Who was Juanita Gray?
Juanita Gray worked at the Ford-Warren Branch in the late 1960s and 1970s. Her community outreach efforts were highly regarded until her untimely death in 1987. For the last 32 years, DPL has honored Mrs. Gray’s legacy each year by nominating current leaders in the community who embody the same trailblazing spirit. Past award recipients can be found here.
The Juanita Gray Community Service Award honors African American men, women and youth who make outstanding contributions to the Denver Metro area and who exemplify the ideals and spirit represented by Gray’s commitment to the community. This year's nominees showcase black excellence at its very best.
Tay Anderson is a 2017 graduate of Manual High School. After high school he was an educator at University Park Elementary and North High School. Tay served in the Colorado State Legislature as a legislative aide. He was awarded the Murphy Roberts Award by the Colorado Democratic Party for his continuous service. He has dedicated his life to protect the rights of women, African Americans, Latinx, LGBTQIA, Indigenous, Muslim, and disabled persons. He participated in public demonstrations and dialogues with school district leaders, state leaders, and members of Congress. Tay’s family includes educators that have 115 years of combined teaching experience. He gets his passion and perseverance from his mother and grandmother.
Joyce D. Brooks, Ed.D.
Dr. Joyce D. Brooks has made a significant impact on her community. She is a retired educator and entrepreneur passionate about improving education and learning for children and their parents, as well as helping them work with local and state policy makers on education issues. Her current focus is centered on teaching financial fitness—educating entrepreneurs and individuals on personal finance principles. Dr. Brooks has a history of providing service to her community. She co-chairs the organization, Coloradoans for the Common Good. She was married to the late Perry Brooks for 50 years. She has three children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Sandra H. Douglas
Sandra H. Douglas serves as a trusted Steward and Community Engagement Liaison at Denver’s Jordan Chapel AME Church. She is a longtime resident of the Cole neighborhood and believes if you educate children and the community -- both are elevated to higher achievement; recent efforts have focused on educating children displaced during COVID-19. Sandy retired from the federal government in 1996, worked as a DPS substitute teacher, founded a nonprofit, and ran for Denver City Council. She has a Business Management degree from Metropolitan State University and a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. Her greatest accomplishment and blessings are her two sons and her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Bishop Kevin Foreman
Bishop Kevin Foreman is a multi-dimensional man who has devoted his life to changing lives. From humble beginnings, he has defied all odds. Today, he is an influential pastor/bishop, success coach, in-demand speaker, author, philanthropist and entrepreneur. Bishop Foreman is the Founder and Chancellor of Harvest Bible College. In 2008, he launched the Harvest Foundation. The Foundation has given away 200,000 plus pounds of food, more than 125,000 articles of clothing, 16,787 toys, as well as donated over $340,000 to missions. Called an “Architect of Excellence” by other great leaders, Bishop Foreman is a shepherd that loves those that he leads.
Terri Gentry is a 3rd generation Denverite. She is married to Dwight Gentry and has four children and nine grandchildren. Terri attended Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design and has a Bachelor’s Degree in African/African American Studies from Metropolitan State University and a Master’s Degree in Humanities from CU Denver. Terri is an interior designer and owner of A Terrific Design; she is also a sales manager at Joy’s Consigned Furnishings. She is a member of the Aurora chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Terri is a board member of the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center. She conducts museum and walking tours and gives presentations to schools, community groups, government agencies, and businesses.
Jayla Hemphill (Youth Nominee)
Ms. Jayla Hemphill is a senior at Northfield High School. She currently maintains a GPA of 3.72 and has been a member of the National Honor Society since 2018. As a vocal community activist, she was a speaker at the DPS #BlackLivesMatter Rally and participated in the “Be the Change” event. Additionally, she delivered a speech at a gun control rally advocating for gun laws at the Colorado State Capitol. Ms. Hemphill is an active member of “Students Demand Action: and has been instrumental in the effort to recruit teachers of color for employment for her school. She is a change agent.
Mr. Elijah Huff is a Manual High School alum and a Fort Lewis College graduate. He is a servant leader who has had two major achievements during 2020: Founder of East End Visions and Denver’s My Brother’s Keeper ‘Emerging Leaders’ award recipient. East End Visions was founded to combine individuality and unity through apparel. However, East End Visions was founded to be more about action than about products. In partnership with the City of Aurora, his company has hosted two community events in honor of the MLK celebration for 2021. Mr. Huff has become a catalyst for change in his community.
Ms. Ariel Lipscomb serves as Executive Liaison for Black Lives Matters 5280, where she has been a great asset to the community. She is also a member of the Community Wellness Squad. Her work with BLM5280 has included but is not limited to organizing direct actions, distributing emergency funds and other resources directly to people in need, healing justice advocacy, creating systems for community accountability, as well as social media management. As an engaged leader that has supported people during the pandemic and been an uplifting voice for those that are marginalized, Ms. Lipscomb leads by example and with compassion.
