YCD Changemakers Gala 2023: 30 Years of Empowering Youth

September 9, 2023 @ 6:00PM — 9:00PM Mountain Time (US & Canada) Add to Calendar

Denver Botanic Gardens: 1007 York Street Denver, CO 80206 Get Directions

YCD Changemakers Gala 2023: 30 Years of Empowering Youth image

Celebrate Youth Changemakers Working for Inclusion and Justice

Join us on Saturday, September 9, 2023 for a powerful evening to honor and celebrate young people working for inclusion and justice across Colorado, New Mexico and beyond!

While our founding program, the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference, may have been started 30 years ago, youth with marginalized identities are facing new and increasing attacks and challenges, and need your support in their efforts to advance inclusion and justice in our schools now more than ever before.

At this special gathering, we will hear first-hand of both the challenges faced by young people today, as well as the remarkable work done by YCD youth to make their communities safe and welcoming for all identities. Tickets purchased for this unique event include a reception, catered dinner, silent auction, and cultural performances at a beautiful venue. Sponsorship opportunities at a variety of levels are available for companies, organizations, and families to show their support of youth-led DEI efforts and initiatives.

Purchase early bird tickets now through June 30, 2023. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available. In the meantime, please feel free to contact Caleb Munro, YCD Executive Director, with any questions at cmunro@ycdiversity.org or (720) 507-0746. Thank you!


Student Changemakers of the Year

Natalia Flores (she/her) is a senior at College and Career High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she is completing her high school diploma as well as a college degree in education. She served on the YCD New Mexico Student Board during the 2022-23 school year. Natalia comes from a family of immigrants and has been living in Albuquerque for most of her life. Natalia started the New Mexico Dream Team chapter at CCHS, providing a safe space for undocumented and immigrant students to find support and solidarity from their peers. She took this passion a step further by traveling to Santa Fe to successfully advocate for improved funding of education across New Mexico, as well as traveling to Washington, DC, to advocate for the rights of DACA recipients. She’s passionate about combatting the oppression her people and others face by amplifying their voices to create change in the world.

Reem Saeed (she/her) is a graduating senior attending Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado, and one of the two co-chairs for the YCD Colorado program during the 2022-23 school year. Her Sudanese- American identity has greatly influenced her passion for diversity and inclusion work. Starting her sophomore year of high school, she served on the YCD Student Virtual Board, before taking leadership roles within the YCD Colorado program during her junior and senior years. Within her school and district, Reem advocated for structural change in the speech and debate program to include marginalized voices, and to provide equitable funding and support so that Overland students can compete on a level playing field with other schools. Reem will be attending Princeton University in the fall of 2023 to study public policy.

Alumna Changemaker of the Year

Ashley Ruiz (she/her) serves as the national Director of Corporate Social Impact at McKinstry – a national leader in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining high-performing buildings. Ashley is responsible for all corporate initiatives focused around social and environmental responsibility. Ashley leads community partnerships and philanthropic giving; diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy and programs; and sustainability and carbon reduction initiatives for McKinstry.

Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Women’s Studies and International Studies from the University of Denver, a Master of Science in Project and Program Management from Brandeis University, a certificate in Strategic Social Responsibility from Pepperdine, and is an accredited Project Management Professional (PMP). A lifelong advocate and activist for sustainability and social justice, Ashley is deeply passionate about engaging the corporate sector in driving impactful and positive change. She served on the Executive Committee for the 2004 Cherry Creek Diversity Conference (now YCD's Colorado Youth Diversity Conference).

Community Changemaker of the Year

Anya HS Norris (she/her) is the Senior West Divisional Administrator at RBC Wealth Management, sits on the RBC Foundation Grant Review committee, and was the company’s U.S. PRIDE Employee Resource Group Communications Chair for four years.

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 long-term partnership between YCD and RBC Wealth Management. This relationship resulted in the organization becoming the underwriting sponsor of the Conference, and subsequently the National Sponsor of YCD programs. In recognition of her dedication and work on diversity issues, Anya received the 2017 Irv Weiser Diversity Award, which is 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 now supports the YCD Board as a Special Advisor, serves on the Board of Directors for the American Lung Association in Colorado, and was elected to A Precious Child’s Executive Board of their Women’s Guild. With her passion for supporting her local community, she has also been involved with the Junior League of Denver, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Food Bank of the Rockies, Colorado UpLift, the Denver Public Schools Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Event Co-Chairs

Lorenzo Gonzales
Retired Educator

Andrea Mohamedbhai
Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC

Janet Sammons
YCD Board Chair

Dr. Reema Wahdan
CU Anschutz Medical Center

Alice Bowling Wirth
Retired Educator and Professor

Additional Host Committee Members

Elizabeth Banko
Benita Creacy
, DC & Associates
Dora Espitia, Princeton University
Eve Gracie, Gracie University
Andrew Hudson, Andrew Hudson's Job List
Brian McCord, Seagate Technology
Dr. Sophia Meharena, Every Child Pediatrics
Shalini Swaroop

Sponsorship Opportunities and Benefits

Consider sponsoring this unique event to provide crucial support for YCD programs and youth working for inclusion and justice.

Download a PDF of the sponsorship opportunities and benefits package here.

Silent Auction Donations

Want to donate an item or experience to support YCD's silent auction? We welcome donations related to travel, sports, art, music, culture, experiences, and more.

Fill out the silent auction donation form online here.

Not Able to Join Us?

Consider making a donation to support these young changemakers and to help YCD build a movement of young people working for a inclusive future. Use the Donate button in the right column to proceed.

About Youth Celebrate Diversity

Youth Celebrate Diversity (YCD) is building a grassroots movement of students and educators organizing locally, educating themselves and their peers, and taking action for inclusion and social justice. Our vision is that one day, every teen in America will feel safe, respected, and empowered to achieve their potential. YCD is the proud recipient of the 2018 Colorado Governor’s Service Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Organization and the 2021 Inclusiveness@Work Nonprofit Award. Our youth-driven model refined over decades in Colorado and now growing in New Mexico is in high demand from students and teachers across the country.

Your financial contributions to Youth Celebrate Diversity are fully tax deductible under Section 170(b)(1)(a) of the IRS Code. Youth Celebrate Diversity is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Code. YCD’s federal tax ID number is 46-4967224.

A big thank you to our sponsors!

Advancing Justice Sponsor
Gracie University
Empowerment Sponsor
Janet Sammons
Leadership Sponsor
Kaiser Permanente
General Table
Benita Creacy
Lorenzo Gonzales
Ticket Details
Sponsor Our Event

$38,350 raised by 12 people


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