Meet the Denver Public School Board At-Large Candidates on the Ballot this November 2nd

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Nicky got his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Tulane University before moving to Denver in 2008 to study International Relations at the University of Denver. 

In 2018, Nicky wrote a resolution for the Denver Democratic Party’s platform seeking to reverse the ongoing privatization of public education, instead focusing resources on student equity and supporting educators. Alongside a coalition of community leaders, he lobbied Denver Democrats to overwhelmingly pass the resolution, clearing a path for Denverites to elect a slate of pro-education candidates in 2019’s Denver Public School Board elections.

Over the last several years, Nicky has founded several organizations geared toward building community-leadership for student equity and neighborhood schools in DPS. 

Learn more about Nicky at

Marla F Fernandez-Benavides

Marla Benavides, educator, business owner, mom, wife is self-employed.  I wear many hats, Marla manages a God-centered home school teaching all aspects of a Catholic Classical Education, including training her children spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.

A big believer in teaching her kids to read well, write well, and cipher, she supports equal opportunity.

Marla is a Certified Paralegal and a Certified Mediator and holds a degree from the University of Coloardo at Denver and certifications from the University of Denver Strum College of Law, Arapahoe Community College, Pheonix Stragegies LLC, And Armbrust Real State School. 

Marla is no stranger to Education, having spent three years as a paraprofessional and a Substitute teacher, and then some years as paralegal, she can manage a classroom.

Marla has more than five years of legal experience in immigration law and personal injury law. 

I’m running because literacy matters. I can fix the literacy problem. Easy.

Learn more about Marla at

Scott Esserman

Scott Esserman is a longtime educator who has taught at public and private schools in the Denver area for more than 20 years. In addition to teaching, he has coached multiple sports, and founded a speech and debate program at Kent Denver, one of the top independent schools in Colorado.

He received his BS in History from the University of Missouri, emphasizing African American Studies, and a Certificate in Education Finance from Georgetown University. he and his wife have two children who attend public schools in Denver; one at a charter school, the other at a district school. He has been endorsed by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

Learn more about Scott at

Jane Shirley

Jane Shirley describes herself as a “teacher, designer, facilitator, coach, writer, performer and novice ukulele player.” Among other positions, she led Aurora’s William Smith High School for nine years, helping revive its flagging fortunes. She also served as executive director of Catapult, Inc. for five years, where designed a leadership program that “teaches principals and district leaders how to use the creative process as the foundation for strategic planning.”

She holds a BA from Oklahoma State University and a Master’s in secondary education from the University of Northern Colorado.

Learn more about Jane at

Vernon Jones

Vernon Jones is the son and nephew of two career DPS teachers. He currently serves as executive direct of the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone. He has a long history of involvement in Denver public education issues. Among other positions, he has served and led at Manual High School and Omar D. Blair Charter School. He is also a pastor.

He is the father of five children, two DPS graduates and two current DPS students, and one who graduated from adjacent Aurora Public Schools.

Learn more about Vernon at

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