Transformative Leadership for Change Fellowship | 2021 Cohort

Nadine Bridges (she/her) has dedicated herself to working with and advocating for vulnerable communities for the past 20 years. She is committed to racial equity, social justice, and anti-oppressive movements. She has been a professor, director, counselor, mentor, volunteer, and activist. As the director of Rainbow Alley, an LGBTQ+ youth serving organization, she worked tirelessly to ensure that the youth she served were protected, seen, and heard.  Nadine volunteered in Nicaragua with the Peace Corps where she worked with local government officials, ngo’s, police, community, and youth leaders. She started her own mentorship program during her undergraduate years and taught Spanish at a charter school.  Before taking on her new role as the Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families, she was the Community Health Division Manager for Boulder County Public Health. 

Nadine is also a professor at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work teaching classes on Power, Privilege and Oppression; Disrupting Privilege; Community Leadership and Organizing; and Social Justice & Ethics. She professionally mentors former students and colleagues and serves on the Advisory Committee of Racial Diversity to the Dean at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work.  She is also the Director of Scholarships for The Alexander Foundation.

Nadine earned her BS in Biology from the College of Charleston and her Masters of Social Work from the University of Denver along with a Certificate for Social Work with the Latinx Community.

I am looking forward to building community, healing, and learning from other like-minded BIAPOC leaders.

Nadine Bridges

Executive Director
One Colorado 

Amy E. Brown

Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Development
Black Lives Matter 5280

Amy E. Brown (she, her) is a Black woman, mother, and community organizer committed to advancing the fight for Black liberation. Amy was born and raised in the occupied land of the Ute, Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Arapahoe that is widely known as Denver, where she bases her work and family. Fighting the oppression of marginalized people has motivated Amy to do meaningful work within the California State Legislature, the Sacramento City Council, as well as local nonprofit, grassroots, and labor organizations. In 2015, it led her to co-found Black Lives Matter 5280, where she now serves as Director of Strategic Development. As a single mother to her daughter Mercy, Amy works hard to build the world that all Black girls deserve. Amy balances this work by savoring every moment she can with Mercy, who embodies Black girl magic.

After a year of COVID-19, I am so looking forward to being with community again! After a year filled with challenges and loss, I’m excited to connect and build something new with my fellow  cohort members.

Tania Chairez (she, ella) is an undocumented immigrant who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. For the past decade, Tania has prioritized her passion for the intersection of immigration and education as a grassroots community organizer and educator in secondary and post-secondary spaces.

Tania is the Founder & CEO of Convivir Colorado, a nonprofit that uses the power of storytelling, artistic expression, and community building to engage 6th through 12th grade immigrant, refugee, and first-gen students in self-empowerment and leadership development.  Watch her TedX Talk on being Undocumented and Unafraid, share her journey in the local documentary Five Dreamers, and uplift her monologue titled “Listen to Your Heart” in the Shoebox Stories podcast from Motus Theater.

Tania received a B.S. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and M.Ed. from Grand Canyon University.  She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Joy as Resistance, Keeping the Dream Alive, and Free Migration Project.

I am looking forward to re-imagining what it looks like to lead through a social justice lens alongside a cohort of radical people committed to collective liberation!

Tania Chairez

Founder & CEO
Convivir Colorado

Dre Chiriboga-Flor

Colorado State Director
9to5 Colorado 

Dre Chiriboga-Flor (she, her, ella) is the State Director for 9to5 Colorado, a grassroots member-based organization dedicated to fighting for womxn’s rights in and outside of the workplace. She was politicized by spending time in her mother country of Ecuador growing up, where she learned about Latin American activism. However, Dre didn’t have a word for organizing until volunteering with a labor union led by women in the Dominican Republic through the Workers’ Rights Consortium and United Students Against Sweatshops. After college, she worked at a Spanish-language immersion childcare center in Boston and organized workers to push for benefits and overtime. Dre began her work with 9to5 as a transit organizer and evolved into building the foundation for 9to5’s housing justice work. In 2016, she co-founded Colorado Homes For All, which is based on the national housing justice movement led by the Right to the City Alliance. Her leadership style is largely shaped by her experience as a Power of 50 fellow. 

