"Traversing The Mental Health Gap: Crisis, Stigma, and Beyond"


South Denver is proud to be known for its high achieving schools, spacious parks, and lifestyle wellness. Metro Denver is consistently ranked as one of the best and healthiest places to live in the U.S. Yet, according to Mental Health America, 20% of Colorado residents are living with some kind of mental illness - the third-highest rate in the country. Colorado also recently ranked as one of the worst states in providing access and care to those wrestling with mental health. How do we reconcile and bridge this gap? Why as Coloradans do we not include mental health in our discussions on wellness? How do we find a better way forward?

Michel Cusick
Michael is a Licensed Professional Counselor, spiritual director, speaker, and author of two books including Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle and Somebody’s Daughter: An Experiential Guide. Having experienced the restoring touch of God in a deeply broken life and marriage, Michael’s passion is to connect life’s broken realities with the reality of the gospel.

In addition to leading Restoring the Soul and equipping Christian organizations around the world, Michael currently serves as an adjunct professor at Denver Seminary. He holds an MA in Biblical Counseling from Colorado Christian University and an MA from the College of Education at the University of Denver. Michael lives with his wife Julianne and their two nearly grown children in Littleton, Colorado where he enjoys the Rocky Mountains and a host of other outdoor activities with friends and family.

Dr. Barry Shapiro
Barry spent the first part of his career working within the walls of medical treatment facilities and the second part of his career working within the walls of Corporate America, Europe, India, and Asia. As a result, Barry has improved the health and effectiveness of client organizations in dynamic ways for the past 20 years.

Barry works with executives throughout the technology, oil and gas, finance, government, food and beverage, and healthcare industries, among many others. He often works with high-potential leaders, and those leading through critical personal and organizational transitions. In addition to executive coaching, Barry is a Master Facilitator who designs and leads customized group sessions, grounded in organizational data and targeted leadership interviews, to develop higher performing teams.Barry is the author of the book, Casting Call in the Theatre of Corporate America, the role of the extraordinary facilitator,which teaches innovative ways to engage employee audiences and improve organizational results.

Aundi Kolber
Aundi Kolber is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), writer, and speaker in Castle Rock, Colorado. She graduated from Denver Seminary in 2008 with an MA in Community Counseling. Aundi is the owner of Kolber Counseling, LLC, which was established in 2009. She has received additional training in her specialization of trauma, including the highly researched and regarded Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)therapy. Aundi is passionate about the integration of faith and psychology, and it’s significance for the Church today. She has written for RelevantCT Women(In) CourageThe Redbud PostHer View From HomeHappy Sonship and more. Aundi’s speaks regularly on podcasts such CXMH podcast and The Upside Down Podcast, as well as at events in the Denver area. As a survivor of trauma and a life long learner, Aundi brings hard won knowledge around the work of change, the power of redemption, and the beauty of experiencing God in our pain. Aundi has been happily married to her best friend for over ten years and is the proud mom of Matia (6) and Jude (1).

Andrew Romanoff
Andrew Romanoff is President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, the state’s leading advocate for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Prior to that he served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009 and as Speaker of the House from 2005 to 2009. He earned bipartisan acclaim as one of the most effective legislative leaders in America.

Andrew authored the Colorado Economic Recovery Act (Referendum C) and Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST), the largest investment in school construction in state history. He also sponsored laws to improve access to mental health care, expand the supply of affordable housing, and protect the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. More than 50 state and national organizations have honored Andrew’s leadership. In 2008, Governing Magazine named him “Public Official of the Year."

Andrew earned a bachelor’s degree with honors at Yale, a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard, and a juris doctorate at the University of Denver. He taught high school in Central America and speaks fluent Spanish.

"4 Years of Marijuana: Colorado's Legalization Effect" 


Colorado's pioneering spirit continued with the legalization of weed in 2013. With over $2.4 billion in economic impact in our state, other states are sure to follow. What can we learn from this? Could decriminalization lead to a more flourishing society? Should economics be the sole indicator of success? What about medical concerns and their impact on minors? Join us as we hear from Colorado's "Marijuana Czar" Ron Kammerzell, Dr. Chris Thurstone, Dave Morlan, PhD, and Marty Otañez, PhD who will share their divergent opinions on this matter. 

Dr. Chris Thurstone
Dr. Thurstone is one of fewer than three dozen physicians in the US who are board certified in general, child and adolescent, and addictions psychiatry. He is medical director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse treatment clinics. He's also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction. Dr. Thurstone serves as director of medical training for the university’s addiction psychiatry fellowship program. 

Dave Morlan, PhD
Dave is co-founder and pastor of Fellowship Denver which is a growing urban church in central Denver. He hosts discussions throughout Denver dedicated to difficult questions of our day. He received his BA in communications from Oklahoma Baptist University, his ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary, and his PhD in Theology and Religion at Durham University in the UK.

Marty Otañez, PhD
Marty Otañez is a filmmaker and Associate Anthropology Professor at the University of Colorado Denver. Through funds from UCD's Office of Research Services, Otañez is studying cannabis cultures in Colorado and how individuals in grow houses, extraction facilities, retail shops, testing labs, and dispensaries stay healthy and avoid job injuries. The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine featured his work in the article "An Interview with Marty Otañez, PhD: A Creative Researcher and Videographer Studying the Effects of the Cannabis Industry in Colorado."

Ron Kammerzell
Ron Kammerzell is popularly known as Colorado's Marijuana Czar. He is Colorado Department of Revenue's senior enforcement director, which includes the Marijuana Enforcement Division. In November 2012, the Governor appointed Ron to the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force. Ron also co-chaired the Regulatory Framework Working Group. Ron is a frequent public speaker on topics like marijuana regulation, regulatory enforcement, public administration, and public policy.


