Standing with Immigrants at Denver Startup Week

By  Kaytia King

To close out September, held its second annual Denver Startup Week event, featuring immigrant entrepreneurs, creators, and leaders to discuss civic engagement in our current political landscape. Panelists included Justice Kwarteng, founder of Colorado Fashion Week, who was joined by Dr. Maria Navas-Moreno, a physicist and cofounder of Leverphotonics, and DACAmented education advocate Marissa Molina.

The three highlighted how participation in civic action has enabled them to stand up for themselves and others in their community against policies that threaten their immigration status, as well as their ability to continue contributing to their communities in the United States. Molina reaffirmed the importance of allyship, saying that the DACA program is important to her, and also to her students and faculty within the charter school system of Denver. “When [President] Trump rescinded the DACA program, I told my students that I will fight for them and behind me will be 10 more people ready to fight for you, too,” she explained. “I work across the country with other educators to provide training to teachers and show them how to support undocumented students.”

Kwarteng also credited his drive for launching Colorado Fashion Week (and making a DACA recipient the face of the Colorado Fashion Week campaign) to his education. “I spent my first ten years in this country pursuing education, and I knew to take the opportunity of being in this country and make the most out of having so many chances to succeed,” Kwarteng said. “If we are to empower young people of all statuses, it will make this country better.”

Both Kwarteng, who hails from Ghana and attended NYU Art School, and Dr. Maria Navas-Moreno, who came from Colombia to pursue her Ph.D., are active members of the Innovation Council in Colorado. The Colorado Innovation Council is one of many across the nation that functions under the immigration advocacy organization. The group of innovators regularly meets with elected officials, engages on action items, and provides education to the broader community about the human side of immigration policy, an issue that is often bound in so much red tape that the average American may have little understanding of the complications of the system.

The panelists filled the room at Shift Workspaces Bannock, and many audience members were in tears, visibly moved, upon the conclusion of the event, and wanting to know how they could help. Panelists spoke with attendees after the event about how to share the stories they heard with their friends and networks, how to call their members of Congress, and how to provide feedback on certain policies directly to the federal government.

If you’re ready to speak out right now, you can show your support by submitting a public comment on the Flores Rule and Public Charge. To get involved with the Innovation Council or learn how you can stand with immigrants, reach out to

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