2022 Board Member Elections: Meet the Candidates
Officer elections for the University Hills Neighborhood Association (UHNA) Board of Directors take place at the U-Hills Annual Community Meeting. The UHNA Board of Directors is made up of four officers (president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer) and all committee chairpersons. Officers are elected at the Annual Meeting. Committee Chairpersons are appointed by the UHNA Board of Directors.
There's always a lot of work to do in our wonderful U-Hills community! If there's a particular area that interests you, you're welcome to serve as committee chair for that effort. In the past, committees have focused on... open space/parks, transportation, zoning, safety, history, communications, events, and sustainability. (The history, communication, events, and sustainability chair roles are currently filled.) If you're passionate about a certain area, please reach out: UHNAinfo@gmail.com. The more the merrier! (And the more we can achieve for our U-Hills community!)
University Hills Annual Community Meeting
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Zoom (Log-in info distributed to UHNA email list. Make sure you're on our email list.)
Candidate for President
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 Vice President
Amy (Hopp) Robinson
My name is Amy (Hopp) Robinson. I was born in Colorado, raised in Michigan, and after developing a fondness for the outdoors, wine, and gardening I decided to return to Denver in 2013. I can be found regularly walking the neighborhood with my Old English Sheepdog; Oliver.
I have been a residential Realtor for 8 years, I got my start in real estate by mentoring under one of Denver’s largest fix and flip investors. After a season of learning that aspect of the business I transitioned into working on large scale new construction projects and helped design, execute and sell Denver’s first sustainable living development in the RiNo Art District. Over the years I've continued to build my Residential resell business, which is now my sole focus and I am excited to share that I have recently started my own brokerage; Cannon Collective. My years of experience in real estate have provided me with invaluable insights into why and how to maintain the health of local communities and neighborhoods and the common errors that exist which threaten them.
I see myself building relationships with other members of the board and within the community in order to effectively collaborate on developing the most effective strategies possible for keeping our neighborhood clean, safe, and well connected.
As a real estate broker, I understand the importance of effective collaboration with others in order to accomplish mutually beneficial goals. A great deal of my professional successes can be attributed to my ability to discern key priorities from noise and communicate clearly. These strengths have enabled me to quickly discover my client’s greatest priorities so that I can focus my efforts on what matters most to them. My greatest weakness is that I hold myself to a very high standard of performance and have a tendency to hold others to that same standard. I believe feedback given with honesty and integrity is a valuable thing. Therefore, my goal is to always accept it with patience and understanding.
I can provide knowledge and guidance on various areas of real estate such as: Single family, Multi-family, Zoning, ADU’s, as well as on macro and micro market conditions. Additionally, I hope to provide a vision for how University Hills can grow into a community of genuine neighbors.
I am passionate about having a sense of community for the neighborhood. I’d like to see the neighborhood have a place of gathering. Ideally optimize a neighborhood garden, and establish a delivery/pickup of fresh produce and invite children and their parents to participate.
Candidate for Secretary
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
UHNA is seeking tax and accounting help! Are you interested in volunteering to help with accounting and/or annual tax filing? We could use your help! UHNA is a 100% volunteer organization. We’re currently registered as a 501c(4) non-profit organization, but we’re working to become a 501c(3) non-profit organization in 2023. If you’re interested in serving as UHNA Treasurer—and/or perhaps simply helping with parts of UHNA’s accounting, tax filing, or the transition to 501c(3) status—please let us know at UHNAinfo@gmail.com. We’d love your help and expertise!
Candidate for Communications Chair
Silvia M. Cáceres
I’m Silvia, I was born in Colombia, and have lived in Denver with my husband for the last 14 years. I’m a Biologist and work as a Lab Researcher and Research Coordinator at National Jewish Health. I have lived in University Hills intermittently for 10 years and consider the area home away from home. I have been managing the website for a women’s only ski bus club for the last 3 seasons (https://theraskibus.wildapricot.org/Home-page). My responsibilities include: enrollment of members, events, managing registration and general website upkeep. I additionally maintain our lab’s website content with the collaboration of the National Jewish design team (https://www.nationaljewish.org/research-science/programs-depts/medicine/labs/nick-lab/overview). I love skiing, running, camping, traveling and gardening. We have a labradoodle that joins us in all our adventures.
I see working with other members as a collaboration with a group of people that love and care about their community, therefore able to identify and resolve any needs and wants from the majority of the community in a collaborative way.