Dre fundamentally believes that humor has an important place in the movement, even and especially when the world is the bleakest. In her free time, she enjoys biking, playing fútbol, finding animals, painting cartoons, and traveling around the world. If she didn’t have to work and the world was free of patriarchal, ableist, homophobic, white supremacy, she would learn how to master the creation of graffiti murals and coach babies in fútbol.

I want to build with other leaders I look up to and who have helped shape my leadership over the years to create a world grounded in the brilliance and vision of BIPOC guerrerxs.

Trennie Collins (she/her) is a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and a part of the LBGTQ+ Community. Collins was raised in Ignacio, CO.  She is determined to make her community healthy and educated about LGBTQ+ issues.  Collins is the co-founder of Southwest Rainbow Youth, which places emphasis on education, awareness, and support for LGBTQ+ youth in the local Ignacio community.  She has also recently co-founded Ignacio Out & Equal Alliance, for overall community and whole family support. These organizations collectively drive essential health initiatives never before seen in this region.

As an Indigenous woman, Collins also engages in social justice movements in the hopes of bringing BIPOC voices to the forefront, and to directly impact Native Country. She has been instrumental in food support systems creation, culturally specific elder care, and a larger mutual aid network for her community.  Collins is committed to making a positive impact on her hometown and strives to be the driving force for a strong resilient community. 

“For me it really is just giving back to the community that I love. My Nuchu people have been on these lands since the beginning. Giving thanks to everything and everyone that came before me and everything that’s yet to come is super important to me. Our ancestors went through struggles we can’t even imagine so that I (we) can be here today. I want to give thanks to them and make them proud of who I am and who I’m becoming.”

First, thank you to my ancestors who lived and fought for me to be here today. I am honored to have been selected, and I am looking forward to working and learning from other beautiful BIPOC leaders. I look forward to doing the work and translating it into positive forward movement for my community and for my people.

Trennie Collins

Tamra DeBrady (she/her/hers) was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and grew up in Fontana, California. She graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Shortly after moving to Denver in 2009, she finished her Masters in Business Administration. Tamra is currently an Account Executive for Cigna.  

In addition to her professional career – Tamra is an activist and leader in the community. She is currently the President of Colorado Black Women for Political Action and on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Lobby of Colorado, ProgressNow Colorado Education (PNCE), and Conservation Colorado. Tamra pledged Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) Professional Business Fraternity as an undergrad at California State University of San Bernardino. She is a co-founder of the AKPsi Denver Alumni Chapter and was the Regional Manager of Professional Development for the Western Great Plains Region in 2018. She is a Precinct Committee Person (PCP) for the Democratic Party. Tamra has worked on and consulted for political organizations, elected officials, and campaigns. 

Tamra is passionate about educating, empowering, and advocating for the community. “The task is to transform society; only the people can do that – not heroes, not celebrities, not stars.” – Huey P. Newton

Excited to be a part of a leadership program focused on developing BIPOC leaders. The fight for social justice, liberation, and changing systems requires partnership. Looking forward to building relationships and the powerful collaborations that will come out of this cohort.

Shannon Francis (she, her, hers) is Hopi and Dineh from the Southwest homelands of Arizona and New Mexico. She is Towering House clan born for Red Running into the Water clan. Her Hopi clans are Massau’, Bear Sand, and Snake Clan. Shannon comes from twelve generations of earth caretakers, ethnobotanists, and seed keepers. A certified Permaculture Design Instructor, Shannon weaves TEK Traditional Ecological Knowledge with innovative science. She loves to educate on caretaking of land, water, and soil resources; preserving Native heirloom GMO-free seeds, zero-waste philosophy, and how to live more harmoniously with nature. 

