The Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) serves as a support liaison and facilitator between the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Denver, the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships and the office of the Mayor of Denver.
Further, it is the Commission's objective to act as catalyst, educator, collective voice, and respond to issues and/or advocate based on community assessment of need, and create awareness and visibility of AAPI community.
Time: 6pm - 7:30pm
Recurrence: 3rd Wednesday of every month
Location: Blair Caldwell Library, 2401 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205
2018 Meeting Dates:
Note: All DAAPIC meetings are open to the public. If you are interested in presenting on a certain topic or would like past years minutes, please contact Jessica Jorgensen at email@example.com.
Gerard Aflague is from the Pacific island of Guam, but loves the vibrancy, climate, and outdoor offerings of Colorado which he has called home for over 8 years.
He is a Senior Information Technology Analyst working with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which is a congressional watchdog agency based in Washington, DC. As an auditor, Gerard reviews federal executive branch agencies' efforts to manage information technology systems and programs. Formerly, he was involved in custom border enforcement and worked with similar international agencies assisting smaller sister agencies in Pacific island nations build customs capacity. As part of his work, he traveled extensively to Australia New Zealand, South East Asia, the Orient, and the South Pacific regions.
Gerard earned his undergraduate degree in Public Administration at the University of Guam, and his graduate degree in Information Systems Management at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
He has a passion for exercising his creativity on his spare time. Gerard loves to author and illustrate children’s books, and as an online entrepreneur, he enjoys designing and manufacturing interesting, useful, and innovative products which are primarily cultural in nature.
He is an active member of the Littleton Seventh-day Adventist church and is married to Mary Ong Aflague with three children, Grant, Amanda, and Claire, and a dog named Dakota.
Ken Arellano, Jr is a Business Development Representative for Office of Economic Development’s, Denver Workforce Services. He possesses over 15 years’ experience is in Workforce and is currently working with the Health Sector Industry within the Workforce. Ken has connected businesses with jobseekers meeting the needs of Metro Denver’s business community for the past 10 years.
Ken was born and raised in Hawaii and attended the University of Hawaii. His passion is assisting underserved populations is honored to be part of Denver’s Asian American Pacific Islander Commission.
Gil Asakawa is an experienced journalist, author and online media expert who is active in the Japanese American and Asian American communities and covers Asian American issues and culture on blogs and social media. He is Manager of Student Media at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and serves as adviser to www.cuindependent.com, the student-run news website. He is also a member of AARP's Multicultural Markets and Enagement team managing social media and articles engaging Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He was the recipient of a Japanese Cabinet Social Media Fellowship to travel to Okinawa in January, 2015 to research the culture and history of Okinawa.
His journalism experience runs the gamut from being the music editor for Denver's alternative weekly newspaper Westword to managing the DenverPost.com website. His Asian American experience includes a blog, at www.Nikkeiview.com, and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social media. For his extensive pioneering online work within the AAPI blogosphere, he received the “Voice Award” from AAJA-LA during the 2013 V3 Digital Media Conference. Gil is currently chair of the Media Committee for the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. He is also a board member of the Mile High JACL, and on the board of the Emily Griffith Foundation.
Wendy is half-Japanese, half-Italian, born and raised in Brazil. Wendy holds a Master's Degree in Linguistics and is now pursuing an MBA at CU Denver. With a background in research and analytics, she displays a great enthusiasm in the realms of strategy, from conceptualization to planning, and implementation.
Growing up in Brazil, Wendy is proud to say that she has been raised in a very diverse environment. In the U.S., Wendy became inspired by the idea of preservation of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." She values the powerful message in Martin Luther King Jr.'s words: "We cannot walk alone." And so, she hopes to assist her fellow commissioners in invigorating the collaboration within the Denver AAPI communities and among other groups.
Soyon Bueno serves as the Director of Asian American Student Services at the University of Colorado Denver. She has over 14 years of experience in higher education specializing on recruitment, retention, advising, and student support services. She enjoys her role in helping students get engaged on campus, and providing cultural programming that raise awareness about the diversity and richness of the AAPI community.
Prior to joining CU Denver in September 2011, Soyon lived in Durango, Colorado and worked at Fort Lewis College as the Assistant Director in the academic advising department and also served as the transfer coordinator and advisor. She also worked for Illinois State University and co-authored a guidebook that serves as a road map to the Carl D. Perkins legislation of 1998.
Soyon Bueno was born in South Korea, but immigrated to Denver, Colorado when she was five years old. She attended Denver Public Schools and graduated from North High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in Economics, and a minor in Asian Studies from Colorado College. She received her master's degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University.
