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Leah Weiner, Ed.D., Founder and Director, Nonprofit Learning Lab
Founding Chapter Director
Leah Weiner is the founder of the Nonprofit Learning Lab. She has a passion for ensuring that individuals working in the nonprofit sector are armed with best practices, strategies, and a community of peers. Leah has long believed that having a strong network of support makes the day-to-day work of a nonprofit professional easier! Leah received a doctorate in organizational leadership and development from Pepperdine University. She is the Founder of the New Leaders Council Colorado Chapter and 2012 alum of NLC LA. Leah also serves on National Programs Committee for NLC and serve as a Commission Member for the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships.
Rachel Rose, Research and Evaluation Specialist, iDE
Institute and Curriculum Co-Chair
Rachel is the Research and Evaluation Specialist for iDE, an international development non-profit that supports the rural poor through market-based approaches. Before joining iDE, she was a research consultant for Causal Design and the Urban Institute. Rachel started her international development career serving in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) after working on the 2008 Obama campaign. She earned a B.A. at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and her M.A. in International Economics and Development from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Tera Jones, Operations Manager, Denver Public Schools
Tera Jones is a Denver, Colorado native and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Tera is deeply committed to the pursuit of justice for all people through educational equity. Because of this passion, Tera currently works as the Operations Manager for Denver Public Schools. Prior to serving as Operations Manager, Tera worked as the Lead Talent Acquisition Specials for the Denver Public School system. Tera also previously worked as the STEM Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Education, where she led the development of STEM program implementation resources with stakeholders throughout Colorado. Additionally, Tera taught 10th grade chemistry at DSST Public Schools as a Teach for America Colorado Corps Member. She continues to be engaged with TFA as a Corps Member support team member. In her free time, Tera is a founding member of Leadership for Educational Equity’s Colorado Regional Organizing team that will be working to organize teachers, students, and families around education policy issues. In her free time, Tera also loves Denver Broncos Football, playing with her dog Zeke, baking, and eating great food.
Gianina Horton, Project Manager, Office of the Independent Monitor's Youth Outreach Project
Institute and Curriculum Co-Chair
Gianina Horton is the Project Manager for the Office of the Independent Monitor’s (OIM) Youth Outreach Project, Bridging the Gap: Kids & Cops, a project that focuses on proactively improving the relationship between youth and law enforcement in Denver. Prior to joining OIM, Gianina worked for the Denver Scholarship Foundation as a Colorado College Fellow supporting students on college access and retention. Gianina serves as a Giving Project alumni on the Chinook Fund’s Program Committee, which supports grassroots organizations working on issues of social and economic justice. She is a graduate from Colorado College with a Bachelor’s in Political Science.
Sara Joss, Development and Events Manager, Emergency Family Assistance Association
Sara is originally an Atlanta native who participated as a NLC Colorado fellow in 2016. She serves as the Development & Events Manager at Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), a nonprofit that helps those in Boulder county who are struggling to meet their basic needs for food and shelter. Her involvement in social activism began at a young age through her family and community, and has continued in several states across the country. Sara is a firm believer in leading change by example, making sure to participate in several facets of her community.
Ian Harwick was born in Ohio, but raised in Colorado; he moved here when he was six months old and has not looked back. He studied Business Management at Johnson & Wales University. Ian is an entrepreneur working to build companies that are socially responsible, innovative, adaptable, and community focused. These companies in their various phases include a consulting firm, a marijuana startup, and a bike crash prevention app. In addition to the previously mentioned companies, he is also the president of his neighborhood association, Athmar Park; as the president he has helped connect neighbors in new and meaningful ways, worked to maintain the funkiness of the place, and he is currently working to create a plan designed to make the streets safer, the places more walkable, and all neighbors better connected with each other and the city at large. In his free time, Ian loves spending time with his wife.Together they are raising a daughter that will be empowered, awesome, and ready for the challenges that lay ahead. He also is co-creator of the Denver Urbanist Meetups and Denver YIMBY, two groups dedicated to connecting like minded individuals and also leading the charge on affordable living, connected communities, and finding ways to say “Yes”. He ran for city council in 2015 and though he lost, he has maintained his drive for improving Denver, the Democratic Party, and the nation as a whole.
Abe Kaul, Chief Operating Officer, Center for Legal Inclusiveness
Abe Kaul is the COO for the Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI) a nonprofit that’s dedicated to creating inclusive workplaces for legal professionals. Prior to his time at CLI Abe worked on a number of political campaigns including being the Director of Communications for a CU Regent’s race in 2016. Abe is also involved with UNA-USA Denver as their Director of Volunteers and serves as the Assistant Secretary for the Democratic Party of Denver. He’s a graduate of Seattle University School of law where he received a J.D. and received his B.A. in Political Science from Linfield College.
