In August, The National Civic League welcomed Benita Duran to the staff as the Director of Equity and Engagement. The League has also added two City Council members as Senior Fellows, bringing its total to nine senior fellows. Council members Angela Lawson from Aurora, CO, and David Luna from Mesa, AZ, are the latest editions, enabling the League to provide an ever-expanding range of services.
Benita Duran, Director, Equity and Engagement
Benita Duran leads civic assistance projects for the League, assisting communities with strategic engagement and support, and helps to ensure that issues of social and economic equity are integrated and addressed in engagement opportunities, partnerships, and guidance from the League.
Benita brings over 30 years of broad experiences and expertise in community engagement, planning, organizational programming, and economic development at local, regional, and national levels. She has been a professional administrator in local governments in Colorado and has worked with communities as far away as Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Early in her professional career, Benita was an aide to Denver Mayor Federico Peña, and a staffer of former League President John Parr, who oversaw the transition team for Mayor Peña. She is a former member of the governing board of ICMA, a position she held when she was assistant city manager in Boulder, Colorado. She has been a Vice President for Government Affairs for a global environmental engineering firm and a program executive for Denver Public Schools.
The League’s Senior Fellows program is designed to add expertise and experience to our core staff, giving the League the ability to better serve communities and to generate tools and ideas for use nationwide. Learn more about all nine of the League’s senior fellows here.
Councilwoman Angela Lawson, Aurora, CO
Angela Lawson was elected to the Aurora City Council in 2015. She was re-elected for a second term in 2019 which runs until November 2023 and was also appointed as the Mayor Pro Tem in December 2017 and served in that role until 2018. Council Member Lawson also worked in Colorado State Government for fourteen years in the areas of lobbying regulation and government affairs. She has and continues to serve on numerous local, regional, and national boards.
Nationally, she currently serves on the National League of Cities Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Regionally, she is a member of the Adams County Regional Transportation Committee and Reimagine RTD and locally she serves as an Executive Board Member and policy committee member with the Colorado Municipal League. She is also a member of the Aurora Economic Development Committee and member of Aurora/Denver Youth Compact which is a compact that the city of Aurora City and County of Denver formed together in 2020 as way to collaborate on strategies and resources to combat youth violence in both cities.
Council Member Lawson’s experience in public policy and legislative affairs has provided her the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the Federal and Intergovernmental Relations Committee for five years in the city of Aurora. In her years of service as a city council member, she has been very involved in initiatives related to civic engagement, youth programming and policy and legislative affairs.
Councilman David Luna, Mesa, AZ
Councilman Luna was appointed to the Mesa City Council in 2013 before winning election for a full term in August of 2014. He was named the Vice Mayor on January 23, 2017 and served in that role until January 28, 2019. Luna was re-elected to a second term representing District 5 in August of 2018. His second term on the Mesa City Council runs until January of 2023, when he will be term-limited.
Councilmember Luna is an active member of numerous boards and committees not only locally, but nationwide. He has been an active member of the National League of Cities since taking office. He currently serves on the NLC Board of Directors, is President of the NLC Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO) Board of Directors and is a member of the NLC Membership Committee. He spent four terms on the NLC Information Technology and Communication Committee, including serving as chair and vice chair, and served one term as a member of the NLC Executive Committee. Nationally, he is also a board member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Locally, Luna is chair of the Mesa Community College at Red Mountain Community Advisory Committee, chair of the Maricopa Association of Government Economic Development Committee and was past chair of the City of Mesa Human Relations Advisory Board.
Luna spent more than 30 years working for Mesa Public Schools (MPS), including 27 years as the Director of Education Television for Mesa Public Schools, directing and managing channel 99 and edtv99.org. He retired from MPS in 2017. He also spent time as an adjunct professor for both Arizona State University and Mesa Community College.