Transformative Leadership for Change Fellowship | 2018 Cohort.

Cohort member’s titles and bios were provided during their fellowship. Changes may have occurred since their participation.

Sondra Agnew-Young

Sondra Agnew-Young is a community leader, organizer, innovative entrepreneur and youth life coach. She is serving her second term as President of the Denver Branch of the National Association for the Advance of Colored People (NAACP) and also serves as Executive Director of Colorado Council for Urban Youth Development. Sondra also is the current CEO of SKKYE and Associates – a marketing, conflict resolution, and non-profit consulting company, and owner of The Haberdasher — a men’s clothing line.

Sondra has a sincere desire to see people succeed! Sondra has developed numerous programs and formed several non-profit organizations including  KIDPOWER, a free summer reading and writing program for children 4-12 years old which offers a safe and educational haven for area youth, Save a Sista, Save Yourself (SASSY) encourages and uplifts young ladies ages 12-16 and reminds them that they are beautiful and that they matter, regardless of their current or past situations and the Gentleman Club serves as a rite of passage for young men of color, 13-16 years old.

Sondra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Communication and Conflict Management from Regis University and a Bachelor Certification in High-Performance Management. She also has a Six Sigma Greenbelt from Villanova University and is currently enrolled in the Regis Organizational Development graduate program.

Sondra Agnew-Young sits on the board of Family Against Violent Acts, United for a New Economy and the Denver Sheriff’s Department Advisory Board. She is a member of the National Communication Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta, and Colorado Black Women for Political Action, Martin Luther King Celebration Committee, Colorado Black Leadership Caucus and Alliance of College Women and a Proud Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Alexandra Alonso is the Executive Director at Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO), founded in 1964 as LARASA (Latin American Research & Services Agency). She was born in Florida and grew up in Colorado but always had the strong influence of her Cuban and Colombian family. She is passionate about advocating for the Latino community, equitable education, and eliminating the stigma around mental health. Alexandra studied Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Leadership Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Before joining the CLLARO team, Alexandra worked as the Internship Coordinator at The Denver Post and began her journey as a CLLARO volunteer. As a CLLARO Capitol Fellow, she spent 2016 the legislative session at the Colorado Department of Higher Education working efforts to close student opportunity and attainment gaps around the state. She then became CLLARO’s Program Manager, focusing on equity in education for the Latino community, specifically around the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act in Colorado. During her time as Program Manager, she advocated for underrepresented students State Board of Education meetings, planned a state-wide ESSA convening, presented the work of the Equity in Colorado Coalition to a national audience at the Leadership Conference Education Fund in Houston and sat on two spoke committees for CDE’s Colorado’s ESSA state plan development.

Music and dancing are an integral part of Alexandra’s life. In her spare time, you can usually find her at a karaoke spot with her husband, singing at the dinner table with family or dancing at a Zumba studio.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I am looking forward to learning from a powerful group of leaders in Colorado and to having important conversations about moving our communities forward together.

Carla Castedo

Carla Castedo is the Colorado Director for Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. Castedo is responsible for leading Mi Familia Vota’s Colorado efforts to move common-sense immigration reform and develop strategic partnerships throughout the state to advance civic engagement efforts such as citizenship, voter registration, voter education, voter mobilization and community engagement forward.

She is an immigrant who was born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and moved to the United States, along with her parents and 3 siblings, when she had just turned 12 years old. She first became involved in the community to organize for the passage of the DREAM Act. An avid supporter of immigrant rights, higher education and leadership development, Carla desires to empower young people and working families.

Prior to taking on the new role, Castedo served as Mi Familia Vota’s Northern Nevada Coordinator where she helped elevate the Latino community within Nevada’s political landscape, helping lead and implement MFV’s successful Latino voter mobilization efforts. Castedo served as one of the founding members of the Latino Leaders Table in Nevada and represented Mi Familia Vota in key state civic engagement and immigration coalitions. Additionally, Castedo was a part of the MFV team that registered more than 19,000 Latino voters in Nevada, earning Mi Familia Vota the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award in 2013.

