About Us

The agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships (HRCP) is the umbrella agency for one division, eight offices, and ten commissions.

Human Rights & Community Partnerships works to create lasting change for Denver's residents through advocacy, capacity building, partnerships, community engagement, and direct services.

Inclusiveness is the cornerstone of our work. Every day we strive to give voices to the voiceless and to create a world-class city where everyone matters. Learn more about our offices, commissions, and programs and initiatives below.  


Staff Biographies

Check out the bios of our amazingly diverse and talented staff. 

Derek Okubo, Executive Director

Derek Okubo is a Colorado native and was raised in Littleton, Colorado graduating from Arapahoe High School. Derek then attended the University of Northern Colorado and graduated with a degree in Psychology and double minors in Communications and Sociology.

Derek was hired by Big Brothers of Metropolitan Denver as the services coordinator for Denver County. Three years later, Derek started the Big Brothers High School Program where he utilized high school students as mentors and tutors to the children on the waiting list.  Derek was appointed Governor Roy Romer’s staff as a community liaison to northeast Colorado. A few years later, Derek was hired by the National Civic League (NCL, the nation’s oldest “good government” organization) as the Assistant Director of Community Services. Through July 2011, Derek rose through the NCL ranks becoming the Senior Vice President where he oversaw NCL’s projects and programs.

In July 2011, Derek was appointed Executive Director of the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships by Mayor Michael B. Hancock. In this role, Derek oversees eight offices and 10 mayoral appointed commissions. The agency acts as a conduit of communication and convener of problem solving among local government, non-profits, businesses and residents.


Rowena Alegria, Public Information Officer - Administration, Director - Office of Storytelling

Rowena Alegría is the agency's Communications Director and Chief Storyteller for the City & County of Denver, founder and director of the new citywide storytelling project I Am Denver. She is a 2019 Jack Jones Literary Arts Fellow, a 2019 Vermont Studio Center Fellow and a 2018 Writing by Writers Fellow. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. A career journalist, communications executive and speech writer, she is writing a novel that plays with form and the history of the Southwest.


Wil Alston, Director, Office of Neighborhood Engagement

Wil Alston is the director of the Denver Office of Neighborhood Engagement (D-ONE), an office in Denver’s Human Rights and Community Partnerships (HRCP) Agency.

Prior to D-ONE, Wil served as a senior communication advisor for the Hancock Administration, as the executive director for the Five Points Business District, and was a key staffer for former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.  He is also the founder and principal of the Wil Alston Group, a versatile Denver-based boutique firm specializing in marketing & public relations, civic engagement, government relations, and supplier diversity.

Wil also has a rich and long history of working with area nonprofits that have included: the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, the Five Points Business District, The Spirituals Project, The Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, Regis University, the East Denver YMCA, the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Stadium Baseball District. 

He is a veteran communication strategists and executive and has close to thirty years of professional experience in entrepreneurship, networking, fundraising, marketing, and strategic planning; and he gained those experiences in a variety organizational structures including: all three branches of government including federal, state, and local; nonprofits, and in private business.

Wil shares two and a half decades of marriage to Rosalind “Roz” Alston and they are longtime Park Hill residents.

Michael Burnett, Personal Finance Coach, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Michael Burnett is a Personal Finance Coach and enjoys numbers and people so this role is a perfect blend of both

Michael is a Colorado Native, former college athlete at Colorado State University (Go Rams!), youth basketball coach & entrepreneur. 

He got into the financial industry because of the strong need he saw within his own community to grow and develop assets. There is a deeper story behind that (which he is happy to share if asked) which connects to the relevant social uprising of today. 

Burnett feels It is his duty to educate, guide, and coach individuals and families on how to think differently about their money and make it work for them more then they work for it!!

He is excited to embark on this new journey in his career with this amazing organization and he looks forward to helping Denver residents.


Mariette Candelon, Personal Finance Coach, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Mariette Candelon is a Personal Finance Coach with the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection.

She was born in Vietnam, but grew up and lived in France for the larger part of her life. She then came back to Vietnam and had the chance to be an educator there for 7 years.

Candelon has continued in the education field in the US with Denver Public Schools before transitioning into the finance industry with Fidelity Investments, and then mpowered, a non-profit organization.

