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About the Award

In 2006, the Denver Civic Leadership Award was established to honor the legacy of Monte Pascoe and the first award was given to Monte Pascoe posthumously.  Since August 2007, the award has been presented annually by the Denver Mayor to a member of the community who exemplifies the civic leadership qualities demonstrated by Monte Pascoe. 

Throughout his lifetime, Monte Pascoe’s actions exemplified the importance of civic engagement and leadership.  He is remembered for his personal convictions and courage, and earned the respect of the community for his constant acts in support of those convictions.  Pascoe played a key role in shaping the history of Denver. He helped file a lawsuit that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court which ordered Denver Public Schools to desegregate its educational facilities. His willingness to respond to the broad needs of Colorado was reflected in leadership positions including President of the Board of Trustees of the Iliff School of Theology and board membership with the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado Open Lands Foundation, Colorado Water Conservation Board and many more.

2018 Award Winner

Judge Gary Jackson was appointed to the Denver County Court in 2013.  Prior to taking the bench Judge Jackson practiced law for over 40 years. His practice included representing attorneys and judges in attorney regulation and judicial performance matters, employment litigation and complex personal injury litigation.  

He was Colorado Judicial Institute County Court Judge of the year in 2017.   Judge Jackson was the 2011 recipient of the Colorado Bar Association Award of Merit, the 2003 recipient of the Order of Coif from CU Law School, the 2008 Norlin Award from CU, and the 2010 Knous Award from CU Law School, the highest alumnus award from the law school. 

Judge Jackson is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the past president of the American Board of Trial Advocates.  He is also a past member of the Denver Judicial Nominating Commission and the Arapahoe County Judicial Performance Commission.  Additionally, he is a founder and past president of the Sam Cary Bar Association and founder of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. 

He has been an active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and listed in Colorado Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in American. He was a founder and name partner of DiManna & Jackson.   

Past Award Recipients

Born in Denver, Don Bain is a fifth generation Colorado native. He graduated from Yale College and Harvard Law School, and then joined the Denver law firm of Holme Roberts & Owen LLP, now Bryan Cave LLP, where he is Of Counsel. Don is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and was a candidate for Mayor of Denver in 1987.

He is a past chair of the Colorado Republican Party, the Colorado Council on the Arts, the Denver Foundation and the Auraria Higher Education Center. He has served on the Republican National Committee and was a director of numerous non-profit organizations, including the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Denver, Inc., Denver Public Library Commission, Fairmount Cemetery Company, Center of the American West (University of Colorado) and the Association of Yale Alumni.

Don has three children and seven grandchildren and lives in Denver.

Lauren Casteel is president and CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, the only community foundation in Colorado focused on women and girls achieving economic self-sufficiency. She is the first person in Colorado to lead three foundations and possesses more than 20 years of philanthropic leadership as well as a dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion across gender intersections throughout Colorado.

As an experienced and recognized advocate for women, children, youth and families in Colorado, Casteel directs the foundation’s research agenda, community partnerships, lobbying efforts and cultivation of philanthropy. Her trademark is an asset-based approach, in which all parties’ voices and strengths are listened to, respected and projected for outcomes that benefit all women and girls in Colorado to ensure stronger statewide communities.

Prior to her appointment at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Casteel served at The Denver Foundation for 16 years, most recently as vice president of philanthropic partnerships. There, she launched The
Inclusiveness Project. This program changed the face of Colorado’s nonprofit community and engendered national attention when it won the Council on Foundations Critical Impact Award. She also instituted The Denver Foundation’s Nonprofit Internship Program, intending to inspire college students to choose a career in the nonprofit sector.

Casteel’s current and past community leadership initiatives include serving as a board member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives as well as the Council on Foundations’ Community Foundations Leadership Team. She also participated in The White House Social Enterprise and Opportunity Series on the Philanthropic Sector and was a founding board member of Qualistar Colorado.

Throughout her career, Casteel has gained numerous accolades. In 2014, she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. She was also named one of the 25 most powerful women in 2015 by the Colorado Women’s Chamber.

After 19 years as president and CEO of the Denver Foundation, David Miller has announced he will depart his position at the end of 2015 to start the new Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise, which is scheduled to open at the University of Denver in 2016.

Miller will leave an indelible legacy on the Denver Foundation and the Denver community. When he was hired, the Denver Foundation had $58 million in assets, six staff, a few dozen charitable funds, and awarded $2 million in grants per year. Today, the foundation has more than $740 million in assets, 42 staff, more than 1,000 funds, and last year granted more than $67 million. Under his leadership, the foundation started the Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, the Nonprofit Inclusiveness Project, more than 60 different types of scholarships, and countless other philanthropic efforts.

