Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

History & Overview

Many people confuse community involvement with community leadership. While community involvement is admirable, community leadership takes involvement to another level. It requires vision, decision-making, and the ability to inspire others. It is what moves communities forward.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. exemplified community leadership and made it the cornerstone of his civil rights ministry. In the spirit of Dr. King, CCD honors Denver community leaders each January. Our honorees have led the Denver community forward and have inspired others with their vision, passion and sustained commitment.

2021 Awards Recognition

About the Honorees

Living Legend | Cleo Parker Robinson

Cleo Parker Robinson is founder and artistic director of the 49-year-old Denver-based artistic institution, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD), leading a professional ensemble, a second company (Cleo II), a youth ensemble, an academy of dance, an international summer dance institute, a 240-seat theatre which bears her name, and numerous community outreach programs throughout Colorado, nationally and internationally.  

She is the recipient of honors and awards from corporate, civic, community, and artistic entities world-wide, and is continually called upon by a myriad of organizations and performance venues to bring her Ensemble for performances, teaching residencies and motivational workshops.  

A master teacher/choreographer and cultural ambassador, she and her Ensemble have performed nationwide and internationally throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, and the African continent, with their most recent international tours taking them to Bogota, Colombia in the Spring of 2019 and Mexico in Fall 2019. 

Ms. Parker Robinson’s numerous awards and honors include the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence (1974), Denver Mayor’s Award (1979), induction into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame (1989) and the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame (1994). Recognized in Who’s Who in America Colleges and Universities she holds an Honorary Doctorate from Denver University (1991), an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Colorado College (2003), and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Regis University in Denver (2008). In 2021, she will receive a 2020 Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honous Causa.

In 1991, Ms. Parker served on the task force for the creation of a permanent location for the Denver School of the Arts (DSA), Denver’s first performing arts magnet school, and was subsequently honored In September 2017 at their 7th Annual Fall Gala, in recognition of her long-term commitment to excellence in arts education. She is also co-founder of the National Bahamian Dance Company, based in Nassau.    

In 2011, Ms. Parker Robinson was voted an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, in recognition of her longtime commitment and lasting impact on the Center.  In June 2017, she became the recipient of the highly prestigious DanceUSA Honor Award and in September 2017, the Randy Weeks Arts Leadership Award from the Denver School of the Arts.  

Ms. Robinson has served on NEA panels on Dance, Expansion Arts, Arts America, and Inter-Arts panels for the USIS. Ms. Robinson is a regular panelist for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts as well as other national task forces, boards and committees in the arts arena. In April 1999, she was appointed by former President William Jefferson Clinton, with Senate confirmation, to serve for four years on the National Council on the Arts, a 14-member panel advising the Chairman of the NEA on agency policy and programs, and reviews and making recommendations to the Chairman on grant applications.  

Since 2011 and 2012, Ms. Parker Robinson has returned to her greatest passion, the art of the choreographer, creating and presenting two new full-length works, “Dreamcatchers: The Untold Stories of the Americas” and the riveting world premiere of her “Romeo and Juliet”, which was first presented in collaboration with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Her work “On the Edge…  Reaching to Higher Ground” premiered in October of 2014 in answer to resurging racial and human rights infractions both nationally and internationally. In Spring 2017, audiences were thrilled with the re-staging of two of her works melding the worlds of classical and jazz composition with the power, passion and beauty of modern dance – “Romeo and Juliet” and “Porgy and Bess”. Fall 2017 saw the premiere of her “Copacetic: A Tribute to Jonathon “JP” Parker”, honoring her father. In the Spring of 2018, she premiered “Lark Ascending” in collaboration with the Boulder Philharmonic. Her “Rhapsody in Black”, created in collaboration with CPRD Associate Artistic Director, Winifred R. Harris, premiered at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, University of Denver.  In January 2019, in collaboration with the Denver Brass, she choreographed an innovative interpretation of Bernstein’s “On the Town” and Spring 2019 saw the premiere of her collaboration with the Colorado Ballet, entitled “The MOVE/ment” as part of the Tour de Force performance series at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Her most recent choreographic project brought her to UMKC in Kansas City to set a work on the students of CPRDE alum Gary Abbot, entitled “Check Cashing Day” in tribute to the jazz genius of Bobby Watson and Milt Abel.        

