Julie Reiskin, LCSW
Julie Reiskin is the executive director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC). CCDC advocates for social justice for people with all types of disabilities.
CCDC is a leading disability rights organization whose unique model of blending legal and non-attorney advocacy has achieved results for thousands of Coloradoans with disabilities. With a motto of “Nothing About Us Without Us – Ever,” CCDC has led the way in citizen or “client” engagement and CCDC trained advocates permeate the Colorado public policy arena. CCDC and Ms. Reiskin assist other organizations with assuring real and meaningful participation by “clients” at all levels. Through CCDC and the disability community, Ms. Reiskin has gained expertise on nonprofit accountability and best practices, publically funded long-term community based services, disability rights law, public benefits and the intersectionality of systemic and individual advocacy. Ms. Reiskin has proposed and helped to implement many solutions to create a sustainable and client friendly Medicaid program – such as the consumer direction as a delivery model, acted as a respected advocate for individuals and has trained many others in health advocacy and health policy. Prior to becoming the Executive Director for CCDC in 1996, Ms. Reiskin served as the organization's policy analyst.
In 2010, Ms. Reiskin was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation as the client representative.
Ms. Reiskin provides consulting with organizations seeking to improve, expand or enhance their ability to effectively practice real and meaningful client/constituent engagement at all levels of the organization. She also helps organizations develop disability cultural competence.
Ms. Reiskin moved to Colorado from Connecticut in 1994. In Connecticut, she was a partner in a consulting firm, specializing in diversity issues throughout Southern New England. She also had a private psychotherapy practice.
Previous work includes, but is not limited to, several positions working with "hard to serve" youth and positive youth development, AIDS/HIV Education, and grassroots community organizing. Ms. Reiskin has taught extensively in the areas of disability rights, disability culture and disability policy, along with other areas related to diversity in human services.
Ms. Reiskin received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut, with a major in community organizing in 1989. She obtained a B.S. in Women's Studies from the University of Connecticut in 1985. She lives in Denver with her partner of more than 20 years and has two adult stepsons, who both make her very proud.
Kevin Williams is the Legal Program Director for CCDC. In May of 1997, Kevin joined CCDC as counsel and, with the help of CCDC's members and a very small staff, began building the Legal Program. Kevin litigates in most areas of law protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Air Carriers Access Act, and Colorado law. Kevin has presented at conferences and seminars and has published on the topic of disability rights. Kevin chaired the Colorado Bar Association Disability Law Forum Committee for three years and hosted the Denver Disability Rights Roundtable for several years. Kevin graduated with honors from the University of Denver College of Law in 1996.
Andrew C. Montoya, Esq.
On January 1, 2012, Andrew Montoya joined CCDC's Legal Program as a full-time associate. In 2005, Andrew began working as CCDC’s Legal Program Assistant. He left CCDC for a time to get his law degree from the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida. He returned to Colorado, took and passed the bar exam and now holds the title of Legal Program Attorney. Andrew works on CCDC’s civil rights cases and has developed many presentations regarding the laws CCDC enforces.
CCDC is very proud to have Andrew. He has always been an asset to our Legal Program, but, beyond that, he is doing excellent work as a lawyer. We are all pleased to have Andrew on board now as a full-time attorney, even if he does choose to live on the Wyoming boarder. We are also pleased to see and spend time with Nikki, Audrey, Katrina, and the rest of the family.
Dawn Howard, MLS
Dawn has slight cerebral palsy. As Community Organizer for CCDC, she enjoys matching advocates/volunteer interests with opportunities to make systems work for people with disabilities. She has worked as a librarian, occupational therapist, advocate and aide for Head Start classrooms. In her free time, Dawn writes poetry, spends time with her friends and family, and takes long walks.
Donna Sablan is a widow with three birth children and five step children. She is our Individual Advocacy Coordinator where she supervises our advocacy program and acts as a job coach for our advocates and clients in the community. She came to CCDC in 2000 because she was referred by another agency for help. Donna then started doing advocacy for CCDC in education with a mental health focus for children. She worked with Behavioral Health Organizations Family Advisory Councils and CCDC to help people in the community. When funding for the Family Advisory Councils was discontinued, Donna attempted to involve other agencies in children’s mental health issues, and she was met with some resistance. According to Donna, “No one wanted to share and work with the kid as a whole, kids with multiple disabilities were falling through the cracks because of funding streams.” Donna was determined to help children and continued to work with CCDC and took educational advocacy training through Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, mental health training through Behavioral Healthcare Inc., and Project Bloom for younger children’s mental health.