Shira Weiner, Director of HR, Gamma Phi Beta
Shira’s passion is connecting great people with jobs that build stronger communities. Shira is the Director of HR for Gamma Phi Beta, an international sorority based in Colorado. Previously she was the manager of executive recruitment for Hillel International and Regional Admissions Director for City Year. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelors in Human Resources and a masters from Teachers College at Columbia University. She loves hosting dinner parties (you're invited) and is helping to build Denver Makes! an organization that sparks creativity and community by bringing folks together to make cool things.
Ryan Mick, Chief Academic Officer, Compass Academy
Ryan Mick is NLC Denver’s Selection Chair and a founding member of the NLC Denver Board. When Ryan is not working NLC efforts, Ryan serves as Chief Academic Officer for Compass Academy, an innovative laboratory-school model in South-West Denver designed in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and City Year. Working with these partner organizations, Ryan helps design, implement, and innovate on the programs that support Compass Academy students with the ultimate goal of creating new best practices for schools in undeserved communities. Ryan is an award winning special educator and teacher coach, and most recently led the launch of Teach For America’s Diverse Learner Initiative.
He holds a bachelors in Economics, a bachelors in History, a Master’s in Educational Research from Ohio University and a Juris Doctor from George Washington University.
Deputy Selections Chair
A native of Rochester, MN, Laura Harney combines her love of policy and education as the Manager of Enrollment at Rocky Mountain Prep. Previously, in policy, Laura worked as a program director for Senator Mike Johnston (2016) and as a fellow in Indianapolis (2015) for the Urban Leaders Fellowship. Prior to this policy work, Laura worked in the classroom at a project-based, staff-led school in Minnesota and as a 9th grade biology teacher and founding educator at Girls Athletic Leadership School in Denver. Laura has a deep passion for global citizenship and has fostered that by going on a five-month, solo backpacking journey through SE Asia to learn about the intersection of culture, education, and sustainability as well as by being a 2013 Fulbright Fellow in Ecuador. Laura attended Luther College in Decorah, IA graduating magna cum laude with majors in biology and Spanish and a minor in Secondary Education (2013). She was named “Outstanding Student Leader of the Year, 2013.” In her free time, Laura loves climbing mountains, drinking tea and coffee, and reading in her hammock.
Hannah Bernath, Prevention Services Manager, Children's Hospital Immunodeficiency Program (CHIP)
Hannah Bernath is the Prevention Services Manager for the Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program (CHIP), an HIV clinic serving kids, adolescents, young adults and pregnant women living with or at risk of acquiring HIV across Colorado and the Front Range. Prior to joining CHIP, Hannah worked with other local non-profits and health departments to implement HIV and Hepatitis C education and prevention programming. She earned her Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Colorado in 2012 with a community and behavioral health concentration. Hannah currently serves on the NLC Colorado board and is the Chair of Colorado Organizations Responding to HIV/AIDS (CORA).
Alumni Engagement Co-Chair
Ash is the Western Regional Outreach Director for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition where she manages advocacy efforts in six states to preserve and protect funding for U.S. foreign assistance programs. She’s passionate about gender equity, global health, women and girls education, and food security. Previously, Ash worked for the Colorado Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign, where she was the Regional Field Director for southeast Colorado. She’s also served as the Program and Marketing Manager for the Business Council for Peace, where she supported and provided training to entrepreneurs in post-conflict countries, such as Rwanda and Afghanistan. While living in New York City, Ash was a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. Before CFR, Ash worked in Udaipur, India training locally elected village representatives on leadership skills. She holds an MSc in Gender, Globalization, and Development from the London School of Economics and a B.A. from Emory University in both International Relations and Middle Eastern & South Asian Studies, graduating summa cum laude. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Pi Sigma Alpha, as well as a proud mentor with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Colorado.
Felipe Vieyra, Program Director, Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club
Alumni Engagement Co-Chair
Felipe Vieyra is currently a Bilingual Community Organizer at Together Colorado in Denver, Colorado. His previous positions include working as a Program Director at the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club and as the Southwest Denver Community Organizer for Stand for Children. Mr. Vieyra completed a B.A. in Political Science, International Relations, and Spanish Literature and Language at the University of Denver. He has been working in community involvement and advocacy programs for the last 9 yrs in Denver. He was appointed to the Immigrant and Refugee Commission of Denver by Mayor Hancock and served on the commission for 4 yrs. He sits on several boards including the following: ACCESO Spanish Advisory Board for the Denver Clerk and Recorder, Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Young Latino Philanthropist Board, Denver Young Democrats Executive Board, New Leaders Council Denver Board of Directors. He is currently a Policy Fellow for the National Institute of Latino School Leaders through UnidosUS. He coaches soccer on his spare time and enjoys hanging out with his pup of 6 months. He is originally from Morelia, Michoacan Mexico. (2)
John Magnino, Deputy Legislative Director, the State Innovation Exchange (SiX)
Advisory Board Liaison
John is the Deputy Legislative Director at the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), a resource and strategy center that supports state legislators in all 50 states to advance progressive public policy. In this role, John manages much of the organization’s legislator outreach and legislative advocacy work. Before SiX, John worked for the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE) as an associate, helping to build a publicly accessible library of progressive model and exemplary state-level and local legislation. John also worked at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in a number of roles relating to party-building and administration. During college in Wisconsin, he also interned with then Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson.
