The White House recently honored 10 leaders for its “Women Veteran Leader Champions of Change” for their contributions to the nations business, public, and community service sectors. A Denver Human Services staffer, Dana Louise Niemela was among them. Niemela is a veteran of the United States Navy where she served eight years and is the coordinator of the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) at Denver Human Services. HVRP links homeless veterans to housing, job training and employment opportunities that assist individuals in attaining self-sufficiency.
The White House recognized Niemela for her work to help veterans of all socio-economic backgrounds. Since becoming a City employee in 2011, Niemela has focused on building relationships with government agencies, the community and private sector to increase employment opportunities for veterans. She has tirelessly worked to improve behavioral health access and funding for veterans in need through leveraging resources through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1 and providing expertise in grant-making with private foundations and the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, she has focused on improving service delivery by working closely with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and community partners such as Volunteers of America to provide coordinated intake, assessment, and outreach.
“When asked if I would accept the honor and come to the White House, I nearly fell out of my chair,” said Niemela. “It was surreal on many levels. I have been able to use my personal experiences to help Veterans across generations.”
At Denver Human Services, Niemela helps homeless veterans navigate services, find employment and link them housing. She and her team also keep in contact with Veterans they assist to ensure they continue on their path to self-sufficiency.
“Dana’s commitment and passion in serving extends beyond her term of service to our country as she daily provides assistance and service to the veterans in our community,” said Penny May, manager of Denver Human Services. “Her experience provides valuable insight as she identifies challenges and solutions to support veterans.”
Niemela also serves on the Colorado Board of Veterans’ Affairs, is the Homeless Coordinator for VFW Post 1, the Veteran Outreach Coordinator for the Denver Chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue, and a volunteer for Team Rubicon.