Shannon is the Executive Director for Spirit of the Sun, Inc. in Denver. She co-created and led an Indigenous Permaculture Community Garden Project with the Four Winds American Indian Council.  Shannon also co-created the Indigenous agricultural project at Woodbine Ecology Center in Sedalia, CO, and taught Indigenous gardening workshops for Native communities at the Denver Indian Center.  

Shannon has received the Justin B. Willie humanitarian award on the Navajo Nation (2014) as well as the Cesar E. Chavez female leadership award (2015)  for her work with Indigenous gardening, food justice, and community building projects.  She has also presented at the Front Range Bioneers, the Star School, Indigenous Farming Conference White Earth, MN, The Denver Green Festivals, Dartmouth College, Haskell Indian Nations College, Fort Lewis College AISES Conference, and the Teaching Outside the Box Environmental Education Conference.  

Shannon has six wonderful children and three amazing grandchildren that are her inspiration to make this a better world for all future generations to come.

I am looking forward to learning, listening, and sharing stories of my downfalls and successes in my working and family life in the Denver native community.  I am looking to grow with the cohort for the betterment of our community and future generations to come.

Shannon Francis

Executive Director
Spirit of the Sun

Amber Garcia

Executive Director
Women’s Voices for the Earth

Amber Garcia (they, them) was born in Denver and raised in Boulder, Colorado. They studied Ethnic Studies and Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD). Their passion for human rights and justice defines their purpose and has shaped their adult career. Amber’s political home is in the Reproductive Justice (RJ) movement where they have been fighting for bodily autonomy and liberation for over a decade. 

Amber is the Executive Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a national environmental health organization that works to eliminate toxic chemical exposure through policy advocacy, targeted corporate campaigns, education, and youth leadership development. For almost 6 years, Amber ran COLOR’s grassroots voter engagement and community advocacy work through a reproductive justice framework to mobilize the Latinx community in Denver and secure wins at both the legislature and the ballot box. Their work in the broader social justice movement includes working with community partners on policies to provide drivers licenses for undocumented folx and increasing the minimum wage for all Coloradoans. An organizer at their core, Amber is a dedicated movement builder at state and national levels through interconnected networks of individuals, organizations, and coalitions. They are a part of the North Star Network, an alum of the Rockwood Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice fellowship program, and a student of somatic healing. They envision a world where we have liberation for all people, where each one of us is able to fully embody and use our power to build a sustainable and collective future.

I am excited about TLC because I am a lifelong student and am grateful for the opportunity to invest in my professional development and to cultivate a larger movement ecosystem. I believe that when we invest in BIPOC & TGNCNB2S leadership and create spaces for diverse groups of people to learn, heal, and grow together in, we are living our values and making the work sustainable for the next generations of social justice stewardship.

Amanda Gonzalez (she/her) is a connector, systems change agent, DEI educator, critical race theory geek, animal lover, and executive leader. In her career she has served as a grant writer, community organizer, staff attorney, program director, professor, CEO and executive director – always with the goal of creating more inclusive governments, businesses, and communities. She is currently the executive director at Colorado Common Cause where she leads a team fighting for open, honest, and accountable government.  Amanda has also served as a board member for Focus Points Family Resource Center, United for a New Economy, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, the Colorado Lawyers Chapter of the American Constitution Society, New Era Colorado Education Fund, and the Colorado Fiscal Institute. Amanda holds an undergraduate degree (psychology/cognitive science) from Occidental College and a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. In 2015 she was named the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association’s Outstanding New Hispanic Lawyer and in 2019 she was named one of Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. 

When she’s not working she can be found scouring the front range for Colorado’s best wine, tacos, donuts, or dumplings, cuddling with her rescue dogs, or planning her next vacation in a very detailed spreadsheet.

