Author Archives: Deyanira Zavala

Still time to apply!

Come work with Mile High Connects! We are hiring a Grants Manager and Program Officer. These roles will collaborate with the Executive Director and senior leadership to execute the collaborative’s strategic direction and programs. Mile High Connects (MHC) is a broad collaborative of private, public, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders committed to ensuring that all residents of the Metro Denver region have access to affordable transit, affordable housing, and economic opportunity.

View the complete job description and apply:  www.milehighconnects.org/career

Categories: Uncategorized

In solidarity with our Asian-American and Pacific Islander Community

As a collaborative committed to a racially equitable and resilient Denver region, we stand with the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community as we collectively grieve the horrific acts of violence in Georgia.

While it may be difficult for some to believe the horrors of Tuesday following this summer’s racial awakening, people of color know all too well the history of hate and violence perpetuated on our bodies as a result of systemic racism, sexism, and discrimination. The history of xenophobia towards the AAPI community in the United States did not begin on Tuesday in Georgia. It permeates US history, from the bubonic plague of the early 1900s to the more recent Coronavirus . Recent data by Stop AAPI Hate shows that harassment and violence towards the Asian American community has dramatic increased over the last year, with attacks towards those of East Asian descent being fueled by a former President that uses hateful, racist rhetoric when speaking about the Coronavirus pandemic. 

We urge you to center the voices of the AAPI community in this conversation and support in whatever way you can.

Mile High Connects partner 9to5 Colorado’s National Office in Georgia is working with the AAPI community on the ground and nationally to center the needs of those impacted. You can help by contributing towards the ongoing healing of the Atlanta AAPI Community. Take immediate action to show solidarity with AAPI communities by adding your name to the list of individuals and organizations calling for a community response to AAPI violence. Nationally and locally, support organizations that advocate for economic and social justice with and in low-income AAPI communities such National CAPACD, Asian Pacific Development Center, Vietnamese American Community of Colorado, Boulder Asian Pacific Alliance, and the Asian Chamber of Commerce. Our Asian-owned small businesses need our support now more than ever – consider spending your dollars at locally owned AAPI restaurants and businesses.

We hope for healing, justice, and a more equitable future for all.

In solidarity,

Deyanira Zavala

Executive Director, Mile High Connects

We’re Hiring

The Mile High Connects is hiring a Grants Manager and Program Officer. These roles will collaborate with the Executive Director and senior leadership to execute the collaborative’s strategic direction and programs. Mile High Connects (MHC) is a broad collaborative of private, public, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders committed to ensuring that all residents of the Metro Denver region have access to affordable transit, affordable housing, and economic opportunity.

View the complete job description and apply:  www.milehighconnects.org/career

Categories: Uncategorized

Unpacking the 2050 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan

Mile High Connects, in partnership with Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), hosted a panel discussion with regional leaders from the transit and environmental space to discuss the state of our region.

Panelists included:

We know due to gentrification, there are many families moving out to the burbs and transportation is not sufficient in these spaces. Youth still need access to extracurricular activities, to get to sports, to get to work

– Dr. Janiece Mackey, YAASPA

Learn more about DRCOG’s regional transportation plan and share your thoughts by visiting the virtual open house site.

Categories: Uncategorized

Advocates and Leaders Discuss Transit’s Role in Economic Recovery

Mile High Connects and Denver Streets Partnership hosted Transit is the Future: Denver Transit Justice Forum, a panel discussion with elected officials and area leaders on the importance of public transit as a critical piece in reconstructing a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable economy.

Framing the conversation, Downtown Denver Partnership President and CEO Tami Door stated that  “A successful city is a resilient city, and transit is at the very center of that.”

Debra Johnson, new General Manager and CEO of RTD, shared that “Transit has been largely underfunded across the country for decades. The transit problems we’re experiencing aren’t indigenous to Denver.” 

Attendees also heard from Grace Rink, Executive Director of the Denver Office of Climate Action Sustainability and Resiliency; Shoshana Lew, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, Boulder County Commissioner and Air Quality Control Commissioner Elise Jones, Denver Resident and NAACP state conference member Gina Jones, and Grishma Pradhan, Legislative Counsel, Office of Sen. Michael Bennet.

For more on this and future events, visit Mile High Connects’ event page and Denver Streets Partnership.

