Julie Reiskin is the executive director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC). In that role, Julie assists other organizations with assuring real and meaningful participation by “clients” at all levels. Through CCDC and the disability community, Julie 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. Julie 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, Julie served as the organization’s policy analyst.
In 2010, Julie was appointed by President Obama to serve on the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation as the client representative.
Julie 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.
Julie 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 several positions working with “hard to serve” youth and positive youth development, AIDS/HIV education, and grassroots community organizing. Julie has taught extensively in the areas of disability rights, disability culture, and disability policy, along with other areas related to diversity in human services.
Julie received her master’s 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.
Shannon was born in Wyoming, but began traveling the globe with her family at an early age. Their travels took her to North Africa for 4 years and to South America for 2 years. During her tenure abroad, she trekked extensively throughout 24 countries, being captivated by each unique people, culture, and language.
Shannon has 20+ years of Customer Service Management and Administration experience in the corporate world and recently graduated with honors in 2015 from CSU Global with a BS in Corporate Communications. She is also a single parent of two amazing kids and it’s her son and his multiple diagnoses which brought her to the disability community.
She sits on numerous State committees, commissions and boards, and is an avid mentor, trainer, and advocate. Her current focus is Health Policy, specifically centering on Medicaid, State Waivers and Home Health Care issues. Her passion is systems advocacy surrounding health equity and social justice issues, and ensuring families have equal and appropriate access to services across all state systems.
Kevin Williams is the Director of the Civil Rights Legal Program for CCDC. In May of 1997, Kevin joined CCDC as counsel for the purpose of assisting CCDC with ensuring that the promises of the ADA and other disability rights civil rights statutes were realized through the use of the legal process designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities and enforce the laws that are designed to ensure that the people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to do what everyone else takes for granted. With the help of CCDC’s members and a very small almost all-volunteer staff, he 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 Amendments Act, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and related federal and state laws. Kevin has been active with Colorado and federal legislation impacting people with disabilities, presented at conferences and seminars and has published on the topic of disability rights. Kevin has chaired and been a member of numerous committees and associations of like-minded professionals in the field of disability rights, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards for his work helping those who can’t find or afford lawyers to take their cases to navigate the complexities of the world of disability rights law.
Although Kevin considers the place where he grew up, the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, a great place to be from, he has made Colorado his home for since 1990, coincidentally the same year that the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted. He would not have it any other way. He remains devoted to keeping Colorado one of the best places for people with disabilities to live. Kevin thanks the many champions of disability rights who came before him and he is enormously proud to be a part of the community that will never let us turn the clock back on recognizing the humanity and equality of all people. Since Kevin became a quadriplegic in 1986 and finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Colorado, Denver, before going to law school, he didn’t even realize he was a disability rights advocate until he encountered the hardest working people for people with disabilities ever at CCDC. Kevin graduated with honors, including the prestigious award of the Order of St. Ives, from the University of Denver College of Law in 1996, after having to file a lawsuit regarding innumerable wheelchair accessibility issues he encountered during his matriculation. Suing one’s law school most certainly is a great way to make friends and influence people. The fit between Kevin and CCDC could not have been better. Kevin is very grateful for everything CCDC and all of the national and international disability rights advocates accomplished before his arrival and continue to accomplish today. He also is very grateful to his colleagues, friends and mentors, Tim Fox and Amy Robertson, the co-directors of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, for teaching him how to be a lawyer and what the purpose of things like an interrogatory was. Kevin thanks Disability Law Colorado for the wonderful opportunity to intern under the tutelage of the most punctilious attorney and great friend and colleague, Michael Breeskin, now counsel for AdvocacyDenver’s Center for Special Education Law for the constant reminder that an attorney must proofread Xerox copies of documents just to be sure and for so much more. Although Kevin agrees with the sentiment that applies to many of the efforts of CCDC’s ever-growing staff and membership that sometimes “it takes a village,” he remains saddled with the unfortunate burden that often IT TAKES A LAWSUIT! This, coupled with years of dealing with the slings and arrows of people who still do not treat those with disabilities (a minority group anyone can join at any time as he knows quite well) with equal dignity and respect, propelled Kevin into a lifelong passion for the practice of disability rights enforcement.