I’m looking forward to reimagining what leadership can look like while learning from and growing with this amazing cohort of social justice and racial justice champions.

Amanda Gonzalez

Executive Director
Colorado Common Cause

Susana Guardado

Executive Director
One Morgan County

Susana Guardado (she/her/ella) was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and is the Executive Director of OneMorgan County. OMC’s goal is for all members, new and old, and especially BIPOC, to participate, contribute, and flourish in the place they call home. Her belonging-centered work has her addressing accessibility, wealth building, BIPOC rights, language justice, and creating more just spaces. She has been invited to work alongside many different communities in Colorado, who recognize her leadership, commitment, and techniques for making change. She is dedicated to working with and for people who have been intentionally and historically excluded in the same land that has been home for the past 20+ years.

Susana’s commitments to her community are shaped by her immigrant background and experience of living between worlds. With her grandmothers’ loving guidance and teachings, Susana has great inspiration for collective work and its promises. She is grateful to those who came before her, and to now be able to do the same in her role as an aunt of two.

I am most excited to meet, learn, and continue growing alongside other leaders with similar life experiences and positionality in organizations.

Beverly Grant, (she, her, hers) is a proud Denver native. She completed all of her schooling, from elementary to college, locally here in Denver.  Beverly is the mother of three children, including her son Reese, who tragically lost his life at age 17 yrs.  She has been a community organizer and entrepreneur for 30 years.  She has studied permaculture and taken a number of courses on urban farming and business development.

Beverly’s most recent venture is an urban farmers market called Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace, which was launched in 2011 in the Historic Five Points Neighborhood.  The mission of this farmers market focuses on broadening food access; providing food and nutrition literacy; supporting local business and neighborhood economy; showcasing neighborhood arts, history, and culture; shaping food policy; defining new food infrastructure and new agribusiness opportunities; and directly impacting the top four health disparities (cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease).  In October 2015, Seeds of Power Unity Farm (SOPUF) was established to provide a community learning platform for urban agriculture and a small production site for heirloom vegetables sourced directly to Mo’ Betta Green.  

Beverly is a founding member of the Satya Yoga Cooperative and teaches a number of courses including Trauma Sensitive Yoga for Grief. She also hosts a number of live radio programs on KGNU including: “On the HEAL Tip (Health, Eating, Active Living)” featuring local community members working to serve disenfranchised people; “Sleepless Nights” to share her love of House music; and “Soul Amalgamation” featuring all genres of Black music over a 60 year timeline.

In honor of her son Reese, who lost his life to violence on July 2, 2018, Beverly launched an annual day of service called “Random Gestures of Compassion” which brings people together to do acts of kindness for those in need or to support the mission of an organization that they believe in.  She invites everyone in our community to observe this day (July 20th) in a beneficial and positive manner.

TLC has opened an opportunity for Me to study, learn, imagine, grow, plan and dream in the company of folk that look like and understand ME.  TLC has opened an opportunity for ME to just BE.

Beverly Grant

Patience Kabwasa

Executive Director
Food to Power 

Patience Kabwasa’s (she, her) work centers around cultivating a more socially just, healthy, and racially equitable Colorado Springs through creating better access, knowledge, and power-building around healthy foods. Prior to stepping into the role of Executive Director, she served on Colorado Springs Food Rescue’s board of directors from 2015-2016, and became the Director of Programs in 2016.

Additional community involvement includes joining the Citizen’s Project, serving as a parent advisor through the Black Alliance for Educational Options (2007-2008), garden ministry coordinator through Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center (2008-present), participating in the African-American Youth Leadership Conference (2011-2012), being a member of the Colorado Transforming Safety Local Planning Team (2018-present), and a member of the Colorado Springs District 11 Policy Committee (2018-present).   She is also a weekly columnist for the Colorado Springs Independent, delivering original insight into local race relations, health equity, the criminal justice system, and education.