Connect to…Your Ballot

As the smoke from our state’s wildfires reaches the Denver metro region & with COVID-19 cases on the rise, understanding what’s on the ballot and how it impacts our ability to create and maintain safe, healthy homes is more critical than ever. That’s why Mile High Connects and Metro Denver Nature Alliance joined together to host an information session on ballot measures affecting equitable, affordable access to nature and housing in Colorado, Adams County, and Denver.

Chris Stiffler from the Colorado Fiscal Institute unpacked the Gallagher Amendment and the TABOR Amendment, which affect local property taxes, public school investments, and state and local governments’ ability to raise funds for public programs.

Conor Hall front the Trust for Public Land discussed two ballot measures in Adams County affecting open space (1A) and infrastructure (1B) investments supported by long-standing tax assessments. One of Colorado’s fastest growing counties, the population of Adams County is expected to surpass that of Denver within 30 years.

Sebastian Andrews with the Denver Streets Partnership shared details of Denver’s Ballot Measure 2A, which would fund the city’s climate action. The measure, and Denver’s approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation, was informed by work in other cities (like Houston, TX) and the Climate Action Task Force.

Thank you to our partners MetroDNA and panelists for sharing their insights with us. While MHC and MetroDNA do not endorse specific measures, we share this dialogue in the spirit of community engagement and to ensure all residents have access to information.

Bike Mobility Across Denver + Mexico City

Denver_portal: Ciclovías: Bike Mobility Across the Americas

Join us for another episode of Denver_portal programming as we explore "Ciclovías"--urban bike lane infrastructure--and other mobility models from across the Americas. Learn how places like Mexico City are leading the way in pedestrian and bike lane expansion projects and how Denver leaders are getting creative to meet our city's mobility needs. The Denver_portal programming is a collaboration between the Biennial of the Americas and Shared_Studios. Moderator: Deyanira “Deya” Zavala (Denver, CO) Executive Director, Mile High Connects As Executive Director, Deyanira Zavala leads the development and implementation of Mile High Connects’ strategic direction. She is responsible for fundraising and relationship management to advance the Mile High Connects collective priorities. Prior to joining Mile High Connects, Deyanira dedicated her career to supporting aspiring Black, Latinx and immigrant entrepreneurs in Colorado and Texas as a pathway to community asset & wealth building. She also brings national experience having worked with NALCAB- National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, where she facilitated a variety of community economic development projects in support of member organizations, including resource development and capacity building activities. Deyanira is the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, holding a Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Arlington. Deyanira is trained Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator and alumni of the NALCAB Fellowship and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Elevate Fellowship programs. She currently serves on the RTD Accountability Committee, Reimagine RTD Community Advisory Group, and the Denver COVID-19 Mobility Task Force. Jill Locantore (Denver, CO) Executive Director, Denver Streets Partnership Jill Locantore is Executive Director of the Denver Streets Partnership, a coalition of community groups advocating for people-friendly streets. Previously, Jill was the Executive Director of the pedestrian advocacy organization WalkDenver, which merged with Bicycle Colorado in 2020 to fully staff the Denver Streets Partnership as a division of Bicycle Colorado focused on reclaiming Denver’s streets for people. Jill also worked previously for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments where she supported regional efforts to coordinate land use and transportation planning. Throughout her planning career, Jill has focused on the intersection of land use and transportation with environmental sustainability, economic development, public health, and social justice issues, and has built a reputation as an important advocate and spokesperson for human-centered transportation and its key role in building healthy communities. Jill has a Masters degree in community planning from the University of Maryland, as well as a Masters degree in cognitive psychology from the University of Toronto. Areli Carreón (Mexico City, Mexico) Areli is a longtime activist and a founder of Bicitekas A.C., an organization that promotes the use of bicycles in Mexico City and lobbies for policy change around cycling and urban mobility. Areli studied Rural Development at the UAM Xochimilco She’s an environmentalist, founding member of Bicitekas A.C. and currently serves as the “Bike Mayor” of #CDMX, an honorary position created by the Dutch innovation lab BYCS in order to promote cycling around the world. Their goal is to create a network of 100 bicycle mayors who shift urban traveling to more than 50% by bike by the year 2030. Ivan de la Lanza (Mexico City, Mexico) Iván is the Active Mobility Manager at WRI México - Ciudades. He’s in charge of supplying technical advice and managing the cities for the development of pedestrian projects, cycling, and micro-mobility, as part of the integrated transportation network, public spaces recovery, and safety. Previously, he was the Manager of Culture, Design and Cycling Infrastructure in CDMX, an area specifically created for the implementation of the Bicycle Mobility Strategy, which was responsible for the implementation of the system of public bikes EcoBici, the building of ciclovias and bike parking, as well as operating the “Sunday Ride” and “Bike Schools”. He has a Degree in Administration at the UVM and has participated as a panelist in several forums and international conferences. See Less