Oh yeah. You should know two things about Kevin: He is humorless, and he has a thing for sunsets.
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 border. We are also pleased to see and spend time with Nikki, Audrey, Katrina, and the rest of the family.
Chris is Managing Attorney of Probate Power, CCDC’s probate and estate planning legal program. Prior to joining CCDC, Chris worked as a law clerk for the Honorable A. Bruce Jones in Denver District Court and as a Dean’s Fellow at the University of Colorado Law School. He is admitted to the Colorado Bar and is a member of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, where he belongs to the Trust and Estate and Elder Law Sections. Chris focuses his practice in the areas of special needs planning, estate planning, and probate administration.
Chris graduated from the University of Colorado Law School in 2014. He clerked for several organizations during law school, including the Civil Litigation and Employment Law section of the Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and American studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Marlene joined CCDC after working for 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.
Christine joined CCDC as Development Director, in August 2019, with a collective 18 years of nonprofit experience in fundraising and marketing. She brings CCDC a proven success record of high level secured revenue, generated from charitable individuals, events and foundations in both local and national organizations. Christine has previously worked in the corporate sector of advertising & media, traveled with an educational cruise line providing platforms for National Geographic, written fundraising scripts and managed pledge drive initiatives of high profile political TV hosts: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and Thom Hartmann, led major fundraising events & large grant cycles for Denver Kids, Inc. a nonprofit supporting underprivileged students of Denver Public Schools, and she has previously presented museum openings of world-renowned artists such as Chihuly and Edgar Degas. Christine is also a full-time advocate for her son, Miles, who was diagnosed with autism and nonverbal at age 2.
Christine believes in regularly strengthening community partnerships, adamantly focusing on the opportunity to better the world and fighting for underrepresented voices. She has made her personal mission to connect our CCDC community with resources to help them live their best lives.
CCDC is thrilled to welcome Christine Fiedler to our family as our new Development Director. Her wealth of experience is a perfect fit for CCDC, as she not only has deep knowledge in development but also in communications, an identified need for CCDC. Please feel free to reach out to her if you have any questions, ideas and of course if you want to give CCDC money!! Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and her direct number is 720-249-2208
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, people 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.”
Donna Sablan is a widow with three birth children and five stepchildren. She is CCDC’s Director of Appeals & Eligibility. 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, but she was met with some resistance. According to Donna, “No one wanted to share and work with the kids 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 a job coaching internally within the organization. Since that time, her giving back has grown. Due to a restructuring, Donna became the Director of Appeals & Eligibility. 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.”
Dawn has slight cerebral palsy. As the director of community organizing 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 as an aide for Head Start classrooms. In her free time, Dawn writes poetry, spends time with her friends and family, and takes long walks.
Mona Vyas is the Project Manager of the Community-Centered Long-Term Services at Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. In this role, Mona is focused on educating individuals, their families and/or caretakers, and communities about the new Assessment Tool, Case Management Redesign, and Person-Centered Budget Algorithm as they are developed.
Mona has experience working in both for- and non-profit environments with project management experience and a passion for social justice. She has an MBA from American University in Washington, D.C., and a Paralegal Certification from Arapahoe Community College.
Born in India, Mona came to the United States with her parents and sister each carrying one suitcase. She grew up in the Midwest and eventually moved to Denver, CO to be closer to her family.
Outside of work, Mona enjoys, hiking, snowshoeing, traveling, cooking, and trying new restaurants.