At this last organization, as a multilingual Personal Finance Coach, it was with the highest level of compassion, care, and respect that Mariette was able to help low- to moderate-income individuals and families on the path towards financial self-sufficiency.

She has a passion for supporting people grow and thrive, and nothing is more fulfilling than being able to raise people’s awareness around their own talents and strengths, show them how they are valued as individuals and in the community, and that they are able to achieve their own definition of personal fulfillment and financial success.

Mariette feels honored to serve the diverse community and city she lives in and is thrilled to be part of the amazing OFEP Team.


Claudia Castillo, Language Access Coordinator, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs

Maria Corral, Community Integration Coordinator, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs

María Corral is the Community Integration Coordinator for the Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs an office within the Agency of Human Rights & Community Partnerships for the City and County of Denver to promote a greater awareness and integration of immigrant and refugee residents. She has served the Denver community working and volunteering in non-profits, education and labor. Her diverse set of skills include advocacy, building collaborative relationships, outreach, public relations and communications.

María is a proud alumna of the University of Denver where she studied Law and Society and Communications and a fellow of the Latino Leadership Institute. She also serves as the co- chair on the Board of Directors for Inside the Orchestra, the Levitt Pavilion, and Focus Points Family Resource Center. She is also a founding board member of the Colorado Organization of Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), an 20 year old organization focused on building a movement of Latinas, their families and allies through leadership development, organizing and advocacy.

Outside of work, María shares two dogs and her passion for social justice and civic engagement with her daughter, Iriana, a 2020 graduate from the University of Redlands in California.


Oscar Torres Diaz, Personal Finance Coach, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Kristina Ericson, ADA Programmatic Access Administrator, Division of Disability Rights

Kristina Ericson is the ADA Programmatic Access Administrator for the Division of Disability Rights. Kristina works with program managers from all agencies of the City and County of Denver to evaluate programs, ensure ADA Title II compliance, and increase accessibility measures across the Mile High City.

Kristina holds a B.A. in Global Studies and Sustainable Development from Long Island University's Global College, and a Master's in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to moving to the Denver Metro Area in 2021 she worked in disability policy and research with notable Centers for Independent Living in St. Louis and Washington D.C. where she worked to expand critical health and transportation policies. In her previous roles she has managed adaptive recreation programs for the Adaptive Climbing Group, written grants for the New York Immigration Coalition, and expanded community partnerships for numerous outdoor agencies in New York City. In her spare time she is a guide for the USA Paraclimbing team, and organizes the annual Adaptive Climber's Festival - currently the only educational festival celebrating different abilities in rock climbing spaces.  

 

Olga Garcia, DenverConnect Coordinator, Office on Aging

Ms. Garcia is the Program Navigator for DenverConnect in the Office of Aging. She manages the new DenverConnect mobile resource unit to provide necessary information and services through the city and community resources that enables older adults – regardless of ability, health or income – to age in place with dignity and respect and to thrive and contribute in our community.

Prior experience includes Denver Health Medical Center Government and Community Affairs, MillerCoors Diversity-Inclusion and Corporate Social Responsibility leadership positions. 

She was honored in September 2017 with the Denver Latino Library Lena Archuleta Community Service Award.  Other notable honors include the Athena Award from the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce, Businesswoman of the Year and Corporate Advocate of the Year from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver, Latin American Educational Foundation Corporate Advocate of the Year and the Latina Leadership Foundation’s Unsung Heroine award.

Ms. Garcia serves as a board director of Scholars Unlimited, a trustee of Museo de las Americas.  She earned a BA from CU Boulder and a master’s degree from Denver University.  


Perla Gheiler, Director, Office on Aging

In April of 2016, Perla Gheiler began working with the City and County of Denver in the Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships as the Director on Aging for the Office on Aging.  Perla’s role serves as the convener for our aging adults and the Mayor’s office.  She also serves as the liaison for the Commission on Aging which advocates, empowers and monitors the rights and concerns for our older adults.

