Seen: Colorado Ballet Aux­il­iary’s Su­garplum Ball.

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Joanne David­son Joanne David­son: 303-8091314, par­ti­writer@hot­ and @joanne­david­son on Twit­ter.

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.”

Pho­tos by Joanne David­son, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

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.

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