Council Members

Who We Are

The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council (CDDC) members are citizens of the State of Colorado. Council membership reflects the geographical diversity of Colorado. Council members are people with disabilities, family members of people with disabilities, and representatives of state agencies, nongovernmental agencies and private nonprofit groups concerned with services for people with disabilities.

Citizens of Colorado interested in applying to be members of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council apply for membership through the office of Boards and Commissions, and are appointed by the Governor. Terms begin on July 1st each year. Download the application here or call the CDDC office for an application at (720) 941-0176.


Born and raised in inner city Chicago, educated in Chicago Public Schools, Senator Aguilar was the first in her family to receive a bachelor's degree. She attended Washington University in St. Louis on scholarship and received her medical degree from the University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine. In 1985 she moved to Denver for her residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  Her affiliation with Denver Health began at this time, as this was the site of her training in outpatient internal medicine. Dr. Aguilar worked for 23 years as a Primary Care Provider for Denver Health and Hospitals and now serves on their board of directors. During the interim she practices medicine at Clinica Tepeyac, caring for the uninsured.

Senator Aguilar has been married for twenty five years to Dr. Thomas Bost.  They have three children, one of whom has developmental disabilities. This led to her participation in public service, being appointed to The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council.  She served on the Vulnerable Populations task force of Colorado's Blue Ribbon Commission on health care reform. Learning about health insurance and its effect on health care for Vulnerable Populations led Dr. Aguilar to become an advocate for health care reform.

In November 2010 Dr. Aguilar made a decision to seek public office to advance the cause of universal health care.  Senator Aguilar represents Denver's Senate District 32 in the Colorado General Assembly. She hopes to use this office to ensure access to quality affordable health care for all Coloradans, reinforce the safety net for people with disabilities and revive the American dream for Latinos in Colorado.

In the Colorado Senate Dr. Aguilar serves as Assistant Majority Leader, she chairs the Senate Committee on the Health and Human Services and the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Implementation Review Committee. She also serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Aguilar sponsored legislation to expand Medicaid in Colorado and to align our health laws with the Affordable Care Act.  She has worked to ensure those without health insurance receive fair pricing for hospital care. Senator Aguilar has also passed laws to improve the lives of people with disabilities by providing funding for respite, support for applying for disability, and a voice at the table. She has been recognized by the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition, the National Association of Social Workers, the Colorado Non Profit Association, the Colorado Medical Society, the Colorado Trial Lawyers, Easter Seals, and the Democratic Party of Denver.

As an active member of the Colorado Democratic Party Latino Initiative Senator Aguilar is working to ensure a strong voice for Colorado's Latino community.  In the 2013 session she worked with Representative Joe Salazar to repeal Colorado's anti-immigrant bill "SB-90". She also serves on the National Council of State Legislator's Health Care Policy Committee.


Jeanette Cordova is the proud mom of a soon to be teen boy, Tait, who is chromosomally enhanced and has a lot of charm to spread around. Jeanette knows first-hand the challenges and wonderful journey of being a parent of a child with different abilities. Jeanette is Puerto Rican American and has lived in Colorado for 22 years. Jeanette was born in NYC and raised in Miami, Florida. Jeanette has developed and maintained relationships with Spanish speaking community in the area of disabilities. In addition to being a mom, she is currently the Executive Director of El Grupo VIDA, the only Spanish speaking organization supporting Hispanic/Latino individuals with disabilities and their families in the state of Colorado. Jeanette has also worked at The Arc Arapahoe & Douglas, Denver Metro Community Parent Resource Center and Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association. Jeanette started the first Spanish speaking support group for parent of loved ones with Down syndrome which is still running today at RMDS. Jeanette will graduate in the fall of 2014 with her Bachelor of Science in Human Services with a Nonprofit Concentration and minors in Psychology and Modern Language.

  • Ed George

    Legislative & Public Policy (Co-Chairperson), Social Media , and Executive Committees

Ed George is a Council Member representing Denver where he currently resides.  Ed is the sixth of seven siblings.  He was born at Ladd AFB, Fairbanks, AK one day after Alaska was admitted to the USA as its 49th state.