Kabwasa has given lectures on the topic of food equity at the Pikes Peak Food Shed Forum, Colorado College, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, and the Forward Food Summit.  She is a 2018 graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership Strategic Leader training, a 2018 recipient of the prestigious Live Well Colorado Community Impact Champion award, and is a 2019 Aspen Ideas Health Scholar.  She is also a mother of 3 musically and engineeringly gifted passionate teenagers

 I am looking forward to connecting with my peeps and furthering power-building with folks who are in executive levels of leadership.

Mimi Madrid (he/they/she) is a mexica chicanx queer two-spirit writer, multimedia-maker, organizer and tio. Mimi’s family roots start in Northern Mexico in the states of Chihuahua y Durango—homelands of her grandmas Dolores Puga y Rosa Torres. Mimi was born in El Paso, Texas and raised in so-called Denver, Colorado—the ancestral lands of the Ute, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people.

Mimi currently serves as a co-founder and executive director for Fortaleza Familiar, a community organization dedicated to the wellness and safety of young Latinx LGBTQ+ people and their familias. He’s worked more than a decade in reproductive justice, youth leadership and LGBTQ+ liberation movements. Mimi’s focus is the development, implementation, and evaluation of cultural, wellness, and safety community programs, events, and curriculum. He’s worked with organizations around Denver that center LGBTQ folks, indigenous young people, survivors of violence, immigrant families, and communities of color. 

Mimi believes in: the power of youth, elimination of borders, popular education, all forms of art expression, intergenerational learning, swaying on the continuums of gender expression, identity, and orientation, singing out-loud, leaving to come back, dancing in revolution, and sana-sana-colita-de-rana.

They grew up in the West Barnum, survived racism in Littleton, and kicked it in the Northside as a young person. They now live and sow sunflowers in Swansea in East Denver with their wife Eleanor, their three chihuahuas, the fluffiest cat on the block, and the newest addition—a feral cat they  rescued on Feds.  

I’m honored to be part of a space like TLC which fosters a trusted network of relatives, allies, and accomplices to share analysis, tactics, and strategies to further a collective mission. I make this commitment to celebrate each other’s existence, resistance, and victories while leaning into the process of continual communal growth.

Mimi Madrid

Executive Director
Fortaleza Familiar 

Nicholas Martinez

Co-Founder & Executive Director
Transform Education Now

Nicholas Martinez (he, his, him) was born and raised in Denver, and his family has deep roots in both Denver and Colorado.  His connection to this community as well as his time as a middle school history teacher drives his passion for change to ensure that every child, especially students of color, is served by a great education in order to follow their dreams.  Nicholas attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned a degree in Ethnic Studies and Economics. While at CU-Boulder, Nicholas helped lead a student cost center that focused on supporting and recruiting marginalized and non-traditional students to CU Boulder.  Nicholas is the Co-Founder of Transform Education Now, which organizes alongside families and communities to create change at the school, district and state level so that every child can have access to a high quality education.  In his free time, you can find Nicholas spending time with his wife and two dogs – hiking, bike riding and cheering on his Broncos and Buffaloes. 

I am most looking forward to learning, building relationships, and becoming friends with amazing people working on behalf of our communities. 

Carmen Medrano (she/her/hers) is the Executive Director of United for a New Economy and UNE Action. She was born in Mexico and came to the United States at the age of 4. Carmen grew up in the Western Slope and graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Psychology. 

She began her career with the Colorado Faith in Action affiliate, where she was part of the formation of a statewide coalition that led to the passage of legislation for in-state tuition for undocumented students. During her tenure there, she organized at a national level with Faith in Action’s Campaign for Citizenship and led the merger of five separate organizations into one regional powerhouse in the Central Valley of California. In 2020, Carmen co-chaired the statewide campaign that successfully passed paid family and medical leave for all workers in Colorado, which became the first state in the nation to pass this policy through the ballot. She currently sits on the board of Partnership for Working Families, Right to the City Action, New Era Colorado, and Youth Forward.

