COLORADO, USA — The people taking care of Colorado's communities can often be found in the nonprofit sector. Many work tirelessly to advocate and support the communities they are serving.
Johnnie Williams, the Executive Director of GRASP (Gang Rescue And Support Project) and Metro Denver Partners has worked to address youth violence in Denver's neighborhoods for nearly 15 years.
"Hope is definitely something that we have to focus on because if you’re filled with hopelessness, there’s no motivation," Williams said. As an adolescent growing up in Chicago, Williams said he witnessed a lot of death and mayhem and is all too familiar with feeling hopeless.
"But as a middle age person coming in, watching it happen all over again, I felt like I could educate them as to what’s happening," he said.
The work comes with painful stories, but Williams and his staff are determined to help guide people onto better, more fulfilling paths.
"We do curriculum in schools, life skills, support groups, healing circles, we meet the young people where they are," said Williams.
Williams was one of seven selected as a fellow for the Livingston Fellowship through the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation.
Every year, the fellowship provides nonprofit leaders with the opportunity to advance and grow their leadership skills that will help them to better serve their communities. The foundation supports them with a $35,000 investment.
"I think what I’m looking forward to with my personal experience for the fellowship is, I’ve always believed in self discipline and when someone has self discipline in their life, it makes it a lot easier for them to have control over some of the things that might become barriers," Williams said.
"I want to go into cultures that are disciplines cultures and learn how does that innately become a part of your life start and how to teach that."
Others selected for the cohort are:
Executive Director of Movimiento Poder
Bañuelos has worked to improve the lives of her community over the last 22 years. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Before joining Padres & Jóvenes Unidos (PJU), she worked as a promotura for ClÍnica Tepeyac and conducted bilingual, community-based workshops. Born out of her own personal experiences and struggles, Bañuelos brought to life a leadership development program for young people. Movimiento Poder's Leadership Development serves Latinx youth and parents.
Anthony Garcia, Sr.
Executive Director of Birdseed Collective
Garcia was raised in Denver's Globeville community and is now a community leader recognized for his public artwork, community outreach programming, and leadership in championing emerging artists from Denver.
His art reflects cultural, geographic, and historic context through modern techniques. He co-founded BirdSeed Collective in 2008. It's an organization committed to improving their community using art and deeply rooted community connections.
Executive Director of Cultivando
Gonzalez has worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 27 years. She was born in Monterrey Nuevo León, Mexico and grew up in Los Angeles.
Cultivando is an organization dedicated to cultivating the leadership of the Latinx community to advance health equity through advocacy, collaboration, and policy change.
She is also the C.E.O. of O.G. Consulting Services where she facilitates equity and racial justice and healing trainings/workshops. Gonzalez is the proud descendent of Indigenous Yaqui/Otomi people who survived Mexican slavery, forced relocation, and land theft.
Executive Director of Center for Community Wealth Building
HolguÍn's organization promotes strategies for a sustainable economy and works to transform the current economic development system to a more inclusive and equitable model.
She grew up in the Swansea neighborhood in Denver and has done grassroots community organizing with immigrant and low income communities since 2000. HolguÍn has dedicated her life to empowering disenfranchised communities to break the cycle of poverty through education and entrepreneurship.
Executive Director of Rocky Ridge Music
Lee is passionate about building community through the arts. She is an award-winning pianist and Regents scholar. Lee recently released a CD, In This World, with flutist Claudia Anderson.
She also serves as a trustee of the Boulder County Arts Alliance, National Guild for Community Arts Education, and is an advisory member of Upbeat Colorado, and Americas for Conservation + The Arts.
Executive Director of Transformative Leadership for Change
Mahajan is the daughter of South Asian Punjabi immigrants and has nearly 20 years of experience fighting for social justice. She is currently Board Treasurer for Cutivando (Commerce City, Colorado) and on the coordinating committee of the NorthStar Network. She graduated from the Satya Yoga Cooperative BIPOC teacher training program.
She has supported a number of local organizing campaigns, from police accountability to housing justice. She played a critical role in building the campaign that won paid family and medical leave for Colorado workers.
“The 2022 class of Livingston Fellows speak to the caliber of executive directors both rooted in and working in service to diverse populations across the community,” says Chrissy Deal, Director of the fellowship program.
Fellows are tasked with creating a three year action plan for their personal leadership advancement.
According to the foundation, since 2005, fellows have attended influential academic programs, convened with other prominent leaders in their fields, traveled around the globe.
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