Denver Indian Family Resource Center |

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.

Read more about the history of child removal and why DIFRC came to be.

If you would like to receive services from DIFRC, please call our main line.



Lucille A. Echohawk
Interim Executive Director


Marlys Wagner (Rosebud Sicangu Lakota)


Rachel Bryan-Auker (Kaigani Haida & Tlingit)
Resource and Referral Specialist

Rachel (Kaigani Haida & Tlingit) 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.


Katie Brown
Family Engagement Specialist

Katie Brown, formerly Resource and Referral Assistant and Community Program Coordinator, has varied experience relating to community programming, education, and crisis intervention 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)


Jack Soto

“Nation” Diné/Cocopah

Position: Major Gifts Associate, American Indian

College Fund, Community Member at Large

Expertise: Organizational development, strategic


Residence: Denver, CO

Term ends: December 2017



Veronica Lane

“Nation” Diné

Position: Business Development Officer, Native American Bank

Residence: Denver, CO

Expertise: Accounting, Finance

Term ends: December 2017



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


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

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