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

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC? 

I’m most looking forward to being able to shift positive change that goes beyond our cohort, ourselves, and our organizations. Coming in with a sincere willingness to learn from my colleagues and offer my best so we can collectively achieve this transformation we seek because our communities and we ourselves need it. I’m extatic to be part of the first TLC fellowship.

Candi CdeBaca is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Project VOYCE, Reviver & Member of Cross Community Coalition and Founder & Principal of Rebel Soul Strategies. She is a community advocate in her home community of Northeast Denver. She has been featured as an influential leader and advocate by several publications and outlets including Politico, Fortune, Forbes, New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, 5280 Magazine, Planetizen and Canadian Broadcast Corporation. She has also authored and co-authored publications featured in the Denver Post, Nonprofit Quarterly and Equity Alliance. She is a fierce advocate for equity. CdeBaca has an unwavering commitment to ensuring increased participation of underrepresented groups in the political process and in leadership and decision-making roles across sectors. In her life outside of the justice movement, Candi is a baker, pilot, designer, and all-around handy-woman. She aspires to build a house, launch a clothing line, and own/operate a charter flight company on a tropical island.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

As an executive leader of color working in the nonprofit industrial complex, it is rare to have the opportunity to re-think our world and plan a new world collectively with others of the emerging majority. The future is literally in our hands as we step into our inheritance as the majority and given the imbalance in the world, the ancestral secrets flowing through our veins is needed now more than ever. I can’t wait to share those secrets and stories and make magic with this cohort! Together we will transform our world!

Candi CdeBaca

Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director
Project Voyce

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.

Jordan T. Garcia, 37, is Co Executive Director at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), where he sustains a project called Coloradans For Immigrant Rights (CFIR). He is honored to be a part of the nationwide trainers’ network for the Ruckus Society, where he trains front line communities across the country in Nonviolent Direct Action principles and practices. Jordan also worked with a community foundation, the Chinook Fund, as a grassroots grant making committee co chair and a board member for many years. Sitting on the board of directors for the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, publishers of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, gave Jordan an opportunity to promote the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building. He is currently on the board of directors for the Woodbine Ecology Center.

Jordan has used a collective liberation lens to do leadership development in our movements for justice for 16 years and learns more about how to do this better every day. He believes that community organizing for systemic change can and will lead us to liberation, Jordan is ecstatic to be able to use popular education and theater of the oppressed to do that work. Born in San Antonio, TX, he grew up in Kansas City, KS and moved to Colorado in 1998. Jordan graduated from Colorado College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy with an emphasis on Urban Studies. A sensitive Cancer, he enjoys cooking with friends, being a birth doula, riding his bike, planning for the post revolution industrial collapse and hopes to one day become a better bee farmer.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

The TLC Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for me to connect with local and national leaders who inform and inspire me. I’m honored to collaborate and learn from my cohort and this fellowship. I hope to build my leadership and increase my capacity to make change and fight for justice in my community.

Jordan Garcia

Immigrant Ally Organizing Director
American Friends Service Committee

Felicia Griffin

Executive Director
UNE Colorado
TLC Fiscal Sponsor

Felicia Griffin is the Executive Director for United for a New Economy (formerly FRESC: Good Jobs, Strong Communities). She joined United for a New Economy in 2013 after working as the Operations Director for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Felicia started her work in social and economic justice in 2002 and has worked as a 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. She represents United for a New Economy on the board of the Partnership for Working Families, the national network to which United for a New Economy belongs. Felicia is also the current Chair of the Aurora Human Relations Commission.

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 all workers and their families. Felicia believes in United for a New Economy and feels her experience and passion have led her to this awesome organization. In her free time, Felicia loves to travel and spend quality time with her husband and children.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I’m honored to be among some extraordinary organizational leaders committed to creating thriving communities rich in opportunity, equity, and love!

