Lizeth Chacon, Executive Director
Lizeth Chacon, an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico, came to the United States at the age of 12. During her first years of school, Lizeth noticed the injustices and difficulties many immigrants face; from that moment she began volunteering at her school and got involved in the movement for social justice. Lizeth was the first one of her family to graduate from college; in the fall of 2010 she graduated from the University of Colorado with two Bachelor’s Degrees, one in Political Science and a second in Criminal Justice.
She got involved in the immigrant rights movement in 2006. In 2013, Lizeth was awarded a Mayoral Proclamation as “A Woman in Leadership” by the Mayor of Aurora, and in 2014 she became a founding board member of the Aurora Welcome Center, now called Village Exchange Center. In the fall of 2014, she became the Executive Director of Rights for All People and in 2015 she led the union of Rights for All People and Colorado Progressive Coalition to create and become the Founding Executive Director of Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA). Lizeth is also the Founding Executive Director of Colorado People’s Action (CPA). In 2016, Lizeth co-chaired the statewide ballot measure that successfully increased Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, and co-created the Statewide Immigration Resistance Table. She co-founded the Transformative Leadership for Change Fellowship and currently serves on their Governing Circle. Lizeth currently serves as the Board President of People’s Action.
Lizeth continues to lead collaborative efforts on climate, economic, immigrant and racial justice issues.
Hobbies: “I have some amazing dogs – Kovu, Max and Tiny – they keep me busy and I love spending time with them. Like any good soccer fan, from March to October I spend time at the Colorado Rapids games.“
Azria Arroyo, Operations Manager
Azria is an Afro Latina Activist and Artist born and raised in Denver, Colorado’s Northside community. The stories of her grandfathers experience as a Mexican immigrant, and migrant farmworker in America, in tandem with Azria herself being raised in a low-income single parent household, were incredibly formative in her drive to advocate for racial justice and economic equity. She has been a fierce advocate for the communities she serves, through her organizing of actions and mutual aid events. She is dedicated to creating impactful, sustainable solutions to uplift and create cycles of empowerment for marginalized communities, and brings that same dedication into her work with COPA.
Hobbies: “I spend most of my free time investing in my various creative endeavors as an artist, practicing self care for spiritual and physical well-being and growth, and spending time with family and friends”
Hallen Phung, Development Director
Hallen Phung, was raised in small town Iowa and quickly noticed her Vietnamese immigrant family was vastly different from most families around her. Growing up with immense pressure to assimilate and not make too much noise, unlearning and challenging dominant narrative has become a defining part of her personal journey before and especially now in COPA. With an early passion for volunteering at hospitals and animal shelters in high school, Hallen sought out to dedicate her life to helping her community. Upon graduating from Simpson College with B.As in both Psychology and Sociology, she had years of experience in non-profit as a trained advocate, fundraiser, and leader. During her time in direct service, she recognized the vital power of money in relation to achieving missions and true change, and she started to shift her focus to grant writing and fundraising. Today, she is dedicated to the communities of Colorado. She is passionate about connecting community members, local businesses, and new individuals who, like her, wish to make Colorado their home and want to know how their own values can be reflected in COPA’s mission.
Hobbies: “When I am not spending time with my elderly cat, Malachi, I love to try fun new foods, and like most folks who move here, I love the mountains.”
Jessica Martinez Vasquez, Communications Director
Jessica Martinez Vasquez was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. Much of her childhood and young adult life was spent in the vibrant Park Hill neighborhood in Denver, Colorado where she learned some of her most valuable lessons. As a DACA recipient and having lived most of her life without it, as an undocumented immigrant, Jessica understands the power in telling her own story. She is unapologetic, unafraid and committed to the pursuit of social justice for marginalized communities. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in Political Science. She has since spent time in Washington, D.C working to build power in our Latinx communities around the country through various non-profit organizations. Most recently she served as Senator Julie Gonzales’ Legislative Aide in the Colorado State Senate. She hopes to continue to empower community to re-write the dominant narrative and center their own lived experiences in her new role with COPA.
Hobbies: “I love finding new places to eat and trying new foods! I feel like I find a new favorite hobby every few weeks and lately it has been painting!”
