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Asian American Pacific Islander Commission

The Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) serves as a support liaison and facilitator between the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Denver, the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships and the office of the Mayor of Denver.

Further, it is the Commission's objective to act as catalyst, educator, collective voice, and respond to issues and/or advocate based on community assessment of need, and create awareness and visibility of AAPI community.

Commission Meetings

NOTE: Due to COVID-19 all commission meetings will be held via teleconference until further notice. All commission meetings are open to the public. 
Recurrence: 3rd Wednesday of every month
Time: 6pm - 7:30pm
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Meeting ID: 956 7148 0096

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Meeting ID: 956 7148 0096
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All commission meetings are open to the public. 


Commission Goals

Enhance the infrastructure of the DAAPIC.

Increase the visibility of DAAPIC.

Connect AAPIs to opportunities, resources, and tools.

Identify and advocate for AAPI needs.

Commission Members

Kenneth Arellano Jr. is a Business Development Representative with the City and County of Denver’s Workforce Services

Arellano joined the commission to give back to his community but didn’t know how or where to start. DAAPIC gave me him the opoortunity to connect with his community. Ken hopes to offer the commission with community, workforce, and education resources to meet the needs of the AAPI community.

Ken enjoys traveling and cooking and if he can do both, he is ecstatic. You might also see Ken in his community garden getting his hands in the Earth.

Gil Asakawa is an experienced journalist, author and online media expert who is active in the Japanese American and Asian American communities and covers Asian American issues and culture on blogs and social media. He is Manager of Student Media at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and serves as adviser to, the student-run news website. He is also a member of AARP's Multicultural Markets and Engagement team managing social media and articles engaging Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He was the recipient of a Japanese Cabinet Social Media Fellowship to travel to Okinawa in January 2015 to research the culture and history of Okinawa.

His journalism experience runs the gamut from being the music editor for Denver's alternative weekly newspaper Westword to managing the website. His Asian American experience includes a blog, at, and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and other social media. For his extensive pioneering online work within the AAPI blogosphere, he received the “Voice Award” from AAJA-LA during the 2013 V3 Digital Media Conference. Gil is currently chair of the Media Committee for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. He is also a board member of the Mile High JACL, and on the board of the Emily Griffith Foundation.

Soyon Bueno serves as the Director of Asian American Student Services at the University of Colorado Denver.  She has over 14 years of experience in higher education specializing on recruitment, retention, advising, and student support services.  She enjoys her role in helping students get engaged on campus and providing cultural programming that raise awareness about the diversity and richness of the AAPI community. 

Prior to joining CU Denver in September 2011, Soyon lived in Durango, Colorado and worked at Fort Lewis College as the Assistant Director in the academic advising department and served as the transfer coordinator and advisor.  She also worked for Illinois State University and co-authored a guidebook that serves as a road map to the Carl D. Perkins legislation of 1998. 

Soyon Bueno was born in South Korea, but immigrated to Denver, Colorado when she was five years old.  She attended Denver Public Schools and graduated from North High School.  She earned her bachelor's degree in Economics, and a minor in Asian Studies from Colorado College. She received her master's degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University. 

In her spare time, she enjoys watching her nine-year-old son play tennis, basketball, and baseball.

Rachele C Espiritu is a Partner of Change Matrix, LLC, a minority- and women-owned designated small business that motivates, manages, and measures change to support systems that improve lives. She brings substantive experience and passion in the areas of children’s behavioral health, behavioral health disparities and equity, cultural and linguistic competence, program evaluation, a public health approach to mental health, and systems collaboration. Rachele provides training and technical assistance at the local, state, and national level to build capacity for child, youth, and young adult behavioral health services in multiple child-serving systems. She currently serves as the Project Director for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities (the NNED) in Behavioral Health, a federally-funded network of over 2100 members, including ethnic- and community-based organizations that are addressing disparities in behavioral health care. She also serves on numerous other boards including NAMI Colorado where she chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Rachele was born in the Philippines and grew up in Michigan and California. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of California at San Diego and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she was a Patricia Robert Harris Fellow. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, eating out, reading, and experiencing the beautiful outdoors.