Gheiler started Perla Gheiler Solutions, LLC in 2013 which served as a marketing and community affairs consultant firm and worked with clients like Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) and Escuela Tlatlelolco, to name a few. Her consulting work led to a full-time offer from MSU Denver as the director of strategic initiatives and outreach for the Office of the President in the marketing communications department.

She is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Denver with a B.A. in Communication. Through the National Hispana Leadership Institute, Perla attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and The Center for Creative Leadership and received the Executive Leadership Certification from Harvard. 

Perla is the proud mother of her son, Austin.


Brandon Gibson, Lead Financial Navigator, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Jessica Jorgensen, Contract Administrator

Jessica Jorgensen is the Contract Administrator for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships. Jessica brings over ten years of government experience and expertise in contract management, administration, community engagement, process improvement, and data and research work. She possesses a strong work ethic, a commitment to public service, and a lifelong passion for learning.

Jessica received her master’s degree in public policy and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Denver.

Jessica is a Colorado native, born and raised in Pueblo. She greatly enjoys the outdoors and can be found hiking trails all over Colorado in the summer. Once winter comes, she trades in her hiking boots for snowshoes. She’s married and has two cats and two dogs – which she often refers to as her “animal farm.”

Lorrie Kosinski, Director, Office of Sign Language Services

Lorrie A. Kosinski is the Director of the Office of Sign Language Services and has been with the agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships since 1987.  Lorrie’s job duties include providing and coordinating sign language interpreting for all City & County of Denver programs, services, and events; ensuring access to these services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing; providing information and referral; and working with members of the deaf community to offer sign language classes and Deaf Awareness training to City employees. Lorrie also represents the City on several committees, is the chair for the Colorado Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Legal Interpreting Committee, interpreter representative to the State’s Legal Auxiliary Services Advisory Council, is a Master Mentor for  interpreters, and holds national certification, IC/TC, CI, CT and  a Specialist Certificate in Legal interpreting (SC:L).


Chelsea Lee, Deaf Programs Specialist, Office of Sign Language Services

Chelsea Lee is the Deaf Program Specialist for Denver Office of Sign Language Services. Chelsea’s responsibilities include handling all aspects of scheduling American Sign Language interpreters and CART providers for Denver government requests as well as training City of Denver employees on Deaf community, culture, language and/or role of the ASL interpreter/CART provider, information about and referrals to programs and services for Deaf, DeafBlind and hard of hearing communities.They also assist with outreach to the Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing communities to provide support and share information.

Chelsea moved to Colorado in 2020 from New Jersey/Boston. They earned a Psychology B.A. from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and M.A. in Sociology from New Mexico State University. They work as a deaf interpreter and is currently working toward their Specialist Certificate in Legal interpreting (SC:L). 

Chelsea enjoys going on adventures in the mountains with their partner and rescue pup, Honey.

Ro-Tien Liang, ADA Architectural Access Manager, Division of Disability Rights

Ro-Tien Liang’s role in the Division of Disability Rights includes providing management to staff responsible for plan reviews, accessibility inspections, project management, and external contractors in relation to compliance with architectural accessibility standards and other regulatory requirements. He will also be responsible for the documentation and implementation of policies and procedures related to structural access throughout the City, including the provision of technical interpretation, guidance, and assistance to ensure accessibility compliance in City facilities.

Ro-Tien comes to the City and County of Denver with 20 years of professional architecture experience in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. He has worked on various project types including residential, senior living, health care, education, and government work. His work has been recognized for design excellence and technical thoroughness by peers within the architectural community. Ro-Tien is a licensed architect and holds certification as a Contract Document Technologist, and LEED accredited profession. He is committed to utilize his architectural experiences to provide equity for people with disabilities.

Jeremy McKinnon, Accessibility Inspections Specialist, Division of Disability Rights

Jeremy McKinnon serves as the Accessibility Inspections Specialist for the Division of Disability Rights where he performs inspections and produces reports for accessibility barriers. These inspections are conducted within City owned-properties under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which helps eliminate discrimination based on disability.

Jeremy worked for Developmental Pathways, a Colorado non-profit agency created to serve persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, where he provided home-care for clients and was an assistant program administrator. In 2006, Jeremy was hired as a superintendent with Max Construction, a Denver-based construction company, where he managed commercial tenant-finish projects. In 2015, he was hired as a construction inspector, with Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department, where he inspected residential and commercial construction projects for code compliance. In 2018, he was promoted to combination 1 inspector and has a General Contractor Class A Supervisor license. Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication.