His father was in the US Army. He retired in 1965 and moved the family to Montrose, CO where Ed graduated in 1977. Ed later worked for Speedy Messenger Service.

From 1980-1986 untreated for depression from his teens, Ed was diagnosed with major mental illness.

Ed previously served on the Council from 1989-1996.  He presently serves on the Executive and Legislative and Public Policy Committees.  He has volunteered at Mental Health America since 1998.

Deon Gillespie joins the Council with a diverse background in TV news, media relations and community outreach.  She is also an accomplished feature writer with particular interest in holistic health, the arts and current events.

Deon grew up in a family of civil rights activists, advocating for inclusion and equality on all levels. She is a former member of the NAACP National Youth Work Committee and currently serves on several boards, including the Parent to Parent of Colorado Advisory Board.

In addition to journalism, Deon was active in the University of Utah and Salt Lake City theater communities. Surrounded by the Sundance Film Institute and annual festival, she developed a passion for independent film. Whenever she can, she attends and supports film festivals around the country, including the Denver International Film Festival.

Deon currently works in the Office of Communications and Marketing at the University of Denver Daniels College of Business.  She has one 12 year old daughter, Calise, who attends the Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS).

  • Patricia M. Henke

    Department of Labor & Employment, Vocational Rehabilitation
    Planning & Grants Committee

Patricia Henke has worked in the field of vocational rehabilitation for over 20 years and has held positions as Job Coach, Vocational Evaluator, Work Adjustment Instructor, Supervisor, Director of Community and Employment Services at various nonprofits such as Goodwill Industries and Laradon Hall.  Patricia currently holds the position of Statewide Employment Coordinator for Colorado DVR where she developes programs at state and local levels to create opportunities for Supported Employment services. Patricia also teaches an Internship/Practicum course in Rehabilitation Counselor Education Master's Program at Utah State University.

Patricia completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from University of Louisiana at Lafayette (formerly USL) and decided to enter the Master's Program in Rehabilitation Counseling Education when her family experienced a car accident where her mother was significantly injured and unable to work for a period of time.


  • Jessica H. Howard

    Multicultural Committee

Jessica Howard is a Denver native and the parent of a son with autism.  She is passionate about improving community awareness of people with disabilities, with special interest on law enforcement interactions with the disability community.  Jessica is currently the Legal Assistant for the ACLU of Colorado, where she provides support to protect civil liberties in Coloradoans through litigation and education.  Jessica currently serves as a member of the Disability Law Colorado's Protection and Advocacy System for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI), and is a former council member of the Denver Public School's Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC).


  • Audrey Krebs

    Department of Human Services

Audrey Krebs, MA, serves as the Administrator for the Colorado Senior Community Service Employment Program and with the State Unit on Aging as a Program Specialist for the Colorado Department of Human Services.  Audrey has worked in the field of aging for the last 20 years.  Ms. Krebs represents CDHS serving on the Board of Directors for Colorado Elder Rights and Abuse Prevention, Assistive Technology Partners Coalition University of Colorado Denver, Denver Regional Mobility Access Council and Colorado Department of Labor Rural Workforce Consortium Board of Directors.  Audrey holds a Bachelor's degree in Education and a Master's degree in Communications.

  • Melissa Mannix

    Idaho Springs
    Planning & Grants and Social Media Committee

Appointed to the Council 2012

Wreath Maker/ Business Owner
Motivational speaker
PATH Facilitator
Community Organizer

I live in a small mountain town.  I have lived on my own for four years.  I live by myself in a small house. Self-advocacy is important to me.  My goal is to be a positive example to those around me and to encourage my peers to reach for their dreams. My goal is in 2014 is to own my home and own a dog.

Hal Wright is a parent of an adult daughter with a developmental disability who lives semi-independently.  He is a retired Certified Financial Planner who focused on special needs planning, i.e. - helping individuals, parents and families create plans for a better life for a person with disability.  He serves on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee of the Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities, a charitable, pooled-asset trust.  He is a registered pro bono lobbyist with the Colorado General Assembly focusing on social justice and human needs.

