The Denver African-American Commission (DAAC) is charged with advising the Mayor on issues and concerns that impact or are of importance to the African American community. DAAC serves as a bridge between the African American community and policy-makers and engage in responsible activism for the community:
DAAC is proud of Denver, its diversity and its commitment to providing the best atmosphere for all its citizens.
Denver African American Commission Meetings are held the 1st Wednesday of the month.
NOTE: DAAC's February meeting has been postponed to a later (TBD) date due to inclement weather.
Blair Caldwell Library (in the Community Room)
2401 Welton Street
*Committee meeting locations rotate monthly to various community organizations. Please see the Monthly Committee Meeting Schedule for locations.
Jeri Ajayi is the Director of Congregational Health Ministry (CHM), at the Inner City Health Center (ICHC) where she promotes positive life-changing behavior. ICHC offers screenings and health education to various undeserved groups throughout Denver with the goal of connecting underserved individuals and families with health-care providers.
Ajayi joined the Commission to promote equity for emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, spiritual, and social wellness for residents throughout Metro-Denver.
Outside of work, Jeri enjoys gardening, yoga, and bowling.
Bio coming soon
Barry is committed to helping others and positively impacting communities. He currently serves in the Mayor’s Office as the Director of Boards and Commissions for the City and County of Denver where he manages the appointment process for 130 Boards and Commissions and 1,200 Mayoral appointees. He is also a proud youth mentor, and former Chair and current appointee on the Denver African American Commission. In 2018, he was recognized by Denverite as one of Denver’s rising stars in politics.
Since moving to Denver in December of 2012, Barry has served as a 4th grade teacher; a fellow in the office of City Councilman Albus Brooks; Special Aide to the Mayor of Denver; and as a journalist for a conglomerate of news media sites where his articles reach more than one million viewers.
Genene Duran is currently enrolled at Ashford University in pursuit of her Ph.D. in Human Services with an anticipated completion date of July 2019. In addition, she is also a certified Mediator and have a certification in Public Relations as well.
Duran is the Assistant Director of Allied Health at the Community College of Aurora.
Genene joined the commission to provide a voice for underserved communities and affect positive change through leadership, strategic planning, relationships building, change management, community outreach and organizational training.
Dr. Vaneesha Dutra is an Associate Professor of finance with tenure at the University of Denver. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business (finance) from the University of Maryland College Park, an MBA at Loyola University, Maryland and matriculated at Florida State University where she earned a PhD in finance with a minor in econometrics and real estate. Her background includes both academic and corporate experience. Before obtaining a PhD, she worked in the high net worth group at T. Rowe Price and managed the cash reserves at a large regional bank in Maryland.
As a professor and active researcher, she writes and publishes academic papers of broad interest and is frequently interviewed by the mainstream press. She has been interviewed by outlets such as Channel 9 News and WalletHub, and her work is highly cited in the academic literature. Highly adept in the areas of equity markets, behavioral finance, and financial institutions, both domestic and international Professor Dutra also acts as a bank consultant in Brazil in areas of bank regulation and FINTECH.
Having taught financial concepts for over 12 years Dr. Dutra is highly skilled at making complex financial concepts easy to comprehend. Her passion lies in increasing the financial literacy of entire households, not just adults, in hopes that financial knowledge and prosperity will be passed down through generations.
Nathandra Fuller is a Lyft driver in the Denver metro area. Fuller joined the commission May 2017 to work with a group of like-minded individuals who want to have a positive impact on the community. She is excited help with DAAC’s mission of affecting change in the African American Community through policy evaluation and recommendations.
When Nathandra is not driving others around town, she enjoys reading, salsa dancing and singing.
Al Gardner is Vice President of Information Technology with Inspirato of American Express. In his role, he oversees Inspirato's technology initiatives, as well as IT changes and updates to all projects. As the senior technology executive for Inspirato he assesses IT systems, strategy, budgets and make decisions on investments and implementation of future technology.
Gardner joined DAAC out of an urge to utilize his talents and time to help improve and increase the overall economic, educational, and social influence in the City of Denver. He wants to offer his life experience, business experience, and relationship experience to broaden the reach and influence of the commission. He hopes to positively impact the African American community in Denver by working with other dedicated commissioners as they both learn from and provide new ideas to the community.
Outside of work and the commission, Al is a husband, father, and friend and enjoys playing golf and spending time with family and friends.
Troy Grimes is a case manager for the City and County of Denver's Safety office helping to reduce gang violence.
Formerly, Troy worked as a Program Coordinator for Goodwill Denver. In this role Mr. Grimes, successfully integrated services to support men transitioning from incarceration. Troy also has his private business, Project PROUD Fatherhood LLC, where amongst other things he facilitates community events, contracts privately to assist families with systems navigation and serves as a court appointed Child and Family Investigator.
Troy prides himself on being a loving father of 8 children (5 boys and 3 girls), husband to Mrs. Teresa Grimes.
One of Troy’s favorite proverbs to live by is “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another…” Proverbs 27:17
Alicia D. Harvey is a regulatory administrator with Xcel Energy. In her position, she oversees and is responsible for development, filing and processing of all Regulatory Administration cases and projects. She is also involved in driving and developing regulatory strategy and policy.
Harvey joined the commission to assist in brainstorming and developing ideas that will help the African American community. She has experience working with various charities and community organizations that will allow her to be of added value to the DAAC.
Outside of work and the commission, Alicia enjoys reading, exercising (competing in Triathlons), travelling, and shopping.
