The Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission advocates for the immigrant and refugee communities of the City of Denver. They connect communities with allies, stakeholders and resources in Denver and provide valuable community context and input to policy makers. The Commission engages communities in an integrative and meaningfulway and provides education by raising awareness about resources that will make their integration into the Denver community constructive.
ROLE OF THE COMMISSION: To develop collaborative and partnership potential between Denver’s immigrant and refugee communities and the City & County of Denver and to identify and impact mutual community challenges and opportunities.
When: Last Wednesday of each month from 6:00pm-7:30pm
Where: The Spring Institute, 1373 Grant St, Denver, CO 80203
January – no regularly scheduled meeting
November – To be determined
December – To be determined
Diana Higuera is the Executive Director of the Aurora Welcome Center where she oversees all aspects of the development of the Aurora Welcome Center as a shared space for a mix of immigrant and refugee serving entities.
Diana was born in Venezuela and immigrated to the U.S. in 2005. She received her MA in International and Intercultural Communication from the University of Denver and holds a BA in Mass Communication and a BS in Business Administration from the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello in Caracas.
Felipe is originally from Morelia, Michoacán Mexico but has lived in Colorado for most of his life. Felipe was one of the first commissioners to serve on DIRC. He is eager to have an influential year with the commission. A university education first brought him to the Mile High City in 2008, where he attended the University of Denver, triple-majoring in Political Science, Spanish Literature and Language and International Studies.
As a former community organizer, Felipe has tackled social justice issues ranging from education justice, labor rights, and immigrant rights. He currently manages a Latino youth soccer program for the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club, where he works with communities throughout Colorado. He also finds time to write for an up and coming soccer website called the18.com and serves as a Board member of Clerk and Recorders ACCESO Spanish Advisory Board.
Felipe is excited to be involved with the commission. It’s going to be a great and busy year for Dirc. He looks forward to working closely with his fellow commissioners in elevating the voice of immigrant and refugee families here in the city.
Florian Ezui who is a native from Togo, was appointed to the Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission in April 2013 and also serves as the Legislative Committee Liaison for the DIRC.
Currently, Florian is the founder and CEO of Kwalitas Inc. where he provides culturally appropriate and trauma informed mental health services for people from culturally diverse background as a Mental Health Therapist, a Refugee Trauma and Recovery Specialist, and a Refugee Mental Health Program Consultant.
Florian is a strong advocate for global mental health policy and the integration of mental health in primary healthcare. Florian is the founder of NASM-Afrique, an international non-profit organization based in his native country Togo, which aims at promoting and raising awareness about mental health issues and human rights in Africa. Florian also serves as executive board member for many nonprofit organizations.
Fran Campbell is a Denver native born to Filipino immigrants. She has been an active volunteer, advisor and leader in the Denver APIA community for almost thirty years. Her focus has been on developing programs for APIA youth; removing the stigma of mental health in the APIA community; and acting as a voice for the community to municipal and state agencies.
Currently, Fran is Senior Clinical Support at Jefferson Center for Mental Health, serving on the Cultural Competency Task Force as APIA Community Liaison. Fran is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor/Trainer.
Fran is a frequent guest speaker on issues important to the Asian Pacific American community. Public speaking engagements including Emily Griffith Technical College; Generation Connect Workshop; Youth Partnership for Health (CDPHE); Next Generation Voices; Denver Sheriff’s Department; Comcast; Colorado Bureau of Land Management; Asian Chamber of Commerce; Federal Dept of the Interior.
Fran was awarded the Denver Foundation Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award in June 2011. On January 17, 2014, Fran was a recipient of the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award. And in May 2015, Fran was recognized as an Asian American Hero of Colorado by Asian Avenue Magazine.
Jennifer Gueddiche is currently employed with the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning as Director of Programs . With over 18 years of experience working in refugee resettlement in the Denver metro area, Ms. Gueddiche has developed several high quality training programs for refugee adults and youth. For the past 14 years, Ms. Gueddiche served as the Executive Director for the Ethiopian Community Development Council’s African Community Center. In this capacity, she developed expertise in working with numerous refugee populations and creating culturally competent programming that empowers people and strengthens new communities. Ms. Gueddiche has travelled extensively and has lived in France and Tunisia. She has a BA in Political Science from Purdue University and an MA in International Studies from the University of Denver.
Karima Osman has over five years experience working at a Fortune 500 financial organization. In her current role as a regulatory replacement specialist, she is responsible for advising organizations and individuals on financial regulations governing U.S. states. She also advises on wealth management and has expertise on pension plans, tax deferred annuities, and investing.
She earned a bachelor's in business management in 2011 from the University of Colorado Denver, and a master's in health care administration and management from Colorado State University in 2014.
Moreover, she serves on the Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission, where the city’s mayor appointed her in December 2014. As commissioner, she engages communities and policy makers on meaningful ways to support immigrants and refugees. In addition, she is a founding member and current board member of the Colorado Oromo Youth Advocate, where she leads youth in community service activities.
Ms. Mendoza is currently immigration Counsel for an international law firm, Ogletree Deakins. Since 2000, Ms. Mendoza has been advising companies, families, and individuals on temporary and permanent visa options as well as naturalization.