Cleo Parker Robinson continues to be dedicated to celebrating the human experience and potential through the Arts and Education. Her life-long vision of “One Spirit, Many Voices” remains strong and steadfast, expanding to welcome, embrace, and sustain all people. 

Community Leader | Christine Benero

Christine Benero is President and Chief Executive Officer of Mile High United Way, the first United Way in the country. For over 130 years, Mile High United Way has worked to advance the common good and believes all children, individuals and families should have the opportunity for success. Last year, Mile High United Way proudly invested over $30 million in the Denver metro area.  

Christine is the former Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter, in Denver, Colorado. Prior to joining the American Red Cross, Christine was the Director of the Office of Public Liaison for the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, DC. She served in two Presidential administrations working for both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Christine has served as Vice President of the National Civic League, and as a Community Affairs Corporate Program Officer for Target Stores in Minneapolis, MN.   

Christine serves on the Boards of HealthONE, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Denver Public Schools Foundation and Executives Partnering to Invest in Children. In 2017, she was appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to the Denver Education Compact Board. Christine was named the 9News Leader of the Year in 2007 and in 2009 was named by both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post as one of “Nine to Watch in 2009.” In 2010 she was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts of Colorado and in 2011 received the “Las Madrinas” award from Centro San Juan Diego. In 2012, Christine was honored nationally by Girl Scouts of America as one of “One Hundred Distinguished Alumni” in honor of Girl Scouts 100th birthday. In 2013, she was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Denver by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and presented with the Urban League’s “McKinley Harris Distinguished Warrior” award. In 2016 Christine was named one of the Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business and in 2017 received the Colorado Governor’s Citizenship Medal for Public and Community Service by Governor John Hickenlooper. The Colorado Governors’ Citizenship Medal is one of the highest honors bestowed upon citizens and organizations of Colorado for their meritorious contributions to the strength and vitality of the state.  In 2019 she was named one of Colorado’s Most Admired CEO by the Denver Business Journal and was honored with the ATHENA award by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce for “Inspiring the next generation of women”.  

Christine is a past President of the Association of Junior Leagues International, a past chairman of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Coalition for America’s Children and the Kiwanis International’s Young Children: Priority One Advisory Board. She was a delegate both to the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future in 1997 and to the NGO Forum at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. 

Christine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from Boston University, a Masters in Education from Harvard University, Graduate School of Education and was selected as a 2007 Gates Fellow for the Senior Executive Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. 

CCD Champion | Dr. Linda Lujan

Dr. Linda Lujan has been the president of Lamar Community College (LCC), a Hispanic-serving institution in rural Southeast Colorado. Prior to joining LCC, Lujan spent eleven years in administrative roles in the Maricopa Community College District in Arizona, where she served as president and CEO of Chandler-Gilbert Community College, the district’s chief new ventures officer, and academic vice president of South Mountain Community College (a minority-serving institution). Before that, Lujan served eight years in administrative roles in CCCS, including academic dean of the Centers for Business & Technology and Health Sciences at the Community College of Denver (a minority-serving institution) and director of educational technology at Arapahoe Community College. She also served as a full-time faculty member in Computer Information Systems at Arapahoe Community College.

Lujan earned a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership from Colorado State University, an M.A. in Educational Technology Leadership from The George Washington University, a B.A. in Human Resource Management from Colorado Christian University, and an A.A.S. in Management Information Systems from Arapahoe Community College. She also completed a certificate in Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She currently teaches a class in Higher Ed Finance for the University of Colorado Denver’s Ed.D. in Leadership for Educational Equity in Higher Education program.

Lujan has published and presented nationally, serves on many local and national boards and committees, and has received numerous awards and accolades for her work, however, she considers her most important role to be mother, grandmother, human being, and leader who believes we can all make a difference on this planet.

While Lujan had previously studied diversity, equity, and inclusion and was raising bi-racial children in Littleton with her now-deceased husband, Denver Police Captain, Edward Lujan, Jr., it wasn’t until she came to CCD she truly learned the richness, reward, and compelling need to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion work. She is humbled beyond words by this honor.

Past Award Recipients


View photos and blog post about the 2020 event.

