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The Denver African-American Commission is charged with advising the Mayor on issues and concerns that impact or are of importance to the African American community. We serve as a bridge between the African American community and policy-makers and engage in responsible activism for the community:

  • Convener: Forums, communities, community groups, panels, focus groups, inbound information
  • Communicator: Via website, directory, flyers, urban spectrum, other city offices, indirect communication, outbound information
  • Advocate: Talk to policy makers
  • Resource: For mayor and city council

We are proud of Denver, its diversity and its commitment to providing the best atmosphere for all its citizens. 

2013 By-laws

Commission Meetings

The African American Commission Meetings are held the 1st Wednesday of the month.


Blair Caldwell Library (in the Community Room)
2401 Welton Street

2018 Meeting Dates:
Jan 3
Feb 7
Mar 7
Apr 4
May 2
Jun 6
Jul 4
Aug 1
Sep 5
Oct 3
Nov 7
Dec 5

Monthly Commitee Meeting Schedule

Commission Members

Jeri AjayiJeri Ajayi is an accomplished community organizer, whose approach is deeply rooted in social and behavioral science, through the lens of public health.

Jeri has made numerous contributions to improve the lives of families through her work at Mile High United Way, Money Management International, Sense of Security, Colorado Black Health Collaborative, Colorado Community Church, and Denver's African-American Commission.

Gabrielle BryantGabrielle Bryant is a media professional and active community-based volunteer. 

She’s the president of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists; an advocacy organization focused on the success of blacks in Colorado journalism and affiliated professions. 

She’s a Denver native and prides herself in producing work that highlights the untold stories of everyday people, especially minorities.  She earned a BA in broadcast journalism and sociology from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2010.  

A mother of two young daughters she’s committed to partnering with organizations that promote the successes of young women. 

She decided to serve on the Denver African American Commission to identify areas in which her community needs improvements and to be a tool in bringing forth that change. 

Barry BurchBarry was appointed to the Denver African American Commission in May of 2015. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where he majored in political science with a concentration in pre-law and served as Resident Advisor, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity President, and Student Body President.

Following graduation, Barry was selected by Organizing for America to increase voter turnout. He successfully did so in his district by 16,000 people.

Since moving to Denver in December of 2012, Barry has served as a 4th grade teacher, a fellow in the office of City Councilman Albus Brooks, and as a journalist for Your Black World where his articles reached more than one million readers.

Barry currently serves as the Special Aide to the Mayor of Denver, and as a Denver Commissioner for People with Disabilities.

Vaneesha DutraDr. Vaneesha Dutra is an Associate Professor of finance with tenure at the University of Denver.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in business (finance) from the University of Maryland College Park, an MBA at Loyola University, Maryland and matriculated at Florida State University where she earned a PhD in finance with a minor in econometrics and real estate.  Her background includes both academic and corporate experience. Before obtaining a PhD she worked in the high net worth group at T. Rowe Price and managed the cash reserves at a large regional bank in Maryland. 

As a professor and active researcher she writes and publishes academic papers of broad interest and is frequently interviewed by the mainstream press. She has been interviewed by outlets such as Channel 9 News and WalletHub, and her work is highly cited in the academic literature. Highly adept in the areas of equity markets, behavioral finance and financial institutions, both domestic and international Professor Dutra also acts as a bank consultant in Brazil in areas of bank regulation and FINTECH. 

Having taught financial concepts for over 12 years Dr. Dutra is highly skilled at making complex financial concepts easy to comprehend.  Her passion lies in increasing the financial literacy of entire households, not just adults, in hopes that financial knowledge and prosperity will be passed down through generations.  

Nicole FrazierNicole Frazier is the Regional Director for U.S. Senator Cory Gardner. In this capacity, she focuses on building and strengthening relationships within the community, state and local government. In addition, she also covers a number of legislative issues in-state. Nicole has nearly eight years of experience in community relations, program coordination, and strategic marketing. She has a comprehensive background in personnel management, developmental marketing and policy implementation.

Nicole serves as an appointed commissioner with the Mayor’s Denver African American Commission. She is the former national public relation director for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, North America’s oldest and largest network of faith-based crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers. Prior to joining Senator Gardner’s staff she served as the State Coalitions Director for the Colorado Republican Party.

Nicole completed her Bachelors of Arts degree in business and marketing from Michigan’s Cornerstone University. She resides in Aurora, CO with her husband Tim.

Al GardnerMr. Gardner has held leadership roles in the IT industry for more than two decades and is a technology thought leader speaking regularly on issues related to technology and management. Mr. Gardner is currently the Director of Information Technology for Inspirato with American Express. Mr. Gardner has a passion for education and is active with organizations that place a focus on careers in STEM related fields. Mr. Gardner serves on a number of non-profit boards in in the Denver Area and has received numerous awards from local, state, and federal agencies recognizing his contribution to his industry and community. Mr. Gardner holds a Bachelor Business Administration, Master Business Administration, and is currently a doctoral student pursuing a Doctor of Information Technology Management degree. Mr. Gardner’s greatest joy is spending time with his family, friends, and mentees.   ​

Troy GrimesTroy Grimes is a case manager for the City and County of Denver's Safety office helping to reduce gang violence.

