Seen: Colorado Ballet Auxiliary’s Sugarplum Ball.
The Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado graduated its 10th class of fellows at a gala held at the new Falls Event Center in Littleton.
The 27 men and women who completed the intensive, 10-month course came to the program with a variety of personal goals and left with the sense of empowerment that comes with the knowledge that they’d been well-trained to take their current measures of success to much higher levels.
“Being an introvert, this program challenged me,” admitted Alicia Sewell, a certification analyst for the Denver Office of Economic Development. “A supervisor pushed me to apply and so I took the plunge. I’m happy to say that becoming a (ULF) fellow put me back on a path that I always knew I was capable of following.”
Ini Edet moved to Denver 10 years ago from his native Nigeria and said he appreciated how the ULF, a division of the Chamber Connect Leadership Program, gave him the opportunity to “be around likeminded people who are making a difference.”
Edet attends the University of Denver, where he is a candidate for a master’s degree in international development, with a concentration in technology, energy and sustainable development. His goal is to help build stronger communities by advocating for policies and initiatives that promote inclusivity and fairness.
In addition to attending 22 lectures, workshops, round table discussions and events focusing on civic engagement and business, political and community leadership, the ULF fellows also participated in three community service projects.
The Y.E.S. Program enabled them to provide “real-world” skills to high school students and culminated with a tour of three historically black colleges and universities; Connect with Purpose was a social event that raised $3,000 and 30,000 pounds of food to start a food bank for students at the Contemporary Learning Academy; and Fathers Matter, which helped provide single fathers with the resources, support and education that would help them be the best parents they could be.
“On Feb. 10, 2016, you were strangers,” observed Ryan Ross, the ULF’s president and chief executive officer. “Tonight you are a family of leaders committed to inspiring service in the community’s interest. You are a united group of professionals equipped to lead organizations, serve on boards and leverage your networks to facilitate change.”
The ULF’s Class of 2016 also included Elizabeth Adair, Joshua Adams, Dom Barrera, Kandi Brown, Carla Coburn, Terelya Coneal, Sade Cooper, Codi Cox, Marlena Grant, Terra Horton, Danielle Johnson, Marques Johnson, Michelyn Johnson, Michelle Majors-Boykin, Jessica Newton, Edith Okupa, Yarkenda Payne, Tiffany Pearson, Casell Randle Jr., Brenda Sears, Corey Thurman, Tiffany Wedgeworth and Triston Young. A 2016 fellow, Sheila Kelly, a legal secretary supervisor for Xcel Energy, received the President’s Award; Betty Hart, a special projects coordinator for Kaiser Permanente, was named the Distinguished Program Graduate. The 300 guests included Lee Kathryn Gash-Maxey, executive director of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, and her husband, Tom; Alicia Harvey, a 2013 fellow; state Rep.-elect Leslie Herod; Carita Watson, retired IT director for IBM, and Krystal Brumfield, president and CEO of the Airport Minority Advisory Council in Washington, D.C.
Brumfield was the keynote speaker and stressed the importance of hard work and being “your authentic self ” as she reminded her audience that “The dream is free but the grind is sold separately.”
The ULF's president and chief executive officer Ryan Ross, fourth from left, with graduates Sheila Kelly, Joshua Adams, Betty Hart and Alicia Sewell.
From left: Dom Barrera, Danielle Johnson, Corey Thurman and Kandi Brown were among those in the Urban Leadership Foundation's Class of 2016.
Graduates Yarkenda Payne, Ini Edet and Carla Coburn.
Alicia Harvey, left, with keynote speaker Krystal Brumfield.