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September 10, 2019

Multicultural Awards Banquet Oct. 3 — Winners announcement

Tickets now available for the annual event to be held at the Jewish Community Center in Boulder

Boulder County, Colo. - The 31st Annual Multicultural Awards Banquet will take place on Thursday, Oct. 3. The banquet celebrates people of color in Boulder County who have made significant contributions to the community in the areas of Arts, Business, Community Service, Education, Government, and Health, with additional awards for area Partners and Youth.

The goal of the banquet is to provide an opportunity for members of the community to celebrate cultural diversity, and the amazing work done by the wide spectrum of people who live and work here.

What: 31st Annual Multicultural Awards Banquet
When: Thursday, Oct. 3, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Boulder Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave., Boulder
Tickets: Now available online at

The banquet will take place at the Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave, off of East Arapahoe in Boulder. A reception and cocktail hour will begin 6 p.m., with the dinner and the awards ceremony continuing from 6:45-9 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are now available for purchase at Tickets are $75 for adults, with discounts for children, seniors, and for tables of eight. If you have questions about tickets or the event in general, please contact, or call 303-441-3972.

The 2019 Multicultural Award Winners:

Arts – Susie Park Kelly
After studying Polynesian art forms for more than 25 years, Susie opened Keaka O Kalani cultural dance school in Boulder in 2010. Susie uses dance to teach others about the cultural traditions of the many different Polynesian Islands with a focus on Hawaiian culture, and regularly recruits dance students to perform in service to Boulder County and neighboring cities.

Promoting cultural art and diversity through Hawaiian and Polynesian dance, Keaka O Kalani students have performed for the City of Boulder Celebration of Immigrant Heritage Week, the City of Boulder International Festival, the Boulder Children's Chorale, Volunteers of Longmont Hospital, the Boulder Asian Festival, WOW Children's Museum, the University of Colorado International Festival, and more. She has also supported the understanding of Hawaiian culture by assisting student clubs at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Susie creates a non-competitive multicultural environment where both the student who has never danced before and the experienced student looking for a place to practice can connect, learn, share, appreciate, and celebrate difference. Susie is more than a dance instructor, she is an educator who inspires others to be open, and to step outside their comfort zones to experience other cultural traditions.

In addition, Susie is also a Program Coordinator for the National Center for Women & Information Technology, where she assists more than 1,000 organizations recruit, train and advance woman and girls, from kindergarten through college.

Business – Kristy Tochihara
For more than 30 years, Kristy and her firm Trailhead Wealth Management have provided comprehensive investment planning for individuals and small businesses to help them achieve their financial goals. Her firm has received 5280 Magazine’s "Best in Client Satisfaction" award every year from 2009-2018, and she was named to Forbes Magazine’s 2019 “Best In-State Wealth Advisors” list.

As she has built a successful career, Kristy’s focus has been in giving back to the community that has provided her with so much opportunity. This includes providing business acumen while serving on non-profit boards and supporting community events. She has served on the University of Colorado Leeds Board of Friends and Alumni since 2017. She was a board member of the Denver Alzheimer's Association from 2014-2017 and continues to support their events and fundraisers. Kristy has also been a board member of the Boulder County YWCA and participated with the Boulder Dancing with the Stars event in 2015. She is also a member of the Brighton Japanese American Association.

For more than 15 years, Kristy has been hiring finance and marketing interns to her company from the Leeds Business School to help them launch into a successful business career. Kristy serves on Boulder County’s Community Food Share golf committee to raise awareness and funds to address community hunger. Kristy's firm also supports the local Louisville community in multiple ways including sponsoring the Taste of Louisville and the Louisville Street Fair.

Business – Laura Zavala
Laura is a Branch Manager and Loan Officer for Movement Mortgage, and has helped many families achieve homeownership. While that might seem like a simple task, that is not always the case when a monolingual family with low income has to learn how to navigate the financial institutions to make the dream of homeownership a reality. Laura has a genuine belief in the "Si Se Puede" – or “Yes We Can" – approach. Laura is the kind of person that hears of a need and jumps into action. She is a great example of a cultural broker who understands that she is a bridge to help Latino community members navigate the systems to homeownership, along with other economic opportunities.

Laura has been involved with the community for many years. She has actively participated in the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals at both the national and state levels. While working with Elevations Credit Union, she translated the homeownership and other financial literacy materials for monolingual speakers. She volunteers her time to teach financial literacy and homeownership classes, and was a board member of the Latino Task force. Laura is very proud to share her Mexican culture and has been a longtime volunteer for the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebration at the Longmont Museum, explaining the history, tradition and meaning behind the celebration.

Community Service – Rev. James Ray
Rev. James Ray became pastor of the historic Second Baptist Church (SBC) in Boulder more than four years ago. He has brought leadership, unity, and hope to this community, impacting those both inside and outside the church. As a catalyst for change, he has helped move the congregation to the next level as a group of caring, giving, and involved community members.