A native of the Midwest, Riyaz cherishes his Asian-American identity and his journey to continuously better understand and live into that hyphen between Asian and American.  His journey has taken him to his parents’ home country of India, classrooms in Baltimore, the chilly winters of Minnesota, and currently the snow-capped peaks of Colorado. He is passionate about developing individuals and teams, building culture, and shaking up the status quo by nurturing developing leaders who work through an equity lens to become the change agents of tomorrow.  Currently, he works at Camelback Ventures, which is an accelerator for entrepreneurs of color and women. Outside of work, Riyaz is a foodie. He approaches food as he does life - seeking diversity, opportunities to connect with others, and a chance to have a good time over a shared meal. Riyaz was lucky enough to attend Macalester College and Johns Hopkins University and strives to never stop learning and growing. 

oie Nikita Ha's decisions are often driven by her insatiable desire to do more good for more people, which also spur her passions for issues regarding social justice, refugees, and PoC identity. She has completed development work in Malaysia as a Community Development Officer in Kampung Sungai Suloh, and Cambodia as a researcher regarding how hip-hop can create fictive kin for youth enticed by the familial aspects of gangs. She currently works as a Donor Data and Analytics Manager at Book Trust, a literacy organization that is dedicated towards creating a literature-rich environment for low income students. 

Joie has been a consistent contributor to her APIA community and was awarded the 2013 Asian American Hero of Colorado: Rising Hero. Settling back in Colorado after her time abroad, she saw the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission as the next big step in giving back. As the daughter of a refugee, she carries on her shoulders the legacy of her family that crossed the ocean for a better future. She hopes to create a more welcoming and resourceful community for any families that may be encountering similar challenges. 

Her greatest accomplishment is completely filling out her passport with colorful visas from over 10 countries. She absolutely loves to explore new cuisines but can also eat pho nearly every day. In her free time, she likes to read novels and spend time with friends and family.

With 17 years of teaching and administrative experience, Joanne Liu has always been passionate about education. Joanne studied English & American Literature and Secondary Education at Brandeis University and began her career as a middle school special education teacher in Washington, D.C through Teach For America. She then continued as a high school SPED coordinator and teacher in Boston, and when she moved to Denver in 2010, she served as an assistant principal for a Denver Public middle school for about five years. Most recently, Joanne was the Director of Community Engagement for a non-profit school focused on training a diverse and inclusive student body to succeed in high fulfillment technical careers. Drawing from her diverse educational experience, Joanne enjoys creating and improving systems to ensure efficiency and increase the quality of any educational experience.

Originally from Boston, MA, Joanne is a mother of two children and enjoys volunteering her time to the Colorado AAPI community. She has served on the executive team of the National Association of Asian American Professionals-Colorado (NAAAP). She was a member of the operations team of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. She is also the founding Denver Ambassador for The Cosmos, a national organization that takes a holistic approach to the growth and development of Asian women.

Tri Ma is a personal lines insurance professional, who is licensed and specializes in Medicare, Life, Auto and Home Insurance products. As a native Coloradan with humble beginnings, Tri Ma received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and went on to obtain his master’s degree at Walden University in Minnesota while building his own insurance agency (3T Insurance, LLC) in Colorado. Since obtaining the Rookie of the Year award with United Healthcare's Medicare and Retirement, Tri continues to provide a personal concierge service at no cost to the Denver-metro and surrounding area residents of Colorado regarding their Medicare healthcare. With over a decade of experience and service in the insurance industry, Tri also continues to manage 3T Insurance, LLC regarding life, and other personal lines insurance for fellow Coloradan residents. In addition to all of this, as a new member of the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission, he aims to further his reach towards helping his community.

Tri's passions include improving the livelihood of seniors and the disabled, helping students succeed, board games and participating in various sports such as snowboarding, tennis, golf, and volleyball. You can always find Tri working hard to make sure everyone else is cared for or eating and laughing away the time with others.

Shauna Medeiros-Tuilaepa is owner of No Ke Aloha Inc., a mobile run food truck and caterer specializing in Polynesian Cuisine. Established in 2015, No Ke Aloha Inc. thrives to connect Pacific Islander communities, and those close to them, while advocating for healthier changes in food options, as well as, incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly choices within company operations.

Shauna received her undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. She earned a bachelor’s in fine arts and a minor in marketing. She began her performing arts career in 2001 with one of the first Polynesian dance revues in Colorado. Here, she learned more about the languages, cultures, and dances from many different islands in the South Pacific. In 2008, she co-founded one of the most reputable Polynesian dance companies in Colorado where she gained further cultural knowledge, as well as, experience in choreography, theater production, and communications.

