CEO and Executive Director
Deidre Johnson is the CEO and Executive Director of The Center for African American Health. Johnson is an ASCEND Aspen Institute Colorado Children and Families Health and Human Services Fellow (2017-2018), a Transformative Leadership for Change Fellow (2017-2018) and a 2018 Livingston Fellow. A results-oriented executive, Johnson has an extensive background in strategic planning, grant making, grants management, fund raising, program development, project management, strategic learning and systems evaluation. She has been recognized among peers as an exceptionally creative, innovative, collaborative, adaptive leader who consistently achieves professional and organizational goals. Prior to joining The Center in December 2015, Johnson was a Program Officer for The Colorado Trust, Vice President of Development and Marketing for Qualistar Early Learning, worked as a senior consultant with JVA Consulting, and held various leadership positions in development and communications with the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver, the Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, and the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation.
A Denver native, Johnson graduated from St. Mary’s Academy and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Princeton University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Johnson currently serves on the following boards and steering committees: St. Mary’s Academy, Mile High Health Alliance, the Colorado Nonprofit Loan Fund, the Cavity Free at Three Advisory Board, the Colorado Health Access Fund State Advisory Board, Center for Health Equity at Denver Health Steering Committee, the CDPHE Office of Health Disparities Health Equity Profile Advisory Committee, Early Childhood Mental Health Policy Coalition and the Early Childhood Policy Agenda Advisory Board. She is a member of the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation Leadership Denver Class of 2007 and co-Chair of the Denver Princeton Prize in Race Relations for the Rocky Mountain Princeton Club. Johnson’s is trained in facilitative leadership and is a certified Colorado Family Leadership Training Institute Facilitator. She is the mother of two teenage sons, Noah and Jordan.
Director of Operations
For the past 17 years, she has transformed the lives of youth, women and men from around the world in her workshops, coaching circles, and life skills coaching programs. Paula’s knowledge of personal growth, professional development, youth development, self-empowerment, and life transformation has been informed by her experience serving clients in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors as a consultant, coach, facilitator, and trainer.
Prior to this role, Paula served as a certified personal and professional skills development coach, with GJD Coaching & Consulting, LLC. There she designed and delivered programs in team building, diversity, conflict resolution, building emotional intelligence and leadership success, performance management, emotional health and well-being, and youth leadership. She maintains multiple certifications including being a Real Colors Certified Facilitator.
Paula has a deep commitment to creating new models and pathways for impactful leadership and building a community and culture where health equity and healthy individuals thrive at unprecedented levels. This commitment is reflected in her affiliation with many organizations including the Professional Women Network and the Black Life Coaches Network.
Director of Development
John Reid comes to The Center with nearly 30 years of direct nonprofit experience in the areas of donation solicitation, relationship cultivation, donor development, grants management/writing, and fund development. Throughout his career, he has developed and implemented many successful fundraising initiatives, managing diverse teams and providing support to the Board of Directors, CEOs and Fund Development Teams for several well established local non-profit organizations. He has a very established track-record increasing donor engagement, long-term stewardship of major gifts, and implementing an array of development activities that have led to his raising nearly $1 Billion dollars for the organizations he has represented throughout his career.
John is deeply honored to utilize his skills and expertise to promote The Center for African American Health and develop exponential pathways and strategies that lead to financial sustainability for The Center well into the future. His personal and professional commitment is to serve our most vulnerable populations who suffer from chronic illnesses and complex diseases. John’s fundamental belief is that communities grow stronger when all people—women, men, children, older adults, immigrants, people of color, GLBTQ+ individuals, and are afforded the knowledge and opportunities to reach their optimal health outcomes.
Michael Byrd, a native of Denver’s Park Hill Community, attended Thomas Jefferson High School and Drake University before starting a 30-year career in office administration, working various clerical roles throughout the Greater Denver Metropolitan area. Over the last decade, Michael earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English as well as a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Nonprofit Management and a Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science—all from the University of Colorado Denver.