After training, Donna continued to work with CCDC specifically on education, with a focus on youth. In late 2006, Donna had a significant stroke and had to step back from helping others to take care of herself and do rehab. She still mentored new advocates and took a light caseload. In 2008, Donna had another big stroke and had to have major heart surgery. She came back to CCDC in 2010 where she resumed her caseload and began job coaching internally within the organization. Since that time her giving back has grown. Due to a restructuring within the organization, Donna was needed to oversee individual advocacy. She has supported employment and she was brought into CCDC with this assistance. She accomplishes her job with assistance in the areas of writing and organization. Donna is able to contribute because of the community supports she receives so that she can help others to succeed. According to Donna, “You only should take help when you need it and you should always give back when you can.”
Heather Morrow is a young woman with Cerebral Palsy. She came to CCDC after hearing about the advocacy training. In her past, she had worked as a Special Education Aide at Edison Elementary in North Denver. She became interested in advocacy because she was interested in learning to help people with disabilities. She completed the Advocacy training and was certified in 2012 and served as a volunteer assistant to our former Advocacy Coordinator. Because of her exceptional work, Heather was hired to recruit and train people with developmental disabilities under a national level grant from the Association for University Centers on Disabilities. In addition to this work, Heather helps with training advocates for CCDC and she continues to carry advocacy cases for CCDC as well.
Jaime was a pioneer sportsman in the early 1980's. He completed and won a 62 mile ultra marathon before people recognized the new sport. Between 1998-2001 Jaime served as a city council person and Mayor for the City of Salida, Colorado.Jaime is currently the Vice President of Very Special Arts (VSA of Colorado), a non-profit that promotes and displays art for disabled artists.Jaime recently was certified as a Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church. He serves at churches in the Denver Metro area. Jaime gained notoriety by showing up to run a relay leg in the Colfax Marathon in Summer, 2006. When his teammates did not show, Jaime ran the entire 26 miles himself!
Joe comes to CCDC from years of political activism. He became interested in politics when he was only nine years old - watching the Democratic Party nominate Adlai Stevenson as their Presidential Candidate. More recently, he got involved with the Jefferson County Democrats and served as Campaign Treasurer for several of the state level political candidates. In 1992, Joe ran for Jefferson County Treasurer himself and got 49.2% of the county wide votes. Not long after that he began to realize that he was the only one with an obvious disability participating in the grass roots level of politics where decisions as to who gets their name on the ballot are made. Joe began his search for people with disabilities to get involved and that's when he met Julie Reiskin in 1996. That's when Joe found out that even people in the Democratic Party were voting for bills at the State Legislature that harm programs that people with disabilities depend on. Joe challenged his party on these issues and even had to threaten lawsuit to gain access to House District meetings for people with disabilities. He went on to be a founding member of the Democrats with disAbilities Initiative for the Colorado Democratic Party and a delegate to the National Convention in 2008.
"I am more proud of the work that I've for CCDC than anything else I've done in my life," says Beaver.
Jose was born in Guatemala, Guatemala City during the Guatemalan Civil War. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at six months old. At age twelve, he had his first encounter with the war when his older sister and nephew were forced to leave Guatemala for their safety. At age seventeen his father was killed and Jose, his mother and younger sister had to hide. He lost all aspects of his life at that time including his house and his girlfriend. He joined the opposition to the government at this time. Jose and his family eventually fled to the U.S. for their safety and he began to advocate for the civil rights of the disabled. He joined ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit) and CCDC and advocated for the civil rights of people with disabilities. According to Jose, “In these last years I have met true friends, who fight with the same passion and love. Now I have a whole new world of opportunities like being invited to be trained by, and work for CCDC. The best has been to be able to work for, and with the disability community.”
Kristen Castor M.A.
