The Livingston Scholarship Program recognizes a state nonprofit leader

Since 2005, the Livingston Fellowship Program has supported nonprofit leaders in Colorado by providing opportunities to expand their professional growth.

COLORADO, USA – The people who serve Colorado’s communities are often found in the nonprofit sector. Many work tirelessly to represent and support the communities they serve.

Johnnie Williams, Executive Director of GRASP (Gang Rescue And Support Project) and Metro Denver Partners has worked to end youth violence in Denver’s neighborhoods for nearly 15 years.

“Hope is definitely something we need to focus on because when you’re filled with hopelessness, there’s no motivation,” Williams said. As a youth growing up in Chicago, Williams said he witnessed much death and chaos and was all too familiar with feeling hopeless.

“But as a middle-aged person walking in and watching it happen again, I felt like I could enlighten them on what’s happening,” he said.

The work brings painful stories, but Williams and his associates are determined to lead people in better, more fulfilling ways.

“We do school curricula, life skills, support groups, healing circles, we meet the young people where they are,” Williams said.

Williams was one of seven selected by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation as a Livingston Fellowship recipient.

Each year, the scholarship provides nonprofit leaders with an opportunity to hone and expand their leadership skills that will help them better serve their communities. The foundation supports them with an investment of 35,000 US dollars.

“I think what I’m looking forward to with my personal experience for the scholarship is that I’ve always believed in self-discipline and when someone has self-discipline in their life it makes it that much easier for them to be in control of some of the things that could become obstacles,” Williams said.

“I want to immerse myself in cultures, which are disciplinary cultures, and learn how that inherently becomes a part of your life and how to teach that.”

Others selected for the cohort are:

Else Banuelos

Managing Director of Movement Poder

Bañuelos has worked to improve the lives of her community for the past 22 years. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Before joining Padres & Jóvenes Unidos (PJU), she worked as a promotura for ClÍnica Tepeyac, leading bilingual community-based workshops. Born out of her own personal experiences and struggles, Bañuelos has created a leadership development program for young people. Movimiento Poder’s leadership development serves Latin American youth and parents.

Anthony García, Sr.

Managing Director of Birdseed Collective

Garcia was raised in Denver’s Globeville community and is now a community leader recognized for his public artworks, outreach programs and leadership in nurturing emerging Denver artists.

His art reflects the cultural, geographical and historical context through modern techniques. He co-founded BirdSeed Collective in 2008. It is an organization dedicated to improving its community through art and deep-rooted community connections.

Olga Gonzales

Managing Director of Kultando

Gonzalez has been in the nonprofit sector for more than 27 years. She was born in Monterrey Nuevo León, Mexico and grew up in Los Angeles.

Cultivando is an organization dedicated to cultivating leadership in the Latinx community to advance health equity through advocacy, collaboration, and policy change.

She is also the CEO of OG Consulting Services, where she provides justice and racial justice and healing training/workshops. Gonzalez is the proud descendant of the indigenous Yaqui/Otomi people who survived Mexican slavery, forced displacement and land grabbing.

Yessica Holguin

Managing Director of Center for building community wealth

The organization of HolguÍn promotes strategies for a sustainable economy and works to transform the current economic development system into a more inclusive and equitable model.

Raised in the Swansea neighborhood of Denver, she has been involved in grassroots organizations serving immigrant and low-income communities since 2000. HolguÍn has dedicated her life to empowering disenfranchised communities to break the cycle of poverty through education and entrepreneurship.

SoYoung Lee

Managing Director of Rocky Ridge music

Lee is passionate about building community through art. She is an award-winning pianist and Regents Fellow. Lee recently released a CD, In This World, with flutist Claudia Anderson.

She also serves as a trustee of the Boulder County Arts Alliance, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and is an advisory member of Upbeat Colorado and Americas for Conservation + The Arts.

Neha Mahajan

Managing Director of Transformational leadership for change

Mahajan is the daughter of South Asian Punjabi immigrants and has nearly 20 years of experience fighting for social justice. She is currently Board Treasurer for Cutivando (Commerce City, Colorado) and a member of the NorthStar Network Coordinating Committee. She completed the teacher training program of the Satya Yoga Cooperative BIPOC.

She has supported a range of local organizing campaigns, from police accountability to fair housing. She played a pivotal role in building the campaign that brought paid family leave and sick leave to workers in Colorado.

“The 2022 class of Livingston Fellows appeals to the caliber of executive directors, both rooted in and serving diverse communities in the community,” says Chrissy Deal, director of the fellowship program.

The Fellows are tasked with creating a three-year action plan for their personal leadership development.

According to the foundation, since 2005 the grantees have participated in influential academic programs, met with other prominent leaders in their fields, and traveled the world.

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