“As a fifth generation Denverite, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to serve our community by working at the Denver Foundation for the past two decades,” Miller says. “I am thrilled that the next step in my career will be working with the extraordinary people at the University of Denver and helping to make new connections between DU and the broader community.”


Kara joined DPA as deputy executive director in July 2013. She has more than 14 years experience in leadership, legal and executive experience, having worked as an attorney for Children’s Voices, Inc., of Boulder, as a business and real estate litigation partner at Isaacson Rosenbaum, P.C., of Denver. Kara also served as associate director of Colorado Forum, where she advised Colorado’s top business leaders on constitutional, fiscal and educational challenges facing the state.

Her civic involvement includes serving as a member of the board of directors for the Women’s Bean Project and, currently, is the chair. She is also on the board of directors of Colorado Legal Services, a member of the Denver Women’s Commission and chair-elect of Beyond Our Borders. Kara served as president of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association in 2011-2012 and on the executive committee of the Colorado Bar Association in 2009-2011. She demonstrated her passion for education and Denver’s youth when she volunteered to organize and coach George Washington High School’s mock trial team from 2004 through 2009.

Kara earned her juris doctorate from the University of Colorado in 2000, where she served as the president of the Student Bar Association. She also obtained her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Colorado in Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology and Environmental Conservation.

Kara was recognized as one of Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty, and the Denver Bar Association’s Young Lawyer of the Year – both in 2010.  In 2011, the Colorado Bar Association recognized Kara as the Young Lawyer of the Year. Kara is married, has two children and lives in Denver. (


Ed Kahn is an attorney at Lass Moses Ramp LLC and also serves as an arbitrator and mediator under the auspices of the American Arbitration Association.  Mr. Kahn’s significant service to the community has spanned decades. A lifetime of work toward the promotion and defense of civil rights is Mr. Kahn’s most lasting legacy. He served as initial board chair of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy from 1998-2005 and then served as special council doing policy analysis and legislative lobbying for low-income Coloradans. He represented the public interest in the conversion of Colorado Blue Cross from a nonprofit to a for-profit, resulting in the $155 million endowment of the Caring for Colorado Foundation. He was one of the co-founders of the Colorado Lawyers Committee in 1978, a consortium of now 65 law firms providing pro bono services for disadvantaged communities. He has been chair of the local ACLU, the Denver Bar Association, and the Colorado Harvard Law School Association. Mr. Kahn has also taught constitutional law at University of Colorado Law School and disability law at the University of Denver Law School.  In recent years, Mr. Kahn was one of the attorneys working on the litigation against the State of Colorado to assure that low-income Coloradoans accurately and timely received food stamp and medical benefits to which they were entitled. 

Mr. Kahn’s public service ethic is hidden in the interstices of these institutional identities. The central principle he has followed is the intense search for justice for those left behind in our community. 

Professor Ved P. Nanda is John Evans University Professor at the University of Denver and Thompson G. Marsh Professor of Law and Director of the International Legal Studies Program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  From 1994 to 2008 he also served as Vice Provost for Internationalization at the University.  In 2007 Professor Nanda was honored with a $1 million gift to the College of Law, and a matching amount from friends and former students, to found the Nanda Center for International & Comparative Law, which began its programming in 2008.  Other students have raised more than $1 million to establish the Ved Nanda Professorship at the College of Law.

He currently serves as Honorary President of the World Jurist Association, an elected member of the American Law Institute and as a council member-at-large for the American Bar Association Section of International Law and Practice, and Honorary Vice-President of the International Law Association – American Branch. He was formerly the United States Delegate to the World Federation of the United Nations Associations, Geneva, Vice-Chair of its Executive Council, and on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association of the United States of America.

Professor Nanda has received honorary doctorates from Soka University in Tokyo, Japan, and Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, India.  He is widely published in law journals and national magazines, has authored or co-authored 25 books in the various fields of international law and more than 225 chapters and major law review articles, and has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor and Scholar at a number of universities in the United States and abroad.

Among his numerous national and international awards Professor Nanda has received the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award for Peace Building from Soka Gakkai International and Morehouse College and the Lifetime Best Teacher Award from the Indian Law Teachers Association.  He was awarded the World Jurist Association’s Highest Order of Justice and earlier its World Legal Scholar award.  He was also the recipient of the United Nations Association’s Human Rights Award and the Anti-Defamation League’s Civil Rights Award.

