Director at Large

Marla Benavides Headshot

Maria Benevides

I am running for the Denver District school board because I believe literacy matters if we want every child to have an equal opportunity to succeed in life. 

View Maria Benevides' Website



Scott Esserman

My name is Scott Esserman. As a 20-year classroom teacher who taught early childhood, middle, and high school education and the parent of both a current and graduated DPS student, I look forward to bringing my experiences to the DPS board to pursue educational achievement for all students. Having served on non-profit boards I bring an understanding of how to ensure our dollars are most effectively directly impacting our students. I believe that our children are best served when our schools are community-led and district supported. It’s past time that we fulfill the promise of public schools to prepare students for their next steps in life be that college, career, or apprenticeship. I am running for the school board because I am committed to ensuring the historically marginalized voices in our community are heard and have power. It is because of this work, because I have shown up, that I believe I have earned the trust and support of our community; because they know I will elevate and amplify the voices of the most frequently unheard.

View Scott Esserman's Website

Vernon Jones headshot

Vernon Jones Jr.

Vernon believes that a better and best reality for students, families, and staff is possible NOW! 

He believe's that the box of education, structures and systems designed for some, must be reimagined by the genius of students, families, and staff closest to the work. 

Vernon believes in the brilliance of the collective to co-create and deliver! “If we are going to achieve total wellness for students, families, and staff across DPS, it requires an intentionally and innovatively engaged collective. All hands on deck. Abundant mindset. All resources available to bring about a reality where Together WE Thrive! That’s my expectation and will be what I champion to live our mission and realize our vision as one DPS.” 

Vernon is no stranger to the challenges in front of our district, currently leading as the Executive Director of the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone (NDIZ). Previously, Vernon has served and led at Manual High School and Omar D. Blair Charter School. “I love serving, co-creating and delivering with great people. The grind is real. The work must be celebrated and our autonomy to be brilliant, better, and best, must be our new norm. Healing makes that possible.”  

View Vernon Jones Jr.'s Website

Jane Shirley

Jane Shirley is an education innovator with a strong track record of success in leadership development and transformational change.  

View Jane Shirley's Website




Nicky Yollick

Nicky's Priorities are:

  • Committing to the neighborhood model of education and providing more resources for our neighborhood schools by simplifying administrative processes and shifting those resources into the classrooms. I believe that by supporting our neighborhood schools we can work towards creating equity for traditionally underserved students, including students of color, English-language learners, and special education students. 
  • Partnering with educators in redesigning several aspects of DPS, most notably the accountability systems which should be designed for the welfare of students, not for-profit testing companies. 
  • Creating pathways for the community to exercise authority over DPS decision-making and bringing the transparency needed for stakeholders to work with DPS in policy-building.

View Nicky Yollick's Website

About Us

Denver Decides logoA Community Partnership for Accessible, Transparent Elections, Denver Decides is a coalition of community civic organizations in Denver comprised of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation and League of Women Voters in cooperation with various neighborhood and civic organizations.


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