Denver Indian Family Resource Center | DIFRC.org

About Us

Denver Indian Family Resource Center (DIFRC) was founded in early 2000 as a child welfare agency dedicated to meeting the diverse and emerging needs of American Indian children and families in the Denver metropolitan area. Our goal is to assist families to avoid involvement with the child welfare system and to support and advocate for families already involved. We provide a variety of services that build up the strengths of Native families and that help children thrive.

Our definition of family reflects the reality for most American Indian and Alaska Native families and includes relatives and close friends. When families have already encountered child abuse or neglect charges, our approach is to actively advocate for and refer to culturally-appropriate services, and to provide intensive case management and active effects for family reunification. When families are at risk for involvement with the child welfare system, we provide comprehensive services to assist the family in avoiding the need for systems-level intervention. Additionally, we work with the broader American Indian and Alaska Native community by providing services to strengthen cultural and social connections while gaining practical, real-life skills. Our services are strength-based and empowerment oriented. We work together with our families and other agencies to help promote responsible healing by restoring balance, nurturing pride, and recognizing the extended family and community.

Our partners can now reach us at referrals@difrc.org or billing@difrc.org!

Staff

Administration


Dennis Swain
Executive Director
720-500-1001
dswain@difrc.org

Dennis Swain joined Denver Indian Family Resource Center as the Executive Director in January of 2015.  Mr. Swain has over 15 years of experience working directly with American Indian and Alaska Native communities around child welfare, disproportionality, and family well-being outcome measurements. He has over 7 years of experience managing large organizations and he has been responsible for the oversight of over 40 different programs and departments. Dennis has direct collaborative work with tribes all across the country including Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, New York, and many more. He has been a keynote speaker at many state and tribal child welfare conferences regarding Indian Child Welfare and social justice issues. He has a degree in Criminal Justice and extensive training in forensic interviewing, family development, and youth engagement. Dennis is also a resource trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) for Undoing Racism workshops and a national certifier for the Knowing Who You Are (racial and ethnic identity) workshops.

A.J. Myers
Americorps VISTA
720-500-1019
vistaam@difrc.org

A.J. Myers is our current AmeriCorps VISTA intern. A.J. is typically serving at our front desk.


Development

McKenna Ganz
Development Manager
720-500-1013
mganz@difrc.org

McKenna Ganz is the current Development Manager at DIFRC.  She manages all donations, grant applications, marketing, events and volunteers.  A recent graduate of Duke University, McKenna has a degree in political science, cultural studies, global health and economics and specializes in social movement theory and the operation of nonprofits.  She has been employed at DIFRC since January 2017.


Family Services


Kathryn Redhorse
Family Services Supervisor
720-500-1012
kredhorse@difrc.org

Kathryn Redhorse (Lakota/Navajo) is the Family Services Supervisor at Denver Indian Family Resource Center and serves as the children’s group facilitator for the Nurturing Parenting Program. Kathryn has experience working in the public school system and supporting American Indian and Alaska Native families in working through challenging times by building on strengths. She has been employed with DIFRC since July 2015.

Verla Howell (Pawnee/Flandreau Santee Sioux)
Family Engagement Specialist
720-500-1008
vhowell@difrc.org

Verla Howell (Pawnee/Flandreau Santee Sioux), MA, is a Family Engagement Specialist at Denver Indian Family Resource Center and serves as a facilitator for the Nurturing Parenting Program. Verla has extensive experience in the field of substance abuse treatment providing direct services as well as administrative and clinical supervisory services. She has also worked with American Indian students and their families addressing obstacles to their education as a liaison within the public school setting. She has been employed with DIFRC since January 2014.


Wilma Yellow Cloud (Oglala Lakota)
Family Engagement Specialist
720-500-1011
wyellowcloud@difrc.org

Wilma Yellow Cloud (Oglala Lakota) is a Family Engagement Specialist at Denver Indian Family Resource Center.  Wilma has extensive experience providing case management services related to Indian child welfare in tribal and state settings. She has been employed with DIFRC since June 2016.

Ceriss Blackwood (Navajo/Taos Pueblo)
Resource and Referral Specialist
720-500-1010
cblackwood@difrc.org

Ms. Blackwood (Navajo/Taos Pueblo) is a client’s first contact with DIFRC and directs families to the services they need, whether at DIFRC’s intensive case management or community programs, or another agency. She has extensive experience working with American Indian and Alaska Native populations, both on and off the reservation. Ms. Blackwood received her Masters of Social Work degree in 2013 with a thesis project focusing on engaging Native foster youth with a strengths-based approach.