Rosa Guzman-Snyder is the director of the Community Language Cooperative (CLC). Rosa was born in El Paso, Texas, however she considers herself a Colorado native. She was raised in the Westwood neighborhood and still resides in Southwest Denver.

Three years ago Rosa and her sister and business partner Indira set out to be a part of a community wealth building and language justice movement in Denver. The Community Language Cooperative (CLC) has grown from three to 15 interpreters among 10 different languages. Although they interpret for city council meetings or for Washington Post stories, the cooperative prioritizes communities where local residents are leading the movements, to ensure that every voice is heard and understood, and that language justice is practiced.

Rosa has travelled throughout Colorado training other organizations on language justice as a central piece to racial justice. Rosa, along with the CLC team, have created a training model where non-profits, city agencies, and other organizations learn how to best serve linguistically diverse communities by creating language-neutral spaces. Rosa is a lead advocate in the language justice movement, ensuring that the oppressive practices around linguistic services are dismantled. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rosa understands the power and privilege that is associated with language and seeks to create spaces where people are not simply understood, but are free to express, imagine, and lead, regardless of language.

Along with the CLC work, Rosa has helped launch local campaign “Our Home, Our Right” in Southwest Denver to address rapid displacement and gentrification. She is working with a group of community leaders on creative strategies around community credit and advocacy for renter protections in Colorado.

Before starting the CLC, she worked for Pueblo City Schools with The National Center for Family Learning implementing Family Literacy programs in schools throughout Pueblo. Rosa’s faith is an integral part of her life and she is on a quest to “decolonize her faith.” The church community has played an important role in Rosa’s leadership and vision. Rosa is a graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo  and is currently obtaining a Masters in Public Administration. She is expected to graduate in December 2017.

Rosa is married to her sweet Nebraskan who puts up with all of her crazy daily. They are raising two amazing kiddos to change the world radically. Rosa enjoys crashing her parents’ house around dinner time,  playing guitar for her five-year old’s Tejano rock band, and preparing a savory chicken móle that she makes from scratch.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I can’t think of a better way to navigate and survive these hard times than to create a space for leaders of color to heal and develop their leadership. What an amazing opportunity to grow as a collective while simultaneously challenging the status quo.

Rosa Guzman-Snyder

Executive Director
Community Language Cooperative

Kristiana Huitrón

Executive Director
Voces Unidas for Justice

Kristiana Huitrón, the Executive Director of Voces Unidas for Justice, is a consummate advocate and educator who uses art, praxis, and research to move theory into practice that is rooted in balance. Whether in her community-based work with individuals or through training and technical assistance to organizations, catalyzing the power of the possible Ms. Huitrón develops projects and programming based in the human need for healing and justice, in order help end violence.

Ms. Huitron has worked nationally, with Red Wind Consulting and National Latin@ Network, and statewide, with Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Locally, she has worked from art galleries to the front lines, from managing the shelter, to initiating community-based youth education, from living rooms with Promotoras to courtrooms with survivors. Consistently, her work has centered around the intersection of anti-oppression, with culturally and linguistically generated approaches that are accessible to those outside of the mainstream. She has dedicated her work to serving Latin@s, immigrants, Native Americans, youth, survivors of violence, her family and community, in both Spanish and English in both urban and rural settings.

A contributing author to An Analysis of PREP Curricula: A trauma Informed Approach, she connected culture and trauma response. As the editor of Creating Sister Space: A Guide for Developing Tribal Shelter and Transitional Housing Programs, she worked with the author toward applicability of best practice. She has published blogs and essays in the anti-violence against women field, and most recently is co-authoring the results of a national study on the housing needs of Latin@ immigrant survivors of violence to be released by the end of 2017.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I am here to excavate and cultivate the best of myself, to expand my magical circle of women, because that is what heals me, and to hook into the greatest version of the future so that I can live it, so that we all can live it.