Ron Ojeda, Program Coordinator Specialist, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Ron Ojeda is the Division Manager of the Office of Financial Empowerment and Protection’s Consumer Financial Protection Division where he provides education, prevention, enforcement, policy and supportive services to Denver residents who have been victims of unfair financial practices.

Ojeda has decades of experience in the financial sector and has worked at Blue Moon Financial, Allstate Financial Services, and MassMutual Colorado.

Ron has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  


Atim Otii, Director, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs

Atim Otii is the Director for the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.  She is a leader in immigration integration and has helped thousands of immigrants throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Prior to joining the city, Otii served as the Immigration Legal Services Director for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains for six years, where she led several immigrant focused programs from direct legal representation to social service support in Colorado and New Mexico. Previously, Otii was in private practice, where she successfully represented immigrants in family-based immigration, asylum and naturalization law, and removal defense. Otii has served with the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Colorado Lawyers Committee Immigration Task Force, offered trainings on immigrant rights and integration, and provided technical assistance and advocacy locally, nationally and internationally.

Otii was born and raised in Denver. Her parents came from northern Uganda as refugees. She earned her Juris Doctor from the Washburn University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, where she was also a student athlete.


Juan Pasillas, ADA Building Plans Reviewer, Division of Disability Rights

Juan Pasillas serves as the ADA Building Plans Reviewer for the Division of Disability Rights/Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships.

Juan graduated from Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colorado and has a Technical Degree in Architectural Design/Cad from CU Denver/Community College of Denver.  

Prior to joining the City and County of Denver, Juan worked for over 25 years on multiple commercial/residential design projects throughout the State of Colorado and across the country.


Edith Reed, Personal Finance Coach, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Edith is a Personal Finance Coach with the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection. She has over 9 years financial coaching & leadership experience through her previous roles with a local nonprofit, Buckley AFB, and the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). She is passionate about helping individuals realize their strengths, gain knowledge, and build confidence to reach their personal and financial goals. She enjoys working with diverse populations & is experienced in working with marginalized communities, communities of color & the military community.

Early in her financial services journey, Edith served the military community as a Financial Counselor at Buckley Air Force Base. In her recent roles with a local nonprofit, Edith served as a personal Finance Coach. She was later promoted to Team Lead where her primary role was supervising & offering leadership support to other financial coaches. In her most recent role as Interim Coaching Program Manager she collaborated with OFEP in implementing Denver’s Financial Empowerment Center’s coaching program initiatives.  Through these roles, Edith served the Denver community through integrated partnerships & collaborative relationships with local organizations. These partnerships offer clients holistic support through wrap around services to improve their financial situation & support them in becoming self-sufficient. In addition to serving clients & coaches locally she supports coaches/counselors nationally through her voluntary roles with AFCPE®, a national certifying body for financial counselors/coaches & whose mission is to ensure the highest level of knowledge, skill & integrity in the personal financial profession.

In addition to being an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®), Edith is a Financial Fitness Coach, FFC® & an Associate Certified Coach (ACC®) through the International Coach Federation. She adheres to the proven coaching model that supports clients in identifying their goals, values & internal motivations that lead to lasting change. She is also interested in learning more about how to bring equity into financial services & served on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee at her previous organization; she plans to continue supporting this work in her role with the City. Edith is excited to join the OFEP & HRCP team & bring her skills & experience to reach the Denver community with quality, equitable financial services & support. Outside of work, Edith enjoys being outdoors, reading, listening to music & spending times with family & friends.


Dr. Aisha Rousseau, Director, Division of Disability Rights

Dr. Aisha Rousseau serves as the Director of the Division of Disability Rights for the City and County of Denver. She earned a B.A. from Spelman College; a M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University; and a Ph.D. in Health Related Sciences from the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and formerly served as an elected Board Member for the National Council of Rehabilitation Educators.

