OCR's Lived Experts Action Panel (LEAP)

The goals of the LEAP are to provide young adults opportunities to: share experiences, feedback, and ideas about OCR attorneys and court with supportive peers and adults; grow personal and professional networks; learn about topics they want to learn about, as well as what OCR does and what OCR attorneys do; gain skills and knowledge they can use in their everyday lives; and participate in OCR’s efforts to create and improve laws, policies, and OCR attorney practice in ways that serve the best interests of youth.

Photo of Elizabeth Arrieta
Elizabeth Arrieta

Elizabeth is a young adult who grew up in the foster care system since the age of 12 but has successfully accomplished her goal of emancipating and moving out on her own at the age of 18. She is also part of LEAP who are all working together to help make the changes needed in the system to help more young adults to be successful. Elizabeth is currently part-time working and part-time schooling. She goes to Community College of Denver planning to transfer to Colorado University of Boulder and major in Political Science for a bachelor’s degree. Later hoping to go to law school and either become an Immigration Attorney or a Guardian Ad Litem, Elizabeth would most of all love to make an impact in people’s lives who are living through the foster care system and say that you can always do it and to never give up.

Photo of Maya Chandler
Maya Chandler

I grew up in Crested Butte, CO before going to school in Denver. I currently attend the University of Colorado Denver studying Political Science and Public Policy with a minor in Legal Studies. I have always been passionate about being a lawyer and hope to help change laws for bettering youth in foster care.

Photo of Shelby Costello
Shelby Costello

Shelby is a 5th generation Denver native. Her goals are to make it far in life heading in the social work direction and bettering the foster care community. Being a former foster child, and having a rough come up on and off the streets and in the system, she aspires to achieve eventually opening her own second chance center.

Photo of Nyomi Davis
Nyomi Davis

I am currently attending the University of Denver on a full ride scholarship from the Daniels Foundation. I am doing a double major of Socio-Legal studies and Public Policy with a minor in Business Ethics and Legal studies. I aged out of the foster system in 2020 and have been a member of LEAP since Summer 2021. I am pursuing a career in law that will lead me into being a judge. I want to show other youth in the foster system that the adversity we face in our childhood can be turned into something good for other people. Our experiences are unique and we offer just as much, if not more, to our ever evolving society.

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Rachel Kelalu

I’m Rachel Kelalu and I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’m a student at the Community College of Denver and, this coming Summer, I will be getting my Associates degree in Science and will transfer to the University of Colorado for my Bachelor’s degree. I would like my career to revolve around “PATIENTS” which I fondly call “nursing.” I like being in a position to help others and I love serving others in and out of the hospital. One thing I know for sure: I was called to be a nurse. If you want to become a good nurse, you will need to be a HUMAN FIRST! I currently serve as a member of the Lived Experts Panel at OCR and am a mom!

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April McMullen

My name is April. I’m involved in a committee OCR promotes called LEAP, actively involved in Chaffee and am a young adult consultant for HUD. I currently work at Grease Monkey as a hood technician and attend Red Rocks Community College in hopes of receiving a radiology technician certification and Associates of Science degree. My hobbies include a variety of arts, hiking, and bicycling.

Photo of Alexander Miller
Alexander Miller

My name is Alexander Miller. I was born in Denver Colorado, where I currently reside. I graduated from Gateway Highschool with my diploma in 2018. During my matriculation I was involved with multiple different placements in foster care. My lived experience provided me a lot of strength and maturity as I became more involved with making change in the foster care system. I have been involved with Project Foster Power, which is a youth led organization that brings change to the foster care system. In 2019 we passed the Sibling Bill of Rights. The Sibling Bill of Rights is a bill passed into law which establishes certain rights to keep the siblings together/connected where I was actively involved in that process. I have had immense work with Arapahoe County Chafee, building my life skills and attending multiple events to make change. I was involved with Metro Youth Alliance which is a youth advisory board making change in the community. All this work brought me closer to my motivation of making change in the system. I am currently involved with the Lived Experts Action Panel (LEAP) through OCR and that has motivated a very positive direction in me making a difference.

Lindsay Alexandria Saunders-Velez

Lindsay Alexandria Saunders-Velez is a former foster child and youth from the Division of Youth Services. She is now the Founder and Senior Executive Director of the Colorado Justice Advocacy Network, an organization that aims to provides equal to access to justice to individuals involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, safeguard the rights and liberties of such individuals, and resolve matters in a timely and efficient manner. Lindsay also serves as a member of the Young Adults Council of the Office of the Child’s Representative and a stakeholder group through the Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman. She is currently working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Metropolitan State University Denver and has a long term goal of earning a Juris Doctorate.

Photo of Rashiaa Veal
Rashiaa Veal

My name is Rashiaa Veal. I am a 21 year old mother of three. I am currently an full time entrepreneur living in Dallas, Texas. I am an active member of the Lived Experts Action Panel at OCR. My favorite color is pink!