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Jesse Ogas named 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year

This year marks the 21st year that 9NEWS honored a Colorado leader for contributions to the community.

DENVER — The Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation announced the 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year during its annual Leading Colorado Luncheon presented by BBVA on Wednesday.

The annual event recognizes exceptional community leadership while raising scholarship funds to ensure professionals from all sectors can develop their skills and enhance their impact in the community.

Jesse Ogas was named the 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year. 

Ogas serves as the CEO and Executive Director of Firefly Autism. His mission to give a voice to the voiceless is central to his leadership style, both personally and professionally.

9NEWS anchor Tom Green announced this year's winner, and leaders of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce shared their experiences in leadership over the past year.

Watch the Leader of the Year announcement below:

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs senior and 2021 Student Leader of the Year Sara Khammash also spoke at the event.

This year’s 9NEWS Leader of the Year finalists were:

  • Adeeb Khan, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Executive Director of the Delta Dental of Colorado (DDCO) Foundation
  • Jesse Ogas, CEO and Executive Director, Firefly Autism
  • Lorii Rabinowitz, CEO, Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF)

This year marks the 21st year that 9NEWS honored a Colorado leader for contributions to the community. 9NEWS again partnered with the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation to select and honor this individual.

Each finalist will receive a $1,000 donation to the nonprofit of their choice and a complimentary seat in one of the Leadership Foundation’s programs.

Get to know the finalists:

Adeeb Khan

Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Executive Director of the Delta Dental of Colorado (DDCO) Foundation

Adeeb Khan has dedicated his career to bring voice and attention to the issues of equity. He channels his passion for providing equal opportunities for all Coloradans through his work at the DDCO Foundation, and his past roles at TIAA, Mile High United Way and the American Red Cross.

Outside of work, Khan was appointed by the Governor to the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission and serves on the University of Denver Daniels College of Business Executive Advisory Board and the boards of College Track, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation and B:CIVIC. He has been recognized as a Downtown Champion by the Downtown Denver Partnership and one of Denver’s Top 40 Under 40 by the Denver Business Journal.

Jesse Ogas

CEO and Executive Director, Firefly Autism

Jesse Ogas increases access to medical care for all communities by bridging language and cultural gaps. In his role as CEO and executive director of Firefly Autism, Ogas has increased outreach and autism treatment to previously underserved Latino and Black communities. He extends this mission through his membership on the boards of many charities, including Clinica Tepeyac, which provides medical care to those who may have otherwise been unable to access it due to monetary or language barriers.

Ogas was also appointed by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock to the Mental Health Center of Denver Board and the Mayor’s Latino Commission, where he served for six years as a liaison to Mayor Hancock on issues that impact the Latino community in Denver.

Lorii Rabinowitz

CEO, Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF)

Lorii Rabinowitz leads authentically, approaching challenges with curiosity and collaboration in mind. At DSF, Rabinowitz is known as a leader with a deep commitment to her team and community. She forges connections across sectors and is passionate about fostering equitable opportunities and outcomes with students who reflect historically underrepresented communities in higher education, including students of color, first generation college students, and students with low income. In her work at DSF, Rabinowitz collaborates with the DSF team to make college possible, empowering and inspiring Denver students on their journeys to and through college and building the future of our community. 

Outside of DSF, she is the former chair of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation Board of Directors, served on the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a trustee of the Rose Community Foundation. She volunteers for numerous organizations including Project Angel Heart and Big Brothers Big Sisters and was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Business of 2019 by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

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