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Maria came to the States at nine years old when her father became a Statistics doctoral student. She grew up in Texas, earned her B.A. in politics in Florida, briefly (but memorably) lived amongst the Ojibwa in North Dakota, and spent four years in Australia (where her children were born). She brings her love of her Mexican and Amerindian heritage to her professional life. Pulling upon her own experiences as an immigrant and armed with an acute sense of the injustices of US immigration law, Maria worked previously as a paralegal in immigration law, specializing in Asylum law. In 2015, Maria’s son was diagnosed with Autism, which brought her closer to the disabilities community and ultimately led her to discover the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC). On behalf of CCDC, she is part of the Immigrant Health Coalition, where she has enjoyed learning and advocating for immigrants who experience major barriers to basic health services. Within CCDC, Maria enjoys the chance to work with those populations nearest and dearest to her heart: families impacted by disabilities, immigrant, LGBTQ+, and low-income communities who experience barriers to health equity. As CCDC’s Vaccine Equity Coordinator, she’s had the opportunity to bring together state agencies, non-profits, and private individuals with the common goal of vaccinating Colorado’s most vulnerable. Outside of CCDC, Maria adores cuddling her two beautiful children, Christof and Isabella. She is also a complete nerd for all things math and data (pursuing a second degree in Math at CU Denver), is always on the hunt for the best tamales, loves a good hike, depends on coffee, and is hopelessly devoted to her dog, Velma.
Lacey has spent the whole of her career working toward equity and justice for multiple populations. She began working in Colorado’s non-profit sector in 2004 and has served in numerous roles for organizations such as Girls Incorporated of Metro Denver, Think Like a Genius Foundation, Empowering Education, Community Care Collective, and the Colorado Mental Wellness Network. Lacey also spent a decade developing curriculum for and teaching Communication Studies courses at universities across the country and in Singapore, with her teaching and research emphases on systems of power/oppression and community-based research methods. She believes wholeheartedly that community members themselves have the richest understandings of systemic problems they experience and that community members should be the decision-makers when producing and implementing solutions to such problems.
Though Lacey gets fired up about any community experiencing marginalization, she feels most strongly about advocating for equity with people who have visible and/or hidden disabilities, particularly people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and youth. Moreover, she is interested in solutions to systemic inequities that are culturally informed and nuanced in ways that affirm our intersectional lived experiences. Lacey is honored to work at CCDC because the staff are so utterly devoted to the organization’s mission, and they are committed to and adept at pivoting to meet the needs of the disability community as those needs evolve.
Finally, Lacey takes her work quite seriously, but intentionally tries not to take herself too seriously; she values humor, whether corny and ridiculous or dark and sarcastic. She prioritizes time with her beloved husband and kiddo, enjoys singing loudly despite a lack of discernible talent, and daydreams about stopping time so that she can read every book ever written.
Kara became the Legal Program Assistant at CCDC in February 2019. Before joining us, Kara spent many years practicing environmental law, with a brief stop teaching and tutoring in local public schools. She holds a B.A. in Classical Humanities from Georgetown University and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.
Jaime was a pioneer sportsman in the early 1980s. 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 nonprofit 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 the Summer of 2006. When his teammates did not show, Jaime ran the entire 26 miles himself!
Anthony Brown is a Referral Assistant at CCDC and joined the team in March of 2021. Before Anthony joined the team he was an Appeals Navigator and briefly a Probation officer. Anthony graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver and graduated with his B.S. in Criminology in 2006.
Kristen Castor was born in Lakewood as a person with a disability 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.
Tom is the receptionist for CCDC. Tom has been with CCDC since age 15 and graduated from the former CCDC Youth Program. Tom has a degree from PS 1 in Denver. Tom volunteered for many years before joining the staff as a paid employee. When not working at CCDC, Tom enjoys music, video games, spending time with his friends, and hanging out with his service dog Sam.
Seyanna is a recent graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Management program at Regis University. For over 10 years she has worked with and for the Denver metro area community to address issues related to sexual and domestic violence. Her service to the community has afforded her the insight to recognize avenues of intersectionality that present as barriers for various members of the community, especially those with disabilities. It is her hope that her time with CCDC will offer her opportunities for growth in learning a variety of ways to advocate for and to educate people about those intersectionalities in relation to creating a more just world.