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.
Rowena Alegría is HRCP's Communications Director and Chief Storyteller for the City & County of Denver, founder and director of the new citywide storytelling project I Am Denver. She is a 2019 Jack Jones Literary Arts Fellow, a 2019 Vermont Studio Center Fellow and a 2018 Writing by Writers Fellow. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. A career journalist, communications executive and speech writer, she is writing a novel that plays with form and the history of the Southwest.
Jessica is a Learning and Development Specialist for the Denver Office of Equity and Social Innovation (OESI). She is charged with supporting the Race and Social Justice Initiative by partnering with city departments to develop customized plans to promote equitable outcomes across the city’s workforce. Specifically, her duties include, facilitating trainings on racial equity and inclusion, designing curriculum content to contextualize historic oppression, systemic racism, and implicit/explicit biases to prepare city employees with innovative approaches to creating equitable city policies, initiatives, budgets, and programs.
Jessica grew up in Colorado. She spent the past 15 years in the City and County of Denver. First, working with families with children at risk of abuse and neglect as a Child Protection Caseworker. As a Family Engagement Facilitator, she facilitated multidisciplinary meetings with families, community, attorneys, Guardian’s Ad Litem, medical providers to promote healthy family outcomes. Jessica has experience in Program Development and helped to create a training program for Child Welfare Caseworkers. In this past position, Jessica’s leadership roles included being a Supervisor, Trainer, and Coach for child welfare staff and serving on various committees related to child welfare in Colorado.
Jessica has a passion for working with communities of color, First Nations people, and historically marginalized groups to provide advocacy, access to resources, problem solving, and innovative strategies to facilitate change. That passion extends to servant leadership and coaching staff that serve these populations to promote a healthy parallel process. Jessica has a certification in Secondary Trauma and has created a two-day workshop for professionals working in fields of traumatic impact. She also facilitates for the Colorado Child Welfare Training System. Jessica is an Associate Professional Coach and has served as a board member for the Sara Brown Memorial Fund which provides small grants of assistance to Denver’s most vulnerable populations.
Jessica received her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and her Master of Social Work from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Hobbies include travel, running and spending time with family and friends.
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 Equity and Social Innovation. 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 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.
Will Flowers is the ADA Coordinator for the Division of Disability Rights and the Staff Liaison for the Denver Commission for People with Disabilities. He holds a BA in British and American Languages and Literature from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Will’s career began in higher education, first at UNCW as a graduate teaching assistant, then the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he worked in the Office of Equity and Diversity, the principal administrative office charged with investigating internal grievances related to civil rights and protected statuses. Will then took a position with the Student Success Center at UT Martin, where he coordinated high stakes standardized testing and services for students with disabilities, in addition to teaching English composition and creative writing courses as an adjunct faculty member in the English Department.
Will moved to Colorado to work for the Community College of Aurora, where he served as the Director of the Office of Disability and Equity, a role that oversaw the interactive process for accommodating students with disabilities, including sign language interpreting, assistive technology solutions, and ADA compliance training for the campus community. Will also contributed to multiple strategic initiatives related to accreditation and assessment, student mental health, and incorporating disability access in campus inclusion efforts. He is a trained civil rights complaint investigator, and is passionate about access and inclusion. As ADA Coordinator, Will is dedicated to supporting the City and County of Denver and furthering the mission of the HRCP and Division of Disability Rights.
Ms. Garcia is the Program Navigator for DenverConnect in the Office of Aging. She manages the new DenverConnect mobile resource unit to provide necessary information and services through the city and community resources that enables older adults – regardless of ability, health or income – to age in place with dignity and respect and to thrive and contribute in our community.
Prior experience includes Denver Health Medical Center Government and Community Affairs, MillerCoors Diversity-Inclusion and Corporate Social Responsibility leadership positions.
She was honored in September 2017 with the Denver Latino Library Lena Archuleta Community Service Award. Other notable honors include the Athena Award from the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce, Businesswoman of the Year and Corporate Advocate of the Year from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver, Latin American Educational Foundation Corporate Advocate of the Year and the Latina Leadership Foundation’s Unsung Heroine award.
