The Transformative Leadership for Change | Staff


Neha Mahajan

Neha Mahajan is the daughter of South Asian Punjabi immigrants and brings nearly 20 years of experience fighting for social justice.  As a young activist, she developed political consciousness in movements such as immigrant justice, youth organizing, ending violence against women of color, and dismantling the prison industrial complex.

Over the last 13 years, Neha has led multiple philanthropic and community organizations in the Colorado ecosystem.  She served as Co-Executive Director of Chinook Fund, Co-Executive Director of Survivors Organizing for Liberation, and State Director of 9to5 Colorado. Neha has supported a number of local organizing campaigns, from police accountability to housing justice; she played a critical leadership role in building the campaign that won paid family and medical leave for Colorado workers.  She also worked as the National Organizing Director for Family Values at Work, where she helped their national network center the leadership of women of color, invest more deeply in grassroots organizing, and work more intentionally at the intersection of race, class, and gender.

Neha co-founded TLC in 2017, and is honored to now step into a paid position to help make TLC’s vision a reality. She is also currently on the board of Cultivando (Commerce City, Colorado) and on the coordinating committee of the NorthStar National Network.  Neha is a graduate of the Satya Yoga Cooperative BIPOC teacher training program and weaves together social justice, healing, and spiritual practices in her consulting and coaching business –  NehaDevi Consulting.


Tania Valenzuela

Tania Soto Valenzuela, of the documentary Tania Monarca, is originally from Mexico, and moved to the US with her family when she was 9 years old. She has been fighting her mother’s deportation since 2009 and this past December 2019 they won a cancelation of removal. She lived as an unauthorized immigrant up until 3 years ago. Her lived experience has always been closely tied with inequity, lack of opportunity, and exclusion. This has led her to working to dismantle inequalities as a researcher and community organizer. She attempts to guide conversations towards positive community change, using tools to assist people to identify their privileged and marginalized identities towards shaping our collective liberation.

She graduated from Regis University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, where she started her activism on immigration issues. She has led many campaigns on an array of social justice issues and has been part of the activist community in Denver, CO for over 10 years. Besides joining TLC as the Program Manager, Tania is conducting research with the Right2Learn Dignity Lab making the argument of education as a fundamental right of personhood. She serves American Friends Service Committee as the co-clerks the Third World Coalition a space for BIPOC throughout the organization and community to come together to support their efforts.


The Transformative Leadership for Change | Governing Council


Cristina Aguilar

Local facilitator
Aguilar Strategies

Cristina Aguilar is a nationally recognized leader, policy and advocacy strategist in intersectional movements committed to being a doula for collective liberation and human rights. A queer Latinx from the U.S./Mexico borderlands, Cristina has led non-profit organizations, projects and campaigns focused on community organizing, leadership development, healing justice and political advocacy that center most impacted communities.  She has advised and trained local, state and national organizations, advocates and policy makers on employing cross-sector, anti-racist and transformational practices in their work using an emergent and trauma informed lens. She is the president and founder of Aguilar Strategies and currently serves as Interim Executive Director of The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. She was previously the Executive Director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), where she led their efforts to develop young leaders and empower the Colorado Latinx community to shape policies that impact their lives.

Cristina co-founded COLOR Action Fund and the People of Color Caucus for One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. She was named a 2018 Political Rising Star by Denverite and Top 25 Most Powerful Woman in 2017 by the Denver Women’s Chamber. She was a Marshall Memorial Fellow (‘15) and a Bonfils Stanton Foundation Livingston Fellow (’15). Cristina is also a master reiki healer dedicated to spiritual practices that blend and reclaim her family’s Mexican curanderisma lineage. She believes radical self-care, community care and love will ensure we all thrive on the path to collective liberation.


Carla Castedo

Director of Economic Mobility

City of Denver NEST team

Carla Castedo is an immigrant, who was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  She moved to the United States, along with her parents and 3 siblings, when she had just turned 12 years old. Carla is an avid supporter of immigrant rights, higher education, leadership development, equity, social and economic justice and civic engagement. She desires to empower young people and working families.

Carla currently works for the City of Denver as the Director of Economic Mobility of the Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization team (NEST) where she is responsible for developing, sustaining, and transitioning pilot programs that are focused on building economic mobility. These programs consist of a series of initiatives for families that center equity, leadership growth, resource connections, and small business support.

Prior to her role with NEST, Carla served as the Colorado State Director for Mi Familia Vota (MFV) Education Fund. Castedo was responsible for leading MFV Colorado’s efforts to move crucial policy at the local, state, and federal level forward and develop strategic partnerships throughout the state to advance civic engagement. Throughout her career, she has focused on elevating underserved communities within Nevada’s and Colorado’s political landscape, and she has helped build infrastructure to improve results in existing systems and coalitions.

