Leadership Council

In 2013, The Center on Domestic Violence (CDV) established an advisory board, known as the CDV Leadership Council (LC), to guide its pioneering work both locally and nationally.

The LC was formed to maximize our ability to foster institutional and social change by building strong leaders, organizations and communities. Advisors focus on generating long-term sustainability for the CDV as well as guidance for the work of the Center as a whole. Members of the LC are critical allies and advocates in our mission to end gender-based violence through leadership development, education, research and community collaboration.

The responsibilities of the Council include:

  • Serve as a steward of the goals, actions, funding and outcomes of the CDV
  • Broaden our visibility by connecting with community members who are interested in learning more about our work
  • Guide the emerging priorities of the CDV
  • Lend individual skills and talents to our overall efforts
  • Develop and implement effective funding strategies





Anita Drasan, Chief Deputy District Attorney, Denver District Attorney’s Office

Anita Drasan headshot

Anita is a Chief Deputy District Attorney with the 2nd Judicial District in Denver. In the past 15 years, she has worked as a prosecutor on high level felonies and Grand Jury cases.

She specialized in prosecuting child abuse and domestic violence cases for three years in the Family Violence Unit.

She is currently the co-chief of the County Court unit supervising a team of lawyers and staff in misdemeanor prosecution.



Jose Esquibel, Associate Director for the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention

Jose Esquibel headshot

José is currently the Associate Director for the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention (CO Consort). CO Consort coordinates Colorado’s response to the misuse of medications such as opioids, stimulants and sedatives.

The Consortium’s mission is to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse in Colorado by developing policies, programs and partnerships with the many Colorado agencies, organizations and community coalitions addressing this major public health crisis.

As Associate Director, José manages the Consortium’s activities and leads community outreach efforts.

Prior to his position at Co Consort, José served as the Director of Community Engagement within the Colorado Attorney General’s Office under AG Cynthia Coffman where he spearheaded efforts to leverage the power of collaboration to address gender violence in Colorado.

A member of the board for the Rose Andom Center, José brings a rich history of community and civil service work in Colorado to his efforts to address domestic and sexual violence.


Stephan Ghadaifchain, Senior Vice-President of Commercial Banking, Citywide Banks

Stephan Ghadaifchan

Stephan has been in banking for 38 years and is currently with Citywide Banks.

He has been very active in the community and currently serves on the Board of the Aurora Mental Health Center as well as the Leadership Council for the Center on Domestic Violence.

Stephan was previously a member of the Kiwanis of Aurora and a disaster volunteer with the American Red Cross. Stephan continues to be a mental health advocate and volunteer for non-profits.



Catherine Guererro, Principal, Health Management Associates, Denver, CO

Catherine Guerrero headshot

An accomplished leader with experience spearheading public health and social change initiatives to combat physical and psychological violence, Catherine has dedicated her career to advancing health equity.

She has worked in various capacities to build strong networks and improve individual and community well-being during her career.

Catherine possesses a deep understanding of non-profit leadership, developing community-rooted strategies to increase health and well-being and the prevention of violence.

Before joining HMA, Catherine served as the associate director and chief strategy officer of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In that role, she oversaw programs focused on children’s health, shelter and housing efforts, violence prevention, economic justice, rural initiatives, healthcare, health equity and anti-oppression as well as improving non-profit capacity. Catherine was also responsible for facilitating organizational strategic planning processes and evaluation programming.

Her career has also included program and evaluation management with other social services organizations working to build strong community support systems and healthcare intersections of social determinants of health. She held leadership roles with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

Catherine earned a Master of Public Administration and a graduate certificate in gender violence studies from the University of Colorado, Denver as well as a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.



John Mackey, Chief of Police, Edgewater Police Department

John Mackay headshot

For over 30 years, John served five Colorado communities as a law enforcement professional, including near twenty years as police chief in three different Colorado counties.

He is a Founding Board Member and Advisor to eBodyGuard, a Personal Safety - Student Safety - Wellness App. John is also a Principal in the development of a countywide 911 Police/Fire Communications Center and heads a participating department of a collaborative Metro Denver 911 Dispatch Center.