Living Legend | Charleszine “Terry” Nelson

Charleszine “Terry” Nelson, Special Collection and Community Resource Manager of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library

Charleszine “Terry” Nelson is a native, born and raised in Denver, Colorado.  She attended Denver Public Schools, from elementary through high school and graduated from Manual High School, received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s degree in Information Technology and Library Science from Emporia State University.

Her career with the Denver Public Library spans more than 30 years, and in 2003, Nelson became the Denver Public Library’s first female African American Manager of Special Collection and Community Resources Development at Colorado's Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. As a highly respected local expert on the Five Points District, she passionately shares the rich culture and stories of the corridor, and its community, from generation to generation. She is regularly sought out by local and national historians, institutions of education at all levels, topic experts, students, and media to share the colorful history of the Five Points District.

She sits as an advisor and organizational program contributor on numerous, local, national and international boards and committees, including but not limited to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission, Co-Chair, Denver Center for the Performing Arts-African American Advisory Council-Chair, African American Advisory Community (under the leadership of Mayor Wellington Webb), the Colorado Historical Society - African American Advisory Council, The American Library Association, the American Association of University Women, Denver Chamber of Commerce-Education Committee, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated International Archive Committee, and Minouri Yasui Volunteer Service Award Committee (Archives Committee).

She has co-authored and contributed to numerous journals, manuals, books and films related to the history of Five Points and African American community members in the west. Further, she co-authored (with Bonnie F. McCune) the book, Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Libraries, which has become a valuable manual for managers of volunteer programs throughout the nation.

Nelson has received numerous awards for her tireless efforts and was granted an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the Denver Institute of Urban Studies in 2016, for her topic expertise and commitment to knowledge sharing. Most recently she has been awarded the Jazz Journalist Association 2018 Jazz Hero Winner for the state of Colorado, Historic Denver’s Molly Brown Preservationist Award for 2018, and recognition as a pioneer in the field of historic documentation and archival processes, by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.

Community Leader | Sid Wilson

Sid Wilson is president of A Private Guide, Inc., a licensed group charter transportation and touring service company headquartered in Denver, Colorado.  Operating since 1991, A Private Guide, Inc. utilizes a network of preferred suppliers and staff professionals to arrange a wide variety of custom-designed regional group excursion packages. These include heritage tours, city and mountain sightseeing, skiing, hiking, horseback rides, river rafting, narrow-gauge railroads, factory outlet shopping and dining, high country festivals, and other optional tours.

Wilson revels in sharing with clients the inspiring tales of Colorado's early pioneers whose resourcefulness enabled them to survive and prosper in the Rocky Mountain's volatile "boom" and "bust" economic cycles of the past. Like many of them, he turned a set back into a step forward when down-sizing at the Lockheed Martin Corp. ended his fourteen- year telecommunications department and project management career. With a partner, Wilson started A Private Guide, Inc., first transporting groups to Colorado's new casinos in the historic mining towns of Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City. Since then, he has been a prominent force in Colorado's tourism industry. In 2013, Wilson and A Private Guide, Inc. were inducted into The Denver & Colorado Travel Hall of Fame in recognition of his leadership, dedication, and professionalism and has made significant contributions to the travel industry in Denver and Colorado.

Wilson has served as a Denver Public Library Commissioner; former board chair for the National Academy Foundation's Academy of Hospitality & Tourism for Denver Public Schools; Past Chairman of the Board of directors for the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center; Director Emeritus for the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado Boulder, past vice-chair and board member of Historic Denver, Inc.; Founding member and past Board Chairman of the James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club; as a Commissioner on the Denver Mayor’s African American Commission; and serves as an instructor for the International Guide Academy for the US & Mexico regions.

He has also served on the board of directors for many organizations, including the Visit Denver/Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Denver Zoological Foundation, the Colorado Historical Society’s African American Advisory Council, the Historic Preservation State Review Board, the Colorado Scholarship Coalition.

Wilson, born in New York City, a graduate of the RCA Institute of Technology, is a decorated Vietnam War Veteran, married to his wife Claudia-Marie, and are the parents of two children, both of whom are college graduates.

