Meet a few of the people leading some of Denver’s most historic and culturally diverse communities.
Cleo Parker Robinson, Founder & Artistic Director, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
A Denver native, Cleo Parker Robinson (pictured above) takes great pride in the studio, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, she founded in 1970 in Five Points, the historical center of Denver’s African-American community. The studio teaches “dance and the performing arts to children, teens and adults, even our elders — people of all abilities and backgrounds.”
Cleo Parker Robinson makes her home in the Park Hill neighborhood, one of the city’s first integrated communities.
“I love Denver’s openness, the creativity and innovation, the connectedness. It is an honor to be so much a part of a community that we love so much.”
Sara Moore, Executive Director, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival
The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is one of the city’s most popular summer events. Denver’s strong Asian-American population is partly due to Colorado’s role as a sanctuary for Japanese Americans living in the U.S. during World War II when more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-American individuals were forced into internment camps.
“We see so many individuals and families of all demographics come to celebrate our Asian communities. It truly shows that Denver and all of Colorado is made up of open-minded people who want to learn more about their city through the cultures that comprise it. I am proud to see that Denver is growing in diversity and in the celebration of other cultures year after year.”
Dana Rodriguez, Executive Chef, Work & Class
Now a three-time James Beard Award-nominated chef, Dana Rodriguez was born on a farm in Chihuahua, Mexico. She moved to Denver in 1998 and beginning working her way up in the culinary world, beginning as a dishwasher at Denver’s Hotel Monaco.
She is currently executive chef at two Denver restaurants, one of which is the acclaimed Work & Class. When she’s not cooking, she enjoys the city’s gardens, museums and marketplaces, and going for motorcycle rides.
“The city has changed a lot in the past 20 years. We have different cuisines, communities and a lot of new projects.”
Grace Gillette, Executive Director, Denver March Powwow
Grace Gillette, the executive director of Denver March Powwow, has lived in Denver since 1972. An artisan who makes traditional American Indian dance outfits, Gillette notes how drastically Denver’s cultural landscape has changed over the years.
Now, she says she’s truly amazed by the wide variety of arts and cultural offerings available in the city.
“During the summer months, there is a different ethnic celebration or festival every weekend… The more we celebrate and share our cultures, the more we realize we have more in common than differences.”
Rex Fuller, Executive Director, The Center on Colfax
The Center on Colfax has been the largest LGBTQ community center in the Rocky Mountain region since 1976 and produces Denver PrideFest every year, which draws more than 500,00 people every year
“Denver has emerged as a civil rights leader for the LGBTQ community. I love Denver’s scale. It’s big enough that we have wonderful and diverse [LGBTQ] activities and communities, but small enough that you can experience it. We have great performing arts, museums, festivals—all kinds of cultural events. And it all feels accessible.”