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About the Office of New Americans

ONA’s Story

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In 2019, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition convened state and national partners to envision a Colorado Office of New Americans.

In November 2019, Governor Polis established the New American Integration Initiative in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) headed by Kit Taintor, Senior Advisor to the Governor for New American Integration. The New American Integration Initiative (NAII) held over 100 stakeholder meetings and interviews. In 2020, the NAII determined priority areas of economic development, access, and education/outreach.

In June 2021, the legislature passed and Governor Polis signed HB 21-1150 (Rep. I. Jodeh/Sen. J. Gonzales), that established the Office of New Americans in CDLE’s Executive Director’s Office. In December 2021, the New American Community Advisory Committee (NACAC) was established.

HB 21-1150 mandated that a work group be established to address where the Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP) should be housed. The work group produced the Final Recommendations Regarding the Establishment of the Office of New Americans which was published in 2022. 

In 2022, CDLE hired the first ONA team member and the first ONA Director, Dee Daniels Scriven. ONA worked to stand up legislatively mandated programs and initiatives including the Global Talent Task Force, the Virtual, Career-Aligned English as a Second Language program, and the Benefit Recovery Fund.  

In 2023, ONA continued its work and launched programs and initiatives around the Integration of International Medical Graduates and the migrant influx. ONA published its first Inaugural State Integration Plan

The story continues to be written every day…
 

The ONA Team

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Headshot photo of Dee Daniels Scriven

Dee Daniels Scriven
Director, Office of New Americans

Dee is the Director of the Office of New Americans. Prior to her work at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, she spent the previous twelve years working in the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, in various positions, but ultimately as Refugee Policy Counsel in the Division of Policy and Procedures. Dee’s background also includes work as a child abuse and neglect prosecutor, public defender, and as a volunteer attorney with a human rights organization in Peru. She studied at Colorado College and American University’s Washington College of Law. 

Headshot Photo of Anthony Cherwinski

Anthony Cherwinski
Global Talent Administrator

Anthony is the Global Talent Administrator for the Office of New Americans. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan - Flint, a MA in Global Community Engagement from the University of Denver, and holds a certification from Michigan State University as a cultural intelligence facilitator. For over 10 years, he has been supporting immigrants and refugees with economic and workforce integration, advising small to large employers in everything from establishing New American hiring initiatives to establishing upskilling programs for multicultural teams.

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Samantha Dewitt
Program Assistant I

Samantha joined the Office of New Americans in October 2023. With her experience as a frontline administrative professional during the COVID-19 pandemic, Samantha brings her values of compassion and equality to support ONA’s work. 

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Candace Heckstall
Virtual, Career-Aligned English as a Second Language (VCESL) Manager

Candace has over twenty years' experience as an English Language instructor, educator trainer and facilitator, and change agent with a passionate, demonstrated history of highlighting multilingual learners' voices in the primary and secondary education field. Candace received her Bachelor's degree in Spanish from Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Teacher Education and Higher Education, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Headshot Photo of Adam Kogeman

Adam Kogeman
Administrator

Adam is the Office of New Americans Administrator. He leads special projects and ONA's rural access, immigration legal services and language access efforts. Adam brings expertise in program and project management, organizational development and small business management to his work at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. He studied at the University of Arizona and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

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Joshua Loya
Benefit Recovery Fund Manager

Joshua Loya is the Benefit Recovery Fund Manager with the Office of New Americans. He has over nine years of experience managing projects and working with immigrant and vulnerable populations. His experience covers a multitude of fields from providing healthcare to vulnerable populations to advocating and providing support for these communities. He also has experience providing support and advocating for populations that were released from immigration detention centers. He earned his Bachelor's Degree for the University of Colorado Denver in Public Administration. Joshua is also a veteran of the United States Army where he served as a Combat Medic.

Headshot Photo of Sharon Vidal Francis

Sharon Vidal Francis
Migrant Grants Specialist

Sharon Vidal-Francis is the Migrant Grants Specialist with the Office of New Americans. An immigrant herself, from the Island of Dominica, Sharon has had over fifteen years of experience in project management, grants management and small business development, specifically with vulnerable groups. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a focus on Human Resources, a minor degree in Sociology from Midwestern State University in Texas, and a Masters degree in Project Management from La Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.