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2021 Elections: Board and Officer Candidate Profiles

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

Elections for the University Hills Neighborhood Association (UHNA) Board of Directors take place at the U-Hills Annual Community Meeting.

University Hills Annual Community Meeting

Monday, December 13, 2021

6:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Zoom (Log-in info to be distributed to email list. Make sure you're on our email list)


Candidate for President

Emily Holben Walker

I grew up here in U-Hills! My husband and I are happy to be back in Denver, raising our family.

I love this community because our kids can ride their bikes to their grandparent’s house and to their cousin’s house. I love it here, not only because it’s home, but also because of the great many assets here in U-Hills. We’re so fortunate to live in a neighborhood where we can walk to the park, rec center, pool, library, Light Rail, community garden, a nationally acclaimed public school (Bradley International), and the lovely High Line Canal trail.

I care very much for our U-Hills community. This is where I grew up and where my children and nephews are growing up. So, it goes without saying, that it’s important to me that U-Hills is a safe and friendly community. Top issues I care about are: our public schools, safety, parks and open space, enhanced transportation options, and enabling the people of our community to have a voice and be heard. My family has been in Denver for generations and this city means very much to me. There’s a lot happening that deserves our collective attention. When we come together as a community, we are stronger and we can accomplish more.

Relevant Experience

For my undergraduate work, I studied cultural sciences at Harvard and the University of Colorado. After completing double major degrees in cultural anthropology and humanities, with a minor in phycology, I began my career at large international firms in human resources, workforce planning, and corporate phycology functions.

I now run my own business, Healthy Beginnings LLC, where I work in early childhood development and family support. My work is deeply meaningful and brings me happiness. I’m thankful and honored for the opportunity to be a part of family’s lives.

Over recent years, I’ve also volunteered for a number of local groups and organizations, including: the University Hills Neighborhood Association (president), Heather Regan Memorial Community Garden (lead), Bradley International CSC (chair), Denver INC Education Committee, Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and City Council District 4 Mobility Committee.


Candidate for Vice President

Hugh Haiker

I hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a master degree in communication studies in which my emphasis was dialogic communication (group dynamics, conflict, mediation, and listening) and intercultural communication (diversity, equity, and inclusion). Professionally, I was a college instructor for ten years while simultaneously traveling the country conducting institutional research and consulting for diversity planning and strategy. The sum of those experiences has turned me into an expert at helping people of differing backgrounds and ideological perspectives to hear each other, and to develop and work toward common goals. My experience as a college instructor also demonstrates my ability to organize long-term projects, design meaningful interactive activities, create a coherent plan, and explain complex concepts to a wide variety of personality types and perception styles. Prior to college I worked full-time in show business, first as a dancer/performer at Disneyland and in musical theater, then as a production artist in television and film. Should the UHNA need diverse creative skills, I have those to offer, as well. The most relevant experience I have to offer the UHNA is my role as vice president and then president of the board of director for Train of Consciousness. This was a nonprofit educational foundation that I co-created created to educate college students about the impacts of stereotyping, prejudice, and racism while teaching communication techniques participants could use to interrupt those phenomenon and support their targets.

The City of Denver is in a massive state of change, and along with those changes come the challenges driven by increasing density and pressure from the City to follow agendas that may not be a good fits for the residents of University Hills. I believe that the UHNA has the opportunity to ensure that representative government works for its community and helps it to navigate our neighborhood’s evolution in ways that make sense to its residents. I am also concerned about the many kinds of fallout that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on Denver and its citizens. I worry about independent business owners, families who are on the brink of losing it all, and the already increasing frequency and types of crimes we are experiencing. UHNA is already so good at creating opportunities for community and connection to thrive here. I believe that they will be crucial to weathering this storm together.


Candidate for Secretary

Lisa Zinn

Lisa Zinn is a rare native Denverite and has lived in Southeast Denver all of her life. She is a product of Denver Public Schools (Manual Thunderbolt Class of '82). She has a boyfriend, two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. Lisa is an Early Childhood Educator and teaches at Bradley International Elementary School and has been there for the past 24 years. She is very active in the Bradley community. Lisa is the only UHNA board member that has sat on the UHNA board every year since its inception in 2004. Lisa enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling whenever possible, Pickleball, volunteer work, movies, cooking, reading, sports and gardening.


Candidate for Treasurer

Laura Mersmann

I moved to Denver from Kansas City with my husband, Michael, in the Spring of 2012 due to a transfer in Michael's job. We fell in love with the city and even though the transfer was to be temporary, decided to make Denver and University Hills our permanent home. Since that move in 2012, we have added a labradoodle (Oscar), a daughter (Ellie), and most recently a son (Dominic) to the family. On a daily basis, I'm an electrical engineer for Burns & McDonnell and in my spare time you'll catch me reading a new book or spending our time outdoors together as a family taking advantage of what our neighborhood and surrounding area have to offer.


