Transform Aurora’s health,
support the underserved,
educate and inspire future
AWN is the product of community partnership and primary care advocacy. In the fall of 2013, a group of Aurora community leaders as well as interprofessional learners and faculty from the Anschutz medical campus gathered. It was a convening meeting to launch a local chapter of Primary Care Progress (now Intend Health Strategies) and discuss what could be done to support primary care on the Anschutz medical campus and in the Aurora community. Many ideas were generated and there were two emergent conclusions from that meeting:
(1) There was a large unmet need for primary care in the Aurora community, particularly for the uninsured and this was evidenced by recent community needs assessments and voiced by community health leaders and
(2) The interprofessional faculty and students (who had mostly not met prior to that day!) were inspired to work together to have the academic community be a part of the solution.
The idea of starting an interprofessional, student-run clinic was born. The interprofessional health students, resident physicians and faculty took to classrooms, campus meetings and informal gatherings to welcome all interested into the work. Almost every health profession from the Anschutz Medical Campus joined along with psychology learners and faculty from Denver University. The movement would not have turned into a reality without the support of partners in the community. The Fields Foundation was a local 501c3 that had been desiring to start providing healthcare services for years. Under sponsorship from the Fields Foundation and in partnership with many other valued community organization supporters, Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs (DAWN) was opened in March 2015.
DAWN has continued to grow and expand since 2015, incorporating specialty care services, social services navigation, adding educational initiatives and innovating based on input from community. It incorporated as its own non-profit, 501c3 entity in late 2018.
Support the underserved, Educate and Inspire future health leaders, Transform Aurora’s health.
- We provide patient centered care to meet the needs of the diverse underserved population of Aurora.
- We collaborate with community partners to overcome socioeconomic and cultural barriers to patient health and wellness.
- We cultivate passion for underserved healthcare through interprofessional teamwork.
- We foster future providers to become leaders who are proponents for change in primary care.
Meet Our Team
Chief Operations Officer
Kari Mader, MD MPH is a family physician in Denver, Colorado and her work focuses on fostering health equity through innovative medical education, leadership development, and community-based health change. She is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of the DAWN interprofessional student-run free clinic and Director of Clinical and Education Innovation for the Aurora Wellness Community, a community-academic partnership building health, wealth and well-being of Aurora, Colorado residents. She is a national coach and trainer of Relational LeadershipTM with Intend Health Strategies (formerly Primary Care Progress). Kari is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and School of Public Health, teaching interprofessional health students and family medicine residents.
Johnson, MD, FACP
Clinical Medical Director
Dr. Johnson is the Clinical Medical Director at DAWN, where his role is to ensure that our patients receive high-quality, timely, patient-centered care. He co-founded the organization in 2013 with Dr Kari Mader and Maisha Fields, and has served in his medical director role since we began seeing patients in March 2015. Dr Johnson attended Villanova University, Drexel University College of Medicine, and completed his internal medicine residency and chief residency at University of Colorado.
For his day job, Dr Johnson works for InnovAge, serving as the Center Medical Director in Lakewood and practicing geriatric medicine for a population of frail, vulnerable seniors. Dr Johnson has been recognized for his work at DAWN by the American College of Physicians, who named him the Colorado Volunteer Physician of the Year for 2019, and Senator Rhonda Fields, who honored his work serving Aurora with her Courageous Citizen of Colorado award in 2017. Dr Johnson lives in the foothills with his wife, children, and menagerie of animals.
Executive Nurse Manager
Sally Garcia is the Executive Nurse Manager and has been in this position since July 2017. Prior to this Sally worked as an administrator for Centura and UCHealth. It was during this time that she saw the inequality in healthcare and how the business of medicine negates the needs of the most vulnerable populations.
Neira, BS, MBA
Alexandra Neira has been working with the Aurora community for more than nine years. She initially worked as an interpreter in the Aurora School District and as a Professional Medical Interpreter in the community and at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Before moving to DAWN Clinic in January 2021, Alexandra served as the Operations Supervisor of the Medical Interpretation and Translations Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado (Anschutz). Prior to moving to Colorado, she worked as an Office Manager in Florida and as a Marketing Manager in Colombia, where she is originally from.
I am (close to) a Colorado native and am a medical student in the Class of 2024 at CU. When I’m not studying or in clinic, I enjoy upcycling projects, playing board games, and spending time with my dogs. My favorite thing about DAWN clinic is the community we can build amongst our patients, volunteers, and community members.
Alex is an ortho/neuro spine operating room nurse newly graduated in the spring of 2021 from the University of Colorado college of nursing. He has been with DAWN since the beginning of his nursing education in 2019 where he volunteered as a workgroup lead for the nursing division. DAWN has had an unplaceable impact on Alex, and he plans on taking every lesson gleaned from the clinic with him in his long-term nursing career. Outside of work, Alex likes to hike, read, and play games with his family.
As a proud Colorado native, Alyssa decided to pursue all of her education here, graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado. She is now finishing her fourth-year of medical school at the University of Colorado and is applying into Internal Medicine residency with hopes of eventually becoming a cardiac electrophysiologist. With a passion for the underserved community, Alyssa loves DAWN’s mission to aid such individuals alongside her peers. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor pursuits such as hiking, rock/ice climbing, skiing, and running.
Eric is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado. He grew up in Colorado Springs and graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania before returning to Colorado to pursue his medical degree. Eric loves how all volunteers at DAWN unite together to pursue the mission of the clinic. Outside of school and work, Eric enjoys watching the NBA and playing his saxophone.
Meet the Board
Christopher is the Assistant Dean for Administration and Finance, at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and is responsible for the operational execution of the finance and human resource areas of the school. The School of Medicine is comprised of over 4600 faculty with an annual budget of over $1.8B. In this role he has an opportunity to fully interact with the four vibrant missions of the School – Education, Research, Patient Care and Community Service. Throughout his career he has focused on fiscal optimization, decision-making through data analytics and process improvement through technological integration.
Beatriz is a finance and business professional who has recently moved to Denver from the east coast. Her background includes various areas of finance such as treasury, risk management and credit analysis, as well as various business development functions within financial institutions and the auto industry. Since moving to Denver, she has been pursuing her growing interest in healthcare and is currently supporting a local cancer research non-profit in developing both their long-term strategy and short-term operational plans. Originally from Brazil, she speaks fluent Spanish in addition to her native Portuguese.
Dawn is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy (PT) Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She received a PhD in Population Health Sciences,a certificate in Global Health, and an MS in Physical Therapy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics, with a focus on health disparities research, through the Department of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dawn employs community-based participatory research methods to explore the mechanisms underlying health disparities among children and inform the development of innovative, clinic- and community-based models of care that advance health and health equity for traditionally underserved children. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors for DAWN, she serves as an advisor to DAWN student leaders.