Ms. Garcia serves as a board director of Scholars Unlimited, a trustee of Museo de las Americas. She earned a BA from CU Boulder and a master’s degree from Denver University.
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.
Brandon Gibson is the Navigation Supervisor for the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection where his work is dedicated to the newly established arm of the Office, the Consumer Financial Protection Division where he leads the charge on the development and roll-out of a new, cross-functional and multi-faceted complaint intake system as the team’s first prototype Navigator.
With more than 15 years of experience in exemplary customer service and case management, Brandon joined the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection to bring his expertise in advocacy, team collaboration and community engagement to empower and support Denver’s residents. Brandon is a Colorado native who loves the outdoors and spending time with his family.
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.
Ron Ojeda is the manager of the Consumer Financial Protection Division (CFPD) within the City and County of Denver’s Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection. He is charged with the development of this new Division to provide a hub for resident complaints on Denver-centric issues like wage theft, fair lending and fair housing. Additionally, he is responsible for policy development that provides protection of residents who fall victim to predatory practices of a financial nature.
Ron comes to the City of Denver after 30 years in the financial services industry where he served in the roles of Senior Vice President, Regional Manager and Vice President of Trust and Investment Management bank divisions. As a licensed financial advisor and hedge fund general partner, his transition to his current role was derived from his passionate work with victims of Elder Financial Abuse in financial services.
Ron has successfully created a coalition of more than 60 government agencies and nonprofit organizations including the Colorado Attorney General’s office, Denver District Attorney, Department of Regulatory Agencies, Denver Police Department, Bell Policy Center and Toward’s Justice to coordinate resources and best practices to assist victims of consumer financial fraud. In partnership with the Office of Financial Empowerment team he has successfully leveraged grant dollars to develop thriving community partnerships with nonprofits; city, state and federal partners; neighborhood organizations; foundations; and other community supporters.
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.
Marcia Romero is a seasoned marketing and communications leader with more than 20 years of experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors where she has led high-profile communications programs, projects and campaigns. She leads the strategic marketing and communications efforts for the OFEP with an emphasis in community affairs and stakeholder relationships. Prior to joining the City of Denver, Marcia led Denver-based, CoBiz Financial’s multi-million-dollar corporate social responsibility platform focusing on CRA and community investment.
A native of Denver, she is a dedicated volunteer in the community with a deep-rooted passion for the organizations she is involved in. She currently serves on the boards for LAEF (Latin American Educational Foundation), the Advisory Board of the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Denver, Latinas First Foundation, the Executive Leadership Team of the American Heart Association and Fiesta Colorado Dance Company – both as a board member and company dancer. She is most proud of balancing a successful career with her love of dance as a professional lifetime performing artist for the past 25 years.
Marcia is an alumna of the highly acclaimed Latino Leadership Institute at the University of Denver, where she continues to give back and support the Institute as a volunteer. She is a graduate of the Hispanic Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Development Program and holds a degree from the University of Denver with a BSBA in International Business and a minor in Spanish. Her educational and personal experiences have taken her from a study abroad at Mexico City’s National Autonomous University to serving as a renowned member of the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders during the Denver Super Bowl years in the late ‘90s.
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 a large metropolitan school district as well as a vocational rehabilitation specialist in private and public sectors.
Jay Salas is the director of the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection, charged with the development and integration of financial coaching services into 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 who instilled in him his deep-rooted passion for education and community.
For more than 20 years, Jay has served as the Co-President and Co-CEO of three successful apparel companies headquartered in Denver: JC Apparel Industries, Chingaso Gear, Inc. and Suavecito Apparel Co. He 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 has dedicated many volunteer hours to consulting, grant writing and working on collaborative community projects and serving on nonprofit boards.
Prior to joining the haberdashery business, Jay was intimately involved in serving disenfranchised people in Colorado and New Mexico. He has extensive experience working with children and families in the areas of mental health, domestic violence, drug/alcohol counseling, in-school educational programs, environmental justice, and economic/job development.
