategic marketing guidance on behalf of companies such as The Graham Group Advertising Agency for Ford Motor Company and General Motors dealer association groups. Perla has worked at the local, regional, national and international levels for ad campaigns and media placement and has managed multimillion-dollar media budgets, working on large-scale national and international campaigns with events that included George Strait and Tim McGraw.
In April of 2016, Perla Gheiler began working with the City and County of Denver in the Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships as the Director on Aging for the Office on Aging. Perla’s role serves as the convener for our aging adults and the Mayor’s office. She also serves as the liaison for the Commission on Aging which advocates, empowers and monitors the rights and concerns for our older adults.
Perla Gheiler is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Denver with a B.A. in Communication. Through the National Hispana Leadership Institute, Perla attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and The Center for Creative Leadership and received the Executive Leadership Certification from Harvard.
Perla has been recognized by the Latina’s First Foundation as an Unsung Hero in 2016, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver as Corporate Advocate of the Year on behalf of American Family Insurance in 2007 and by the Mountain Region Black Economic Summit Women in Leadership in 2007.
Ms. Gheiler is the proud mother of her 8 year old son, Austin.
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.
Jessica Jorgensen currently serves as Data & Research Analyst for HRCP. Jessica brings eight 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 American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) which operates as a conduit between the AAPI community in Denver, HRCP, and the Office of the Mayor. DAAPIC aims to create awareness and visibility of the AAPI community to the community at large and works to respond to emerging APA community issues.
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.
Kaye Kavanagh has a singular focus on ensuring a complete count for the 2020 Census for the City and County of Denver. Kavanagh’s background is in survey research, data collection and analysis, program evaluation and community engagement. She has worked for nonprofits, a foundation, a state data center and the U.S. Census Bureau before arriving at the City and County of Denver.
Kaye is proud to have chosen Colorado as her home in the late 1990s after earning Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from North Dakota State University. She lives in west Denver with her husband and two sons and is an active volunteer in her neighborhood association and at the Denver Animal Shelter. S
Lorrie 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.
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.
A Denver native, Grace López Ramírez has been advocating for underrepresented communities for over 15 years, the last 10 of which have been in the Denver Metro area. Prior to returning to Denver, Grace worked on issues like diversity in the newsroom; engaging the community as an appointee of the Governor of Puerto Rico; press advance on a national presidential campaign; and fighting for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) on behalf of a federation of 100 Hispanic non-profits in the northeast.
As a bilingual advocate for civic engagement, Grace ran a non-partisan voting campaign Colorado Mi Familia Vota through 2 presidential election cycles, successfully turning out over 75,000 low propensity Colorado Latino voters across 3 counties.
A veteran political communications strategist with experience at the State Capitol, Grace has worked on social justice issue and candidate campaigns in Denver and across the country and was a long time Outreach Chair, Vice Chair and Chair of ACCESO, the Spanish language advisory group to Denver elections. Grace has served on numerous community boards including the former Rights for All People, Emerge Colorado and as a Mayoral appointee to the Denver Latino Commission.
Three years ago, Grace moved over to work in City government, helping to open and establish Denver’s new Office of Special Events (OSE). Currently, Grace is a Mayoral Appointee serving as a Senior Advisor for Community Affairs within the Human Rights and Community Partnerships Agency. Grace’s role is to serve as the official city liaison for the 78 neighborhoods in Denver, their Registered Neighborhood Organizations, Business Improvement Districts, community leaders and key stakeholders connecting community with our government.
Juan Pasillas serves as an Associate ADA Plans Reviewer. Juan graduated from Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colorado and has a Technical Degree in Architectural Design/Cad from C.U.-Denver/Community College of Denver. Prior to joining the City and County of Denver, Juan had worked for over 24+ years on many Commercial/Residential projects throughout the State of Colorado and across the country.
Miriam 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.
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 former 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.
Jay 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.
Dr. 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).
Darius 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:
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.
Lorelei Sommers is the Contract Compliance Coordinator with the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships. After spending more than a decade working with special trades service companies in contract development, Lorelei found a home with the City and County of Denver. Lorelei started her career with the City, at Denver International Airport (DEN) working with the Operations & Maintenance Contract Services group. She devoted 4 years to process improvement and contract management. She is a proud mother to her 15-year-old daughter. Together they spend time volunteering in a variety of community service projects, including work in homeless shelters.
Linda Eddy serves as Project Inspector for the Office of Disability Rights for the City and County of Denver, Colorado. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Colorado and is a licensed Architect in the State of Colorado.
Linda comes to the City and County of Denver most recently after working in the Middle East as Design Manager for Abu Dhabi Airports Company. Areas of expertise include architectural facility and site review as it pertains to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Universal Design. Previously Linda worked for the City of Denver as a Plans Reviewer for the Office of Disability Rights.
The Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships
Webb Municipal Building, 2nd Floor
201 W. Colfax Avenue, Dept. 1102
Denver, Colorado 80202
Denver 311 Help Center Call 3-1-1
Outside Denver Call 720-913-1311
TTY Service: 720-913-8479