Our celebratory evening of storytelling is almost here and we are excited to announce the details of our program for the evening! Heavy hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and dessert will be served. Event tickets include day pass access to the Denver Botanic Gardens.


Guests arrive

Please use this time to:

  • Check in
  • Look over and bid on all of our amazing auction items
  • Catch up with friends
  • Enjoy food and drinks
  • Contribute your writings and reflections to the Storytelling Booth. Some of these contributions will be used to create a live poetry performance at the end of the evening.


Heavy Hors D’Oeuvres will be served
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN MINI SLIDER / asian bbq sauce, kimchi slaw
CHAR GRILLED SUMMER VEGETABLE CROSTINI / basil pesto, balsamic glaze / v
STUFFED PEPPADEW / spanish chorizo, goat cheese, pistachio, green onion / gf
BAHN MI CAULIFLOWER ENDIVE / caramelized sweet+spicy cauliflower, pickled carrot, candied jalapeno slaw, roasted cashew dust, cilantro / gf, v
PETITE CHILI RELLENO / monterey jack, green chili, wonton purses, creamy salsa / v
WILD BOAR APRICOT SAUSAGE / violet mustard, micro green / gf, df
RED PEPPER FALAFEL / parsley walnut pesto yogurt sauce / v, nuts
GOURMET CHEESE & ITALIAN MEATS PLATTER / assorted gourmet cheeses, italian meats, fresh fruit, crostini, lavosh
CHIPOTLE CREAM MEATBALL FARMER’S MARKET CRUDITES / asparagus, broccoli, carrot, cucumber, snow pea, red bell pepper, spring onion & dill dip / v
HUMMUS FLIGHT / edamame hummus, roasted red pepper hummus, traditional hummus, soft pita, seasoned pita crisp, english cucumber / df, v, vg


Program begins

  • Welcome by our wonderful MC for the evening, Julie Rada (view bio)
  • Introduction by faculty member, Michael Lopez-Jensen (view bio)
  • Reflections from Executive Director, Emily Dorn (view bio)
  • Featured Speaker: Representative Leslie Herod (view bio)
  • Paddle Raise and opportunity to support DFI’s mission



  • Refill on food and drinks 
  • Dessert is served 
  • Place one last bid on the auction items – auction bids will close at 7:45 pm 
  • Add any additional reflections to the Storytelling Booth


Gather Back Together

  • Words from DFI’s Board Chair, Dr. Neil “Nelly” Cannon
  • Honor those who have dedicated so much of their time and effort to DFI 
  • Live poetry performance based on all of the writings and reflections from the evening


Auction Bids Close


Program Wraps Up

  • Auction Winners will be announced by 8 p.m.
  • Enjoy any last food or drinks
  • Continue to catch up with anyone you haven’t already had time to talk to
  • Make some new friends
  • Continue to add to the Storytelling Booth
Depart to continue the festivities elsewhere, if you haven’t had enough time yet, or to relieve the babysitter since you finally got out of the house for an evening!

Thank You's

Music by: Barbara Lepke-Sims (website)

Storytelling and Poetry by: Abby Templeton Greene and Courtney Morgan, Sidewalk Poets (website)

Catering by Catering By Design (website)

AV by Tony Cummins – Sound Master Entertainment (website)

Day-of Coordination by Alec Hatlestad (website)

The biggest possible thank you to our planning committee – this event would not have been possible without you!
Gwen Bonilla, Emily Dorn, Elizabeth England, Sarah Fishman, Athena McCullough, Lynn McGregor, Colleen Ryan, Catherine Tenedios-Hayes, Susanna Yudkin

Event Volunteers:
Ray Cox, Amity Kaminski-Frankel, Sophie Gomez, Kara Moseley, Jeremy Price, Anna Samsonova

Special thanks to our speakers and storytellers:
Gwen Bonilla, Neil “Nelly” Cannon, Abby Templeton Greene, Representative Leslie Herod, Michael Lopez-Jensen,  Courtney Morgan, Julie Rada, Susanna Yudkin

Special thanks to Michelle Johnson and the DFI class of 2016 for the gift of the thank you video! This video was produced by DFI grad K. Michelle Johnson, who is co-director of the Love, Sex, and Gender in Boulder center that specializes in sex therapy and ketamine therapy. She is now a volunteer video producer for DFI, collaborating on upcoming video projects we have in the works.

Healing Sponsors:

Change Sponsors:

Community Sponsors:

In-Kind Sponsors:

Julie Rada Bio

Julie is a theater maker, educator, and scholar. She has generated live art for over 33 years, primarily as a stage director, and has worked on over 80 performance projects, with a focus on original work, site-specific compositions, and new plays. Projects include performances alongside refugees, people with disabilities, youth experiencing homelessness, people dying in hospice, undergraduate student groups, and professional actors. Julie has created art inside the prison system, founding three programs in three states over the past nine years, currently leading ACT Ensemble in the Colorado Department of Corrections. In addition to her creative work, teaching, and scholarship, she is also working in advocacy with Mirror Image Arts, advancing statewide youth justice initiatives during the 2022 legislative session. Julie is a Colorado Book Awards finalist for her work editing Tell It Slant: An Anthology of Creative Nonfiction by Incarcerated Writers and is a member of the Colorado Center for the Book (CCftB) Speakers Bureau.

Rep. Leslie Herod Bio

Representative Leslie Herod was elected in 2016 as the first LGBTQ African American in the Colorado General Assembly. Since then, she has passed 150 bills, addressing criminal justice reform, mental health, addiction, youth homelessness, and civil rights protections.

Some of her signature work includes:

  • Ending cash bail for minor offenses
  • De-felonizing drug possession
  • Giving every Colorado newborn a $100 college kickstarter account
  • Providing free menstrual hygiene products to inmates in Colorado’s prisons and jails
  • Passing a comprehensive police accountability bill following the highly public murder of George Floyd, and the nationwide movement that followed.

In addition to winning reelection in 2018, Herod championed a ballot initiative – Caring for Denver – that raises $35 million annually for mental health and substance abuse treatment and services for children and adults. Herod serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and is a member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee.

Michael Lopez-Jensen Bio

I was raised in the Chicago suburbs and attended college in upstate New York. I moved to Colorado in 1992 to teach elementary school. When I realized that parent teacher conferences were my favorite part of teaching, I left the classroom to get a Masters in Social Work with a specialty in direct practice with couples and families. I graduated from the DFI certification program in 2002 and returned to join the faculty in 2004. Clients, supervisees & students tell me they appreciate my creativity, warmth and authenticity. My professional specialties include addiction, blended families, adolescence, parenting, and supporting couples impacted by infidelity. I enjoy creative writing; public speaking; travel; and laughter.

Emily Dorn Bio

Emily has been involved in the DFI community since 2015 as a student, Board member, Board chair, and currently as the Executive Director. Prior to entering the field of mental health, Emily spent 12 years in public education and nonprofit leadership as a special education and general education teacher, administrator, and systems leader. Most recently, Emily led the External Relations team at Rocky Mountain Prep, a growing network of elementary schools in Denver and Aurora. After graduating from DFI, Emily opened a private practice and joined the PASS Center as a therapist specializing in attachment and post-adoptive support for families. Emily holds a master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University and a certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Denver Family Institute.