In her spare time, she enjoys watching her nine year old son play tennis, basketball and baseball.
Will Chan is the Director of Economic Mobility for the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative and the National Western Center.
Will brings a wealth of experience in the public sector as a champion of marginalized and diverse populations. Before joining the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center and the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative as the Director of Economic Mobility, Will managed the New Americans Project with Denver Public Library providing programming and services to Denver’s immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations. Previously, he served as an ambassador for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Among his honors, Will has been awarded Library Journal’s Mover and Shaker award, the EY Next Generation Leadership award with the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, and Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award.
A Colorado native, Will received his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a master’s in nonprofit management from the University of Denver.
Rachele C Espiritu is a Partner of Change Matrix, LLC, a minority- and women-owned designated small business that motivates, manages, and measures change to support systems that improve lives. She brings substantive experience and passion in the areas of children’s behavioral health, behavioral health disparities and equity, cultural and linguistic competence, program evaluation, a public health approach to mental health, and systems collaboration. Rachele provides training and technical assistance at the local, state and national level to build capacity for child, youth, and young adult behavioral health services in multiple child-serving systems. She currently serves as the Project Director for the National Network to Eliminate Disparities (the NNED) in Behavioral Health, a federally-funded network of over 2100 members, including ethnic- and community-based organizations that are addressing disparities in behavioral health care. Rachele also serves as the lead evaluator for Kokora Koro, a Whole Health Training program for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (Office of Minority Health) and the Mental Health Interpreter Training program (a joint project between the National Latino Behavioral Health Association and the National Asian Pacific Islander Mental Health Association). She serves on the board for NAMI Colorado and chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Rachele was born in the Philippines and grew up in Michigan and California. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of California at San Diego and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she was a Patricia Robert Harris Fellow. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, eating out, reading, and experiencing the beautiful outdoors.
Tri Ma is a personal lines insurance professional, who is licensed and specializes in Medicare, Life, Auto and Home Insurance products. As a native Coloradan with humble beginnings, Tri Ma received his Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and went on to obtain his Master's degree at Walden University in Minnesota while building his own insurance agency (3T Insurance, LLC) in Colorado. Since obtaining the Rookie of the Year award with United Healthcare's Medicare and Retirement, Tri continues to provide a personal concierge service at no cost to the Denver-metro and surrounding area residents of Colorado regarding their Medicare healthcare. With over a decade of experience and service in the insurance industry, Tri also continues to manage 3T Insurance, LLC regarding life, and other personal lines insurance for fellow Coloradan residents. In addition to all of this, as a new member of the Denver Asian Pacific American Commission, he aims to further his reach towards helping his community. Tri's passions include improving the livelihood of seniors and the disabled, helping students succeed, board games and participating in various sports such as snowboarding, tennis, golf, and volleyball. You can always find Tri working hard to make sure everyone else is cared for, or eating and laughing away the time with others.
Shauna is owner of No Ke Aloha Inc., a mobile run food truck and caterer specializing in Polynesian Cuisine. Established in 2015, No Ke Aloha Inc. thrives to connect Pacific Islander communities, and those close to them, while advocating for healthier changes in food options, as well as, incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly choices within company operations.
Shauna received her undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. She earned a Bachelor in Fine Arts and a minor in marketing. She began her performing arts career in 2001 with one of the first Polynesian dance revues in Colorado. Here, she learned more about the languages, cultures, and dances from many different islands in the South Pacific. In 2008, she co-founded one of the most reputable Polynesian dance companies in Colorado. Here, she gained further cultural knowledge, as well as, experience in choreography, theater production, and communications.
Shauna was born and raised in California and has spent more than half her life in the beautiful state of Colorado. She considers herself a multi-racial individual being "blended" with Native Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish. Her time spent with her family in Hawaiʻi and California has taught her the values of her culture and the importance of Aloha. It is more than a simple "hello" or "goodbye"; it is a way of life that appreciates the beauty in all things and the internal commitment as a member of society to always help each other and do our best to connect in a positive way while building a strong foundation for our future.
Shauna is a proud mom of a beautiful blended family of 6 children: Keoni(19), Simona(19), Selena(17), Sia(8), Tama(6), and Baby Toa(6mo.). Her husband, Cornelius, is from the island of Samoa, and together they work very hard and strive to advance their entrepreneurship in hopes of successfully representing Polynesian communities, and thus, encouraging a better quality of life overall, for both, humanity and the environment.
Sylvia S. Smith has enjoyed a career with the City and County of Denver since 1988. During her tenure she has served in a variety of capacities - from Director of Policy and Research under former City Auditor, Donald J. Mares to her current position as a Program Specialist for the Denver Office of Economic Development where she manages public service, neighborhood and facility improvement contracts.
