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Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation announces 2022 9NEWS Leader of the Year finalists

This year marks the 22nd year that 9NEWS will honor a Colorado leader for contributions to the community.
Credit: Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation

COLORADO, USA — 9NEWS and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation are proud to announce the three finalists for the 2022 9NEWS Leader of the Year award.

  • Janine Davidson, President, Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Michael Niyompong, Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer, Mental Health Center of Denver
  • Lydia Prado, Executive Director, Lifespan Local

This year marks the 22nd year that 9NEWS will honor a Colorado leader for contributions to the community. 9NEWS again partnered with the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation to select and honor this individual.

The 2022 9NEWS Leader of the Year will be announced live at the Leadership Foundation’s Leading Colorado Luncheon on April 6 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, located at 1550 Court Pl. from 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

This 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.

"Resilient, inclusive, authentic – these are all words that describe the 2022 9NEWS Leader of the Year finalists,” said Jerome Davis, interim executive director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. “We look forward to celebrating Janine, Michael and Lydia for their efforts to build stronger, healthier and more equitable communities across Colorado at Leading Colorado in April.”

Alumni of the Leadership Foundation, members of B:CIVIC, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and the community will have an opportunity to vote to select the 2022 winner. 

Get to know the finalists:

Janine Davidson 

President, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Davidson is a purpose-driven leader whose passion for public service inspires her commitment to community change. As president of MSU Denver for the past four-plus years, Davidson has led the charge in the development of high-quality, career-oriented programs that service Colorado’s community and power its economy. 

“I believe in the power of higher education, and public higher education, to strengthen the foundation of our democracy,” Davidson said. 

Though she’s newer to the community, her impact on Colorado has already been significant. She has served the Metro Denver region as a member of the Denver Education Compact and Denver’s Complete Count Committee and on the boards of the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation and the Rose Community Foundation and Colorado Concern.

She’s been recognized as one of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce 2019 Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business and a 2021 Denver Business Journal Most Admired CEO.

Davidson has over 30 years of academic, civilian and military service and served as the 32nd undersecretary of the United States Navy.

Michael Niyompong 

Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer, Mental Health Center of Denver

Niyompong is a self-proclaimed “recovering engineer” motivated by purpose, mission and his own constant curiosity. He is a recognized nonprofit leader whose commitment to learning and passion for relationship building creates stronger, healthier communities across Colorado.

In his current role as the Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer, he continues to contribute to the greater, more equitable good. His steady leadership has advanced the organization’s mission of expanding access to innovative and effective behavioral healthcare for the whole community.

When he’s not pursuing his professional passion for mental health, Michael lends his expertise on a variety of commissions and boards across the city. 

“My mom was working on her master's thesis when she was pregnant with me," Niyompong said. "She always jokes that that’s where my passion for libraries and learning began. I’ve always been drawn to those sorts of spaces.”

He is currently active on the Library Commission for the Denver Public Library, the Colorado State Leadership Council for Enterprise Community Partners and the Housing Advisory Committee at the Colorado Health Foundation, and was recently appointed to the HealthONE Board.

Lydia Prado 

Executive Director, Lifespan Local

Prado is a justice-driven leader whose innovative, inclusive leadership style challenges the status quo and promotes a more equitable future for “at-promise” individuals. She leads community change as the Executive Director of Lifespan Local, a nonprofit activating community-driven solutions to collectively identify challenges by partnering across sectors, breaking barriers and elevating community voices.

As director of cultural competence and vice president of Child & Family Service at the Mental Health Center of Denver, spearheading the development of the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being best exemplifies her commitment to thoughtful community change. 

“Our goal isn’t to be popular or well-liked," Prado said. "Our responsibility is to do what we say we’re going to do for the community. And we need to do that in the best, fairest way possible.”

When Prado's not busy holding community conversations over coffee, she serves on the boards of HealthONE, Denver Preschool Program, and Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation.

For more information about the finalists and to cast your vote, visit denverleadership.org/leadingco. Voting is officially open now and will close on April 1.

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