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.
Time: 6pm - 7:30pm
Recurrence: 3rd Wednesday of every month
Location: Carla Madison Recreation Center (multipurpose room), 2401 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206
Note: All commission meetings are open to the public.
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 www.cuindependent.com, 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 DenverPost.com website. His Asian American experience includes a blog, at www.Nikkeiview.com, 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.
Will Chan is the Director of Economic Mobility for the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative and the National Western Center.
Will brings a wealth of experience in the public sector as a champion of marginalized and diverse populations. Before joining the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center and the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative as the Director of Economic Mobility, Will managed the New Americans Project with Denver Public Library providing programming and services to Denver’s immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations. Previously, he served as an ambassador for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among his honors, Will has been awarded Library Journal’s Mover and Shaker award, the EY Next Generation Leadership award with the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, and Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award.
A Colorado native, Will received his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a master’s in nonprofit management from the University of Denver.
Sisi Dong Brinn is the chief impact officer at Metro Caring, and is responsible for leading and managing the direct services and program team for the organization. Metro Caring’s mission is to end hunger at its root, by building equity through nourishing neighbors, providing tools to thrive, and fostering community. Sisi began her career as a high school English teacher in Baltimore City through Teach For America, and subsequently worked for the organization as the managing director of school and systems leadership.
Sisi immigrated from China to Colorado, and has called this state home for most of her life ,despite a 12 year stint on the east coast. She received her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and her bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College.
Sisi is passionate about supporting her community and ensuring this city is an inclusive place to live for all people. Outside of work, Sisi loves cooking, traveling, reading, and trying new (and visiting old, favorite) restaurants across the city. She spends much of her time with family, friends, her husband Mike and their dog Lola.
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.
Joie 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.
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.
Mary Jeneverre Schultz is the director of Financial Workshop Initiatives of the National Endowment for Financial Education.
She 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.
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!
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