Formerly, Troy worked as a Program Coordinator for Goodwill Denver. In this role Mr. Grimes, successfully integrated services to support men transitioning from incarceration. Troy also has his private business, Project PROUD Fatherhood LLC, where amongst other things he facilitates community events, contracts privately to assist families with systems navigation and serves as a court appointed Child and Family Investigator.

Troy prides himself on being a loving father of 8 children (5 boys and 3 girls), husband to Mrs. Teresa Grimes.

One of Troy’s favorite proverbs to live by is “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another…” Proverbs 27:17

Alicia HarveyAlicia Harvey is a former Field Sales Engineer for Keysight Technologies and has been in technical sales and support for over 21 years.  Prior to joining Keysight, Ms. Harvey was a student at the University of Denver where she completed the Joint Degree Program and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA from the Daniels College of Business.  Ms. Harvey has been and still is actively involved in the DU and Denver Community. She has served as the former co-chair (two years) of Colorado’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and continues her affiliation with the organization today out of a dedication to supporting and clearing the way for young people interested in math and the sciences.  As well, she is a member of The Links, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Black MBA Association, the Society of Women Engineers, the DU Daniels College of Business Executive Advisory Board, a former member of the DU Alumni Admission Council, and a former member of the DU National Alumni Board of Directors. 



Benzel JimmersonBenzel Jimmerson is currently the Program Coordinator of the Denver Five Points Family Leadership Training Institute, or FLTI.  In this role he develops both adults and youth in leadership and civic engagement.  FLTI youth and adults also develop projects which build our community.

Benzel is also the Principal Owner of Diversity Dynamics, a company which facilitates and consults family and community engagement, economic development and fatherhood specific movements.  Diversity Dynamics is also developing a website which will de-fragment the most trusted and effective organizations, resources, information, and opportunities in metropolitan Denver.  He also belongs to several groups such as DAAC, DAAP, CBLC, MBK an Aspen Institute 2Gen Ambassador, and several social entrepreneurial endeavors.  However; Benzel's most cherished position is that of a father to his 3 amazing children Dejave, Najave, and Benzel Amir.  His life's mission is One Healthy Generation of Whole Children; which is a purpose to die for with so much more to live for.


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Alex is a Colorado native, a Co-founder of the Denver Justice Project and the Community Outreach Coordinator for Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. In 2009, Alex survived an extreme case of race-based brutality at the hands of Denver police officers. This became the catalyst for his activism. He believes that acknowledging the intersectional nature of oppression is critical to understanding how others who are different from us experience injustice. Alex frequently speaks to a variety of across the country. Alex is a two-time Emmy award winner, first for an animated short he did with Story Corps and second for a politics unplugged piece he did with channel 7.  Alex often finds himself navigating the grassroots and political sectors. He believes that collectively we are using our personal narratives to build networks, exchange, learn, and grow from past and present experiences.

Jonathan McMillanJonathan McMillan is a native son of Denver. Because of his experiences with gangs, crime, and other challenges he faced in his youth, he is a passionate mentor, author, journalist, activist and advocate for many causes including the empowerment of young people of color through personal development and mentoring and reforming the criminal justice system, particularly the juvenile justice system.

He is the founder and Director of Be Better Than Average, a company that provides success skills & personal development training through mentoring and life coaching services. He has developed a curriculum designed to help people of all ages and backgrounds to achieve their ideal selves and live the lives they only dreamed about through goal setting, empowered mindsets, and forming deliberate, intentional relationships and associations.

Brande' MicheauBrande’ Micheau currently serves as the Denver City Council, District 9 Director of Constituent Services where she assists Councilman Albus Brooks and the North East Denver community as a neighborhood liaison. In her role, she performs duties related to city needs as it correlates to City policy and programming to multiple stakeholder groups requesting assistance and services. In addition to supporting various constituency groups, she aides in creating and implementing new legislation related to her Council member and district. Brande’ is a graduate from Colorado State University, where she earned an M.S. in Management. In her free time she enjoys travelling, volunteering, spending time with family and friends and enjoying the great outdoors of Colorado.

Dwayne began writing seven years ago when he became fed up with everyday working life. He met the editor the Denver Voice and was invited me to join the paper as a Vendor/ Writer in December 2008.

Dwayne enjoys various aspects of the industry successfully doing jobs that challenge his abilities.

Ryan SimonRyan works at CiviCore where he seeks to make an impact by advocating for technology solutions which improve the use of information in nonprofits, foundations, and public agencies. Ryan is also a facilitator of anti-bias dialogue for the Anti-Defamation League and the Office of the Independent Monitor.

ShehilaRae StephensShehila Stephens was appointed to the Denver African American Commission in December 2016. She is a formerly homeless youth who received a full ride academic scholarship from the Daniels Fund.  She went on to receive a BS in Sociology at the University of Tampa where she served as the President of the Black Student Union, President of the Association of Student Sociologists and Resident Council. 

She currently has over 14 years of human service/ business management experience which includes homeless services, public benefit services, the development of participant experience programs and instituting service improvement initiatives. She has extensive experience in developing and implementing policy.

She is currently a Board member with the Metro Denver Homeless initiative and serves on the DAAC in an effort to stay aware and committed to the voices of the growing Denver community.

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For questions, comments, or more information please contact:
Kim Desmond, DAAC Liaison

Darius Smith , DAAC Liaison

Are you interested in joining the African American Commission?
Apply online today!



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