A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver, Sylvia holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Sylvia has been an active member in many organizations including the Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CBWPA), Single Mothers of Color, Inc., National Council of Negro Women-Inc., Denver Section and Colorado Common Cause. She has volunteered numerous hours to various community, social and political events. In her work capacity she is active with the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), served as a board member for the Asian Chamber of Commerce and was appointed to the Asian Pacific-American Commission in 2013.
In 2002 -2006 she served on the Steering Committee of the Denver Foundation’s “Expanding Non-Profit Inclusiveness Initiative” project which studied the local non-profit community and their inclusiveness practices specific to people of color.
Sylvia was born into a military family of five. Her parents currently reside in Denver. She is proud of both of her siblings…one serves as a Firefighter with the Boulder Fire Department and the other as an Operations Manager in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in central Denver with her husband Darrick and enjoys spending time volunteering, exercising, enjoying the company of her family and friends, going to movies and travelling.
Favorite Quote – “Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth”
Nga Vuong-Sandoval serves as an Investigator at the Colorado Department of Law and as an Affiliate Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver in the Sociology Department. Her prior professional background includes serving as the Lead Intelligence Analyst at the Office of the Inspector General-Intelligence Unit at the state homeland security office. Her areas of expertise included: counterterrorism, counterintelligence, prison radicalization, security threat groups, and human trafficking. During the 2008 Democratic National Convention, she served at the Intelligence Operations Center to ensure the security of Colorado citizens. She also served as an Investigator at the Marijuana Enforcement Division and worked in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop regulations and protocols for the nation’s first marijuana testing program.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Criminal Justice at the University of Colorado and was honored as the recipient of the Outstanding Criminal Justice Student of the Year Award.
As a social justice advocate, she serves as a Mayor-appointed City Commissioner for the Asian-American Pacific Islander Commission, a speaker for the Colorado Refugee Speakers Bureau, and a member of the Denver Election Advisory Committee.
She’s a local and national presenter for the government and the community. She spoke at the 2018 Colorado Women’s March on Denver, Colorado World Refugee Day, Ai Weiwei Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads Exhibit Opening Ceremony, Saving Places Conference, and the Higher Education Diversity Summit. Nga was featured on Colorado Public Radio and spoke on the significance of Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads Exhibit and importance of Asian culture in Denver. She also spoke about Asian-American history in Colorado on KGNU community radio.
Nga was born and raised in Việt Nam until the Fall of Sài Gòn. The Việt Nam War compelled her and her family to flee their homeland, became “boat people,” became displaced as political refugees, and arrived on a U.S. refugee camp to begin their journey as Vietnamese-Americans.
Nga is proud of her Vietnamese culture, heritage, language, and refugee experience. She embraces multiculturalism and diversity and is a tenacious advocate for social justice, civil rights, gender equality, and refugee and immigrant rights. She believes that education, advocacy, discourse, and compassion are positive change agents to strengthen community relationships.
Patrick Walton brings six years of operations experience spanning the corporate and nonprofit sectors to Mile High United Way as the Manager of the Office of the President and CEO.
In his current role, he serves as the central point of contact for the coordination of the CEO’s activities, and works within the CEO’s leadership team to manage a variety of strategic and operational initiatives.
Previously serving as Mile High United Way’s Operations Manager, Patrick managed the organization’s 63,000-square-foot building, the Mile High United Way Morgridge Center for Community Change. Located in the historic Curtis Park Neighborhood, the building includes the CoBank Leadership Center, a community conference space that has welcomed over 80,000 members of our community since its opening.
Prior to joining Mile High United Way, he managed the guest services team at the Oxford Hotel in Downtown Denver as the Front Office Manager. During his time at the Oxford Hotel, it was designated by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 50 luxury hotels in the United States.
Patrick’s experience also includes working on several political campaigns, as well as project management for the Katalysis Network, a MicroFinance organization based in Central America.
He was a graduate of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s 2016 Impact Denver Class and is currently serving on Denver’s Road to Work’s Business Advisory Committee, which assists in the employment and support services for adults with barriers to employment. Patrick is also on the Board of The Blossom Project, a nonprofit which uses a collaborative model to inspire high school girls to create visionary change in their communities, country, and around the globe.
Patrick was born and raised in Lodi, California, and graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He is an avid traveler and you can often find him hitting the slopes during the winter.
For questions, comments, or more information please contact:
Jessica Jorgensen, DAAPIC Liaison
Are you interested in joining the Asian American Pacific Islander Commission?
Apply online today!
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