  • Corey Mineo

    Glenwood Springs
    Social Media (Chair) Committee

My name is Corey Mineo and I am a 27-year-old male with Muscular Dystrophy. I grew up in Carbondale, Colorado and currently reside in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from CU Denver and am actively pursuing my interest in Disability Awareness. I am a natural born leader and look to transfer this skill to any organization or person that is in need of it.

Along with CDDC, I participate in two other committees. I am on the Board of Directors for Valley Life for All, along with the chairperson for the Housing Committee.

  • Gina Herrera

    Colorado Department of Education, IDEA Representative
    Multicultural Committee

Gina Quintana is a Supervisor at the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) in the Exceptional Student Services Unit where she has worked for the past 13 years.  She is the specialist for students with Significant Support Needs and the CO Deaf-blind Project Coordinator.  Prior to her work at CDE she worked as a special education teacher at all levels from early intervention through high school and adult services in Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado.  She is actively involved in the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and has served on the Local Arrangements Committee for the National CEC and TASH Conferences held in Colorado.

  • Barb Ramsey

    Office for Community Living, Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, Legislative & Public Policy Committee

Barbara D. Ramsey is the Deputy Director for the Office of Community Living, where she provides leadership in policy development and operations for services supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She currently serves on the National Policy Board for the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services. 

Ramsey's work is focused on creating a just, responsive and sustainable system of support for individuals with disabilities to live everyday lives. She especially enjoys mentoring new leaders working to build effective, integrated support systems that emphasize self-direction and a person centered culture. 

Barbara received a Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State University, graduating summa cum laude, in Vocational Counseling and Related Services.   She holds certificates in Leadership from the National Consortium on Leadership from the University of Delaware, Newark, and Federal Fiscal Management through a joint initiative of the United States Department of Labor and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University.

Sarita Reddy is the parent of two children, one of whom has cerebral palsy.  In Georgia, she co-founded the Northeast Georgia Coalition of Disability Advocates and Georgia's Unlock the Waiting Lists! Campaign; was Advocacy/Diversity Coordinator at the University of Georgia's Institute on Human Development and Disability and Associate Director at Georgia Options, an organization that supports people with disabilities to live in their own homes and have typical life experiences.

Since moving to Colorado in 2010, she has served on the boards of Colorado Lifesharing and the ARC of Larimer County. She is the Executive Director of the Greeley Center for Independence.

  • Melissa Umphenour


            Council Chair, Legislative & Public Policy and Executive Committees


    I live in Arvada with my amazing son with multiple disabilities and special educational needs and his service dog. As a family we love to spend time outside, camp, find new spots to explore. I have a diverse background, and have worked in many areas of healthcare for 15 years. Through working with others, and direct care experience I have learned the challenges that the support systems can cause for individuals and families. I am currently finishing my BS in Criminal Justice and Healthcare Management Growing up around others, working with and advocating for those with special healthcare needs and disabilities, has help to foster my passion for inclusive schools and communities. I truly believe that there is a place in the community for everyone. I have a vested interest in inclusive education and communities, working to allow those with disabilities freedom from restraint and seclusion, and working to improve family partnerships in education.  In addition to this Council, I also serve on the Colorado Special Education Committee.

  • Willie Wade


            Social Media Committee


I'm Willie Wade who lives in Alamosa, Colorado. I live on my own with my dog, Princess. I am a self-advocate and I am president of People First San Luis Valley. I work at the Green Spot Garden Center and Antiques. I make garden bricks. I love all sports, especially the Denver Broncos. I make friends easily. I love my life. 

  • Jeanie Benfield


            Legislative & Public Policy Committee


Jeanie Benfield was born with Cerebral Palsy and grew up at home with her mother, father and three brothers who loved her very much.  Jeanie currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

  • Anuska Ullal, Family member


            Planning and Grants, Multicultural and Legislative and Public Policy Committees


Anuska Ullal is a proud sibling of her brother, Rishi, who has Autism.  She is an advocate not only for him but for everyone who needs their voice to be heard.  Anuska sits on the Board of Directors at the Autism Society of Colorado, as well as, the Sibling Leadership Network, Sibling Tree. Anuska has a background in BioChem and Immunology and now spends her time volunteering for various organizations including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  She is a Colorado native and enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

  • Lisa Franklin, Non-Government Agency

            Highlands Ranch

            Legislative and Public Policy and Planning and Grants Committees


Lisa Franklin is the Lead Coordinator at Parent to Parent of Colorado, a program of Ability Connection Colorado.  She is a mom and grandparent of individuals with special needs and a long time special education teacher and administrator.  Lisa is passionate about supporting families, providing high quality early learning opportunities that include all children, and increasing employment and education opportunities for individuals with disabilities. As a representative of non-profit organizations on The Council, Lisa believes that collaboration between families, public agencies and community organizations can lead to great outcomes for all individuals. 