Deidre Johnson is the Executive Director of The Center for African-American Health. A community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of African Americans, The Center works toward health equity for the underserved African American community by offering culturally competent health education and outreach that empowers community members to overcome the root causes of health problems, maximize their own individual health and access health and support services. Johnson is a results-oriented executive with an extensive background in strategic planning, grant making, grants management, fund raising, program development, project management, strategic learning and systems evaluation. Prior to joining the Center in December 2015, Johnson was a Program Officer for The Colorado Trust, Vice President of Development and Marketing for Qualistar Early Learning, worked as a senior consultant with JVA Consulting, and has held various leadership positions in development and communications with the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, the Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers. and the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation.

A Denver native, Johnson graduated from St. Mary’s Academy and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Princeton University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Johnson currently serves on the following boards and steering committees: St. Mary’s Academy, Mile High Health Alliance, the Colorado Nonprofit Loan Fund the Cavity Free at Three Advisory Board the Colorado Health Access Fund State Advisory Board, Center for Health Equity at Denver Health  Steering Committee, and CDPHE Office of Health Disparities Health Equity Profile Advisory Committee.

Johnson is an ASCEND Aspen Institute Colorado Children and Families Health and Human Services Fellow (2017-2018), a Transformative Leadership for Change Fellow (2017-2018), a Livingston Fellow (2018), a member of the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation Leadership Denver Class of 2007 and co-Chair of the Denver Princeton Prize in Race Relations for the Rocky Mountain Princeton Club. She is the mother of two sons, Noah (14) and Jordan (13).

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I am looking forward to learning to working with such a dynamic group. Some who I know, many whom I have heard of and have been wanting to meet, and others new to me. I am excited about the collective possibilities of what we can create together!

Deidre Johnson

Janiece Mackey

Janiece is a Colorado native and grew up in Aurora, Colorado. She is a wife to her high school sweetheart and mother of four children. Janiece has built her career of service and leadership from her narrative. 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 civic engagement or they didn’t have a conduit to civically engage in our communities. Due to being one of a few Blacks within academic, political, and professional spaces, she created an organization entitled Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) to provide a conduit for youth of color to become civically engaged in community and career. She has had a direct impact on youth and the education system through counseling, lobbying, mentoring, researching, and teaching. She is a Black social scientist with a zealous commitment to social justice and creating innovative experiences for youth who will pursue social science academic and career development. Due to her converging interests in education and policy, she also teaches Ethnic Studies and Political Science as an Adjunct Faculty. She is also pursuing a PhD in Higher Education with a Public Policy and Curriculum and Instruction emphasis at the University of Denver.

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 desires to deepen, further develop, and expand “healing praxis” for more youth and professionals within the public service sector. She believes that those who commit to transformational justice and equity must validate and innovate academic and career experiences that will sustain, retain, and rejuvenate youth and professionals of color who commit to “transformational praxis.”

Thus, Janiece has presented at many local and national conferences to encourage conversations concerning the nexus racial identity development, civic engagement, and education. After completing her PhD, she hopes to continue her endeavors with YAASPA, become a professor who teaches and conducts research concerning racial and educational equity, and be elected to public office.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

Being a TLC fellow will enable to me to be in a space that cultivates my creative genius reflective of my intersecting identities, but particularly my racial identity. Having the opportunity to be among other leaders of color who have exuded such brilliance in our communities in versatile ways is humbling and an honor. I know that I will glean so much wisdom and culturally relevant knowledge in this space led by and created for leaders of color. I am looking forward to the opportunity to engaging in reflexive ways that allows for us to build with each other not only for our communities, but also for our own necessary self-care and self-efficacy in doing transformative work.