CCD Champion | Magdalena Gallegos

Magdalena Gallegos was born in Denver, Colorado in 1935. She was raised in the Auraria neighborhood back when it was known as the Westside of Denver. She received a traditional upbringing and a Catholic education at St. Cajetan's School on 9th and Lawrence Street. She married in 1955 and had four children who also attended St. Cajetan's School. In 1975, Gallegos divorced and became a single parent, raising her two youngest children by herself. Even though it was a struggle, she decided to pursue her life-long dream of attaining a college degree.

Gallegos enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) on the Auraria College Campus in August of 1980. At the end of her freshman year, her GPA was 4.0. She kept her high GPA all through her four years at UCD.

In 1984, Gallegos received her Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction from UC Denver. After Gallegos graduated she was hired as a College Counselor at the Educational Opportunity Center on the Auraria College Campus. She retired in 2004.

Obtaining an undergraduate degree opened up many opportunities for Gallegos. In 1981, she enrolled in an oral history class and wrote a research paper on former residents of Auraria. Four generations of her family lived at 943 ½ 10th Street starting with her grandmother Lucy Torres in 1929. Her parents, Felix & Florence Torres-Gallegos lived there after they married from 1933 to 1954. Magdalena returned to her birth home in 1955 after she was married, and her firstborn twins lived at the same address from 1955 to 1965. Because of this history, her research paper became a personal project.

In 1984, a UC Denver history professor, Tom Noel, took an interest in her writing and research of former Aurarians and he introduced her to the editor of Colorado Heritage Magazine. In 1985, she published her first major work as a writer when Colorado Heritage Magazine dedicated the magazine to her work on Auraria. With St. Cajetan's Church on the cover, the story, "The Forgotten Community: Hispanic Auraria in the Twentieth Century" became the first publication to highlight Mexican ­American/Chicano life in Auraria and Colorado.

Her historical piece covered fifty years of Hispanic community life up until the community was displaced to make room for the Auraria Higher Education Complex in the 1970s. With this publication, Gallegos began her career as a writer and author.

In 1985, Gallegos published her first short story, The Swallowtail Butterfly," Colorado Heritage Magazine, Spring Issue. She went on to publish, "Florence and the New Shoes," (1986) in Southwest Tales, Maize Publications. Gallegos began writing for The Urban Spectrum, a community newspaper where she published another short story, "An Old Fashioned Christmas." The Urban Spectrum became a journalistic dream for an up and coming writer. Gallegos developed her writing style which included human interest articles on Hispanics in Denver and jazz articles about local jazz musicians. In 1989, Gallegos began to write theater reviews for The Urban Spectrum. She became the first Chicana theater critic in Denver. Gallegos continued writing for The Urban Spectrum until 1991.

In 1991, Gallegos and her husband, John O. Mitchell, Sr. began to publish their magazine, Southwest Magazine. The magazine's format focused on four ethnic populations which included; Hispanic/Chicano; African American; Native American and Asian stories and culture. The magazine was highly successful and many people were involved in its concept and production.

Gallegos' husband John became ill and died in 1999 and Gallegos was not able to continue to publish the magazine.

In 1999, Gallegos' writings and publications came to the attention of Dr. David Conde, Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU). He submitted all of her published works to Broccoli Clark Layman, Inc. In 2000, her work was included in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 209, Chicano Writers, Third Series, edited by Francisco A. Lomeli and Carl R. Shirley.

In the introduction by Dr. David Conde, all her published articles, stories, reviews, Hispanic histories, national and local articles up to 2000 are included in this Biography.

In the year 2003, Gallegos wrote and produced her first play, SUENOS. It was first performed at El Centro Su Teatro in Denver and was produced a second time in Aurora, CO, for a fundraiser for the Nunez Foundation.

After retiring from Community College of Denver in 2004, Gallegos continued her writing career for El Semanario Community Newspaper where she was hired as a reporter in 2005.

In 2006, Magdalena was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery removed the cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation came next. Magdalena started writing again for El Semanario in 2007. El Semanario blessed Magdalena with her column in 2010. Her column, "Straight From My Heart," gave Magdalena another avenue for her writing.

In her younger days, Magdalena Gallegos was a musician and played classical piano. She began playing the organ at St. Cajetan's Church when she was thirteen years old. She played every Sunday for High Mass and she played for weddings and funerals for over twenty years.