Served as immigration in-house counsel. Ms. Mendoza worked as in-house counsel for 10 years as part of the labor and employment legal team, for a Fortune 1000 company, Qwest Communications/CenturyLink, where she handled immigrant and non-immigrant visa petitions. Ms. Mendoza also advised the Company on immigration-related compliance issues, such as I-9 and e-verify regulations. In addition, Ms. Mendoza counseled management in the area of affirmative action compliance, representing the Company in compliance evaluations and administrative review actions initiated by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
Previously, Ms. Mendoza was an Assistant Attorney General for Ken Salazar. She also clerked for Honorable Justice Gregory Hobbs on the Colorado Supreme Court.
Nadeen migrated from Palestine when she was seven months old, and moved to Colorado in 1997. She was raised in Wiggins, Colorado - a northeastern Colorado rural community of less than 1000 individuals.
Nadeen Ibrahim is the founder of the Colorado Muslim Connection - a community newsletter service that aims to showcase the diversity and civic engagement of Muslims living in Colorado, especially the youth.
Nadeen currently serves on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Board of Health. She is also a co-chair on the Mountain States Regional Health Equity Council - a six-state council raising awareness about health disparities in the U.S. Region VIII.
Nadeen strongly advocates for serving immigrants and refugees in ways that build community through cultural and language preservation and sustainable community asset-based development.
Nermina came to the States as a young child refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having personally been affected by genocide, Nermina, at a young age, began contemplating what justice looks like for the victims post-conflict and how to prevent such atrocities. Her background as a refugee consistently drives her in pursuit of social justice for communities historically under-represented and marginalized.
In 2010, Nermina moved from her large Bosnian community in St. Louis, MO to Denver, CO to pursue her undergraduate career. In 2014, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies with a minor in Political Science from the University of Denver.
Post graduation, Nermina worked as an undergraduate International Admission Counselor at the University of Denver for 2 years.
In February of 2016, Nermina accepted a position with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains as a Legal Services Aide. She screens all prospective refugee, asylee, and Cuban parolee clients for legal services. She also assists the attorney in completing client applications, submits applications to USCIS, and follows up with USCIS for case status updates.
As a former refugee, Nermina knows that she is fortunate to be where she is now and she wants to see others, like herself, achieve their goals and dreams. Nermina feels humbled to be appointed to the Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission. She encourages other refugee and immigrants to wholeheartedly embrace their identity and personal narratives. This is a community that she cares deeply about and intends to offer a helping hand to in any way possible.
Pilar Castro-Reino recently retired from the Denver Public Library, where she managed several branches as well as immigrant services for the system. Pilar earned her GED, then proceeded to earn her Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts, and a B.A. in Spanish. She graduated with her MLS from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Born in Puerto Rico, she first joined the Denver Public Library focusing on providing customer services and meeting the needs of Spanish speaking populations. She has loved learning and leading programming for our increasingly ethnically diverse populations in Denver.
Temi Osifodunrin is the National Director of Marketing & Advertising for Donut Holdings Inc. DBA LaMar's Donuts. He also heads their Franchise Development Sales Department.
Temi is also an organizer of the Denver International Heritage soccer tournament, a mini-World Cup style tournament he started in 2011 to promote outreach and unity in the local Denver metro area through the game of soccer. The annual soccer tournament is an opportunity for ethnic communities in Colorado to gather and interact with each other around the beautiful game of soccer.
Temi was born in Denver, Colorado to immigrant parents. He attended Metropolitan State University of Denver where he studied Marketing & Business Administration.
Victoria Aguilar who was appointed to the Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission in April 2015 also serves as the Co-Chair for the DIRC.
Victoria was born and raised in Denver and currently resides in and works for the City and County of Denver. Victoria earned her degree in Practical Theology from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas.
While in college, Victoria spearheaded several initiatives that impacted the immigrant community such as Mi Familia Vota! and Ya Basta!
Victoria continues to advocate on immigrant-related issues within the city of Denver and firmly believes in the positive contribution that immigrants bring to our great city. More recently Victoria was selected as a fellow for the Government Entrepreneur Leadership Accelerator and has successfully coordinated community listening sessions and educational campaigns for the Denver Department of Human Services.
Yusuf Hassan is a Manager at Saint Joseph Hospital, SCL Health System. Yusuf has over 6 years of professional Finance and Corporate experience. He has worked as an Assistant Vice President of the largest private bank in Colorado. In addition, he has done Financial Consulting work for Kaiser Permanente.
Yusuf migrated from Ethiopia when he was in middle school. He comes from a family and mentors that preached serving others. That has influenced Yusuf to be passionate about transforming the lives of others in his community.
In addtion to serving on Colorado Black Health Collaborative board, Yusuf is a founder and President of Colorado Oromo Youth Advocate and Association (COYAA), a mentorship program that supports and advocates for immigrant Oromo Youth. He is also a past board member and treasurer of the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA), and Academy of Finance Program at Denver South High School. Yusuf also enjoys volunteering his time with youth serving organizations such as Junior Achievements and Goodwill Youth Program.
Yusuf is a class of 2005 Daniels Fund Scholar. He received bachelor’s degree in Finance and International Business from the University of Denver (DU). Currently, he’s enrolled in MBA--Healthcare Leadership Program at Regis University.
Yusuf believes in helping the immigrants thrive not just survive. He’s especially passionate about helping the immigrant youths realize and take full advantage of the opportunities that are available this country!