Kristen Castor was born in Lakewood and mainstreamed herself in Jefferson County schools simply because it never occurred to her family to do anything else. The price she paid was to ride a paratransit bus through Lakewood, Golden and Wheatridge where she became friends with many of the original founders of the Atlantis Community on their way to Fletcher Miller, a school where children with disabilities were segregated from the general population. Determined to support herself, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in the Classics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and a Master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She speaks French, German, some Spanish and some Hebrew.
In order to build up her work history, she joined the Peace Corps and taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in Liberia, West Africa from 1978 to 1981. Upon her return, she settled in Houston, Texas and began forging a career in ESL when romance called her to Mexico. When this partnership failed, she returned to Denver and started over, working three and four part-time jobs and eventually obtaining a teaching certificate. When it became clear that she did not have the stamina to continue in public education, she turned to Wade Blank, who recommended that she apply for a position with the Atlantis Community in Colorado Springs in 1989. That began a return to her roots in disability rights and a migration to Pueblo through a number of different jobs before joining CCDC in 1998. Her official training is in eligibility for disability benefits. She has also championed the Americans with Disabilities Act since it was passed. She now serves as a non-attorney advocate for people appealing Medicaid denials.
Laura has nearly 20 years of experience in the nonprofit field, with an extensive background in all aspects of resource development, as well as several years working as a program officer at two major national foundations. From 2009 to 2014, Ms. Gabbay was the executive director of Project WISE (a Women’s Initiative for Service and Empowerment). Before her tenure with Project WISE, she was the director of development for Mi Casa Resource Center. There she was responsible for the organization’s prospect and donor portfolio that generates annual private revenues of more than $850,000. Five years ago, she became one of the founding volunteer advisory board members of the Colorado Participation Project, an innovative non-partisan program supporting human service nonprofits to build their civic engagement and advocacy efforts. Ms. Gabbay’s professional experience also includes positions with the Daniels Fund, Child Health Advocates/CHP+, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Ms. Gabbay holds her B.A. in Communications from Indiana University-Bloomington and graduated from Columbia University in New York with her MBA. She is the proud single mother of two children under the age of fifteen. In 2015, she graduated from the prestigious community service project, the Colorado Family Leadership Training Institute, hosted by the Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment. In 2012, she was named the volunteer chair of the Women and Family Action Network, a coalition established by the Women’s Foundation of Colorado in 2005. In her free time, Ms. Gabbay enjoys writing poetry, yoga and hiking with her kids in the mountains.
Marlene A. Murillo
Marlene joined CCDC after working more than two decades for the Archdiocese of Denver. She has extensive experience in working personally with people with all types of disabilities and has also been trained to work with families whose children have disabilities.
Ron Hutter joined the CCDC staff in 2016 after almost two decades of volunteer work with the organization.
Ron has previous experience as a transportation assistant at the Cherry Creek School district where he accompanied children with disabilities on school busses, secured them in their seats and when necessary secured mobility devices. He was then promoted and was an assistant at their Options program and was responsible for checking, cleaning and restocking books.
His retirement freed him up to increase his volunteer work with CCDC. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Arc of Aurora. He is also very active in Special Olympics and has numerous medals from competitions in many different events. Ron lives in Aurora and helps care for other family members who also have disabilities.
Rolf is the CCDC Mental Health Policy Liaison. For five and one half years he was the CCDC grant proposal writer. For the last ten years, he has traveled to meetings on behalf of CCDC that public officials attend and report to our Executive Director on the content of the meetings. Also, at these meetings, he represents CCDC’s positions.
Sheryle Hutter joins the CCDC staff as the Advocacy Support and Training Coordinator with a long history of disability advocacy.
After 21 1/2 years she is retired from the Cherry Creek School District as the Funded Projects Manager (program and fiscal manager for State and Federal grants) and is a public accountant by degree. She has many years of experience with small business and enjoys the world of antiques with a retail space in an Antique Mall. She has previously served on the CCDC Board of Directors, is an advocate in many arenas, and most recently volunteered as the CCDC lead citizen lobbyist.
Sheryle is a strong advocate for cross disability philosophy. She has received awards for her dedication and determination. from CCDC, The Colorado Developmental Disability Council, and through Cherry Creek Schools she received The Wendy DeBell Award for outstanding volunteerism.
Tom Carter volunteers in the CCDC office several mornings a week. When not working at CCDC, Tom enjoys spending time with his friends and his new kittens.