Carmen discovered her voice and power through community organizing, and her vocation is to walk with others through this same journey. She believes this is what can transform Colorado and our country. Carmen lives in Denver with her husband and rambunctious toddler.

I am looking forward to building deep relationships with other incredible leaders of color and co-conspiring to transform our state so that we can achieve racial and economic justice.

Carmen Medrano

Executive Director
United for a New Economy 

Roberto Meza

Co-Founder & Director
East Denver Food Hub

Roberto Meza, (he, him, el), Co-founder of Emerald Gardens and Director of Operations for the East Denver Food Hub, is a local food advocate and farmer working at the intersection of agriculture, technology, food systems, and environmental stewardship. He is a member of the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council, a board member of the National Young Farmers Coalition, and on the leadership team for Mile High Farmers, the local chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition.

I am most interested in connecting with other BIPOC leaders and developing ways that we can mutually support each other and our organizations.

Omar (he, him, his) serves as Director of Black Student Services at CU Denver, where he founded a youth leadership program dedicated to nurturing high school and college students’ individual civic engagement skills.  Omar has also continued his family’s tradition of strengthening community. He was a key stakeholder in Colorado’s Transforming Safety Initiative, which created new economic opportunities for Northwest Aurora. He continues to work directly with the Aurora Police Department’s Citizens’ Advisory Board and Key Community Response Team to improve law enforcement’s relationships with underprivileged communities. He is also board chairperson at the Village Exchange Center—a “one stop shop” supporting integration, engagement and empowerment of Aurora’s immigrants and refugee communities.  Omar has his Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, and a Dual Master’s in Education Administration and Public Administration. He currently serves as president of the Aurora branch of the NAACP, and is a member of Aurora’s Budget and Golf Commissions. He is a proud family man, father, and companion to his dog, Marley.

I look forward to engaging the participants and growing as a person. 

Omar Montgomery


Lakshmi Nair

Lakshmi Nair (she, her) is a proud member-owner and co-founder of Satya Yoga Co-op. She is a yoga educator, engaged in reclaiming the pre-patriarchal, non-hierarchical, indigenous resilience and resistance of her ancestral tradition of yoga.  She is committed to creating spaces for herself and others to authentically engage with the practices of yoga for self and collective healing and liberation.  In 2014, Lakshmi created a yoga immersion and teacher training program exclusively for BIPOC in Denver, Colorado.   Since 2014, Satya Yoga Immersion has grown into Satya Yoga Cooperative, the first BIPOC owned and operated yoga co-op in the country. 

 I am a teacher. That’s what I love to do.  I never expected to be in a leadership position of an organization.  I am looking forward to learning more leadership and organizational skills to fill in gaps in my skill set.  I am also motivated to offer my skills and knowledge to the social justice ecosystem of Denver and all of our people who are exhausting themselves for our collective liberation.  In my work, I do hold a lot of space for others and I am really looking forward to having some space held for me.  I need to walk my talk and really learn to balance community care with self care.  

Originally from Mexico City, Mexico, Pamela (they, them, elle) grew up in the suburbs outside of Dallas, Texas. Their worker rights education and advocacy began at a young age by the experiences and teachings of their parents and community. Pamela became heavily involved in the movement after being detained and placed in deportation proceedings in March, 2010.  Pamela is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio, and holds a B.A. in Political Science, minor in Latin American studies.

I’m look forward to connecting and building deep relationships with other BIPOC leaders in the community.