Rachel Bryan-Auker (Kaigani Haida & Tlingit)
Resource and Referral Assistant
720-500-1005
rbryanauker@difrc.org

Rachel (Kaigani Haida & Tlingit) is part of the team that greets clients seeking services or referrals from DIFRC. She comes to the organization with experience promoting Indigenous rights as well as health and wellness across Indian Country. She has worked in tribal commerce development, HIV prevention, and extensively with young children. She is a United World College graduate and holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College in Native American Studies where she concentrated on tribally-owned economic ventures and their effect on quality of life and cultural expression within Native communities. She carries her continuing interest in advancing the well-being of Native people, communities, and families into her role at DIFRC with an eye towards social justice, tribal sovereignty, and communal health and wellness.

Community Programs

Katie Brown
Community Program Coordinator
720-500-1006
kbrown@difrc.org

Katie Brown, formerly Resource and Referral Assistant, has varied experience relating to community programming and education, which began during her time working with low-income, first generation high school students participating in Upward Bound in the Denver Metro Area. This was strengthened by her obtainment of a Master of Social Science in Social Justice, focusing on Indigenous Rights, which bolstered her passion for community programs that focus on empowerment and collaboration with AI/AN communities. In addition, she has a background in violence prevention education, as well as advocacy for individuals who are and/or have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and/or human trafficking. Katie has been employed at DIFRC since October 2016.

Board (DIFRC Board of Directors ROSTER 3 21 2017)

Chair

Deborah Esquibel Hunt

“Nation” Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama

Position: Retired; Community Member at Large

Residence: Northglenn, CO

Expertise: Social work, Indian child welfare, Indian education, tribal higher education

Term ends: December 2018

 

Vice Chair

Jack Soto

“Nation” Diné/Cocopah

Position: Program Administrator, American Indian

College Fund, Community Member at Large

Expertise: Fundraising, indigenous law and policies

Residence: Denver, CO

Term ends: December 2017

 

Treasurer

Veronica Lane

“Nation” Diné

Position: Business Development Officer, Native American Bank

Residence: Denver, CO

Expertise: Accounting, Finance

Term ends: December 2017

 

Secretary

Michael Johnson

“Nation” Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota

Position: Director of Development for Cultural Survival, Inc.

Residence: Littleton, CO

Expertise: Fundraising, marketing, communications

Term ends: December 2017

 

Del Nutter

“Nation” Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Position: Executive Director, Denver Indian Health and Family Services, Inc.

Expertise: Non-profit management, business development

Residence: Phoenix, AZ

Term ends: Annual partnership appointment

 

Emily Petoskey

“Nation” Odawa

Position: Major Gifts Associate, American Indian

College Fund, Community Member at Large

Expertise: Organizational development, strategic

planning

Residence: Denver, CO

Term ends: December 2017

 

David Heska Wanbli Weiden

“Nation” Sicangu Lakota

Position: Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University; Community Member at Large

Residence: Denver, CO

Expertise: Licensed attorney

Term ends: December 2018

 

Teresa Bernie

“Nation” Ihankthunwan Nakota

Position: Facilitator, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Residence: Denver, CO

Expertise: Targeted case management, parent education and support group organizer

Terms ends: December 2018

 

Chair

Deborah Esquibel Hunt

“Nation” Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama

Position: Retired; Community Member at Large

Residence: Northglenn, CO

Expertise: Social work, Indian child welfare, Indian education, tribal higher education

Term ends: December 2018

 

Vice Chair

Jack Soto

“Nation” Diné/Cocopah

Position: Program Administrator, American Indian

College Fund, Community Member at Large

Expertise: Fundraising, indigenous law and policies

Residence: Denver, CO

Term ends: December 2017

 

Treasurer

Veronica Lane

“Nation” Diné

Position: Business Development Officer, Native American Bank

Residence: Denver, CO

Expertise: Accounting, Finance

Term ends: December 2017

 

Secretary

Michael Johnson

“Nation” Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota

Position: Director of Development for Cultural Survival, Inc.

Residence: Littleton, CO

Expertise: Fundraising, marketing, communications

Term ends: December 2017

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