The mission of Denver's Commission for People with Disabilities (DCPD) is to promote and enhance equality for people with disabilities through empowerment, advocacy, and education by working with community members, as well as City and County of Denver officials and employees who have the ability to affect change.
The Symposium will focus on creating opportunities by educating employers of the value in broadening their diversity and inclusion pipeline to include people with disabilities.
In conjunction with the Denver Office of Disability Rights, develop and distribute a brochure to address
common questions and/or misconceptions surrounding service and assistance animals.
The Denver Commission for People with Disabilities meets the 1st Tuesday of each month from 5:30pm-7:00pm at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Suite 106, 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205. All meetings are open to the public.
***Please note: The January 3rd meeting has been cancelled and rescheduled for January 21st.***
If you need sign language interpretation or CART contact SignLanguageServices@denvergov.orgor 720.913.8487 at least three business days prior to the meeting date.
Julie is an accomplished patent and intellectual property attorney who focuses on providing creative and balanced legal advice to entrepreneurs and start-ups. Prior to her current private practice, Julie was the Chief Patent Counsel with Roche Pharmaceuticals, Chief IP Counsel with BaroFold, Inc., and Special Counsel with the law firm of Faegre & Benson in Denver. Before her legal career, Julie spent time at Norden Laboratories and National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine.
At the age of 25, Julie had a catastrophic equine accident that opened her eyes to, among other things, mortality, community service, and public perception. Julie is passionate about causes related to disabilities, women, and animal welfare. To that end, she currently sits on several advisory boards, volunteers, and mentors.
As a parent of a child with a disability Pamela gained practical experience regarding the rights of children/individuals with disabilities.
Pamela is the Coordinator for Child and Family Advocacy with AdvocacyDenver. Formerly, Pamela worked for the Denver Public Schools, Office of Special Education.
Her professional experience is marked by her devotion to individuals in need, first-hand knowledge of the operation of different public systems and their obligation under state and federal law.
Leah Dawson is a Senior City Planner with the City of Denver, and has over 13 years of experience in municipal government planning, and is also the current Secretary/Treasurer of the Colorado American Planning Association.
After moving from her hometown in Alabama to Boulder, she received her Environmental Design degree from CU, and obtained her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from CU Denver. In 2009, she sustained a traumatic spinal cord injury from falling off a ski lift. As a City Planner, and with a disability, Leah has a more perceptive outlook when it comes to planning for the physical environment for people with disabilities. Leah advocates in her daily work to ensure that design issues that affect people with disabilities are thoughtfully resolved.
Mike Hess, who was appointed to the Denver Commission for People with Disabilities in January 2016, is the executive director of the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT), a Colorado-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization he founded in February 2013.
Determined to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace for people with disabilities, Mike leads BIT’s mission is to prepare blind and visually impaired individuals with IT and other technical skills and the employers who hire them for success. Among his distinctions, Mike was recognized in 2015 as the Colorado Technology Association’s ‘Talent Champion of the Year.’
Prior to BIT, Mike spent four years as a senior software engineer for Level 3 Communications, where he led IT and other technical projects. Before Level 3, Mike held IT, software engineering and similar positions with Qwest, U.S. West and other companies during his 18-year career.
Jackie King graduated from California State University at Northridge with her Master’s degree in Special Education and moved to Denver in 1979 to accept a position with the Community College of Denver as Interpreter and Tutor Manager at Red Rocks, Auraria and Aurora campuses.
When the Community College of Denver broke up into four separate colleges, she accepted a similar position with the downtown Auraria campus and has been there ever since. She served as the manager for the Center for Persons with Disabilities until 2000 and is still teaching mathematics there full time.
She leads bird watching field trips and bird counts for the Denver Field Ornithologists and plays piano and leads the singing at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.
She has been involved with education all of her working career and is passionate about seeing every person have the opportunity to obtain the education he or she wants and needs to be successful in life. Life is all about opening doors, sharing experiences and working together to improve and sustain the wonderful life we share with all of God’s creatures.
Gemma Lockhart owns Open Road Pictures, a small production company that has mainly served American Indian Tribes in the United States. She believes the most important stories are quiet stories and often take place where crowds are not. Current efforts are to transform from community service productions to commercial TV series and major motion film.
Public service has encompassed school board work and work for non-partisan women’s leadership in Colorado. Gemma has served on Denver’s American Indian Commission and taken part in planning the annual Mayor’s Diversity Awards. She concurs with the spirit of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, “Nothing about us…without us” and respects the connected sense of community—forty years in the making—created at Atlantis.
Gemma holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College. She is Lakota and feels the most important part of leadership is listening.
Originally from Hudson, Colorado, Neal studied Computer Science at the University of Colorado where he joined the Educational Technology House and worked on early GPS-based assistive technology along with the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program helping professors to improve practical application of technology in their curriculum. In the summer of 2003, he traveled to Washington DC with the American Association of People with Disabilities, the federal government, and Microsoft. He was invited back the following summer by the World Bank. After college, he moved back to DC to spend nearly a decade working in and around the non-profit sector. After starting a family, Neal returned to Denver where he runs a small consulting firm and is involved with a number of local committees and groups. He enjoys spending his free time at home with his wife and three kids in southeast Denver.
A proud Denver native, Damian was excited to join the Denver Commission for People with Disabilities in January 2016.
Having long been part of the disability movement both locally and nationally, Damian brings a myriad of experiences and resources to the Commission.
As the Director of Outreach for Personal Assistance Services of Colorado (PASCO), he is well versed on initiatives, resources and barriers within the community. A board member of a few local non-profits, he is very familiar with programs, advocates and systems working with people with physical disabilities as well as those experiencing intellectual/developmental disabilities.
A former teacher in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, Damian earned his Master’s degree in Education from Brooklyn College.
When not working, Damian enjoys spending time with his family, riding his bike, reading and football.
Lauren comes to the field with over eleven years of education and experience. She has dedicated her professional life to serving those along the spectrum and is driven by her passion to make a lasting impact in the field of autism. Lauren holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology and is currently pursuing ABA coursework at the University of Colorado.
In the spring of 2010, she founded Garden, Inc. to provide comprehensive community-based therapeutic services to Colorado families affected by autism. In 2013, Garden was nationally recognized as an Exemplary Organization by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Recognizing the growing need for adult support, Lauren co-founded Dirt Coffee Bar, a mobile coffee shop with a mission to train and employ young adults with autism. Dirt's brick-and-mortar aims to open on World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd, 2017 in downtown Littleton.
In addition to serving as Executive Director of Garden and Dirt, Lauren is currently serving as a Leader at Beanstalk Foundation, board member of Alliance, member of the South Metro Chamber of Commerce, and various legislative committees. With her work and passion, Lauren hopes to further develop inclusive programming, employment opportunities and supported living environments for individuals with disabilities living in Denver and beyond.