The daughter of South Asian immigrants, Neha Mahajan has supported social justice and community organizing efforts for over 15 years.  As a young activist, she developed political consciousness in movements for immigrant justice, youth organizing, ending violence against women of color and dismantling the prison industrial complex.  Locally she served as Co-Executive Director of the Chinook Fund, Colorado’s only social justice foundation, where she provided leadership around progressive movement building, cross-class organizing, collective leadership and dismantling oppression in the philanthropic and non-profit sectors.  Neha also served as Co-Executive Director at Survivors Organizing for Liberation, where she oversaw financial management and fundraising for the statewide organization dedicated to LGBTQ justice and youth organizing.

Neha is now the Director of 9to5 Colorado, leading statewide campaigns for paid sick days, family medical leave, affordable housing/transit and other critical issues affecting low-wage working women.  She is also currently on the Board of Directors of GIFT (Grassroots Institute of Fundraising Training) and member of Standing in Our Power, a national network of women of color committed to transforming leadership for social justice organizations & movements.  Neha is deeply committed to mobilizing resources, supporting the leadership of those most impacted and strengthening movements for social change by centering women and LGBTQ people of color.

Neha Mahajan

Chapter Director
9to5 Colorado

Nicole Melaku

Nicole Melaku is the Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC).Nicole was introduced to organizing and fundraising as a volunteer in Aurora public schools and was inspired to bring her skill set to the immigrant rights movement in 2010. In 2012, she joined the CIRC  where she worked on CIRC’s immigrant integration programming, organizational development, and national partnership work. Prior to taking this position, Nicole was on the staff of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, where she oversaw grant-making and special initiatives including the Colorado Immigrant Funders Collaborative. She is first generation American and granddaughter of immigrants from Chihuahua and Guanajuato Mexico.

Nicole is an alumni of the University of Colorado, Boulder where she studied Latin American Studies and Spanish. She was part of the 2015 Colorado Cohort of the New American Leaders Project (NALP) and serves on the Executive Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). Nicole also serves as the Executive Director of CIRC Action Fund, CIRC’s sister C4 organization which aims to build immigrant and refugee electoral power in Colorado. She lives in Aurora with her two boys and husband and enjoys cooking, dancing, and entertaining friends and family at her family’s home.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I look forward to building and lifting up the collective power of leaders to build a leadership movement rooted in trust and collaboration. When we change ourselves, we change the world.

Crystal Middlestadt is the Co-Executive Director and Resource Development Director of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT), a national, multiracial organization that promotes the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building. Crystal is an innovative, skilled, and passionate leader, facilitator, and trainer with more than 15 years experience with nonprofit leadership, resource development, gender justice, anti-violence organizing, and empowerment based self-defense. Born and raised in Oregon, Crystal moved to Denver, Colorado in 2004 where she found home, fell in love with the mountains, and took her violence prevention organizing to the next level.

Crystal’s curiosity in how funding influences organizational and movement priorities led her to join her first development committee in 2006 while program staff at The Blue Bench, a local rape crisis center. Since 2014, she has co-coordinated the Allied Media Conference “Resourcing & Sustaining Our Movements” track, held in Detroit, MI, reaching hundreds of resource mobilizers each year. She is looking forward to joining the board of Resource Generation, an organization that organizes young people with wealth and class privilege in the U.S. to become transformative leaders working towards the equitable distribution of wealth, land and power.

Prior to joining the GIFT team, Crystal served as program staff and Co-Executive Director of Survivors Organizing for Liberation (SOL), a statewide organization dedicated to building safety and justice for LGBTQ communities. Crystal previously served on the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program’s Governance Committee and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s Sexual Assault Prevention State Team. She is an active LGBTQ anti-violence trainer for the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance program.

Crystal spends her spare time reading tech blogs and poc sci-fi, building her music collection, and camping throughout the West. She has a B.S. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of Oregon.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I am honored join this incredible cohort of leaders. My hope is that the TLC Fellowship will provide a dynamic network of local support while deepening my understanding of leadership and strategies to create change in my community. I am eager for opportunities to engage in critical reflection on leadership practices, including within shared leadership structures, with my peers in Colorado.

