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

Thank you to our incredible community of supporters, alumni, and friends for coming together to celebrate the YCD Changemakers Gala 2023: 30 Years of Empowering Youth! With your help, we were able to raise an eye-popping $160,488 -- exceeding our goal of $120,000! This amazing outpouring of support will go a long way toward supporting YCD's programs throughout the 2023-24 school year, as well as helping us launch our new support for inclusion and justice chapters in schools across the country. THANK YOU!

Event Pictures

Alumni Giving Circle

Thank you to these generous alumni of YCD programs who have given as part of our Alumni Giving Circle this year!

Michelle Alexander
John Angermayr
Anisah Brengle
Jake Engleken
Patricia Hill Evans
Brent Fuller
CeCe Garripoli
Eve Gracie
Jonathan Gray
Lynn Hughes
Kevin Le
Ian Leprino
Conor McCahill
Simone Montoya
Sarah Mowry
Caleb Munro
Tres Pittman
Vivek Ravishankar
Kara Regehr
Dalia Ritvo
Ashley Ruiz
Kelsey Scantland
Dorothee Stangle
Shalini Swaroop
Cindy Vasilas
Carolina Vazquez
Hayden Windrow
Michelle Wirth

Want to add your name? Donate at least $30 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference (today YCD's Colorado Youth Diversity Conference) using the Donate button!


Student Changemakers of the Year

Natalia Flores (she/her) is a recent graduate from College and Career High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she completed 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 recent graduate of 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.

Volunteer Changemaker of the Year

Marcia Hughes became involved with YCD in 1999 through her son, who joined the Diversity Task Force club at Cherry Creek High School. After volunteering at the Conference that year, she has remained committed to the cause of supporting and uplifting marginalized youth, and has volunteered with the organization every year for the past 24 years!

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 Wirth
Retired Educator and Professor

Additional Host Committee Members

Elizabeth Banko
Benita Creacy
, DC & Associates
Eve Gracie, Gracie University
Brian McCord, Seagate Technology
Dr. Sophia Meharena, Every Child Pediatrics
Shalini Swaroop, Initiative for Energy Justice

There's Still Time to Donate

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 to proceed. On mobile devices, scroll down; on desktop computers, look for the button in the right column.

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!

Presenting Sponsor
CommonSpirit Health
Advancing Justice Sponsor
Gracie University
Fostering Inclusion Sponsor
Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC
The Colorado Health Foundation
Empowerment Sponsor
Cherry Creek School District
Flywheel Capital
Messner Reeves LLP
Janet Sammons
Reema Wahdan
Leadership Sponsor
Kaiser Permanente
General Table
Janus Henderson Investors
RBC Wealth Management
Riddell & Company
Benita Creacy
Lorenzo Gonzales
Anya Norris
Amanda Schwartz
Shalini Swaroop
Alice Wirth

$143,155 raised by 245 people


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