Pam Resendiz-Trujano

Executive Director 
Colorado Jobs with Justice

Vanessa Roberts

Executive Director
Project Voyce

Drawing strength from family roots stretching from Baltimore to Heidelberg, Vanessa Roberts (she | hers) is a community-based researcher, facilitator, and nonprofit leader in Denver, CO. Whether teaching at the collegiate level, facilitating a workshop, or working with her team, Vanessa’s interactions are interwoven with humor, personal stories, and an abiding love of social justice. The crux of her work is held together by a steady belief in the power of story and self-expression as tools for place-based community change. Since 2019 she has served as the Executive Director of Project VOYCE (Voices of Youth Creating Equity) but has been involved with the organization since 2016 in less formal ways. 

Vanessa is also a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and her dissertation research aims to extend the sociological understanding of the intersecting roles youth, adults, and organizational dynamics play in reducing social inequality. Ms. Roberts received her Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College in 2008 where she designed her own Liberal Arts and Science major titled “Critical Race Theory: Emphasis Performance Comedy” and minored in American Cultural Studies. She went on to receive her Master of Arts in Performance Studies from the Tisch School of Art at New York University in 2009, where her focus was on racial and ethnic performativity in the wake of the African diaspora.

TLC came highly recommended by several people I admire and hold in the highest regard, so I am overall thrilled to just be a part of this community. I really look forward to having dedicated space and time to focus on the type of leader I want to become, knowing what I do now about the nonprofit ecosystem, all while building connections with my peers in this work.

Malik Robinson (he, him, his) is the Executive Director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD), a not-for-profit cultural arts institution based in Denver, Colorado. During his tenure with CPRD, Malik has worked in various roles supporting the artistic vision as well as education and advocacy initiatives. Malik was intricately involved in curating and coordinating the Annual International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference entitled “The Healing Power of Art” hosted by CPRD in 1999, 2009 and 2016. Malik’s dedication to education and the arts led to the creation of the after-school program Aye (Yoruba for “Life”), developed to serve Black and Brown youth in northeast Denver. Through partnerships with Youth Probation Departments, the project served an average of 125 teens per year. 

In 2015, Malik led efforts to forge the Bachelor in Dance program in partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver. The dance major is the first offered by any institution of higher learning in Denver. Under his direction, CPRD and the Farley Health Policy Center formalized a joint partnership to establish the Arts Alliance for Health Equity in 2020. 

Malik serves on several boards, including an original member of the Community ACTS Fund – a $9M fund designed to increase cultural equity among Denver’s marginalized communities. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Blacks in Dance, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Colorado Symphony, and he is Board Chair of Dance/USA based in Washington, DC. Malik earned his B.A. in African Studies from Regis University.

The intensity of community work often leaves little time for reflection and meaningful connection between partners across efforts.  I’m looking forward to protected time to learn, exchange and grow with a group of dynamic leaders.

Malik Robinson

Executive Director
Cleo Parker Robinson Dance 

Carlos Valverde

Executive Director
Colorado Working Families 

Carlos Valverde (he, him, his, el) was the founding State Director of the Colorado Working Families Party and now serves as the Southwest Regional Director of the Working Families Party (WFP), where he oversees electoral and organizing campaigns in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.  He has more than 20 years of experience in grassroots community organizing, coalition building, and social change work.  Prior to WFP, Carlos spent six years in Nicaragua where he worked in community based economic development and empowerment programs with the Peace Corps and other international organizations.  Prior to Nicaragua, Carlos served as an Executive Director for the Colorado Progressive Coalition, where he led numerous legislative and ballot measure campaigns for racial, economic, and health justice.

Carlos was born and raised in Denver’s Westside, an epicenter of the Chicano movement.  Recently, he helped lead independent expenditure efforts to elect three Working Families champions to flip the Denver city council, and two district attorney candidates on a platform to end mass incarceration.  Carlos has an undergraduate degree from The Colorado College and a Master degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University.  He currently sits on the boards of Free Speech TV, a national non-corporate media outlet, and COLOR Action Fund.

I look forward to conspiring with other Fellows,  to the learning that will come from the sharing of our wide-ranging collection of experience, and the rich discussions that will sharpen our analysis and expand our visions for our work and what is possible.