COVID-19 Health Equity Response Team

This group is now sunsetted.







Available languages (last updated 05/15/20): Español | Tiếng Việt  | 中文  | Soomaali | العربية | नेपाली

Not all Coloradans are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic the same way. There are factors at play for who gets tested, who gets treatment, and who is able to practice social distancing. During this pandemic, we are likely to see the loss of life from the compounded experience of systematic, institutional, and individualized racism imposed on communities of color.

People of color are disproportionately likely to be exposed to the virus in low-paying “essential” jobs; are more likely to have limited access to affordable healthcare, childcare, and transportation; are more likely to live in neighborhoods with high air pollution rates; and are more likely to face unsanitary conditions in prisons, jails, and detention centers. Due to these types of inequities, people of color face chronic disease health disparities, leaving them with a higher risk of dying due to COVID-19.

On April 17, Governor Polis established the COVID-19 Health Equity Response Team, headed by the Office of Health Equity. By forming a Health Equity Response Team, Colorado can focus specifically on tackling these inequities to prevent the gaps from widening and ultimately saving lives. This Response Team will work to:

  • Ensure racial and ethnicity COVID-19 data are accessible, transparent and used in decision-making,
  • Determine proactive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in specific communities,
  • Work with state teams coordinating resources and logistics to help curb health disparities related to COVID-19,
  • Increase access to testing and care services,
  • Share time-sensitive information about how Colorado communities are experiencing particular challenges related to the COVID-19 response, and
  • Develop policy recommendations to better assist and prepare communities of color during the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as future state emergencies.

  • Adrianne Maddux, Denver Indian Health and Family Services, Denver Metro
    • Adrianne Maddux is the Executive Director of Denver Indian Health and Family Services, Inc. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Council of Urban Indian Health and Denver Indian Family Resource Center. She has 35 years of experience working in the medical field and is a member of the Hopi Tribe of Shungapavi (Second Mesa).
  • Deidre Johnson, Center for African American Health, Denver Metro
    • Deidre Johnson is the CEO and Executive Director of The Center for African-American Health, a community-based, family resource center dedicated to improving the health and well-being of African Americans. The Center works toward health equity for the underserved African American community by offering culturally responsive health education and outreach that empowers community members to overcome the root causes of health problems, maximize their own individual health, and access health services.
  • Denise Maes, ACLU Colorado, Denver Metro
    • Denise Maes is the Public Policy Director for the ACLU of Colorado. She is the primary person responsible for championing policies that advance or protect civil liberties and leading the defense against those that seek taking civil liberties backward. She works on policies at the state and municipal level and in administrative proceedings.
  • Eudelia Contreras, Lake County Build a Generation, Leadville
    • Eudelia Contrera is the Resilient Lake County coordinator for Lake County Build a Generation where she works with other communities to build a Health Equity Advocacy field. She also works to advance Lake County’s ability to advocate for health equity at a statewide level. At a local level, she works to support the Family Leadership Training Institute, address agencies’ health equity training needs, and convene a Lideres Latinx coalition.
  • Farduus Ahmed, Hope Communities, Denver Metro
    • Farduus Ahmed is a former refugee and has 13 years of experience working with refugees and immigrant communities. She currently works with Hope Communities as the Grant and Partnership Administrator and Community Navigator, supporting Colorado’s refugees, immigrant, and asylum-seeking populations for self-sufficient and local integration in Colorado.
  • Jennifer GoodTracks, Southern Ute Tribe, SW CO
  • Joline Dorce, Dawn Clinic, Aurora
    • Joline Dorce is a Black immigrant from Haiti and is very familiar with the impacts the social determinants of health have on the lives of minorities and their communities. As a nurse at DAWN Clinic in Aurora, she leads the fight in improving health outcomes for minorities and ultimately recognizing healthcare as a human right.
  • Kenny Maestas, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Lamar
    • Kenny Maestas is a 56-year-old single dad and a C5-C6 Quadriplegic originally hurt in December 1987. He works remotely from Lamar for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. Kenny works to advocate for people with disabilities in Lamar and southeastern Colorado.
  • Lizeth Chacon, Colorado People's Alliance, Denver Metro
    • Lizeth Chacon is an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico who came to the United States at the age of 12. In 2014 she became a founding board member of the Aurora Welcome Center, now known as the Village Exchange Center. She is also the Executive Director of Rights for All People and the Colorado People’s Action.
  • Maggie Gomez, Center for Health Progress, Denver Metro
    • Maggie Gomez is the Deputy Director of the Center for Health Progress, a non-profit that leads statewide organizing campaigns and public policy strategy to fight for health justice. Maggie has spent the last 15 years dedicating her energies to civic engagement and grassroots community organizing with women and communities of color to build deep power for collective liberation and action.
  • Michelle McHenry-Edrington, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Denver Metro
    • Michelle McHenry-Edrington is an Air Force Veteran.  She works for Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition as the Individual Advocacy Coordinator and is very active in both the civilian and Veteran community.
  • Omar Montgomery, Center for Identity and Inclusion, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora
    • Omar Montgomery is the Director of Black Student Services at CU Denver and President of the Aurora Branch of the NAACP. Omar has also served on the Aurora Police Department’s Citizens’ Advisory Board, City of Aurora Citizens' Budget Committee and board chair for the Village Exchange Center.
  • Priscilla Montoya Vitello, Latino Community Foundation, Denver Metro
    • Priscilla Montoya is the Director of Strategy and Learning for the Latino Community Foundation (LCFC) where she and her team are able to co-design and refine systems in response to community feedback and solutions. Priscilla's equity work includes various projects in mental health, higher education and capacity building for Latino-lead and Latino-serving nonprofits across the state.
  • Ricardo Perez, Hispanic Affairs Project, Western Slope
    • Ricardo Perez is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Affairs Project. He has over 25 years of experience working in community projects and social justice institutions. He has been part of the immigrant movement in CO over the last 14 years and collaborates with local, regional, and state committees working for equity and immigrant rights.
  • Rosemary Lytle, NAACP, Colorado Springs
    • Communications Consultant Rosemary Lytle worked in print journalism as a reporter and columnist for more than 20 years. She has worked on the Executive Leadership Team at organizations such as 9to5 NAWW and Positive Impact Colorado. Since 2012, she has served as President of the NAACP State Conference, bringing resources to local Units and helping to carry out the NAACP's civil rights agenda.
  • Rosemary McDonnell-Horita, Atlantis Community, Inc., Denver Metro
    • Rosemary McDonnell-Horita is a disability advocate and educator. As a queer, disabled, Asian American woman, she has focused her entire career on rights for all. Currently, Rosemary is the Youth Transitions Coordinator at Atlantis Community, one of the first Independent Living Centers in the country.
  • Rudy Gonzales, Servicios de la Raza, Denver Metro 
    • Rudy Gonzales is the Executive Director for Servicios de La Raza, a multi human-service provider serving communities across Colorado. As a servant leader, Rudy is engaged in myriad issues centered in social justice, equity and peace in low moderate income communities and communities of color.
  • Selwyn Whiteskunk, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, SW CO
  • Congressman Joe Neguse, Congressional Sponsor, U.S. Congressman for Colorado's 2nd district
    • Congressman Joe Neguse represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District in Congress. He is the first African American elected to represent Colorado in Congress. He serves in House Democratic Leadership, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Congressional Black Caucus