Daniel Ramos (MPA ’14) knew from a young age he wanted to give a voice to an underrepresented population: Colorado’s LGTBQ community.
The first in his family to graduate from college, Ramos was recruited by the University of Colorado Boulder’s President’s Leadership Class and received the Governor’s Opportunity Scholarship. As a student, he supported congressional races and held an internship for the assistant majority leader in the Colorado House of Representatives. After graduating with a bachelor’s in sociology, Ramos was convinced he wanted to go to law school, until he came across the masters of public administration program in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver.
At CU Denver, Ramos gained invaluable knowledge on public policy while at the same time putting practice into action at One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization dedicated to advancing equality for the LGTBQ community. His experience dually learning and working in his field of interest is similar to several graduates of the School of Public Affairs, who are now leading thriving nonprofit organizations in the Denver metro area and beyond.
“I was able to learn quite a bit in real-time,” said Ramos, now the executive director of One Colorado. “As I was in a public policy and democracy course, for example, we passed civil unions that same semester. Administrative law—that class in and of itself has been a game changer in my career—taught me how to think about regulatory processes as a tool for advocacy.”
In a typical day, Ramos connects with his 10-person team on issues or policies affecting Colorado’s LGBTQ community. The organization’s mission is to 1) protect the LGBTQ community and 2) help it thrive. “Especially in the Trump Administration, we see what news and policies, and any potential rollbacks, have happened that we may need to respond to,” said Ramos, adding, “At One Colorado, we want to ensure we are represented—as elected officials, educators, and workers.”
The nonprofit organization is currently traveling across the state sharing findings of a report on health disparities within the LGTBQ community and recommendations on how to close the gaps. It is also supporting four policies in legislature that if passed would have a significant impact on the state:
- Expanding access to PrEP, a daily medication to help prevent HIV in at-risk populations.
- Adding gender identity to non-discrimination laws.
- Banning gay and trans-panic legal defenses, which are used to blame violent behavior on the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Expanding access to training for foster families to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth.
What drives Ramos’ passion for public policy and social justice? “I’m the first one in my family to vote,” he said. “We recognize that for many folks, democracy is a process that they are left out of. To bring people into the legislative process is what’s most exciting to me.”