The community at an ALG forum on immigration in Englewood,Co. Dec 1,2012 African Leadership Group

They have already held numerous workshops on business development, financial management and cultural issues which affect the African community in Colorado. Last summer the African Leadership Group (ALG) organized a golf tournament to introduce Africans to the game.

Every month the group holds a business after-hours at select locations in metro Denver at which “a large and diverse group of professionals” is invited to network and discuss socio-economic issues that affect the community.

According to ALG president, Papa Dia, a group vice-president and retail executive at BBVA Compass Bank in Denver, these are benefits that the estimated thousands of Africans in Colorado can take advantage of when they understand what the organization offers.

Dia, who is a native of Senegal, estimates the number of Africans in the metro area to be over 80,000. And that number is only going to increase, he said.

Dia believes the community needs to market itself and be visible to the world. He also thinks there should be ways to “stop the duplication of efforts” that he sees around. The way to do this would be for the community to “come in as one,” Dia explained.

Recently the organization has directed community members to places where they can get assistance with filing their tax returns, how to design their own business plans. As a banking executive, Dia said he and the ALG have spearheaded efforts for Africans in the community to be aware of the benefits of having a bank account and with a good credit history.

When I asked why the ALG was doing the things it is currently doing, he said the organization wanted to get information out that could be of benefit to Africans in Colorado. The ALG, he said, wanted Africans to be part of the professional class and he thinks this will “help move the community forward.”

“We don’t have many Africans in the professional environment.”

At a little over two years old, the ALG took yet another step on December 1 when they organized a forum to examine the impact that someone’s immigration status has on their success. The event held at the Reddy Plaza in Englewood.

To help the community understand how to better navigate a challenging immigration process in America, they brought in Glenwood Springs immigration attorney, Jennifer Smith, to explain now the law works in America.

“One of the things with immigration law is that community activism is also a key part of it,” Smith said. “Before you hire an attorney, get to know him.”

As part of the forum, Smith made a wide ranging presentation about “Why understanding the current U.S. immigration law will help you to be more successful.”

The issues she tackled included the intricacies of F-1 visas and duration of status, I-94 status for students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA), how to deal with issues bordering on domestic violence, spousal abuse and the legal repercussions when immigrants do not have enough information about the law.


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