Aisha comes to the City and County of Denver most recently after serving several years as a tenure-track professor at the University of Arizona. She has authored a number of peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and continues to write and conduct research pertaining to the intersection of disability, gender, and multicultural issues as well as minority women living with HIV/AIDS. She has extensive experience with Disability Rights and compliance related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Her former clinical experiences include serving as the first ADA Coordinator for a major metropolitan school district on the East Coast, as well as a vocational rehabilitation specialist in private and public sectors. 


Jay Salas, Director, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Dr. Ken Seeley, Collaboration and Evaluation Specialist, Office of Neighborhood Engagement and Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Dr. Ken Seeley serves as a collaboration and evaluation specialist for the Denver Office of Neighborhood Engagement and the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection.  Prior to his work with the City he served for 20 years as the President and CEO of the Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, a nonprofit partnership with five Colorado state agencies. He is a researcher and cross system leader with an extensive background with at-risk and vulnerable populations.

Ken was a tenured faculty member at the University of Denver, College of Education in the areas of Education Leadership and research design.  He has broad social policy experience as a policy analyst and consultant for the Center for Study of Social Policy in Washington, and many foundations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Colorado Trust and the Piton Foundation. Additionally, he has served as senior evaluation consultant to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Mayors Challenge and as a senior evaluation consultant to the One Community Pueblo Colorado.  

 

Darius Smith, Director, Anti-Discrimination Office

Darius Lee Smith serves as the Director of the Denver Anti-Discrimination Office within the Agency for Human Rights & Community Relations where he facilitates resolution of civil rights discrimination complaints by assisting individuals; he does this by utilizing the Indigenous form of “Peacemaking” ~ resolving conflict/disputes by using common sense principals and encouraging ethical settlements. Darius holds a Masters of Nonprofit Management and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in American Indian History and Culture from Regis University and the University of Denver, respectfully.  Professionally, Darius has served the American Indian community since 1992 in various positions with Habitat for Humanity International, Denver Public Schools and several local American Indian nonprofits. 

Additionally, Darius speaks nationally on topics ranging from “Indian Identity” to “Contemporary Urban Issues”, as well as on the issue of “American Indians as Mascots” and the negative impact it has on the self-esteem and self-determination of native people.  Finally and personally, Darius is health conscious and enjoys working out and running and occasionally finds the time to participate in organized races and sporting events.


Alvin Tafoya, Program Director, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Alvin Tafoya is the Deputy Director for the Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection with an extensive background in leadership and programmatic service delivery models. With more than 20 years of experience in Human Services, he joined the City of Denver in February 2019 from Jefferson County Human Services where he led and directed Child Support Services, Responsible Fatherhood Program, Parent Employment Project (COPEP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Long-Term Care, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

He was recently appointed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis to serve on the state’s Child Support Commission to oversee child support guidelines and the examination of discretionary issues that impact families and children.

He is a passionate, dedicated and innovate leader who thrives to streamline service delivery for families, children and small minority owed businesses so that they can realize their full potential and meet their definition of success. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. 


Athena Vigil, Financial Navigator, Office of Financial Empowerment & Protection

Megan Catalfomo, ADA Project Manager II for the Division of Disability Rights

Megan Catalfomo is the ADA Project Manager II for the Division of Disability Rights within the agency of Human Rights & Community Partnerships. In this role, Megan will work to remove citywide architectural barriers to accessibility by planning remediation projects, managing changes to the scope, schedule, and project costs, and measuring and reporting on the performance of these projects. She will serve as the primary point of coordination on a variety of construction activities, maintain comprehensive project documentation, and communicate with all stakeholders on the progress of each activity.

Megan has been with the City and County of Denver since 2014. Before coming to DDR, Megan was a program and project manager for facility construction projects at Denver International Airport. With a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado Boulder, Megan has worked in the design field since 2005. In the private sector, Megan designed commercial properties from car dealerships to banquet halls to grocery stores, exceeding accessibility standards whenever possible. In her off time, Megan is a champion for those living with Multiple Sclerosis by volunteering, fundraising, and acting as Captain of the Bike MS team, Team FlyDenver. With her involvement with the MS community, Megan has realized the dire need to create a universally accessible world, and she hopes that her role with DDR will be impactful in providing equity for people with disabilities.