Youth Celebrate Diversity is led by an exceptional group of individuals committed to advancing equity for everyone.
Reflecting the many constituencies we serve, YCD’s Board members include high school teachers, college professors and diversity leaders, non-profit professionals and business owners. See below for biographies of our talented Board.
Benita Creacy is the President and Owner of DC & Associates, a financial planning and private wealth management company. She holds the series 7 registration with LPL Financial, the series 66 registration with Western Wealth Management, LLC, as well as licenses in Life and Variable insurance. In addition, Benita serves as an adjunct professor at the College for Financial Planning. Before working in the financial services industry she was a college financial aid director and a financial aid consultant for colleges and universities across the United States working with families and their college finances for over 20 years.
Benita has a degree from the Robinson School of Business at Georgia State University and an Art degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Her free time is spent with her three children and volunteering in the community. Benita serves as Youth Celebrate Diversity’s Treasurer.
Abby Ferber is a Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Ethnic Studies, as well as the Associate Director of The Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion, at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.
Her research, teaching and service all coalesce around issues of inequality, privilege, and the intersections of race, gender and sexuality. Abby is the author or co-editor of numerous books including: Home-Grown Hate: Gender and the White Supremacist Movement; Privilege: A Reader; Making A Difference: University Students of Color Speak Out and White Man Falling: Race, Gender, and White Supremacy. She also co-authored Hate in America: What Do We Know?, a publication of the American Sociological Association. Abby is widely published in academic journals and mainstream news outlets. She received her MA and PhD from the University of Oregon, and her BA from American University.
Lorenzo Gonzales is currently retired, but served for many years as assistant principal at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado. He was one of the main organizers of the National High School Diversity Conference, held in Denver in 1998. He currently volunteers his time as a coach and activist for public education in the Denver Metro Area.
Eve Torres Gracie
Eve Torres Gracie is a television personality and women’s self-defense instructor. She is the head instructor of the Gracie Women Empowered self-defense program, and teaches sexual assault awareness and risk-reduction to women from all walks of life, including college women and airmen in the US Air Force. Eve did her undergraduate studies in Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California.
Pateath Herndon is a social worker in Denver Public Schools, working with the Denver School of Science and Technology. She has spent her career focused on education and reform of the juvenile justice system.
Bernard Jones is an Associate Trust Advisor with Northern Trust, based in Phoenix, Arizona. He served on the Executive Committee of the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference as a high school student and supports its continuing development and expansion.
Corey Jones is an experienced public speaker and educator, and has been working in the Front Range community for over 20 years.
Corey is a Training & Development Specialist and the owner of Brignac Consulting, which provides training, education and support for private, governmental, and non-profit organizations. He has developed successful programming and learning opportunities for many organizations, including the Denver Mayor’s Office for Economic Development, the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Apartment Association of Metro Denver. Corey earned a B.A. in Communications at Regis University, and studied Business Leadership at the University of Denver. He serves as the Vice Chair for Youth Celebrate Diversity’s Board of Directors.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in psychology from Saint Louis University, Saj joined the Alum Service Corp (ASC) Jesuit Volunteer Program at Saint Louis University High School for the 1997-1998 school year. He joined the faculty of Regis Jesuit High School in 2000, where he teaches theology. He is also a professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver and Regis University.
Kierstin Miller has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference for over ten years and has also served as a workshop presenter for the conference. She has undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Art History from Colorado State University and an MS in Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. She serves as the organization’s Secretary.
Janet Sammons, now retired, has taught social studies for over 40 years in high schools in Colorado and Kansas, while also working on diversity-related issues both in and out of the classroom for many years. In 1994 she founded the statewide Cherry Creek Diversity Conference for high school students and their faculty advisers, and in 2014 worked with YCD’s Executive Director, Caleb Munro, to found Youth Celebrate Diversity.
Her recognitions include the Colorado Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, the Colorado ADL Community Builder Award, the GLSEN National Educator of the Year Respect Award, and the 9 Teachers Who Care Award from Channel 9, Denver. Janet received her teaching degree from Kansas Wesleyan and her MA in Education from Emporia State University. Janet is Youth Celebrate Diversity’s Chair of the Board of Directors.
Shalini Swaroop is an attorney specializing in renewable energy policy in California. She has advocated for international and domestic human rights with grassroots organizations, legal practitioners, and the United Nations. Shalini has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Psychology with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and received her law degree from Berkeley Law School. She served on the Executive Committee for the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference in 2001.
Dr. Reema Wahdan is a faculty member in the department of pathology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She is currently working on innovative strategies to combat breast cancer. She has obtained a number of prestigious awards, including the “Leaders of Tomorrow, Top 50 innovators,” MedImmune/Astra Zenca (2015); “Best of Basic Research,” Endocrine Society (2013); and the “Women in Cancer Research Scholar Award” (2010). Dr. Wahdan’s work has been funded by the Colorado Cancer League, American Cancer Society, the Susan G Komen, and Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Individual Fellowship.
Outside of her career, Dr. Wahdan has been passionately centered on enhancing our appreciation to promoting respect for cultural diversity in classrooms across the nation. As a Muslim-American, Dr. Wahdan has lectured around the nation and locally regarding Islamophobia and the repercussions of xenophobia and intolerance in our communities. She is active with a number of community organizations that work to unite our local Denver community, such as the Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace, Muslims Intent for Learning and Activism, and a number of interfaith and local organizations based in Denver. Additionally, she serves on the board of national cultural organizations such as Al Bireh Society and the Colorado Palestine Club. Last, she is involved in a humanitarian organization known as the Palestinian Children Relief Foundation that provides medical and humanitarian relief to Arab children throughout the Middle East regardless of their nationality, politics, or religion.