Candidate for Senior Outreach Chair

David Mindock

David Mindock has lived in University Hills for 35 years. He enjoys walking along the High Line Canal and has a deep appreciation for Eisenhower Park and open space in our city. He recently retired after a career teaching ESL and English, the last 28 years at DU. Dave still teaches ESL two days a week at the English Learning Center, a non-profit school. He is interested in getting senior citizens and non-profits involved in neighborhood activities. Dave focuses on non-profits like the High Line Canal Conservancy and public sector organizations, like the Ross University Library and the Denver Fire Department. His short term vision involves increasing recycling in Eisenhower Park and other areas and getting more senior citizens involved in the U-Hills Neighborhood Association. Dave's long term vision is to create more open space in our U-Hills community.


Candidate for High Line Canal Chair

Jon Wachter

Jon put down roots in University Hills in 1993 and has been 'making house calls' as The Real Estate Doctor since '01. Along with Debbie Allen, Tom Glazier, Lee McDonnell, Pat Scott, and Lisa Zinn, Jon was a founding member of the UHNA in '03 and in '09 he setup Nextdoor University Hills, both initiatives with the mission of uniting neighbors. Jon is a past president of the highly regarded Optimist Club of Monaco South which was awarded Denver’s Philanthropic Group of the Year in 2012 -- their motto is “Bringing Out The Best In Kids”. Every winter the Optimist Club sells Christmas trees on South Monaco to fund the Optimist's mission for kids in our neighborhood schools, including Bradley International Elementary, through the Super Citizen Program, Bradley Helping Hands JOI Club, Sullivan Scholarships for seniors at Thomas Jefferson High School, Tri-Star Basketball at Eisenhower Park and Recreation Center and much more. Attention to detail and helping his real estate clients in the ever-changing Colorado real estate market are the hallmarks that earned him the "Denver's 10 Best for Client Satisfaction 2016". Jon and his wife Jill met in University Hills 20 years ago and reside on South Bellaire with their cat, George, and a recently adopted shelter dog, Luna.


Candidate for Transportation Chair

Kat Stewart

My family and I recently moved to U-Hills in September of 2020 after living in Wash Park for the last 15 years. And we just love it. The Stewart’s consist of me, my husband Mark, my 14 YO son Ray and our Chiweenie, Roxy. I currently serve as the Secretary on the Executive Board and the Philanthropy Committee of A Little Help. You’ve probably seen the signs around the neighborhood! We work to create community and help older neighbors continue in their homes: I’ve been volunteering with them for the past 10 years and decided to make the leap.

I previously served on the PTSA for Lincoln Elementary for about 4 years in several positions and ultimately on the Board as the Treasurer.

I’ve spent the last year freelancing in real estate development and previous to that with several prominent real estate developers in Denver. With my history in real estate development, I am very concerned with accessible housing. I think we have all watched what has happened to the housing over the past 10 years. I am also a big proponent of ensuring that we have safe transportation whether bike lanes, sidewalks, or lighting for anyone commuting without a car. Otherwise, I bet we all have the same concerns about safety, crime, etc. I would say that after the last couple of years, it would be nice to get neighbors together again.


Candidate for Community Safety & Awareness Chair

Donna Wickham

I'm an adjunct professor at both the University of Denver and Colorado Community Colleges online, and I received both my BM and MM degrees at DU. I bought my house in University Hills in 2005 and love living in this neighborhood. Before becoming a college professor, I managed the Harvest Restaurant and Bakery, which was a beloved Denver dining spot through the 80's and 90's. As the general manager of a busy restaurant, I developed a wide variety of management skills such as budgeting, hiring, advertising, and customer relations. I was a "buck stops here" type of manager who liked to take responsibility for everything from the quality of our food to our customer service. I'm particularly proud of the people who worked there, and we built a tightly knit crew who worked together extremely well. I left my position as General Manager to finish my music degrees in the late 90's, and started my teaching positions with both colleges right after I completed my master's degree. The most rewarding part of being an educator is seeing the potential in people and helping them to realize that potential. Just like my former Harvest employees, I stay in touch with my former students and keep track of their lives and careers. I've also been a professional musician since the 1980's in a wide variety of genres. I served on the board of directors of Saint Martin's Chamber Choir and headed up their first education committee. Outside of work, I love outdoors activities like climbing and skiing as well as tending the lovely garden of native plants that I've built around my home. I share my home with two awesome rescue kitties named Abbey and Max who came from the Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue.

I love that the University Hills neighborhood is a place that regular middle-class folks can still afford to buy a home. I'm very interested in researching ways we can preserve the affordability of the neighborhood. I would love for this community to learn ways we can participate in the Blueprint Denver to help address housing affordability in Denver.

Since this is a family neighborhood it's important that we all work together to keep this neighbor a safe place for families to live and recreate. I know that everyone who lives next to I-25 endures the unacceptable noise that starts around 11 PM when the races begin. I attended a community meeting that was supposed to address this issue and was very disappointed that the only response from the police was that they can't pursue the racers because they can't engage in high-speed chases. Is that the only option? I would like to work with police to find some other ways that we might begin to solve this problem creatively.


Candidate for Fundraising Chair

Darryl Wagner

Darryl is a newcomer to University Hills, but he and his wife chose the neighborhood because of its great potential and homey feel. Darryl is eager to help the University Hills Neighborhood Association and help all of U-Hills grow -bringing residents, businesses, and social groups together.

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