In her thirties, Gallegos began playing the organ at Our Lady of Guadalupe and learned to play the guitar. She started a youth guitar Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe and played the Sunday 6 p.m. Mass with her youth group for many years. She also played with several Mariachi Mass groups until the mid-1980s.


CCD Living Legend  |  Moses Brewer

Moses Brewer knows his purpose in life and credits his mother with teaching him.

“My mother always told me that charity begins at home and is spread abroad and that you have to give in order to live. I’ve never forgotten those words and have made that my dharma — my purpose in life.”

Brewer grew up in the small town of Florence, Alabama. The youngest of nine, he was raised by his mother after his father died when he was six.

Offered basketball scholarships to several schools, Brewer decided to attend the University of Denver (DU). After graduating with a B.A. in Physical Education and Recreation, Brewer worked for the university for several years. While he was on staff at DU, he obtained an M.A. in Speech Communications. He left DU in 1982 and started his long and respected career at Coors Brewing Company, where he retired in 2014.

In 2013, Brewer and his colleagues orchestrated the donation of $1.3 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which provides scholarships to 47 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). He also sponsored five HBCU football classics and established the MillerCoors Scholars Program.

Throughout Brewer’s career, he received many awards and honors and has been recognized for outstanding achievements and contributions. He is a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and 100 Black Men of America. He also a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the first successful and oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization.

In 2014, Moses and his wife Gwen, in partnership with Retired Major General Elder and Brenda Granger, established the Moses Brewer Men’s Basketball Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Denver.

As a cancer survivor, he currently works to educate African-Americans about prostate cancer by personally sharing his story with the community.

CCD Community Leaders |  John & Sharon Bailey

John Bailey

In 1976, John moved his family to Denver. For several years, Bailey was the president and owner of a small sportswear business and currently owns The Bailey Consulting Network, a community consulting business emphasizing organizational outreach development for corporate, political and community programs.

His commitment and guidance to Joint Effort Youth Foundation (a youth development sports and education program), which he founded for Colorado and Denver-metro youth, is known throughout the state and nation for its positive impact on young people and student-athletes. Bailey has assisted more than 3,000 young people in securing scholarships and/or financial support to attend college.

Over the past 40 years, his outstanding community service involvement has included volunteering for the YMCA as well as numerous city programs and recreation centers. His dedication and support for Denver programs have been impactful over the years to many neighborhood groups, churches, sororities, fraternities, and organizations.

Bailey’s hard work, no-nonsense attitude, problem-solving, and organizational skills (as well as his sense of humor) have gained him high respect from all sectors of the Denver and national communities. He served two U.S. presidents in developing strategies around anti-gang and anti-drug programs across the nation. He is also the guiding force of the Colorado Black Round Table (CBRT), one of Colorado’s major black community organizations whose purpose and mission is to provide advocacy, information and programs for the African American community.

Dr. Sharon Bailey

Sharon R. Brown Bailey, Ph.D. is a native of Denver and a graduate of Denver’s East High School. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, a master’s degree in interdisciplinary social science and a Ph.D. in public administration from the University of Colorado. From 1988-1995, she served as an elected member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. Currently, Dr. Bailey works with the school district as a program manager of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Professionally, she has held several administrative positions in higher education and municipal government. Dr. Bailey was the primary researcher and author of the qualitative study, An Examination of Student Educator Experiences in Denver Public Schools through the Voices of African American Teachers and Administrators. The findings of her report led to the establishment of the Denver Public Schools African American Equity Task Force. The recommendations of the task force now serve as a guide for achieving greater institutional equity for African American students and educators.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Bailey has served in a leadership role for the International Black Women’s Congress (IBWC). She has also provided leadership to the Colorado Black Round Table (CBRT) and their efforts to provide advocacy, information and programming in the African American community. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition.

CCD Champion  |  Elaine Baker

In 1964, while a scholarship student at Harvard University, Elaine DeLott Baker was recruited to teach summer school at Tougaloo College, a Historic Black College on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi. It was an important moment in American history, called “Freedom Summer.”

That fall, Baker joined the movement as a “field worker” for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), where she worked on increasing economic opportunities for black Mississippians. The lessons of the Freedom Movement — the power of community, the strength and wisdom of “ordinary people,” and the importance of engaging the community with the political and social resources to support change — created the road map of her professional life. In 1989, the family moved to rural southern Colorado, where Baker continued her work with the Hispanic population, writing and directing a series of grants that strengthened the community.