Dottie Lamm, former First Lady of Colorado and 1998 Colorado Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, was the first Board President of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. She has worked countless hours for the benefit of women and girls in our state. As Colorado’s First Lady (1975-87) she initiated and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Children and was a member of the Governor’s Commission on Women. Dottie is a social worker who has counseled welfare mothers, unwed pregnant teens, and families of emotionally disturbed children. She has spoken to numerous school classes on citizenship and the importance of reading and learning.

Dottie is a keynote speaker and workshop leader on Risk Taking and Living with Success and Failure. She has also taught courses on Risk Taking and Leadership at the University of Denver and was an Adjunct Professor at D.U.'s Graduate School of Social Work (2003-06) where she taught a legislative advocacy class.

As an official U.S. delegate to the U.N. Cairo Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Conference on Women during the Clinton administration, Dottie has spoken on the rights of women in places as diverse as Palo Alto, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Farmington, New Mexico; Hanover, New Hampshire and Barcelona, Spain. In addition, Dottie has worked tirelessly as a volunteer at the Denver Health Medical Center in Pediatrics, the newborn nursery, and as a “reach out and read” volunteer in the outpatient children’s clinic. A breast cancer survivor, she says, “There’s something that happens to people who have a life-threatening illness that makes them want to make every day count. I put more effort into whatever I’m doing.”

Dottie currently serves on the Foundation Board of the Rocky Mountain Farmers' Union and the Capital Campaign Committee for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. (

A resident of Denver, Noel was a true citizen of the world. Born in Ireland in 1949, he went to work at London's famed Savoy Hotel, achieving the rank of sous chef by age 23, before moving to California in the 1970's. In 1986 he moved to Denver and opened Strings, a bistro in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood that quickly became a community institution, hosting local celebrities, politicians, community and charity events and romantic date-nights.

While his professional biography will be defined by his extraordinary culinary talents, Noel's legacy will forever be based on the impact his philanthropic efforts had in Denver and across the world.

While in California he met Pat Miller, the noted restaurant critic known as the ``Gabby Gourmet,'' and the two developed a lifelong friendship. Together, they started ``Taste of the Nation,'' a nation-wide fundraiser that by 2010 had raised almost $80 million to fight hunger and poverty across the United States.

With his wife Tammy, Noel founded The Cunningham Foundation, which included Quarters for Kids, to help educate children about local hunger and homelessness, and 4 Quarters for Kids, a project he named in reference to the four quarters it takes per day to provide an Ethiopian child with breakfast, lunch, a school uniform, and a teacher and books. Firm in his belief that philanthropy could strengthen a local community while enriching the lives of those across the globe, Noel targeted 4 Quarters primarily to local children, who held carwashes, concerts, pledge drives, and silent auctions to help create a better future for their Ethiopian peers.

Noel was active with the local Volunteers of America, and served on the board of the national nonprofit Share Our Strength. On weekday afternoons, it was not uncommon to drive by Strings and see Noel serving meals to the homeless in between the persistent lunch and dinner rushes. He was committed to building a better community, both locally and globally, and was not afraid to enlist the help of others to achieve his goals; he worked with local hospitals to provide life-saving treatments for Ethiopian children, and local businesses to ship supplies and other necessities to Africa. He founded ``A Dinner of Unconditional Love''--a charity dinner to raise funds for Dr. Rick Hodes, an American Doctor living in Ethiopia whose mission is to help heal the poor--and had planned to expand the program across the country so that he could raise the $10 million Hodes needs to build his own hospital in Ethiopia.

Noel Cunningham spent each and every day making a difference in the lives of those around him. (

Kenzo Kawanabe is a commercial litigator who represents clients in a variety of matters relating to commercial disputes, mass torts, products liability, and intellectual property. 

Mr. Kawanabe was the DGS Pro Bono Partner and on the DGS Executive Committee. He teaches at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. He dedicates significant time to volunteer work, and served on the Boards of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, CO Lawyers Committee (Chair), and CO Legal Services.

Mr. Kawanabe also engages in community service. He was Board Chair of The Denver Foundation, one of the nation’s largest community foundations which annually distributes tens of millions of dollars to non-profit organizations. He also served the Boettcher Foundation (Board), Sakura Foundation (Board), Colorado Nonprofit Development Center (Board), Community Resource Center (Board), Stapleton Foundation (Board), and Rose Foundation (Education Committee). He is a board member of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Washington, D.C.) and is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council (Leadership Delegation sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Mr. Kawanabe served as a law clerk for the Honorable Mary J. Mullarkey, Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. He is a member of the American Bar Association (ABF Fellow), Colorado Bar Association (past Board of Governors and Bar Fellow), Denver Bar Association (past Board and Executive Committee), National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (first-ever General Counsel), Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado (past President and Foundation President), and Minoru Yasui Inn of Court. (

Jim worked as hard as any lawyer, but he never forgot what was most important. He was deeply devoted to Pat; his children, David and Anne; and his three granddaughters, Kate, Tory, and Biz. And he had an unparalleled devotion to his community, which he treated like extended family. 

