Youth Celebrate Diversity is guided and supported by an exceptional group of individuals committed to advancing student leadership and equity for everyone.
YCD programs are led 100% by students within each program. Our Board of Directors is responsible for fundraising and financial oversight, as well as building connections with the many communities in which we operate. The Board of Directors does not make programmatic or content decisions, which are owned by student leaders.
Reflecting the many constituencies we serve, YCD’s Board members include high school teachers, college professors, non-profit professionals, business owners, parents, and alumni of our programs.
See below for biographies of YCD’s Board of Directors.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Aaron Abai (he/him) is currently a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. A proud alumnus of YCD, Aaron graduated from Chatfield Senior High School in 2018 and previously served as a co-chair of the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference (now Colorado Youth Diversity Conference).
Aaron received a Bachelor’s in Molecular Biology and African-American Studies from Harvard University in 2022. At the University of Cambridge, Aaron is studying for an MPhil in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine. In his free time, Aaron enjoys cross-country running, reading, dancing, traveling, and trying new foods. He serves as the Secretary for Youth Celebrate Diversity’s Board of Directors.
Shaquin Albrow (he/him) works as the Senior Manager of Team and Player Services with the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, Illinois. He focuses on working with athletes on different aspects of their lives beyond the basketball court, including community initiatives, personal development, and post-career transition plans.
Shaquin is a 2012 Gates Millennium Scholarship Recipient who received a B.S. in Business Management, B.A. in Sports Business and Media Studies, and a M. Ed. In Educational Technology all from Arizona State University in 2016 and 2019, respectively. Throughout college, Shaquin was involved with the Black Student Union and Sports Business Association. He also studied abroad with Semester at Sea in 2014, and again with CIEE Open Campus in 2016.
Shaquin’s free time is spent traveling, watching and playing basketball, and finding ways to give back to the community. He previously served on the Executive Committee for the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference (now Colorado Youth Diversity Conference) in 2011-2012 while at Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado.
Benita Creacy (she/her) 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.
Lorenzo Gonzales (he/him) 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.
Los Angeles, California
Eve Torres Gracie (she/her) 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.
Kevin Le (he/him) is a College Completion Advisor for College Track. He connects students to career, leadership and college affordability opportunities and develops transitional plans to ensure high school students matriculate to college. He also serves as the Civic Engagement Director for the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations.
Kevin received his B.A. in Sociology from the University of Colorado – Boulder in 2018, where he also served as president of the Vietnamese Student Association. He previously served on the Executive Committee for the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference (now Colorado Youth Diversity Conference) for three years while in high school.
Brian McCord (he/him) is a Senior Human Resource Professional at Seagate Technologies. He has over 10 years of experience working across broad disciplines within the Human Resource space including Total Rewards, Employee Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion, Employee Relations, and Strategy Consulting. He is also a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
He received both his B.S. in Business Management, with a concentration in Human Resources, and Masters in Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He also has an A.A. in Business Administration from Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, AL.
In the community, Brian currently serves as a board member for the St. Vrain Lakes Metropolitan District. He is also a member of Junior Achievement Engage, which is a community of emerging young leaders who share a passion for inspiring and empowering the youth through education. Brian also served on Jr Boards for the YMCA and Restoration Academy in Birmingham, AL.
Andrea Mohamedbhai (she/her) is a founding partner at the law firm Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC. Her practice is exclusively in the areas of plaintiff’s employment discrimination and constitutional civil rights litigation. She advocates for the rights of employees in the workplace, and for the civil rights of all individuals against governmental and institutional abuses of power.
As a first generation Brazilian-American, Andrea’s unique voice makes her an effective advocate for her clients and adds perspective to an increasingly diverse legal landscape. Andrea volunteers much of her time to advocating for social justice in schools, including co-founding Diversity & Inclusion committees at her children’s schools. She also provides pro bono representation to underrepresented persons with immigration and other legal issues.
Andrea consistently uses her foreign language skills, working with Portuguese and Spanish-speaking victims of abuse and discrimination. Andrea’s ability to represent litigants from multiple cultures, in multiple languages, across a broad array of practice areas make her a powerful advocate for the community.
In her free time, Andrea enjoys distance running, international travel, hiking, and dancing. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law and her BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Micah Porter (he/him) is the Associate Principal at Warren Tech North in Jeffco Public Schools. He has worked in public education for nearly three decades in the Denver metro area as a teacher, coach, athletic director, advocate, and administrator and has a deep philosophical belief in creating greater educational access for our most under-resourced populations.
Micah also has been a long-time leader and advocate in the LGBTQ+ community, focusing his efforts on building greater inclusion for LGBTQ+ teen and youth athletes. Having worked with a number of national advocacy groups such as You Can Play and the Sports Leadership Diversity Council, Micah has been a committed spokesperson in the LGBTQ+ sports movement. In his spare time, Micah serves as the Education Coordinator for Sports Equality Foundation working to develop inclusive coaching curriculum for athletic programs at the K-12, collegiate, and professional levels.
Janet Sammons (she/her), 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 (now Colorado Youth 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.
Bio coming soon!
San Francisco, California
Shalini Swaroop (she/her) 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 (now Colorado Youth Diversity Conference) in 2001.
Dr. Reema Wahdan (she/her) 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. She serves as the Vice Chair for Youth Celebrate Diversity’s Board of Directors.
Alice Bowling Wirth (she/her) was previously a Lecturer in the University of Tennessee’s School of Communication Studies where she taught a course called “Communicating Diversity and Inclusion.” She served 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.
Alice previously 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.
Emeritus Board Members
Emeritus Board Member
Joyce Bignell (she/her) 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.
Emeritus Board Member
Abby Ferber (she/her) 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.
Emeritus Board Member
After receiving his undergraduate degree in psychology from Saint Louis University, Saj Kabadi (he/him) 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.
Carlotta Walls LaNier
Emeritus Board Member
In 1957, at age 14, Carlotta Walls LaNier (she/her) 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.
Emeritus Board Member
St. Paul, Minnesota
Sandra Mitchell (she/her) is the Director of Equity and Inclusion at St. Catherine’s University. She provides strategic leadership and management in policy development, and in the creation, implementation and operation of programs and systems to achieve university diversity, inclusion and equity 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.
Emeritus Board Member
Karen Nakandakare (she/her) 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.
Special Advisor to the Board
Ryan Silva (he/him) 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.
Anya HS Norris
Special Advisor to the Board
Anya Norris (she/her) is the Senior West Divisional Executive Assistant at RBC Wealth Management and Communications Chair for the company’s U.S. PRIDE Employee Resource Group.
In 2017 Anya served on the Executive Committee for the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference (now Colorado Youth Diversity Conference) and played an integral role in forming a partnership between YCD and RBC Wealth Management, resulting in that organization becoming the underwriting sponsor of the Conference. In recognition of her dedication and work on diversity issues, Anya received the 2017 Irv Weiser Diversity Award, one of the most prestigious national awards given out by RBC Wealth Management to its employees. In addition to previously serving on the YCD Board of Directors, Anya is involved with and volunteers for Food Bank of the Rockies, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, A Precious Child, Colorado UpLift, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Emeritus Board Member
Beth Yohe (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Conflict Center, which teaches communication skills, consequences, negotiation, anger management classes, conflict management, and assertiveness. Previously, Beth was the Director of Development and the Director of Training for the National Office of the ADL, overseeing its anti-bias education training across the country. Beth is an accomplished facilitator, consultant and training designer with over 20 years of experience, writing and delivering training programs on a variety of topic related to addressing bias, managing conflict and creating dialogue across differences.