Yessica was CCWB's first hire. She is responsible for leading the organization and carrying out the vision of a people-owned, inclusive, and sustainable metro Denver economy that catalyzes prosperous and resilient communities free from racism and injustice.
Yessica grew up in the Swansea neighborhood in Denver and has done grassroots community organizing with immigrant groups and low-income communities across the Denver Metro area since 2000. She has dedicated her life to empowering disenfranchised communities to break the cycle of poverty through education and entrepreneurship. She enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends and family while drinking coffee.
Michelle leads the anchor engagement strategy. She works with individuals at place-based institutions to help craft a local procurement, local hiring, and local investment strategy. Her engagement with Community Wealth Building dates from 2014, when she planned a Community Wealth Building conference that led to the creation of the CWB Network. From 2016-2018, she chaired the CWB Design Team that ultimately developed the Center for Community Wealth Building.
Michelle comes to this work from a 30+ year career in the nonprofit sector, post completing a year and a half of law school. Her experience spans frontline staff positions to executive director, and a ten year stint with the Anschutz Family Foundation.
Paul leads our Democratizing Ownership strategy, reaching traditionally underserved communities and supporting the creation of worker-owned and resident-owned enterprises.
Originally from New Mexico, Paul first witnessed the power of cooperatives first hand during graduate school at the University of Oregon when he lived in and served as President of the Student Cooperative Association. Paul has extensive experience in cooperative development and support, including co-founding Queen City Cooperative, a limited-equity housing cooperative, and the Colorado Solidarity Fund, a grassroots investment club focused on locally-owned cooperative businesses.
Paul’s business background includes copywriting, video storytelling, and digital marketing strategy. He has helped place-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofits and small businesses achieve their business goals through strategically executed content. He brings careful thinking, a vision for social equity, and inspired energy to each project.
Michaela Holmes, Cooperative Development Co-Director
Michaela co-leads our Democratizing Ownership strategy, which engages traditionally underserved communities in developing worker and resident-owned enterprises—her focus is on employee ownership conversions to worker cooperatives.
Michaela became passionate about worker ownership and cooperatives at the outset of Occupy Wall Street while pursuing her M.S. in Organizational Change Management from the New School. Splitting her time between the classroom and protesting in the streets, she had a real-life praxis of shared decision-making, group process, and the power of centering equity, anti-racism, and compassion in change-making.
Dedicated to working towards a more equitable world, she completed an internship at Praxis Consulting Group in Philadelphia, researching leadership development programs and succession planning for nonprofits, worked at the Democracy at Work Institute as the Leadership Development and Training Coordinator, and was the Director of Cooperative Development at the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. She spent five years as a Board member of the Mariposa Food Co-op in Philadelphia and dreams of opening a food co-op in her neighborhood of North Park Hill.
In her free time, she has a business with her mother, working with families to create collaborative care plans, is an end-of-life doula, and enjoys spending time with her partner, daughter, cat, and dog, pursuing forms of healing and joy as resistance and movement building.
Salvador works on our Democratizing Ownership strategy, reaching traditionally underserved communities and supporting the creation of worker-owned and resident-owned enterprises.
He grew up in the West Colfax neighborhood and has been involved in social justice campaigns organizing for food justice, food access, and food sovereignty. He is student of the theory, history, and modern applications of the cooperative movement. He sees the co-op model as a means of building an equitable economy that encompasses workers, community, and environment.
Salvador spends time in the community learning about the issues members face and how to best support them in the process of becoming worker-owners of businesses. In his downtime, Salvador enjoys listening to music, health training, and spending time with friends and family.
Hilda Gehrke is a social leadership coach, facilitator, and cooperative developer who migrated from Chihuahua, Mexico in 1996, making Colorado her home since then. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Regis University and completed her training as an Ontological Coach from Newfield Network, INC in 2017. She has obtained several certifications as a facilitator and as a cooperative developer.
Hilda has a particular interest in developing voices within the Latinx community and is actively involved. She is married and is a proud mom of 2 children, Brandon who graduated from CU in 2023 and Mariana who is currently serving in The U.S. Air Force, as well as a proud “abuela” of 3 grandchildren. Hilda enjoys hiking in the mountains, sunsets, reading a nice book and considers herself a “foodie”.
Diana plays a pivotal role in advancing the organization's mission of promoting community wealth building initiatives. She is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive communication strategies that effectively convey the principles and benefits of community wealth building to a diverse audience.
With over 15 years of experience in media and communications across international newsrooms, non-profits, and businesses, Diana brings a wealth of expertise to her role. Her career has been marked by a deep passion for business development and storytelling, and she leverages these strengths to drive forward the mission of CCWB.
Patrick manages CCWB's internal operations, and also co-directs CCWB's community owned and benefitting real estate project, which helps cultural legacy small businesses avoid gentrification-driven displacement by owning and controlling their real estate.
Patrick joined CCWB in June 2022 after nearly 21 years at The Denver Foundation, where he directed the Foundation's Strengthening Neighborhoods and Economic Opportunity grantmaking programs. A passionate advocate for equitable economic systems change, Patrick was a member of the community network that laid the groundwork for CCWB's founding in 2017.
An attorney by training, Patrick worked for many years representing adults experiencing homelessness in New York City before coming to Colorado in 2000. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the committed staff and inspiring community partners who are building a more equitable Metro Denver economy with CCWB.
Karen leads our Small Business strategy, working with local business owners to provide the resources and support they need to maintain a sustainable level of growth for their enterprises.
Karen first got involved with community organizing and social justice work while studying at the University of Colorado. Karen brings 25+ years of experience as an educator, entrepreneur, facilitator, coach, and consultant. For the past five years, Karen has worked with leaders in the nonprofit and education sectors, supporting them with bringing a more human-centric and values-driven approach to their leadership. She has been working with women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and neurodivergent business owners, helping them to grow and scale their businesses to create more impact, equity, and freedom using an inclusive, justice-based framework. Karen has owned and operated four businesses, been an educator for people ages one through adults, and has worked both in and with nonprofits.