"Immigration Beyond Blue and Red States" 

Now more than ever, it's crucial to thoughtfully engage with our neighbors on the issue of immigration. In order to understand this important issue, we must go beyond personal bias or party loyalty and think deeply about all aspects of it. Come hear four different perspectives on the issue of immigration and engage with us as we discuss this timely subject.

David Simmons, Lawyer and Immigration Attorney
David Simmons has practiced immigration law in his native Denver since 1986. He represents a broad variety of immigration clients from all countries in the world. Bilingual in English and Spanish, he teaches Immigration Law in Spanish as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Denver’s Spanish in the Law program. He is a former Chapter Chair of the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He served as Honorary Legal Counsel to the Mexican Consulate General in Denver for twelve years. He is active in a number of pro-bono projects.

Helen Raleigh, CFA, DTM
Helen Raleigh is owner and Chief Investment Officer of Red Meadow Advisors, LLC. Born and raised in communist China, she's an author whose latest book, The Broken Welcome Mat, is about immigration. She has also published numerous columns about China, immigration, and international affairs in The Wall Street JournalTownhall.com, theFederalist.com and other national media. She's an immigration policy Fellow at the Centennial Institute and a leading voice for free market-based legal immigration reform. In October 2016, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appointed Helen Raleigh to the Colorado State Advisory Committee. Helen will be signing books immediately following the discussion.

Daniel "Mambo" De Leon, Casa de Paz representative and entrepreneur
Daniel “Mambo” De Leon is an immigrant from Mexico who currently holds an F-1 student visa and is in the process of applying for a religious visa. He is a graduate of the Law School in Xalapa, Veracruz. In 2011, he moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies with a concentration of leadership development and theology. He serves regularly at Casa de Paz, a Denver-based nonprofit that offers housing, meals, visits, and transportation to families affected by immigrant detention and is currently leading a new startup in metro Denver.

Maureen Shannon, North Littleton Promise
Maureen Shannon has been Executive Director at North Littleton Promise for just under ten years. Her position has allowed her to foster relationships with immigrant kids and families through North Littleton Promise's after-school and summer programs. She's a proud Colorado native, raised in Arvada, and a graduate of Mullen High School. Maureen graduated from CU Denver with a Psychology degree and Master's Degree in Elementary Education from Regis University. She brings a wealth of knowledge concerning immigration and education to our discussion.


"Death With Dignity? Proposition 106, Hospice, and Right to Die"


In November of 2016, Coloradans passed Proposition 106 authorizing certain individuals to receive medical aid in dying if they meet several requirements. In an age of immense resources that touch on the emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing of a person, what does it mean to die with dignity? The conversation surrounding Prop. 106 not only includes end-of-life decisions like hospice and palliative care, but also conversations surrounding anthropology, mercy, autonomy, and ethics.   

Daniel L. Handel, M.D.
Dr. Handel is the founding Chief of Palliative Medicine at Denver Health Medical Center and Professor at University of Colorado School of Medicine. His palliative medicine has served patients with advanced illness through its interdisciplinary inpatient and outpatient services, helping with symptom management and care planning to meet individual patient goals since 2013. Dr. Handel previously held a senior clinical staff appointment at the National Institutes of Health for a dozen years, where he founded and directed one of the first accredited Palliative and Hospice Medicine fellowship training programs in the US. Dan had previously founded a Texas palliative care program at a tertiary care teaching hospital and directed medical services for a large Texas hospice, while helping to found the third Texas inpatient free-standing hospice hospital. 

Carrie Ann Lucas, J.D.
Carrie Ann Lucas is the founder and executive director of the Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities in Windsor, Colorado. Ms. Lucas is an attorney who specializes in representing disabled parents and families with disabled children. Ms. Lucas consults with attorneys around the nation regarding issues affecting parents with disabilities. Ms. Lucas has also been in efforts to oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia for over 17 years. She is a former Petra Foundation Fellow and Equal Justice Works Fellow. Ms. Lucas has spent over 15 years working for disability rights organizations, and was lead plaintiff in an epic 7-and-a-half-year suit against Kmart that resulted in the largest and most far-reaching accessibility class action settlement in history. Ms. Lucas is a power wheelchair and ventilator user due to a neuromuscular disease. She is also an advocate for children with disabilities. She has adopted four older children, all of whom have multiple disabilities – Heather, Asiza, Adrianne, and Anthony.

Hillary Lum, M.D., PhD
Hillary Lum is a geriatrician, palliative care physician, and researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Denver VA Medical Center since 2013. She is passionate about creating opportunities for individuals and their loved ones to talk about what is important to them, especially in the setting of serious illnesses. Her research focuses on refining a novel Advance Care Planning Group Visit intervention to encourage meaningful conversations and advance directive documentation with healthcare providers. Additional grants and studies include palliative care in Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, and individuals in skilled nursing facilities. She loves being a primary care physician for older adults, working with students and trainees, and working within communities and healthcare systems to create effective policies related to improving care for older adults and other vulnerable groups. She and her husband enjoy living in Aurora, eating ethnically for less than $30, and connecting with others at Fellowship Denver Church.

Jean Abbott, M.D., M.H.
Jean Abbott is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician and faculty member at the University of Colorado since 1985. She has a Master of Humanities from CU and is a longstanding member of the University of Colorado Hospital Ethics Committee and the Ethics Consult service. She focuses lectures and writing on clinical consultation, palliative care, and end-of-life issues through the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. She is currently helping create the ethics content for the new CU Palliative Care Master’s Program, and also teaches and facilitates Advance Care Planning conversations through community presentations.