Pastor James has been actively involved in the community, interfacing with the Boulder Police Department and recently retired Chief of Police Greg Testa, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department, Boulder's Youth Advisory Board, and Boulder's Human Relations Commission.

Pastor James provides leadership in many programs in Boulder and beyond. These include SBC Boulder's Heartbeat for the Homeless, the On the Streets for Christ evangelism team, the Committee for the Annual Lemon Tree Peace Walk, SBC Boulder's January Martin Luther King Jr. program, SBC Boulder's Black History program, the Longmont Multicultural Action Committee's Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, and the Front Range Community College Black History program.

Pastor James is a retired Lt. Col in the U.S. Army, and is an active and valued member of the NAACP. He has committed the Second Baptist Church as the meeting place for local NAACP activities in 2019. He is an asset to the Boulder community, who uses his leadership skills, along with his caring and personable nature to bring together all cultures, generations, ethnicities and faith communities.

Education – Angelica Segura
Angelica Segura has made an immediate and important impact on the Boulder County community. As a fitness instructor, Angelica gives a lot daily – both physically and emotionally – in the many fitness classes she teaches throughout Boulder. People seek out Angelica’s classes not only because she is an amazing instructor that helps people to become more physically fit, but more so because Angelica is fully engaged in the lives of her clients, both inside and outside of the gym.

Angelica was raised in Miami in a Dominican family, and her background is prevalent in her work. As a fitness instructor, Angelica uses her classes to introduce people to music that they may not be aware of. Music is a uniting force, and Angelica's commitment to sharing Latin music is a key way to open understanding of another culture. She is always willing to share her own cultural background, through music, food, and conversation, and teach the Boulder community more about Latin and Dominican culture.

Angelica is also a community builder. Through her social media pages and her involvement with various partners in Boulder, Angelica is creating a space for people to communicate and build friendships while they become healthier. This summer, Angelica hosted a series of fitness classes at public places in Boulder to make fitness accessible to everyone in the community, motivating and inspiring more people regardless of their cultural differences to come together, get physically fit, and create a diverse community.

Government – Guio Bravo
Since 2013, Guio has been the Lead Medicare Counselor for the Boulder County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and was recently named Community Living Case Manager Supervisor for the AAA. She provides education about Medicare and helps individuals and families understand their options around Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance programs. She is the statewide bilingual Medicare Counselor, helping people all over Colorado. She assists older adults and people who have disabilities navigate the complicated Medicare system, and empowers them to take the steps to get their basic health needs met.

Guio excels in providing extraordinary outreach and service to many monolingual members of the community. She also works with many other county organizations by assisting monolingual older adults to workshops, presentations, and conferences. Guio is also a member of the AAA's Cultural and Linguistic Appropriate Services team.

Guio has compassion, gentleness, and a real regard for others. She is passionate about equity and is a staunch and unrelenting advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, whether because of language, or reading and writing abilities. Through Guio’s work, many older adults and people with disabilities now have health care coverage, along with a sense that someone in the system cares enough to spend extra time to explain and troubleshoot issues with them. Guio provides excellent navigation assistance in a very confusing matrix of services and benefits. She finds ways to make sure that clients know what services are available to them, so they can live a more full, safe, and healthy life.

Government – Angelina Bustillos
Angelina has worked with Boulder County Housing and Human Services for the past 17 years. She began as an Intake Caseworker, investigating allegations of abuse and neglect. Currently, Angelina is the supervisor for the Special Entitlement Team with Family and Children Services. At an early age, Angelina grew a strong passion for working with children who were abused or neglected. Her highest priority is to work with families to ensure a child is in a safe and secure home. Being bilingual, Angelina primarily works with monolingual Spanish speaking families.

Angelina is always happy to educate others with regards to the Hispanic culture. She has served on the Boulder County Cultural Responsiveness Inclusion and Action Committee and is currently a Cultural Responsiveness and Inclusion Champion to help ensure there is inclusion for everyone within the Boulder County workplace. Angelina participates in the Parents Involved in Education (PIE) program, a multi-agency collaboration that provides parents with the tools to support the health of their kids, and to increase parent involvement in the St. Vrain Valley School District.

Angelina is a strong advocate for exercising the right to vote. She volunteers every election to help ensure that everyone who can vote does vote, and that the voting process is accessible and understood by the diverse people of Boulder County. Angelina has had an altar highlighted at the Longmont Museum Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event – her favorite holiday – and also volunteers there every year.