Carla graduated from the University of Nevada with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology.


Lizeth Chacon

Executive Director
Colorado People’s Alliance

Lizeth Chacon, an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico, came to Colorado at the age of 12. During her first years of school, Lizeth noticed the injustices and difficulties many immigrants face and from that moment she began volunteering at her school and got involved in the movement for social justice. Lizeth was the first one of her family to graduate from college. In the fall of 2010 she graduated from the University of Colorado with two Bachelor’s Degrees, one in Political Science and a second in Criminal Justice. She got involved in the immigrant rights movement in 2006. In 2013, Lizeth was awarded a Mayoral Proclamation as “A Woman in Leadership” by Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and in 2014 she became a founding board member of the Aurora Welcome Center.

In the fall of 2014, Lizeth became the Executive Director of Rights for All People and in 2015 she led the union of Rights for All People and Colorado Progressive Coalition to create Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA). In 2016, Lizeth co-chaired the statewide ballot measure that successfully increased Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 and she co-created the Statewide Immigrant Resistance Table. Lizeth continues to lead collaborative efforts on climate, economic, immigrant and racial justice issues. Lizeth is the Founding Executive Director of Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA) and is currently on the Board of Directors of People’s Action.


Felicia Griffin

Felicia Griffin is the Deputy Director of Partnership for Working Families. A national organization focused on building diverse community and labor alliances to advance today’s most challenging issues around Economic, Racial and Gender Justice.

Felicia started her work in social and economic justice in 2002 and has worked as an executive director, research associate, deputy director, consultant, interim director, president and program manager since then. Felicia has worked on economic security policy on the state and national level (in partnership with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) and has worked on statewide organizing campaigns to increase Medicaid enrollment for children in poverty. She has also led a campaign funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation called “Race Matters: Policy through a Racial Lens” that focused on reducing disparities for communities of color in housing, employment, health and education.

In 2013, she became the Executive Director of United for a New Economy in Denver, which resulted in statewide Minimum wage increase, statewide wage-theft protections, funding for affordable housing in Denver. She is the co-founder and currently serves on the governing circle of the Transformative Leaders for Change Fellowship. Also serves on the national board of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Recently, she was a fellow at Cornell Universities; National Labor Leadership Initiative (NLLI) and is a fellow for Rutgers Universities Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO).

Felicia grew up in Aurora, Colorado and was raised by a single mother. Felicia knows firsthand what a good job means to a struggling family. In her first job she was a member of UFCW Local 7 (King Soopers) and she became a union steward at 16 year old. She is committed to opening the doors of opportunity for communities and people that have been left out of the “American Dream”. In her free time, Felicia loves to travel and spend quality time with her husband and children.


Candace Johnson

Community Partner – Denver Metro Area
The Colorado Trust 

Originally from Texas and raised in Minnesota, Candace has found a home and is part of a thriving community in Colorado for over 12 years. She is a Denver based organizer and trainer with over a decade of experience in a multitude of movement settings.  This includes co-leading a participatory budgeting pilot program and leading workshops on community organizing, movement building, and anti-oppression. She organized with Food and Water Watch, was the Organizing Director of Colorado Jobs with Justice, and is currently working in the philanthropic sector as the Denver Metro Area Community Partner for The Colorado Trust. 

Candace is currently on the boards of the Chinook Fund and Colorado Jobs with Justice.  She is also an anti-oppression trainer for Rocky Mountain Emerge and a member of the National Jobs with Justice Leadership Development and Organizing Training program for the last six years.


Dr. Janiece Mackey

Dr. Janiece Mackey grew up in Aurora, Colorado where she still resides as a wife and mother of 4 children. Dr. Mackey has built her career of servant leadership from her narrative.  By reflecting upon her counter-narrative, she was able to place “her story” into a larger sociopolitical context that reflects not just “her story,” but that of many youth of color. She has been involved in politics since 17 years old and noticed that she was often the only youth of color. She knew youth of color either weren’t interested in activism or they didn’t have a conduit to civically engage.  Due to being one of a few Black folks within academic, civic, and professional spaces, she created an organization entitled Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA). YAASPA endeavors to build the self-efficacy of youth to reclaim academic, civic and career spaces through race conscious leadership and transformative organizing. Due to her converging interests in education and policy, she is an Equitable Futures Postdoctoral Research Fellow, co-edited a book entitled Black Girl Civics, has been an Ethnic Studies and Political Science Adjunct Faculty, and earned her PhD in Higher Education with a Public Policy and Curriculum and Instruction emphasis at the University of Denver. She desires to deepen, further develop, and expand “healing praxis” (hooks, 1994) for more youth and professionals of color within the public administration spaces. She believes that those who commit to transformational justice and racial equity must validate and innovate academic, career, and civic experiences that sustain, retain, and rejuvenate minoritized youth and young professionals.