Dr. Wahdan received her post graduate degrees from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland Ohio. She also received her masters and undergraduate degree from University of Denver in Denver Colorado.
Alice Bowling Wirth is a Lecturer in the University of Tennessee’s School of Communication Studies where she teaches a course called “Communicating Diversity and Inclusion.” She serves as Director of UT’s College of Communication and Information (CCI) Diversity and Inclusion Program and of CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society. Additional community service activities include: Chair, CCI Diversity and Inclusion Week; Vice President, Knoxville Christian Women’s Connection (former President); former President, University Area Optimist Club; emeritus member, Board of Directors, University of Tennessee Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature; and former member, Board of Directors, Knoxville Friends of Literacy.
Before moving to Knoxville in 2006, Alice taught consumer family science in Englewood, Colorado. While there she founded and directed Englewood Public Schools’ Diversity Program and Englewood High School’s True Colors diversity program. YWCA Knoxville named Alice as an Equality Category Award finalist for its 2011 Tribute to Women. The Anti-Defamation League and World of Difference Foundation selected Alice as Colorado’s 1998 Multicultural Educator of the Year, and the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference presented her with its Human Rights Award in 2000. Upon leaving Englewood in 2006, she was named the inaugural recipient of an award created in her honor, the St. Alice Award for outstanding service by a teacher. Englewood also created the Alice Bowling Wirth Diversity Scholarship, which is given annually to an outstanding senior. Alice holds an MA from the University of Denver and a BS from Michigan State University.
Joyce Bignell (Emeritus)
Joyce Bignell is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Colorado Council for Community and Justice (CCCJ), which provides facilitation and leadership training focused on diversity issues in Colorado.
She was previously Executive Director for the Mountain West Regional office of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Among the youth programs she has developed are the Ed Hirschfeld Anytown Leadership Camp, the Power Lunch (mentoring program), Flash Judgments, It’s Your Move (diversity programs – high schools), and Don’t Laugh at Me Bully Prevention Initiative. She currently serves on the Mizel Museum’s Community Advisory Board and the Interfaith Council of Stapleton’s Board of Directors.
Carlotta Walls LaNier (Emeritus)
In 1957, at age 14, Carlotta Walls LaNier and eight other students integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system. The Little Rock Nine, as they would eventually be called, became ‘foot soldiers’ for freedom.
In 1968 Lanier earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and accepted a position at the Denver YWCA. Since then, she has married, raised two children, founded her own real estate company, and worked for 30 years as a real estate broker, currently with Cherry Creek Realtors. In 1997 the Little Rock Nine returned to Central High School for the 40th anniversary celebration. In a symbolic and emotional gesture, the school’s principal, the mayor, the governor, and the President of the United States opened the school’s doors, which had been blocked by the Arkansas National Guard in 1957. In 1999 at the White House, members of Congress and the President bestowed upon Lanier and the other member of the Little Rock Nine the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, for their sacrifice and contribution to the cause of equality.
Sandra Mitchell (Emeritus)
Sandra Mitchell was most recently the Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at University of North Dakota. Her role in this position was to provide strategic leadership and management in policy development, and in the creation, implementation and operation of programs and systems to achieve university diversity goals. She has more than 20 years experience in Higher Education Administration and holds a BS in Psychology and a MA in Higher Education from Drake University.
Eddie Moore (Emeritus)
Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. is recognized as one of the nation’s top motivational speakers and educators on the issues of race and privilege, especially for his work with students K-16. Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., currently serves as Director of The Privilege Institute (TPI) and The National White Privilege Conference (WPC), both founded under his direction to provide opportunities and possibilities for research, publications, speaking and collaborations by those committed to true social and institutional change. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies at the University of Iowa and under his direction and inclusive relationship model the White Privilege Conference has become one of the top national and international conferences for participants who want to move beyond dialogue and into action around issues of diversity, power, privilege, and leadership.
Karen Nakandakare (Emeritus)
Karen Nakandakare is the Diversity and Community Investment Program Manager at CH2M Hill. She has consistently played a role in diversity-related groups and initiatives in the Denver area, recently serving as project manager of the Summer Engineering Enrichment Program for Kids (SEEK), a three-year program with City of Denver and Denver Public Schools. Karen played an integral part in the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival for more than a decade, serving on the board of directors and operating committee. She’s also been involved with the City and County of Denver Human Rights & Community Relations Advisory Board, Asian Chamber of Commerce, One Colorado and LARASA. Her recognitions include Girl Scouts Women of Distinction, Asian American Hero of Colorado, Asian Pacific American Bar Minoru Yasui Community Award, Professional Woman of the Year Award from the Denver Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and others. She holds a BA in Communications with honors from the University of Colorado and a MA in Non-Profit Management from Regis University.
Beth Yohe (Emeritus)
Beth Yohe is the Director of Training for the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Education Division. She oversees the development of the anti-bias training and curricular materials for the ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute, a leading provider of anti-bias education and social justice training.
Beth also is an instructor for University of Colorado at Denver’s Department of Education in the Cultural Responsive Urban Education teacher licensure program. She serves on the board of the International Bullying Prevention Association, Mapleton Education Foundation and UCCS Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity and Inclusion. She has a MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University and a BA in Speech Communication from Texas A&M University.
Ryan Silva (Special Advisor to the Board)
Ryan Silva is the principal of Cherry Creek High School, the host school for the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference. As a former teacher and now administrator, he has consistently demonstrated his commitment to fostering respect and understanding, both at Cherry Creek High School and the Cherry Creek School District.