D.J. Close is a civic and social impact leader with a proven track record in cross-sector partnerships. His background in philanthropy, nonprofit, government and private business have all focused on addressing inequities in Colorado communities.
Previously, Close was Director of Giving and Executive Director of the DaVita Giving Foundation - a Fortune 500® Health care company. Before joining DaVita, he worked at Mile High United Way and started the Colorado Reading Corps, an AmeriCorps program focused on K-3 grade literacy. Prior to Mile High United Way D.J. worked in The Office of Colorado Lt. Governor Joseph Garcia, and is a graduate of El Pomar Foundation’s Fellowship program.
A graduate from the University of Denver with a degree in Political Science and Leadership, D.J. has a deep passion for civic engagement and believes the greatest impact occurs when private, public, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations engage together with the purpose of achieving a common goal.
D.J. was appointed by Governor Jared Polis to serve on the Governor’s Commission for Community Service, also known as Serve Colorado. He continues to serve on the boards of B:Civic and Colorado Youth for a Change as past Board Chair to both organizations. Born and raised in Durango, Colorado, D.J. lives in Denver with his husband Sinjin and dog Herschel.
Mara joined the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation in July of 2021 as Senior Program Officer, Early Childhood and Prevention. Before joining the Foundation, Mara led global employee engagement efforts for the Western Union Foundation. Prior to that role, Mara worked as a Program Officer at the Buell Foundation managing a diverse portfolio of grantees in the early childhood space. Mara sees herself as a partner to nonprofit organizations and a champion for the good work in early childhood education—including the impact of oral health on a child’s quality of life—that is being accomplished across the state. Mara holds a BA in Arts Management from the University of San Francisco, an MA in Rhetoric and Writing Studies from San Diego State University, a Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics from CU Boulder, and she brings over 13 years of nonprofit and grant-making expertise to her role.
Veronica helps share how the foundation advances oral health equity and supports Delta Dental of Colorado’s Corporate Social Responsibility program. Veronica has been working with community-based organizations for over 10 years. She earned an associate’s degree in film and video technology from the Colorado Film School at the Community College of Aurora as well as a bachelor’s in technical communications from Metropolitan State University.
Dr. Tamanna Tiwari is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Dentistry and Population Health and Associate Director, the Center for Oral Disease Prevention and Population Health Research at the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Colorado. She obtained her dental degree from Bharati Vidya Peeth, Pune, India, and a master public health in global health leadership from New York University. Dr. Tiwari is funded by the National Institute of Health and several foundations and industry to conduct research to reduce oral health inequities. Her research delves into the concepts of social determinants of health, and how it impacts communities' oral health, and her projects use participatory community approaches. She disseminates her research both to the scientific community and to communities that participate in her research. Apart from her research, Dr. Tiwari is passionate about gender equity and invests her time in promoting gender equity in the dental workforce. She has presented and published extensively on this topic.
Luella Chavez D’Angelo is the Vice President, Marketing and Communications at Centura Health. Prior to this position, she was the Vice Chancellor, Enterprise Development at the University of Colorado, Denver. She has also worked at Western Union and Western Union Foundation/First Data Foundation. She holds an Master of Business Administration in Finance and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of New Mexico. She is a board member of many organizations including Bonfils Blood Center Foundation, Mile High United Way and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Board.
Helen Drexler currently serves as president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado. Prior to this position, Helen served as regional vice president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, where she worked in a variety of leadership roles for 30 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of New Mexico and certification by Senn Delaney as a cultural transformation facilitator. Helen recently served on the Women’s Leadership Council for United Way of Greater Atlanta. She also served as chair of the board of directors of Florence Crittenton Services.
Joe Garcia is the Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. Prior to his role at CCCS, Garcia served as President of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. From 2011 to 2016, he served as the Lt. Governor of Colorado and as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. During his time as Lt. Governor, Garcia focused on increasing equity in outcomes for all students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and communities of color. Garcia also served as President of Colorado State University-Pueblo from 2006 to 2010 and Pikes Peak State College from 2001 to 2006.
Julie Keegan spent over 30 years as an executive in the hospital industry in the Denver area. She retired from her position as CFO of Craig Hospital in 2019 after 13 years of service. Ms. Keegan is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Accounting. She held a CPA license until retirement. She served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
Dr. Kim Kretsch is a founding partner in Colorado Dentistry for Children in Brush, Colorado. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Iowa with a certificate in dental hygiene, a DDS degree from the University of Colorado, a certificate in pediatric dentistry from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Regis University. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Colorado Dental Association and a past president of the Boulder Broomfield County Dental Society. She is also a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and well as a diplomate of American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.
Lydia Prado is the Executive Director at Lifespan Local Barton Institute for Community Action. Dr. Prado, a psychologist who earned her doctorate from the University of Denver in 1994, has been with the Mental Health Center of Denver for 17 years and is currently Vice President of Strategic Community Partnerships. She is the visionary behind the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-being, an international award-winning community center providing an array of mental health services co-located with an urban farm, a preschool, a children's dental clinic, and extensive space for community gatherings.
Ann Somers, DDS, is a periodontist in Denver and is co-owner of Poulos and Somers. She received her DDS from University of Colorado School of Dentistry in 1993 and her MS degree in periodontics from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in 1998. She is the recipient of numerous awards and been published in various journals. Dr. Somers also participates in volunteer work at the Howard Dental Center, an oral health care facility centered on individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Gaye Woods is the System Vice President for Equity & Inclusion at CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit health system headquartered in Chicago. Her role focuses on the development of health equity strategies to reduce disparities, improve health outcomes, and advance population health. Her multi-industry, professional career includes experience in academia, management consulting, advertising, and non-profits. Ms. Woods holds an MBA from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management and serves the community through board service with Community First Foundation, Catholic Health Association National Advocacy & Public Policy, and volunteer opportunities that support youth development, education, and older adult access. She has been recognized by the Clinton Foundation, American Public Health Association, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and Denver Metro Chamber - Leadership Denver.