Shauna was born and raised in California and has spent more than half her life in the beautiful state of Colorado. She considers herself a multi-racial individual being "blended" with Native Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish.

Shauna is a proud mom of a beautiful blended family of six children. Her husband, Cornelius, is from the island of Samoa, and together they work very hard and strive to advance their entrepreneurship in hopes of successfully representing Polynesian communities, and thus, encouraging a better quality of life overall, for both, humanity, and the environment

Jane Miyahara is the Manager of Preschool Special Education and Child Find at Denver Public Schools. Jane conducts developmental screenings and evaluations of preschoolers with suspected disabilities and manages early childhood programming for preschoolers with special needs.

Miyahara’s mother was on the Commission many years ago and Jane loved hearing about the work she did for the community, so she wanted to follow in her footsteps. Through her work with the commission, Jane also hopes to connect more with the Asian community and is looking to contribute in any way possible. She knows her connection to DPS is crucial and hopes to help in this area.

Jane is a huge foodie and loves to try the old/new restaurants in Denver. She has a great group of friends that she hangs with and loves to Kayak, SUP, Quilt and spend time in the mountains.

Mike Hoa Nguyen, PhD is an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education.  His research and teaching examines the benefits and consequences of public policy instruments in expanding or constraining the academic operations of colleges and universities, with a specific focus on federal diversity initiatives.  Mike aims to better articulate how federal policy can reach its potential, and fulfill its promise to address pervasive educational inequalities for underrepresented populations and regions within the United States.  Prior to earning his doctorate, Mike served as a senior staff member in the United States Congress.  He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and his graduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Mary Jeneverre Schultz joined the commission to empower community leaders about the essential needs and skills in learning about financial literacy. She hopes to offer a pathway to those in her community by providing the tools and resources needed to deliver financial education information to underserved audiences.

Outside of work, Mary is a freelance travel writer. Her regular contributions are found in Asian Avenue Magazine, Jeneverre’s Travels, Hospitality 21, and local Colorado magazines. For fun, she enjoys learning to cook Filipino cuisines, reading historical novels through Asian American authors and travel with her husband to exotic destinations such as Cuba, Isla Holbox, Camiguin Island, Halong Bay, etc. She is the mother of three – Jessalyn (29); Lily (27); Joey (13).

Stephanie and her family immigrated from Indonesia to the United States when she was two years old. She grew up in Denver, and double majored in Ethnic Studies and Sociology at Colorado State University. She has been working in the social justice field for 8+ years and previously served on the CIRC Board of Directors from 2012-2015.

Stephanie has helped generate over $1 million for sexual violence prevention and has won national leadership awards including the Top 15 Asian American Women Leaders in 2011. She has been interviewed by MSNBC, the Westword, The White House Project, and has appeared live on C-SPAN. As an international speaker, she has shared the stage with public figures such as President Bill Clinton, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Actor Kai Penn, and John Oliver from The Daily Show.

One of the most comprehensive and intersectional projects that Stephanie has worked on was for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), where she completed a key investigative report (Turning the Page on U.S. Immigration Policy) that documented how current immigration policy affects Asian American women and families. She has worked for organizations such as Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, Organization of Chinese Americans, and Congresswoman Judy Chu.

Patrick Walton brings eight years of operations experience spanning the corporate and nonprofit sectors to Mile High United Way as the Manager of the Office of the President and CEO. In his current role, he serves as the central point of contact for the coordination of the CEO’s activities, and works within the CEO’s leadership team to manage a variety of strategic and operational initiatives.

Patrick was appointed to the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) in 2017. He hopes to join the other commissioners in supporting and strengthening DAAPIC’s crucial role as the link between the AAPI community and the City of Denver. 

Born and raised in Lodi, California, Patrick is an avid traveler and you can often find him hitting the slopes during the winter.


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For questions, comments, or more information please contact:
Jessica Jorgensen, DAAPIC Liaison

Are you interested in joining the Asian American Pacific Islander Commission?
Apply online today!

Need Help?

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

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Location & Hours
Webb Municipal Building, 2nd Floor
201 W. Colfax Avenue, Dept. 1102
Denver, CO 80202

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


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