Diversity celebrated at pre-session reception

Members of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus and the Colorado Democratic Latin@ Caucus had a lot to be proud of when they gathered Jan. 7 for their second annual “Celebrating Diversity” reception before the start of the legislative session. State Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Denver, had just been chosen as Speaker Pro Tem and her leadership post is one of several held by members of each caucus, putting the Colorado legislature on the map for its diverse delegation.

State Reps. John Buckner, D-Aurora, Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, Angela Williams, D-Denver, and Jovan Melton, D-Aurora — members of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus — joined with the Democratic Latin@ Legislative Caucus for the second annual Celebrating Diversity 2014 session opening reception Jan. 7.

Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, co-chair of the Democratic Latin@ Caucus along with Sen. Jesse Ulibarri, D-Adams County, welcomed guests to the Colorado History Museum and proudly cited past accomplishments of the combined caucuses, which this year have five African American members and 13 Latinos.

State Rep. Tony Exum, Rep. Rhonda Fields, Sen. Irene Aguilar, Rep. Dominick Moreno, Rep. John Buckner, Rep. Crisanta Duran, Rep. Jovan Melton, Rep. Joe Salazar, Rep. Leroy Garcia, Rep. Angela Williams, Sen. Jesse Ulibarri and Sen. Lucia Guzman pose for a group shot during the second annual Celebrating Diversity reception Jan. 7.

Salazar saluted his colleagues for last year passing the ASSET bill, civil unions, the Anti-discrimination Remedies Act, drivers licenses, breakfast after the bell, and other measures that benefitted their caucuses.

Their 2014 legislative agenda will focus on bills that highlight economic well-being and prosperity, economic parity, education, fire and flood recovery, among others. But Salazar said they also hope to participate in conversations early on and not after decisions have been made. Fortunately, Salazar said, “When we said please include us before you move forward on bills, they responded.

“We will support legislation that opposes what is a detriment to our communities,” he added.

State Rep. Angela Williams, D-Denver, is the chair of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus and Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, is vice chair.

Sponsors of this year’s event were Comcast, Xcel Energy, Colorado Hospital Association, Mile High Racing & Entertainment, Medical Marijuana Industry Group, PDC Energy, Ward Alternative Energy, Wells Fargo, Colorado Education Association, OneColorado, Colorado AFL-CIO, 36 Solutions and Heizer Paul LLP.

See the Jan. 10 print edition for full photo coverage.

Ryan Ross, Dean of Student Development and Retention Services at Community College of Denver, left, talks with House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, and Denver District 8 City Councilman Albus Brooks during the second annual Diversity Reception.
Elbra Wedgeworth, chief government and community relations officer at Denver Health, and Steve Summer, president and CEO of the Colorado Health and Hospital Association share a pose..

Monique Lovato, director of corporate giving at Xcel Energy, state Reps. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs and Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, listen to speakers at the reception.

State Rep. Rhonda Fields, the newly appointed Speaker Pro Tem, acknowledges guests at the Celebrating Diversity reception on Jan. 7..
Photos by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

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