In 1989, the family moved to Denver, where Baker renewed her commitment to education. She worked as a GED instructor and curriculum coordinator for the non-profit Adult Learning Source, as a student and research assistant at the University of Colorado Denver’s Educational Leadership and Innovation doctoral program, as UCD’s honoraria faculty and as a CCD instructor and administrator.

Baker’s experience of the transformative nature of education led her to write and direct a series of CCD and Colorado Community College System grants to increase learning opportunities for underserved populations, including workplace education and developmental education reform. Her efforts led to national work in these areas as a subject matter expert, presenter, author, and consultant for foundations, state community college systems, and most recently, the Aspen Foundation’s College Excellence Program.


CCD Living Legend  |  Dr. Paul L. Hamilton

Despite growing up poor, Dr. Paul L. Hamilton was able to find a way to pay his way at the University of Denver (DU). While at DU, he worked for civil rights with the Freedom Riders, traveled to Asia with the YMCA, and joined the Operation Crossroads Africa project.

Paul earned his B.A. and M.A. from the DU and went on to earn his Ed.D. from the University of Northern Colorado. In 1964, he was hired as the first African-American teacher at Denver’s Lake Junior High, and he co-founded the Black Educators United group. He also served two terms as a state legislator, from 1969-1973, and was the director of the Denver Power Learning System, helping hundreds of African Americans become business entrepreneurs.

He is a published author and highly regarded life-action coach. Hamilton retired from education in 2014 to devote full-time attention to his African art collection. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Red Line Contemporary Art Center.

CCD Community Leader  |  Speaker Crisanta Duran

At the age of 37, Speaker Crisanta Duran is in her fourth and final two-year term representing House District 5 in central Denver. In 2016, she was elected to be speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, one of the top three positions in state government. She is the first Latina to hold the position. During her time in office, she has been a leader in economic development efforts, as well as chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee.

Speaker Duran serves on the board of the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials and the National Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs, and in 2016 was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She is a sixth-generation Coloradan with a law degree from the University of Colorado, where she was elected president of the Student Bar Association and the Latino Law Student Association.

CCD Champion  |  Dr. Byron McClenney

Dr. Byron McClenney has completed 56 years as an educator, including nearly 33 years as a community college CEO, including 14 years as president of Community College of Denver. He has served as a consultant to institutions, state higher education systems, state governments, and professional associations in 47 states and internationally. He focused his career on student success, institutional effectiveness, leadership, strategic planning, and organizational transformation.

McClenney currently serves on the Colorado State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education and the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.


Living Legend  |  Carlotta Walls LaNier


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Carlotta Walls LaNier

Carlotta Walls stepped into history in September 1957, when at age 14, she became the youngest of nine students chosen to integrate Little Rock Central High School. The students became known around the world as the Little Rock Nine, and with great courage and determination, they changed the face of American education forever.

After Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus closed Little Rock’s high schools the next school year to avoid further integration, Carlotta was forced to sit out her junior year and take correspondence courses. But she was one of the two members of the original nine who returned to Central in 1959. On May 20, 1960, she became the first African American girl to participate in a graduation ceremony at Central; others received their degree via the mail when Faubus closed the schools or graduated from out of state high schools.

Carlotta attended Michigan State University for two years and then moved to Denver and her family followed a year later. She continued her education there and in 1968 graduated from Colorado State College, now the University of Northern Colorado, where she once sat on the Board of Trustees.

That same year, she married Ira C. “Ike” Lanier. She began her career in the nonprofit sector, working for the YWCA as a program administrator and founded her real estate brokerage firm, Lanier and Company in 1977.

Among the many awards she has received, are the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, which President Bill Clinton presented to each member of the Little Rock Nine, and five honorary doctorate degrees, the Spingarn Medal, Pierre Marquette Award, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Award. She has two children, Whitney and Brooke, and two grandchildren. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Ira. She authored her memoir, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey To Justice At Little Rock Central High School, published Aug. 25, 2009, by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. President Bill Clinton wrote the foreword, and it already has received wide acclaim.

