Dace West is the Executive Director of Mile High Connects, providing leadership and partner support around the organization’s research, policy advocacy, organizing, grantmaking and integration efforts. Prior to her work at Mile High Connects, Dace served as the Director of the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, an office created by Denver’s Mayor in 2004 to serve as a liaison between the City and its nonprofit sector. With a background as a community organizer, a ten year history in the nonprofit sector and five years of work in the public sector, Dace’s professional career has been devoted to pulling together diverse partners across a variety of issues to work toward common, comprehensive goals and create real change for stronger communities.
Davian Gagne was the first full-time staff member of Mile High Connects. Davian is instrumental in operationalizing the work of MHC, administering the grant fund, and co-leading the local and national fundraising efforts. Prior to joining Mile High Connects, Davian spent over seven years working in both the nonprofit and government sectors developing and implementing violence prevention education and programming. Davian is deeply committed to social justice issues and is currently a commissioner for the Health Equity Commission for the Office of Health Equity at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and is a PLACES fellow with The Funders’ Network. She also served as a board member and grant committee co-chair for the Chinook Fund and served on Boulder County AIDS Project’s Inclusiveness Committee. Davian holds a masters degree in social work and an undergraduate degree in psychology, both from the University of Denver.
Deyanira Zavala oversees the implementation and execution of MHC’s workplan by creating and managing partnership opportunities and tracking workplan deliverables. She focuses on MHC’s Business, Local Workforce, and Middle Skilled Jobs and MHC’s Affordable Fares priority areas, as well as MHC’s gentrification/anti-displacement efforts. Prior to joining Mile High Connects, Deyanira served as Program Coordinator at Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute, a Community creating mobility in people’s lives through entrepreneurs. In this role, Deyanira implemented the organization’s Post Boot Camp program, dedicated to support entrepreneurs with continued mentorship and one-on-one coaching. Deyanira has also served as the Business Assistance Center Manager with Business and Community Lenders of Texas and Program Coordinator with NALCAB- National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, where she facilitated a variety of projects in support of NALCAB member organizations, including resource development and capacity building activities. Deyanira holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of Texas at Arlington. Deyanira is trained Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator and alumni of the Young Nonprofits Professional Network Elevate Denver fellowship program.
As Mile High Connects program coordinator, Paul Aldretti brings the experience, knowledge, and relationships he developed as the coordinator for the Denver Regional Council of Government’s Sustainable Communities Initiative. Prior to his work on transit and equity, Paul focused on the design and implementation of programs and public policy related to energy, climate change, social responsibility, and sustainability. Paul has worked with government agencies, corporations, trade associations, non-profit organizations, utilities, communities, and other groups throughout the United States and internationally. In 2005, Paul was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to assist NGOs in India create collaborative frameworks for rural sustainable development projects in that country. He served as the Director of Climate Programs at Business for Social Responsibility and Executive Director of the Colorado Environmental Partnership. He also served on the boards of directors for the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and the Colorado Pollution Prevention Partnership, and on the national Advisory Council for the Climate Neutral Network. He was designated a Colorado Pollution Prevention Champion in 1998. Currently he serves as a member of Denver Mayor Hancock’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Citizens Advisory Committee for Denver Water. Paul also was an adjunct professor of sustainability at Naropa University in Boulder. Paul is a native of Colorado, a graduate of Colorado State University and long-time resident of North Denver. His most important “job” is husband and father of two sons.