Health – Lilly Guerra Johnson
Lilly has lived and run in Boulder for more than 15 years, A native of South America, she is a two-time Bolder Boulder citizens’ race champion, in both 2002 and 2003. After that, she helped her husband build up Fleet Feet Sports in Boulder, before starting Running Lilly Coaching. This is a running, stretching, and walking group with a multicultural focus, with an emphasis on educating around health and diet. Running Lilly Coach is a tight-knit group that supports one another in running and in life. Through her business, Lilly is a role model, providing energy and motivation to her athletes—not just to cross the finish line or to set a personal record, but to maintain fitness as a lifestyle.

Lilly also coaches elementary school children in two of Boulder's bilingual schools: University Hill and Columbine Elementary. In addition, she founded the Mountain Lions Kids Training Program which is a course in works with BVSD’s Life Long Learning. She is also an assistant cross-country coach at Boulder High. In addition, Lilly works with El Centro Amistad, a non-profit organization working with the Latino community in Boulder, helping them to achieve better health, equity, and education.

In all her work, Lilly provides an extremely encouraging, inspirational, and enthusiastic environment that is contagious. She provides support to both the younger and older people in the community, who all benefit from her training and teaching. She has created a safe and non-intimidating space for people to explore creating a healthy lifestyle for themselves.

Health – Nami Thompson
Nami developed the Folk Football program, a free multi-cultural soccer program designed to create cross-cultural relationships among children. Folk Football is a no-cost, non-competitive soccer club for Boulder-area participants, particularly those people who are under-served by existing sports programs. Soccer can help heal communities in conflict and can encourage pro-social behavior in individuals. The organization has swapped competition for cooperation, so that children can learn to resolve conflict, root for their peers, and develop respect for each other’s physical and emotional needs. Folk Football uses sports as a vehicle to bring together children who have “difference” in common, thus fostering positive youth identity.

Nami also acts as a resource for people attempting to flee domestic violence and leave abusive relationships. By creating an informal process for people trying to escape domestic violence, she provides assistance in a way that other organizations cannot. As a recent appointee to the Police Oversight Task Force, Nami helped develop a framework for the task force that the community could believe in. Nami reaches out to the people who do not have faith in existing systems, helping develop a multi-cultural community in a place that celebrates diversity but doesn’t always practice it, or make room for it.

Nami is also a Public Health Communicator and Health Equity Consultant, currently contracted with Boulder County Public Health and Boulder County Housing & Human Services. She conducts community-based participatory research and measures outcomes with a special focus on health equity.

Partner – Jodi Sherman
Jodi works with high school students at Arapahoe Ridge High School who need extra support to stay in school. At Arapahoe Ridge, total minority enrollment is 68%, and 75% of students are economically disadvantaged. Jodi also visits parents in the home, to help support the whole family in their efforts to keep their child in school. Jodi is bilingual in Spanish and works primarily with families who have immigrated from Central and South America, as well as from Mexico.

Jodi understands the barriers that many families face due to undocumented status, poverty, language, and other cultural barriers. She works hard with each of the families she encounters at school to provide respectful and thoughtful advocacy. Having also worked as a teacher and in child welfare, Jodi has strong connections to area agencies serving Spanish-speaking clients. She does the research needed to provide the best partnerships for her families and is a compassionate and fierce advocate for those facing systemic barriers.

Jodi is kind, empathetic, and conscientious. She values people over career or material advancement and has chosen other meaningful jobs in the community before coming to Arapahoe Ridge. Her earlier experience includes the I Have A Dream Foundation, and the Boulder County Department of Housing & Human Services. In all of her positions, Jodi has worked with the Spanish-speaking population to better help families understand the practices, policies and laws that impact their lives. She meets families where they are, and advocates for the services and supports they need to prosper in our community.

Youth – Masani Salazar
Masani is a leader and role model for the American Indian community. She is 17 and lives in Boulder, and returns home regularly to the Taos and Santa Ana Pueblos to participate in traditional cultural events. Masani has been actively volunteering in her community since middle school and never hesitates to help.

Masani has been a member of the American Indian Youth Leadership Institute (AIYLI) for the last four years and is currently serving as the AIYLI co-chair. Through AIYLI, Masani shares her culture, works with youth in the community, and meets with professionals and tribal leaders from across the United States. At the 2017 AIYLI Conference, she opened the national event on the big stage, and welcomed 2,000 students from across the United States.

Masani organized the AIYLI booth at the Indigenous People’s Day Celebration for Boulder from 2016 to 2018. In 2017 she participated in the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) event, feeding traditional food (such as bison and red chili posole) to the community, and introducing NARF attorneys and performers. In 2018 she took part in the Indigenize Your Eyes Project. She captured the Boulder American Indian community through her camera lens, setting up a photo booth at Boulder High School and taking pictures of the Arapaho delegation and other tribal people. This project helped raise awareness and understanding through storytelling while providing a glimpse into the lives, viewpoints, and identities of her American Indian community.