Additionally, Jay has worked for nonprofit organizations, Escuela Tlatelolco, Servicios de La Raza, NEWSED Community Development Corporation and Santa Fe Redevelopment Corporation. He served as the Program Manager for environmental justice program, Vasquez Boulevard/I-70 Community Health and Cleanup for the Denver Department of Environmental Health. Successful completion of that project led to national recognition in the environmental justice arena that became a springboard to a role as Program Manager for West Denver CARES grant through the EPA. Under this project, in partnership with his team, Jay successfully leveraged grant dollars to develop thriving community partnerships with: nonprofits; city, state, and federal partners; neighborhood organizations; foundations; and other community supporters.
Vanessa serves as the Regional Coordinator for Cities for Action (C4A), a national coalition of over 200 cities and counties working to advance pro-immigrant legislation by creating and implementing programming on the local level. Vanessa is charged with building the coalition’s membership throughout the Rocky Mountain region, as well as supporting outreach and policy implementation efforts.
Vanessa was led to a career in immigrant and refugee affairs early on by her experiences growing up in a mixed-status family in rural Oregon. She is deeply committed to the advancement of immigrant and refugee rights and brings a breadth of experience from her decade of work with immigrant communities to her position.
Vanessa’s dedication to this work took her to the southern border in 2015 to start a legal volunteer program with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for detained mothers and children seeking asylum. Her work was recognized nationally when she was awarded the AILA Michael Maggio Pro Bono Award and the Oregon AILA Immigrant Achievement Award in 2015. Following her work on the border, Vanessa helped launch the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Most recently, Vanessa was the Pro Bono Program Coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network where she recruited and supervised attorneys representing children, families, and detained adults in immigration proceedings. She holds a master’s degree in Migration Studies and a bachelor's degree in Social Work.
Vanessa has been a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care and is currently a mentor with Denver Kids Inc. She is also a founding board member of the Colorado Asylum Center, an organization working to protect the rights of asylum seekers. Outside of work, Vanessa enjoys the outdoors and spends as much time as she can in the mountains.
Dr. Ken Seeley serves as a collaboration and evaluation specialist for the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships of the City of Denver and the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection. 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, a nonprofit partnership with five Colorado state agencies. He is a researcher and cross system leader with an extensive background with at-risk and vulnerable populations.
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 social 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. Additionally, he has served as senior evaluation consultant to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Mayors Challenge and as a senior evaluation consultant to the One Community Pueblo Colorado.
Kaylie is a Colorado native, born and raised in Boulder Colorado. Upon graduating from Boulder High School, Kaylie remained in Colorado for her undergraduate degree and studied Anthropology and Economics at the University of Colorado. Kaylie was student on the Dean’s List, an active participant in various campus groups such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and an intern for the Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains cultural mentorship program.
In 2016, Kaylie graduated from the University of Colorado, and was hired by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) as a Housing Program Specialist. Kaylie held various roles with DHA, and ultimately served as the Healthy Living Program Coordinator overseeing the Healthy Living Initiative for the nationally recognized, mixed-income Mariposa housing development in West-Central Denver. In June 2019, Kaylie was hired on with the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships (HRCP). In her role with HRCP, Kaylie supports the Executive Director and all staff of the Agency, which houses 10 city offices and 10 Mayoral-appointed Commissions.
In her spare time, Kaylie enjoys all things Colorado; hiking, biking, snow-boarding, paddle-boarding, and tubing down the Boulder Creek. She is a singer and song-writer for fun, loves to catch a show at Red Rocks, and plays the piano, violin, and is learning to play the guitar.
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.
Alvin Tafoya is the Deputy Director for the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection with an extensive background in leadership and programmatic service delivery models. With more than 20 years of experience in Human Services, he joined the City of Denver in February 2019 from Jefferson County Human Services where he led and directed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that included: Parent Employment Project (COPEP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Long-Term Care, Responsible Fatherhood Program and Child Support Services.
He was recently appointed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis to serve on the state’s Child Support Commission to oversee child support guidelines and the examination of discretionary issues.
He is a passionate, dedicated and innovative leader who thrives to streamline a service delivery model for families and children so that they can realize their full potential and meet their definition of success. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his wife and four sons.