News: Elbra Wedgeworth and Dr. Peter Pons — whose service to the residents of Denver is beyond measure — were honored at the 11th Denver Public Safety Luncheon, an event benefiting the Denver Fire Department Foundation, the Denver Police Foundation, Metro Denver Crime Stoppers, the Denver Sheriff’s Orphans Fund, Denver Health Foundation and the Denver DA Justice Programs Foundation.

Wedgeworth, recipient of the David J. Cole Denver Public Safety Citizens Award, devoted 30-plus years to government, philanthropy and public health. Prior to her retirement in 2019, she served on the Denver City Council as director of philanthropic and government affairs at the Denver Health and Hospital Authority and helped bring the Democratic National Convention to Denver by assuming the roles of president and chair of the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. She was the first African-American woman to hold that position.

“Elbra is known by so many as a dear friend – and not someone who should be messed with,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “We are honoring a true living legend today.”

Wedgeworth said the award had special meaning because she had known David Cole, the man for whom it is named, and “he taught me to be true to myself, to never underestimate myself and to remember that I am stronger and smarter than I think I am.”

The luncheon’s master of ceremonies, Albus Brooks, a vice president at Milender White who like Wedgeworth is a past president of the Denver City Council, presented the Jerry Kennedy Denver Public Safety Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Peter Pons.

Pons, the associate director of emergency medicine at Denver Health and EMS medical director for its paramedic division, “has elevated all of us,” said Gary Bryskiewicz, Denver Health’s chief paramedic. “He has enabled us to improve (emergency) care not just in Denver but on a national level.”

The Denver Health paramedic division provides 911 emergency medical services to residents of and visitors to Denver, as well as for the cities of Glendale, Sheridan, Englewood and the Skyline Fire Protection District. It is considered a national leader in both cardiac arrest and traumatic injury survivability.

In addition to these awards, Murphy Robinson, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Safety, presented Josh Hanfling, co-founder and principal at Sewald Hafling Public Affairs, was presented with its highest honor, the Meritorious Service Medal. It commemorates Hanfling’s longstanding commitment to improving public safety and meeting the needs of the Denver community.

Among other things, Hanfling is the founder and past board chair of the Denver Fire Department Foundation and chair of the Denver Health Foundation board. He also sits on the boards of nonprofits that include AMP the Cause, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame and Imagination Library Denver.

He is also the organizer, along with Denver Fire Department Foundation Executive Director Laura Douglas, of the Denver Public Safety Luncheon.

The heads of several city departments – Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins, Denver Fire Chief Desmond Fulton, Denver 911 director Andrew Dameron, Murphy Robinson and Gary Bryskiewicz – delivered brief updates on their agencies at this Nov. 4 event held at the Curtis Hotel.

Guests included state Rep. Alex Valdez; former Denver Police Chief Ari Zavaras, Denver City Council members Paul Kashmann, Amanda Sawyer, Chris Herndon, Jolon Clark, Chris Hinds and Kevin Flynn; Roger Hutson, president/CEO of HRM Resources; Kasia Iwaniczko MacLeod, a vice president at Cigna; and, David McReynolds, founder and president of Columbine Health Plan, the luncheon’s presenting sponsor.

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