The list of organizations and boards on which Jim served, many of which he founded, is too extensive to list here, but a few are noteworthy. He was a lifelong member of the American, Colorado, and Denver Bar Associations, and he was a fellow of both the American and Colorado Bar Foundations. In these capacities, he devoted substantial time to promoting professionalism, continuing legal and judicial education, the duty to engage in pro bono activities, and access to justice for all, and he did so long before supporting those causes became fashionable. He also served on the boards of trustees of the Piton Foundation and the Pioneer Fund; he was chair of the Urban Emphasis Program for the Boy Scouts of America; he served on the board of directors or advisors of the Mexican Cultural Center, Cross Community Coalition, the Minoru Yasui Committee of the Denver Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy, Summer Scholars, and the Tointon Institute; and he was the first chair of the Colorado United Way Alexis de Tocqueville Society and the chair of the Two Percent Club, whose members committed to donate at least 2% of their annual incomes to charitable causes.

Although Jim’s tremendous legal work and his community involvement would have been enough for most people, they were not enough for him. He was not satisfied to simply help others. He spent a lifetime empowering others to help themselves through mentorship.


Les Woodward has been involved in a wide variety of corporate, business, and securities law matters for over 40 years. He has served as lead corporate counsel for a number of companies, from start up, through the early phases of public ownership, to operation as significant-sized public companies. Mr. Woodward is regularly involved in counseling business enterprises on operational and securities law matters. 

Mr. Woodward also represents several investment companies and investment advisers with respect to the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 as well as general business law matters. 

Mr. Woodward was named in the the Best Lawyers in America® and is a member of the Denver, Colorado, and American Bar Associations. He has served as chair of the Securities Law Committee of the Corporate, Banking and Business Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. 

Mr. Woodward has devoted substantial time to civic activities, primarily in the field of education. He served as the President of the Denver Public School Board from 1999-2005. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas, and was chair of the Board. He was a member of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and was also chair. He was chair of the Board of Directors of the Public Education Coalition of Denver and a member from its inception. He also has served as a member of the Board of Directors and vice-chair for Public Affairs of the Denver Chamber of Commerce. (

In 2006, the Denver Civic Leadership Award was established to honor the legacy of Monte Pascoe and the first award was given to Monte Pascoe posthumously.  Since August 2007, the award has been presented annually by the Denver Mayor to a member of the community who exemplifies the civic leadership qualities demonstrated by Monte Pascoe. 

Throughout his lifetime, Monte Pascoe’s actions exemplified the importance of civic engagement and leadership.  He is remembered for his personal convictions and courage, and earned the respect of the community for his constant acts in support of those convictions.  Pascoe played a key role in shaping the history of Denver. He helped file a lawsuit that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court which ordered Denver Public Schools to desegregate its educational facilities. His willingness to respond to the broad needs of Colorado was reflected in leadership positions including President of the Board of Trustees of the Iliff School of Theology and board membership with the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado Open Lands Foundation, Colorado Water Conservation Board and many more. 

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Who Was Monte Pascoe?

After graduating from East High School in Denver, Monte Pascoe attended Dartmouth College. He earned his J.D. degree from Stanford University.

In 1960, Pascoe began working for the law firm of Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, where he worked until his death in 2006. Not only was he a prominent lawyer, but he was also a political activist. After unsuccessfully running for a seat on the Denver Public Schools ("DPS") Board, he helped back a segregation lawsuit against DPS; this case, which resulted in the desegregation of DPS, was known as the Keyes Case.

Pascoe served as state party chairman of the Democratic Party from 1973 to 1977, and was instrumental in the election of former Governor Richard Lamm. He served as executive director of the Department of Natural Resources and as a commissioner on the Denver Board of Water Commissioners. He also served on the Colorado School of Mines Board and was President of the Illiff School of Theology. He was a member of the Colorado Bar Association since 1960.

In his later years, Pascoe represented clients wishing to preserve land for open space. When asked about Pascoe, his colleagues said "He solved problems," and described him as versatile, compassionate, and "one of the most ethical and honest guys you'd ever run into."


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