My job at National Jewish Health depends on working with a team. As a Research Coordinator I have to identify potential candidates for research, explain to potential candidates what it will take to participate as well as communicate with their clinical care team of their participation and what I will need. Then I have to coordinate their visits, which typically include many healthcare providers.
In terms of strengths, I’m a very organized person, extremely clean, and labeling things the correct way. (Yes I do have a label maker at home!) I consider myself to be very open minded, I’m very logical and understand that my freedom also ends where the other person’s freedom starts. For weaknesses, my husband will say I am not very patient, and I will agree with that. I am also very direct and won’t do things just to please people.
I think I’m pretty good at it [accepting feedback from others], especially in the role of communications. I think feedback is extremely important. For example, with the ski bus club, I always ask the board to check the website, make sure it looks good, that makes sense and to tell me what I can change. After all, I want people to feel like they get what they need when they visit the website.
At this moment I really don’t know much about the other members, so it is hard to say what I can bring that they don’t already bring to UHNA. However, I think I will add that I’m fluent in Spanish and I think it will be good to start including more of our communications in Spanish.
I have called U Hills home for many years. What I’m concerned about is that the face of U Hills is our aging commercial areas and rather than replacing them with commercial businesses that people want, we see the same big corporation chains over and over.
I and many members of the community would like to see U Hills have an area where we could have locally owned restaurants or breweries. What I would like is to create a community that evolves with our needs, where a nice restaurant will like to open or a pub will thrive. U Hills has a beautiful park, its location to the Highline Canal is incredible and yet somehow we don’t have a commercial hub like Pearl Street or Highlands, somehow it feels more like an aging suburb than a thriving neighborhood. Lastly, I’m concerned about the aging and dilapidated residencies in our neighborhood, I believe it is a very complex situation with multiple reasons (eg. senior citizens, slum landlords, etc) that needs to be addressed on a case by case situation, but does affect the overall safety and curb appeal of the community as a whole.
Candidate for History Chair
I’m an almost 65 year old University Hills resident of 19 years. Raised in Wyoming, I moved to Denver in 1980 and, aside from a 5-year sojourn to California (1998-2003), have been a
Denverite ever since. I’m a homeowner, a member of the LGBTQ community, and I work as a self-employed architectural historian. My wife and I both received our PhD’s at Berkeley and moved back to Denver in 2003 when she was hired to teach at the University of Denver. We own a 1951 home on East Amherst Avenue and have two dogs and a very large vegetable garden. We know almost all of our neighbors on the block. I’ve served previously on the UHNA Board, as well as the Colorado State Historic Preservation Review Board and Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission.
I tend to get along well with colleagues and neighbors. The keys to this are, of course, kindness, listening, and clear communication.
[So far as my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to working on a team]… Let’s go with the Landmark Preservation Commission, which was one of the more time-consuming and brain-taxing commitments I’ve had. I served for a little more than 6 years and the meetings were often grueling. My strengths were that I thought things through, considering as much as possible the consequences of our actions and the effect of our rulings on communities and applicants. I found that approaching meetings and interactions with a sense of humor made them easier. My weaknesses were that I sometimes became impatient if meetings dragged on too long, and that I too often thought I could please everyone, which was counterproductive.
[When it comes to accepting feedback from others]… I’m fine, if it’s fair feedback.
[As far as additional strengths I could bring to the team]… I play the ukulele with very little provocation. Also, I’m a historian of buildings and landscapes, and will sometimes talk for awhile about the history of U-Hills and the postwar period to anyone who’ll listen. Not sure those are strengths…
[What drives me the most in our community]… I think we need to foster connections in the neighborhood and help neighbors find ways to live well locally. SE Denver could use more community gathering places (like, for instance, Poppies, Chez Artiste, and the U-Hills Plaza Farmer’s Market) and fewer fast-food restaurants and box stores.
Candidate for Senior Outreach & Sustainability Chair
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 Events Chair Laura Mersmann
I moved to Denver from Kansas City with my husband, Michael, in the Spring of 2012. 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, a daughter, and a son to the family. This neighborhood has become our home and the place where our kids are growing up (Go Bradley Eagles!), and therefore this neighborhood, its events and what happens here is very important to me! 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.
Burns & McDonnell, Sr. Electrical Engineer University Hills Neighborhood Association, Treasurer Bradley PTO, Chair Bradley International CSC, Member Girls Inc of Metro Denver, Board of Directors