Benzel has spent the past 5 years at CSU as the Denver Five Points FLTI Initiative Manager; a 3 Generation Leadership and Civic Engagement Program.
Jimmerson is currently moving into full-time entrepreneurship as the Principal Owner of Diversity Dynamics Consulting which offers facilitation, equity/diversity consulting, and the development of people, programs, events, and organizations.
Benzel is also the founding member of Mile High Moguls; a group of African American Men focused on community, business, and policy. Benzel is Economic Chair of Denver NAACP, a member of CBLC and DAAP founding member.
He joined the commission to develop core issue solutions which lead to true policy influence in the City and County of Denver and beyond with the belief that we live in a time as important as any other in African American history.
Outside of work Benzel most loves his role as a father of 3 (+more who attached), an athlete, and outdoorsman.
Bio coming soon
Alex is a Colorado native, a Co-founder of the Denver Justice Project and the Community Outreach Coordinator for Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. In 2009, Alex survived an extreme case of race-based brutality at the hands of Denver police officers. This became the catalyst for his activism. He believes that acknowledging the intersectional nature of oppression is critical to understanding how others who are different from us experience injustice. Alex frequently speaks to a variety of across the country. Alex is a two-time Emmy award winner, first for an animated short he did with Story Corps and second for a politics unplugged piece he did with channel 7. Alex often finds himself navigating the grassroots and political sectors. He believes that collectively we are using our personal narratives to build networks, exchange, learn, and grow from past and present experiences.
Jonathan McMillan is a Chief Success Strategist at Be Better Than Average, LLC. In his work at Be Better Than Average Jonathan helps people, organizations, and communities, thrive through personal development, organizational change, strategy consultation, and coalition & network building.
McMillan joined the Denver African American Commission to ensure there is authentic representation and inclusion of his community in every part of the safety plans, economic development, education equity and overall prosperity of our City.
Outside of work Jonathan is a father and a husband who loves DJ'ing and watching all kinds of movies.
Barry Overton's background expands over several professions and business ventures. The majority of Barry's professional career was spent in law enforcement and a Police Officer and Military Police Officer. Barry is a Gulf War Veteran who served on the front lines during Operation Desert Storm!
Over the past 20 years Barry has participated and run several entrepreneurial endeavors to include a security company, concert promotion, catering, and coffee distribution.
Since 2001 real estate has been an exciting part of Barry’s life. Barry has truly found pleasure helping families find their dream home. It has always been important for Barry to provide the best service possible to his clients. That is why he has become one of Colorado’s only real estate agents that provides concierge service. Barry is well versed in Real Estate strategies on building wealth.
Barry is a proud father of two kids. One girl and one boy. He recently retired from the Denver Police Dept where he spent 21 years as a patrol officer and narcotics detective. Helping and serving others has been in his blood for most of his life. Now he can do that by helping people with their real estate needs and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Dwayne Pride began writing seven years ago when he became fed up with everyday working life. He met the editor the Denver Voice and was invited to join the paper as a Vendor/ Writer in December 2008.
Dwayne enjoys various aspects of the industry successfully doing jobs that challenge his abilities.
Ryan works at CiviCore where he seeks to make an impact by advocating for technology solutions which improve the use of information in nonprofits, foundations, and public agencies. Ryan is also a facilitator of anti-bias dialogue for the Anti-Defamation League and the Office of the Independent Monitor.
Misgana is a Corporate Tax Audit Manager with the Colorado Department of Revenue. His expertise is in state & local corporate taxes and is Colorado’s representative on the Multi-State Tax Commission, Audit Committee.
Tesfaye has always looked for ways to serve his community. He served on his HOA board, helped organize community events, volunteered for political campaigns, advocated in community zoning matters, and helped establish non-profit work in the African American community. Recently, after discussions with his family, he decided to serve his community in a more formal manner through the Denver African American Commission. Denver is growing at a wild pace, and Misgana wants to help ensure we are all included in the City's growth and prosperity. His main goal is to promote economic equality and empowerment within the African American community.
Outside of work, Misgana is a devoted husband and father of two children. When not volunteering Misgana enjoys taking advantage of the Colorado outdoors with his family, frequently camping and boating in the Rockies. In true entrepreneurial spirit, Misgana also enjoys acquiring and refurbishing used cars for wholesale in the Denver market. He also loves to get together with friends and family for big backyard cookouts.
Michelle Webster is a poet and writer. Her personal focus is on the challenges facing Native Black Americans, striving to carve a path through the complex landscape shaped by American Slavery and the subsequent struggles of their ancestors and descendants.
While there are those who are having great success in the city of Denver and places throughout the country, she is aware that there are far more grappling with balancing their day-to-day lives due to low wages, limited opportunities and other difficulties that are compounded by this reality.
Through the DAAC, she will contribute to works and projects that inspire the collective and courageous efforts of individuals, groups, organizations and conscious allies, determined to bring about a profound, measurable and collective uplifting.
Though forever a journalist, Michelle also has vast experience in retail operations and management. She is a native of Flint, Michigan and loves music, especially the blues.
The racial wealth gap is large, very real, and shows no signs of closing.
The median household net worth for full time employed white people is 13 times higher than the median household net worth for full time employed black people.
This is just one staggering statistic from the recent study of economics What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap. Check out the complete report here.
For questions, comments, or more information please contact:
Kim Desmond, DAAC Liaison
Darius Smith , DAAC Liaison
Are you interested in joining the African American Commission?
Apply online today!
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