Mr. Jason McBride is a champion for our youth. Born and raised in Park Hill, he has worked in the East Denver community since 2010. He creates an environment for youth that is both safe and fun. He hosts an annual school supply drive as well as gives out hot lunches. Mr. McBride hopes to show young people in our community there are options in education and expose them to different career choices. His work highlights four points to success: 1. Surround yourself with the right people. 2. Self-motivation. 3. Tell your family and friends you LOVE them. 4. Don’t be afraid to achieve!
Ms. Janice McDonald, a long time Colorado resident, has been a very positive role model with a long history of community service throughout metro Denver. Ms. McDonald was the Family/School/Community Liaison for the Cherry Creek School District for over 20 years. During her tenure, she created programs that promoted drug-free youth, connected underserved students and their families to resources, and facilitated parent training courses. She has served on numerous boards and commissions to include the Aurora Human Relations Commission, the National Association of Human Rights Workers, and Aurora Mental Health Center. An accomplished facilitator and trainer, Janice McDonald is also a proud AKA soror.
Jonathan McMillan is the founder and Chief Success Strategist of Be Better Than Average,which provides success skills and personal development training through mentoring and life coaching. He assists the Safe Haven Project’s faith council to provide support in the aftermath of gang related violence, and is involved with Denver’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. In 2018, Mr. McMillan was elected Chairman of the Denver African American Commission and is an Advisor for Park Hill Strong and the Near Northeast Trauma Informed Practices Committee. Mr. McMillan has authored two books and considers his greatest achievement being a father to four wonderful children and husband to an amazing wife, Tameka.
LaDios Muhammad is a domestic violence survivor who has made a conscious decision not to be a victim, but instead transition away from any further abuse. She focuses on positively impacting Denver’s Eastside neighborhood as an advocate for sustainable affordable housing. LaDios is a talented actor. She collaborated with Theatrix USA in the one woman show “Call Me Mrs. Evers”, focused on Myrlie Evers, wife of the late Medgar Evers. She worked with IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access on Stage) to support Black LIves Matter and co-created a Youtube channel called Actors from the DarkSide, which highlights Black Actors in America. LaDios is an advocate, mentor, philanthropist and actor.
Maedella Stiger, born in Muskogee, OK, is a proud mother of two and wife to Franklin Stiger. She attended the University of Colorado and Columbia College, and later became the first female president of the Denver Five Points Lion's Club. Mrs. Stiger is a part of the Syrian Court #40, Daughters of Isis, Lone Star Chapter 1, and was the treasurer of Mile High Soul Travelers RV Club.
LaDawn Sullivan centers the love of giving back, racial justice and community in her professional work and personal life. For 23 years, LaDawn has worked at The Denver Foundation where she launched the Black Resilience in Colorado Fund and manages the Executive Directors of Color Institute, The Landscape Project, and Elevating Philanthropy in Communities of Color. LaDawn pursues community activism as a board member of Denver’s Hope Center and Chair of The Links, Inc.’s Philanthropy Committee. She is also the Board Treasurer of Philanthropy Colorado, a statewide network of foundations and charitable contributors. LaDawn is the mother of two amazing sons – Dallas, 26 and Darius, 22.
Marcus Weaver is a survivor, community leader, and business leader. At Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, he facilitates vocational workshops on interviewing skills, identifying obstacles/barriers, and vocational training; he also helps individuals maintain housing and move into self-sufficiency. His company, Lower the Barrier, develops social enterprises that provide economic opportunities for marginalized individuals through entrepreneur development, career preparation, and employment placement. He is a national keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book, "Chosen to Forgive", about his journey before and after the Aurora Theater Shooting. Marcus serves on community boards, lends his voice to social issues, volunteers at his local dog park, and works with survivors of mass shootings.
Sondra Young is a narrative changer, visionary, community advocate, and social justice leader. She is the President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Denver Branch. The Denver Branch lifts community voices while harnessing empowerment and liberation in economic, education, health, and civic engagement. Ms. Young serves as a Utilities Consumer Board Commissioner for Colorado. She has degrees in Communication and Conflict Management, and is completing a graduate program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Lambda Pi Eta, and the Alliance of College Women. She is proud to be the mother of two beautiful and amazing adults.
Join us virtually, Saturday, February 6, 1 p.m. as we as we kickoff Black History Month with a celebration of Black leadership and excellence. Winners will be announced during the ceremony. Register here.
For more information about the awards please contact the Juanita Gray Awards Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.