Crystal Middlestadt

Resource Development Director
Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training

Hilda Nucete

Program Director

Hilda Nucete is the Program Director for Protégete, a program of Conservation Colorado. Protégete is building a more powerful and influential voice for local Latino communities and leaders in the fight against climate change by promoting clean energy for a healthy future for all Coloradans. She is a mentor at LIPS Institute (Latinas Increasing Political Strength) and was recently appointed to the Denver Office of Sustainability Advisory Council by Mayor Michael Hancock.

Hilda Nucete grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2007 she moved to Colorado due to the difficult political situation in Venezuela. Shortly after arriving to America Hilda’s became greatly passionate about social, racial, and environmental justice issues.

She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in International studies with emphasis in Latin America and Europe and a minor in French language and culture and an specialization in International Business and French from the Université Blaise Pascal in 2014.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

I am thrilled and honored to be able to join such a diverse and committed cohort of leaders in our community. I am excited for the community that we will be able to build with leaders that will lift each other as we rise and encourage one another in our fights rather than being in a system of competition. I am eager for this program to continue to build a community of leaders that will be sustainable for the progressive organizing movement in the long run.

As a daughter of immigrant parents, Elsa Oliva Rocha has organized for equity and justice at the age of sixteen. As a high school student leader, Elsa was involved in campaigns to improve the conditions at her school, West High School in Denver, Colorado. Elsa was the first in her family to graduate from college. She went on to graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Spanish. Before joining Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, she was the Program Coordinator for the Promotora project at Clínica Tepeyac.

Elsa joined Padres & Jóvenes Unidos in the fall of 2013 as a youth organizer and since then has helped lead youth and parent led-campaigns, as well as building the internal infrastructure of the organization. Elsa joined the leadership team of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos in 2007 as the Operations Director and later became a Co-Executive Director in winter 2016. As a working class Chicana, Elsa is committed to organizing alongside community members to make long-term systemic change to improve the lives of her friends, family and neighbors. She lives in Denver with her daughter and husband, and enjoys dancing and spending time with her family.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

As a fellow of Transformative Leadership for Change, I hope to gain internal capacity to allow me to build power in Colorado in order to make true meaningful change. I want to build a network of like-minded organizations, as well as build partnerships with funders and political leaders who share my vision of a true democracy for all people of color, working class families, the LGBTQ community and immigrants.

Elsa Oliva Rocha

Co-Executive Director
Padres & Jóvenes Unidos

Veronica Palmer

Co-Founder and CEO
RISE Colorado

Veronica Palmer is the Co-Founder and CEO of RISE Colorado, a family empowerment non-profit in Aurora. RISE works to educate, engage and empower low-income families and families of color to RISE as change agents for educational equity in our public school system. Veronica is a 7th generation Colorado native that was born and raised in Denver. She was educated in Denver Public Schools and went on to become the first Latina Student Body President at the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating with honors and a degree in Political Science in 2005. Veronica was a 2006 Teach For America Los Angeles corps member and taught 3rd grade in Lynwood Unified School District, serving as grade level chair her second year. In 2008, she graduated with honors from Loyola Marymount University with a Master’s in Education. That same year Veronica became a founding teacher at KIPP Raíces Academy in East Los Angeles where she taught Kindergarten and founded the Parent Advisory Council.

In 2010, Veronica joined Teach For America’s (TFA) staff in Los Angeles as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development, supporting elementary and middle school corps members. While on staff, Veronica was appointed to the national TFA Latino Advisory Council, participated in Leadership for Educational Equity’s (LEE) Political Leaders Fellowship, and completed the Urban Leaders Fellowship with CO State Senator Mike Johnston’s office serving on the education policy team. While at RISE, Veronica has completed the Aspen-Pahara NextGen Fellowship, Stanford’s Latino Entrepreneurship Leaders Program, and the Latino Leadership Institute at DU. Since founding, RISE has been named winner of the TFA Social Innovation Award, the White House’s Bright Spot in Hispanic Education, LEE’s Inaugural Venture Fund and Fellowship Award, Forbes 30 Under 30, Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Colorado’s MLK, Jr. Humanitarian Award, and Denver’s New Leaders Council Progressive Hero Award. Veronica and her husband Leotis have two children, Trey and Avianna. In addition to her family Veronica loves dancing and traveling.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