Posted by Biennial of the Americas on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Mile High Connects & local partner Denver Streets Partnership joined Biennial of the Americas and Shared Studios for a special conversation on “Ciclovias” and mobility models from across the Americas. Share what you learned from the session with us!

Reimagining Our Future

A Message From Deya

Dear Friends and Allies:

I must admit, as I sit with the events of the last several months – from pandemic to protest – I am struggling to find the words to convey the cascade of emotions I feel. The steady increase of Coronavirus cases in my home state of Texas weighs heavily on my mind. Many family members and friends aren’t – and haven’t been – able to stay at home. They work in factories, packing and shipping products across the country as we sit at home purchasing them online, as childcare providers working reduced hours and trying to make ends meet, as hospital cleaning staff with limited personal protective equipment, and as solopreneur nurse aides caring for those in home health centers.

My family and friends are not unique, nor is this a new phenomenon. Inequitable economic opportunities, and lack of affordable, accessible housing opportunities in communities where families have long lived are not new; its normal. These are the jobs that many Black and brown folks find themselves in, essential employees that are overworked, underpaid, and housing insecure. 

You can’t win. The game is fixed. So when they say, “Why do you burn down the community? Why do you burn down your own neighborhood?” It’s not ours. We don’t own anything. We don’t own anything.” – Kimberly Latrice Jones 

The truth is I am angry and frustrated. Calls for normalcy fall on my deaf ears. We cannot go back to a normal. There’s an urgency to demand justice and systemic change. These extraordinary times call for us to come together to reimagine a truly racially equitable, resilient Denver region. 

In March, we quickly transitioned to ignite conversation and action in support of our communities as you’ll see from our newsletter. The inspirational work of Mile High Connects members, our partners, and our region’s leaders serves as a reminder that justice begins in community. From Montbello Organizing Committee’s COVID-19 Response Network’s mobilizing our region’s most precious resources to 9to5 Colorado’s eviction defense training to Denver Race and Social Justice Initiative’s push for increased testing in Black and brown communities– now is the time to act on big ideas, to heal with justice leading the way, and to redesign our region to center health, safety, and economic opportunity where all may thrive.

I hope that as you read about the work of our collaborative you find inspiration and the light to keep you on the road to justice that lies ahead of us.

In solidarity,

Deya

Categories: Uncategorized

Supporting Culturally Relevant Businesses through COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on businesses of color will be felt for generations to come. Mile High Connects hosted a special discussion with leaders from across the country to lift up early best practices in supporting businesses of color.

Guest speakers included:

  • Storm Taliaferrow with NALCAB, National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (National/San Antonio)
  • Makisha Boothe with Sistahbiz (Denver)
  • Maribel Garcia with Inclusive Action for the City (Los Angeles)
Categories: Uncategorized

Responding to COVID-19’s Stressors: Our low-income workers and entrepreneurs need us – now more than ever

By Deyanira Zavala, Executive Director

This week has been a whirlwind of activity as Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) continues to dominate headlines and our meeting agendas.

Community organizers, nonprofits, and others in our network are responding with tremendous heart and courage. They are issuing calls to action in support of protecting our front line workers – those living paycheck to paycheck – from the ripple effects of this public health crisis. Folks who were are already feeling the anxiety of a paycheck stretched beyond the numbers on it due to rising rents, higher monthly transit costs, and stagnant wages. Mom and pop entrepreneurs who turned side hustles into full-fledged, full-time businesses when they couldn’t secure a job and are now worried that the next client that walks through the door for a pick up order may be their last.

Mile High Connects will be compiling resources and updates on our website, so please visit www.milehighconnects.org/covidresources for the latest news. We will also update our Facebook and Twitter regularly to share what we’re hearing and seeing in the communities we are a part of, and the opportunities we have in front of us.

We’re calling on you, our Community, to stick with us as we reflect on the inequities that this crisis has highlighted for us as a region – inequities that we have long known and felt, but are now facing the bright light of day.