  • Shannon Secrest, Parent


            Legislative and Public Policy Committee


My name is Shannon Secrest and I was born in Wyoming, but traveled the globe with my family at an early age. Our travels took us to North Africa for 4 years and to South America for 2 years. During our tenure abroad, we trekked extensively throughout 24 countries, being captivated by each unique people, culture, and language.

I'm currently a single parent of two amazing kids, ages 11 and 9. It's my 11 year old son and his multiple delays and needs which bring me to the I/DD community. I sit on numerous State committees and boards and am an avid mentor, trainer, and advocate. My current focus is Health Policy including Medicaid, State Waivers and Home Health Care issues. My passion surrounds systems advocacy, and ensuring families have equal and appropriate access to services across all state systems. I am also a 2015 Golden Key International Honour Society graduate from CSU-Global, completing a Bachelor of Science in Communication.  

  • Rob Buzogany, Parent


            Planning and Grants Committee


Rob Buzogany is participating on the Council as a parent of two children, one of whom has Type I diabetes. Rob's senior year of high school, his mother was involved in an accident which resulted in a spinal cord injury and paralysis of both legs. In addition to a parent's perspective, Rob also brings the perspective of years of working with people with disabilities. Rob worked for the Mental health Center of Denver as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, Goodwill as a counselor in an at risk youth program in the Adams County schools, and Easter Seals providing counseling to Veterans. Currently Rob is working at the Colorado Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, for whom he has worked for over 15 years in several roles such as: Rehabilitation Counselor; Employment and Marketing Specialist; Supervisor of local offices; Supervisor of a region; and Manager of statewide programs. Rob has a particular passion about employment and assisting people to live independently in the community. Rob has assisted the state in being awarded several grants that focused on providing funding to the state to provide employment related services.  

  • Sarah Metsch, Person with a developmental disability

            Castle Rock

            Legislative & Public Policy and Planning and Grants Committees


Sarah offers a unique, upbeat and honest look at independent living and working with a [dis]ability. With a lifetime of experience living and working in the medical and educational fields, Sarah finds great joy in mentoring individuals with cross-[dis]abilities to learn public systems, find resources, and learn advocacy and life skills  With immense passion and determination, Sarah works with the Autism Society of Colorado to create and oversee Programs specific to families and those affected by autism. Sarah is an advocate and cheerleader for the [dis]ability community; advocacy is not a job for Sarah, it is her passion!

  • Sandra Friedman, Centers for Excellence


            Planning and Grants Committee


Sandra Friedman received her medical degree from Northwestern University, MPH from Harvard, completed her pediatric residency at Stanford, and fellowship in developmental disabilities at Boston Children's Hospital.  She is board certified in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics. She remained at Boston Children's and Harvard Medical School until 2009, and then assumed the role of Section Head of Neurodevelopmental Behavioral Pediatrics, Medical Director of the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Associate Director of JFK Partners.  She became Director of JFK Partners in July1, 2015.


  • Claire Dickson, Disability Law Colorado


            Planning and Grants Committee


Sandra Friedman received her medical degree from Northwestern University, MPH from Harvard, completed her pediatric residency at Claire Dickson joined Disability Law Colorado in February 2016 as the coordinator for the Protection and Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities (PADD) program.  Claire has worked in the public interest field since graduating law school - working for DNA People's Lega; Services on the Navajo Nation, New Mexico Protection & Advocacy System (now Disability Rights New Mexico), and Senior Citizen's Law Office of Albuquerque.  Claire is a 1993 Graduate of the University of Denver College of Law.