Community Leader  |  Erin Brown

Erin Brown is the executive director for the Office of Children’s Affairs with the City and County of Denver. As an appointed official for two consecutive administrations under Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Brown has provided bold and forward-thinking leadership and has been instrumental in building a system of collaboration among community members and organizations, local businesses and city agencies.

As an advocate for children and youth in Denver, Brown leads the Office of Children’s Affairs in accomplishing Mayor Hancock’s goals for children and youth as they relate to early childhood experiences, grade-level reading, re-engaging disconnected youth, completing post-secondary pathways that lead to employment and decreasing childhood obesity. Her office works to improve quality and increase access to experiences that will ensure all children have resources and opportunities to succeed in school, in the workplace, and global society, regardless of race, ethnicity, income or disability.

With more than 20 years of leadership experience directing civic programs and services, Brown has an endless and unbroken passion for addressing issues concerning children, minorities and elderly communities. Before joining the Office of Children’s Affairs, she served as deputy director for Denver Parks and Recreation, the director of resident services for Kappa Management, held the position of vice president of programs and development for the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and was an executive director for the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver.

Today, her work and leadership are guided by the essence of a quote from President Barack Obama, “No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, you can make it. That's an essential promise of America. Where you start should not determine where you end up.”

Erin Brown currently resides in Denver with her husband and four children. As a parent, a community member and a youth advocate, Brown is extremely committed to “being a voice for the voiceless.”

CCD Champion  |  Francie Anhut

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Francie Anhut

Francie Anhut joined Community College of Denver in May 2014 as the executive director of the Community College of Denver (CCD) Foundation and College Advancement. In her two years in that role, Anhut helped raise nearly $2 million to support student scholarships.

Francie brought to CCD nearly 30 years of nonprofit and business experience. Most recently, Francie had served as director of strategic partnerships for the American Indian College Fund, where she collaborated with national foundations to improve student success initiatives at tribal community colleges. Previously, Francie served for seven years as the chief executive officer of Impact on Education, the foundation for Boulder Valley Schools District. 

With extensive experience in corporate America, Francie served as vice president of sales and marketing for various information technology organizations in Colorado and Massachusetts. She also served as a board member for the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Chautauqua, Community Food Share and the Boulder Rotary Club.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from Boston College and a Master in Business Administration from Northeastern University. She graduated from the University of Michigan’s Executive Program and the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Program at the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs.

Francie Anhut passed away on October 24 after a heroic 16-month battle with cancer. Before her death in June 2016, Francie’s friends and family established the Francie Anhut Scholarship Fund at the CCD Foundation to honor her legacy. The scholarship fund has already awarded one scholarship and, once endowed, will give scholarships in her name for perpetuity. As of December, the fund has raised over $80,000. Francie will continue to impact CCD for generations to come.


Community Leader  |  Tracey Lovett

As a community leader in Denver, Tracey Lovett has helped many Daniels Scholars since 2000. She also oversees the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship program for non-traditional students, which has provided scholarship support to many CCD students over the past several years. Lovett is also an active member of Shorter Community A.M.E Church, serving on the board of the Women’s Missionary Society, University Prep, and also conducts educational workshops all over the city.

Lovett holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism and a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Colorado State University.

CCD Champion  |  Nate Easley, Ph.D.

Nate Easley, Ph.D., is executive director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their post-secondary education goals with the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success.

Dr. Easley has served as president and secretary of the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and has also worked as vice president for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, DC.

He also serves on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Education Leadership Council, is a current member of CCD's Advisory Council, as well as the National College Access Network Board, Colorado Latinos for Education Reform, and DPS's Roots Charter School Board. He is also an immediate past member of the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed, Inc., the third-largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States.

With more than 25 years of experience working at the state, national and international levels, Dr. Easley has extensive experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education and securing grant funding to sustain student programs, particularly first-generation, low-income and students of color.

Living Legend  | Ed Dwight

Living legend and sculptor Ed Dwight has been a catalyst for change his entire life.

A man whose resume reads: former Air Force test pilot, America’s first African American astronaut candidate, IBM computer systems engineer, an aviation consultant, restaurateur and real estate developer; he can best be described as a true renaissance man.