As Chief of Police for the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, John managed the implementation of a student notification system involving three college campuses and 50,000 students, faculty and staff. He is a career trainer and instructor in both law enforcement police academies and academic criminal justice programs.


Mary Roberto, Associate Director, Manhattan Strategy Group

A photo of Mary Roberto smiling

Ms. Roberto has over 30 years of state and local level experience leading legislative and policy development, program implementation, and cross systems training and technical assistance initiatives for a wide range of family self-sufficiency and workforce development programs in Colorado. She has developed and led life changing policy and programmatic initiatives that positively impacted countless children and families experiencing situational and chronic poverty, such as effective case management/coaching, work and training engagement initiatives, career pathways, subsidized employment programs, responsible fatherhood, family violence prevention and services, comprehensive sexual health initiatives, and work with diverse opportunity youth in alternative educational settings across the country. She also led disaster relief teams in Colorado for displaced hurricane survivors, and those impacted by fires, floods, and tornadoes.

Ms. Roberto is currently employed as an Associate Director at Manhattan Strategy Group. She manages several federal human services and workforce development training and technical assistance projects. She is an active board member for the National Association for Welfare Research and Statistics (NAWRS) and is certified to teach an agile management strategy called Strategic Doing that was born out of Purdue University's Agile Strategy Lab. Ms. Roberto graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver with a Master's Degree in Public Administration and participated in the very first cohort at CU who received credentials from the Center on Domestic Violence.




Cheryl Simas, Private Consultant, Simas Communications

Cheryl Simas headshot

Cheryl is a communications and media creator and consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She founded and runs Simas Communications, a business and learning communications consultancy creating online content and training for Fortune 500 companies. She also heads Wild Dog Art & Media, a producing and arts consultancy. Since 2008, she has been a producing partner with Paperback Films.

Currently volunteering with the San Francisco Public Library’s Adult ESL program, she previously served as a Board Member and Chair of the Outreach Committee at Lyon-Martin Health Services (FQHC) in San Francisco, CA and as a Board Member of Woman’s Will theater company in Oakland, CA.



Rita Smith, Co-Chair, Private Consultant, Former CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Rita Smith headshot

Rita began working as a crisis line advocate in a shelter for battered women and their children in Colorado in 1981. She has held numerous positions in Colorado and Florida since then in several local domestic violence and sexual assault programs and state coalitions, including Program Supervisor and Director. She was the Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for nearly 22 years.

Rita has served on two local board of directors, as well as an ex-officio board member as executive director of a national nonprofit. She has been interviewed by hundreds of newspaper reporters, appeared on many local and national radio and television news shows, including the Washington Post, USA Today, People Magazine, NPR, The Today Show, Good Morning America and Oprah Winfrey Show.

Rita has co-authored several articles and chapters for books including a manual for attorneys working with domestic violence victims in Colorado, and an article on child custody and domestic violence published in the fall of 1997 in The Judges Journal (an American Bar Association publication).

As a private consultant, she advises organizations, including the National Football League and domesticshelters.org, on creating responses to end violence against women. Rita believes that advocacy and social change are intricately connected, and cannot be done separately.



Betty Wytias, Co-Chair, Domestic Violence Attorney and Policy Advisor

Betty Wytias

Betty was the Colorado Attorney General's Domestic Violence Policy Advisor for almost 15 years, under Ken Salazar and John Suthers.

As an Assistant Attorney General, Betty represented:

  • the Division of Developmental Disabilities
  • the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman
  • Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • the Medical, Nursing, Podiatry, Nursing Home Administrators
  • Plumbing, Electrical and other Professional Boards at DORA

Betty sat on the Statewide DHS Child Fatality Review Team and the Domestic Violence Program. She currently does pro bono domestic violence work and is the co-chair of the Leadership Council of the Center on Domestic Violence at UCD. She is also on the Advisory Board of the Colorado Chapter of the American Constitution Society.

Betty is a member of numerous bar associations, including the Colorado Bar, Colorado Women's Bar, the Sam Cary Bar and American Bar Associations, the latter as a three-year-member of the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Assault and the House of Delegates from the CBA.

A classically trained singer, Betty is a member of the CBA's Law Club. She enjoys traveling to many parts of the globe for a variety of classical music concerts.