While finishing his recent studies, Michael completed his MPA capstone thesis work with The Center for African American Health in late 2017. That research culminated in the production of the analysis, “BeHeard MileHigh—Advocacy Capacity Building for Community-Based Longitudinal Panel Research,” which observed the processes and methods in which BeHeard MileHigh’s quantitative survey data could be purposed to increase the Center’s public policy advocacy capacity through data visualizations and geographical data mapping. Michael also completed his MA thesis work by observing “The Effect of Racial Threat on White Voters’ Preference for Voter Identification Legislation” in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Michael has previously served in a public service internship capacity with the Movement Advancement Project, Liver Health Connection, and the Denver Writing Project. He has also worked in the past with Centura Senior Life Center, the Veterans Administration, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Michael’s main areas of interest—whether personal, political, or academic—include cinematic analysis, playing music, science fiction, sequential and comic book art, social justice, voting rights, and rubbing his cat’s belly.
Community Health & Wellness Navigator
Kisa Gant, a Community Health & Wellness Navigator for The Center, has worked in healthcare and public health for 19 years.
Prior to her position at The Center, she was the Outreach Coordinator for Minority Health Programs for the State of Wisconsin and a Health Educator in the BC4U Adolescent Family Planning Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Her passion lies in the holistic well-being of communities of color through education, advocacy, and outreach.
Kisa received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Tennessee State University, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
She is the proud pet parent of a seven-year-old Pomeranian, Scarlett LaRoux, and is looking forward to partnering and working with the community on behalf of The Center.
Community Health & Wellness Navigator
Denita Harris is passionate about making change within the community and helping the most vulnerable populations. After many years of nonprofit experience, she is excited to bring her diverse professional and personal experiences to The Center for African American Health to serve as a Community Health & Wellness Navigator.
Denita has spent the previous 10 years at Mile High United Way (MHUW) where she had the privilege of serving in several roles. First, as a Community Resource Navigator in the 2-1-1 call center, then later in fundraising on the Resource Development team. She spent the last four years at MHUW as an Independent Living Coach to the youth in Bridging the Gap and provided one-on-one support, resources, and interventions to hundreds of young people navigating the tough transitions into adulthood, independent living, and self-sufficiency.
She has a Bachelor’s in Human Services Management and will be pursuing her Master of Public Health starting spring 2020. A native of Mississippi, she is the proud mom of two teenagers, Ja’Tiyah and Jaylon.
Research and Evaluation Coordinator
Eric Moore attended the University of Colorado Denver for his Bachelors of Science in Biology and completed his Master of Science in Public Health at Southern New Hampshire University. His areas of expertise include program planning and evaluation and quantitative data analysis with an emphasis on health equity. Eric had initially worked with The Center as the BeHeard Mile High project’s Quantitative Data Analyst during the Summer of 2018. He previously interned at the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning where he facilitated household interviews in a Denver neighborhood of Southeast-Asian immigrant and refugee families for a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). Eric’s favorite quote is: “If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to focus on who profits from that problem, not who suffers from the problem.” – Dr. Amos N. Wilson
Community Health and Wellness Navigator
BeHeard Outreach Specialist
Kendra Sutton is in progress of her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Management from the University of Denver. She is also a Cohort member in The Urban Leadership Foundation 2019 class. Prior to her role at The Center, Kendra was the Program Director at Work Options for Women, an organization which provides culinary job training for women. Kendra is strong communicator and public speaker who is constantly advocating for healthcare social justice and the rights and resources for homeless individuals and families. Kendra’s favorite quote is “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Community Health and Wellness Navigator
She is highly passionate about working in an inclusive, diverse and multi-generational environment to help improve the health and wellness of the African American community. As the Community Health and Wellness Navigator, she realizes this role plays an intricate part of a healthcare team and she offers expertise in collaborating with different community agencies and healthcare specialists to provide accurate and relevant resources to meet the needs of the community. She aspires to increase knowledge and awareness of the services The Center offers as well as develop and strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, youth and families in the community. She is a member of the NAACP Education Committee, member of the Race Talk University and Chinook Fund’s Giving Project. She is the proud mother of a teenage son, Quamar.