Kevin Patterson, Organizing Director
Kevin Patterson was born and raised in Colorado. Early on in their life, they were engaged in local politics. After Kevin completed their high school education at the Denver School of the Arts, they went on to receive two Bachelor’s degrees in Ethnic Studies and Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder.
As a student Kevin was a part of various student groups and coalitions such as United Mexican American Students y Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán de CU Boulder, Queer and Trans* People of Color, Black Student Alliance, Student Outreach Center for Equity, and forming the Pulse (Student Government). Their involvement in these efforts led to a deep commitment to the pursuit of social justice for marginalized communities. After graduating they interned with The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Union Summer working with K-12 teacher to fight for healthcare in their school districts. After their internship, Kevin continued to work with the American Federation of Teachers at the Temple University, Cayuga Community College, and Community College of Allegheny County unionizing campaigns.After their stint on the east coast, Kevin has returned to Colorado to build power in their own hometown!
Hobbies: “I enjoy spending time with my loved ones including my dogs Burnham & Bowie, lifting weights, yoga, long-boarding, music & art shows, and getting outdoors.”
Chris Rhodes, Community Organizer
Leading: Economic Justice Work
Chris Rhodes has a degree in social studies education. Since graduating he has spent time working with at risk youths in various group homes and residential facilities in Baltimore, Los Angeles and in Indiana. He has also worked as a server, done tech support for Apple products, worked in call centers, food service, and most recently union organizing. He was raised by a single father and seeing how hard he had to struggle to just get by while raising him drives him to be an economic justice organizer.
Hobbies: “As for hobbies and outside of work joy…I love soccer (go Liverpool), college basketball (go Hoosiers), enjoy comedy, learning about the history of other cultures, enjoy remote nature, and love different architecture styles across the country. I also love dogs and hip hop.”
Adilene Casillas, Community Organizer
Leading: Immigrant Justice Work
Adilene Casillas is an Immigrant Justice Organizer with COPA who was born and raised in Denver, CO to immigrant parents. At an early age her parents taught her strong family values and with that came a great sense of responsibility for her community that evolved in wanting to take part in changing the way the country views immigration. Education became an important role in wanting to reach out to different communities to change the narrative they might have been raised in. She is passionate about communicating and informing the community about different outstanding issues and raising awareness about things that need to change.
LeeAnn Gott, Program Coordinator
Leading: Citizenship Education
LeeAnn Gott grew up in southern New Mexico. At an early age, she got involved in politics and social justice issues, and in high school, spent an entire summer walking door to door, registering voters to vote. In 1982, Leeann moved to Aurora, CO where she got her teaching certificate and began teaching first grade at Kenton Elementary. After receiving her Master’s degree in ESL, she began teaching English to immigrant students and their parents, and joined the fight for immigrant justice. LeeAnn was a founding member of Coloradans for Immigrant Rights, and of the Aurora Education Association’s English Language Acquisition (ELA) Caucus, a group of teachers working to improve the education of immigrant students. Working with parents who wanted a stronger voice in the educational system, LeeAnn helped organize a district-wide ELA parent advisory group, and joined our legacy organization, Rights for All People in 2003. LeeAnn began teaching bilingual Citizenship Classes as members of Rights for All People asked for them. COPA’s program continues to help people become U.S. citizens and to be more deeply engaged in the community and the political process. “I was born with the rights and privileges of a white, middle class U.S. citizen. Therefore, I believe I have the responsibility to work to ensure that everyone has those rights. My involvement with Colorado People’s Alliance has provided me a way to work effectively towards the goal of equal rights and opportunities for all people.”
Hobbies: “I love playing piano in a jazz trio, and backyard farming – growing food, flowers, and raising chickens.”
Luis Xoy, Citizenship Educator
Luis E. Xoy is originally from Guatemala and has been living in the United States for over 20 years. Luis found Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA) through the Citizenship Classes and has been helping with the classes as a member for over four years. “They have given me the opportunity to work within the organization as a US Citizenship teacher and to me that is very important, as a part of the community.”
Hobbies: “I like to swim and love music so much that I am also a professional DJ.”