For more than 30 years, however, Dwight has focused his direction on fine art sculptures, large-scale memorials and public art projects. He has worked on more than 100 public art commissions, including the inaugural sculpture scene of President Barack Obama, and Denver’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in City Park.


Community Leader  |  Dr. Evie Garrett Dennis

A community leader for over 40 years, Dr. Evie Garrett Dennis was instrumental in several fields, including creating equal rights for women in sports and pushing equal educational opportunities for all, both here in Denver and across the country.

Her accomplishments are numerous. In 1997, she was honored as an inductee to the Sportswomen of Colorado Hall of Fame. And later, she was named Laureate of the Association of National Olympic Committees. Also, Dennis was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2004.

Throughout her career, Dennis led her peers and colleagues with grace, often breaking barriers for women and women of color. She was instrumental in convening the first-ever convention of The Athletics Congress (now USA Track & Field) in 1980. Since that time, she has chaired the El Pomar Foundation Awards for Excellence Commission, which recognizes and rewards Colorado nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals who serve their communities with distinction and excellence.

Furthermore, she was the Chef de Mission for the United States Olympic Committee—a first for a woman in Olympic history. Dennis was also one of the first women to serve as vice president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and remains a member of the Governing Bodies Council. Naturally, she has been a staunch advocate and spokesperson for Title IX, ensuring equal access to sports for young women.

Before retiring an already impressive career, Dennis served as Denver Public School’s district superintendent from 1990 to 1994, after serving as deputy for four years. She was the first woman and the first African American to head the 60,000-student school district and what a time to serve! Evie Dennis was charged with implementing and monitoring the U.S. District Court order to desegregate Denver Public Schools. Through her dedication to improve and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students and to work with the community through the difficult issues presented by the court’s order, Dennis successfully guided the school system through this complicated and divisive period. With perseverance and determination, she created positive alliances between the school district, parents, students, teachers, patrons, and community leaders. Dennis officially retired from the Denver Public School System in 1994.

Dr. Garrett Dennis was born on September 9, 1924, in Canton, Mississippi. She was the eighth of nine children and her parents, Reverend Eugene and Ola Brown Garrett, owned a small sawmill. In 1958, Dennis moved to Denver. She worked as a researcher at Children’s Asthma Research Institute, the Jewish National Home for Asthmatic Children and other medical institutions until 1966. She then taught mathematics for the Denver Public Schools, starting at Lake Middle School. Returning to school to certify as a teacher, she received her master's degree in education from the University of Colorado in 1971. She earned her doctorate from Nova University of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1976.

Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler

Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler is currently the vice president of human resources at Children’s Hospital Colorado and is the founder of The Kaleidoscope Project, a community-based organization designed to increase social and health equity within communities of color. Also, she is a board member of the One Colorado Education Fund. As a popular guest lecturer at Denver’s top universities, and many other social, political, and community organizations, Dr. Mosby Tyler has had a strong academic presence here in Colorado.

Her service and dedication to our community are apparent in her many local and national awards. Accomplishments have included recognition from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture, United Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente and Denver Health, the Human Rights Campaign and National Diversity Council, the City and County of Denver, Aurora’s police department, Denver’s sheriff department, as well as Colorado Black Women for Political Action and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation.

She continues to work as a consultant accredited by the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence and is nationally recognized for her work with healthcare and community organizations. In her work, Dr. Mosby Tyler specializes in the development and delivery of leadership, operations effectiveness, and HR strategies, as well as diversity, cultural responsiveness, and inclusiveness-training programs and strategies. 

Her vast 29-year background in domestic and international operations management has been shaped through roles with AT&T, Kaiser Permanente, McKesson Corporation, and Stateline. Dr. Mosby Tyler has also served as the Diversity Chairperson for the Human Rights Campaign at both local and national levels.

Ms. Mosby Tyler holds a doctorate in the field of organizational leadership, a master’s degree in management and a bachelor’s degree in education. She is presently a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the Phi Delta Kappa International education professional association. 



Living Legend  |  George & Marjorie Morrison

CCD Champion  |  Cliff Richardson


Living Legend  |  Lt. Col. John “Moose” Mosley


Living Legend   |  Marie L. Greenwood


Inspiration Award  |  The Honorable Wilma and Wellington Webb