It is an incredible honor to have been chosen for the TLC fellowship. I have had the opportunity to be part of many national fellowships that focus on leadership development, identity, and being a nonprofit leader but none where I’ll get to go deep in organizing and identity work with people of color who work in and live in my same community. The focus TLC has on uplifting and empowering leaders of color who organize to bring change in CO will be transformative experience for us all I’m sure. I’m excited to meet and learn from the other amazing fellows so we can do this work together alongside our communities of color in CO. Equitable systemic change is needed and I look forward to working urgently with TLC being part of this catalyst for change.

Angell Pérez is the executive director of Colorado Circles for Change, owner and principal consultant of Angell Pérez Consulting LLC, adjunct professor for Gender, Women and Sexuaitiesl Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the mother of four. She has over 20 years experience working within communities of color to provide a space of empowerment for youth to dismantle various forms of oppression and reach their full potential. She is an expert on intersectionality and providing gender specific programming for girls of color. Under her leadership, she has been responsible for leading transformational initiatives at organizations which have included facilitating conversations around race, gender, power, privilege and forms of oppression to dismantle societal barriers for communities of color.

Angell feels strongly that her personal lived experience is what informs her work and is only complemented by her formal education and training. She received an independent bachelor degree in Multiculturalism and Social Justice from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a certificate in Non-Profit Management and a Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies from Colorado State University with a certificate in Women’s Studies. Angell is an alumni of the Community Resource Center’s Colorado Non-Profit Leadership and Management Program, the Denver Foundation’s Executive Directors of Color Institute, the national Spirit in Action Transformative Leadership Program, member of the National Wisdom Keepers Initiative, Denver Healing Generations Network and associated with the National Comadres Network. Angell is a healer, writer, hip hop lover, and finds strength and power through her spiritual mexica, taino, and african traditions which she attributes to her ability to champion community work.  

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

Having the opportunity to be in an intentional community of executive directors of color will allow for learning, sharing, growth, and support which we cannot find in any other leadership development space. I believe this is an opportunity to build power, create strong support systems, and networks that will enable us to have a bigger impact in the work we do. For me personally, participation in this fellowship will support my personal journey which needs a network of supporters that can identify with my agency as an executive director of color. Without this particular support to address my unique needs I will not reach my potential as a leader, I hope this opportunity will contribute to that journey.  

Angell Pérez

Executive Director
Colorado Circles for Change

Dr. Timothy E. Tyler is the Pastor of Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado. Reverend Tyler earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio; a Master of Divinity degree from Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta Georgia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from Morris Brown College, Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Tyler has distinguished himself as a Social Justice Advocate. He led the fight to get justice for a homeless man by the name of Marvin Booker who was killed in the Denver Jail. Booker’s family was awarded $6,000,000.00. The highest amount ever awarded to victim of misuse of force in Denver’s history. Dr. Tyler currently serves on a community advisory committee for the Denver District Attorney. Reverend Tyler was appointed in January of 2011 to the Colorado State Judicial Performance Commission. He is also the Chairman of the Dean of Instructions for the 5th Episcopal District of the AME Church. Dr. Tyler is the founder of the Wayman Community Development Corporation. Dr. Tyler is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Dr. Tyler is married to Nita Mosby Tyler and they have three children – two daughters, Jasmine and Imani, and a son Chinelo.

What are you looking forward to as a fellow of TLC?

It is my hope to experience a new level of leadership awareness through this fellowship. I look forward to learning how to help others transform for the good and I look forward to having my own transformational experience. I am clear that as I look back on all of my opportunities to serve the community I still have much to learn from those who have been in the leadership trenches.