John was civically active in Madison, Wisconsin, having served as president of his neighborhood association and on the City of Madison’s vending oversight board. John was a 2015 fellow with NLC - Madison (now NLC - Wisconsin).
John received his Master’s of Public Affairs with an emphasis in social policy from the La Follette School of Public Affairs. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and an Honors Degree in the Liberal Arts. John originally hails from Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Bri Erger, Director, US-Brazil Connect
Bri is the Director for US-Brazil Connect, a non-profit that focuses on creating a new generation of conscious global citizens by connecting communities and providing access to transformative learning experiences for student and emerging professionals in the US and Brazil. Prior to joining US-Brazil Connect, Bri was a Regional Leader and Youth Development volunteer for the Peace Corps in El Salvador. She began her non-profit and service career in Asheville, North Carolina as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Bri is also a Director for 20K Watts, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting local and sustainable development projects throughout Latin America with solar energy, water purification, and youth development programming. She is also passionate about making an impact in her local community of Denver, where she serves on the board for Denver Makes!, an organization committed to inspiring imagination and meaningful community through hands-on experiences that connect citizens with innovative artists and creators. Bri is a graduate of the University of Denver with a Master’s Degree in International Development and received her Bachelor’s Degrees in English Literature and Psychology from Loras College.
Kyle is a founding teacher at Compass Academy. Compass Academy believes that all students, regardless of previous learning challenges, can succeed and become lifelong learners and leaders. Its educational program infuses a strong values-based culture and additional people power with evidence-based practices to maximize student success and the delivery of individualized interventions. Before joining Compass, Academy Kyle taught 5th grade Math and Science and finished the Associate Teacher Program at Brooke Charter Schools, one of the highest performing schools in Massachusetts. During that year, he learned how effective teacher collaboration can truly transform the classroom. Kyle grew up just outside Philadelphia and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. After college, Kyle served two years with City Year Boston; first as a City Year-AmeriCorps Member and then as a Team Leader. Through this volunteer work, he fell in love with urban education and became inspired to dedicate his time and energy to his students. In the future, he hopes to take his passion for education reform outside of the classroom and work to innovate education through policy reform. Kyle believes that to truly move the needle in education, collaboration and innovation are needed at the policy level to ensure a bright future for our students no matter where they come from or where they go to school.
Bio coming soon
Andrew Fish, Legislative Aid, Senator Daniel Kagan
Andrew Fish served as Legislative Aide during the 2017 session for Colorado Senator Daniel Kagan, focusing on legislation to reform Colorado's system of civil asset forfeiture and Division of Youth Corrections, and ending the use of jails for those experiencing a mental health crisis. Prior to working in the legislature, Andrew managed Representative Kagan's successful campaign for the State Senate. He is originally from New York City and graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in mechanical engineering.
Member at Large
Tristan is a fourth generation Colorado native, hailing from a family with a long history of public service and progressive political involvement. While growing up in Colorado Springs in the 80s and 90s, she learned to fight the good fight as one of the only progressives in a very conservative environment, as well as the only LGBTQ individual to come out in her school. Tristan graduated from Colorado College with a BA in English and earned her JD from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Tristan began her legal career as a Deputy State Public Defender in the Denver Trial Office. In this role, Tristan represented the indigent who could not afford legal counsel in over a thousand cases, ranging from traffic and DUI matters to sex assault and homicide. Tristan is now a partner at Gorman & Zuckerman, LLC, where she continues her practice in criminal defense as a privately retained attorney, court-appointed counsel through the Office of Alternate Defense Counsel, and as a member of the LGBT Center’s Direct Referral Network and Access to Justice Program. Tristan continues to advocate for the indigent and minorities as a practicing trial lawyer and through community involvement, including her membership in Denver’s LGBTQ Commission, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar’s Policy Committee, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, and the Colorado LGBT Bar Association.
Emily Elsenbast Pares, Campaign Manager, Jennifer Bacon for Denver School Board
Topher Williams, Freelance Communications and Political Consultant
Topher Williams is a Colorado Native who recently made the move back to Boulder from Missoula, Montana where he lived for just shy of a decade. Prior to returning, Topher served as the Director of NLC Montana after completing the NLC Fellowship program in 2014. He brings four years of state chapter experience to the NLC-Colorado board. Topher helped manage several ballot initiatives in Montana and has been recognized as one of Montana's "25 Under 25."
In addition to his electoral work, Topher has previously been employed by Montana Conservation Voters as an Organizer before joining the Missoula Urban Transportation District as the Chief Communications Officer. Topher has also served as the Development Director for Forward Montana, which is the Montana affiliate of New Era Colorado. He also helped promote small businesses while working as the Membership and Events Director at the Downtown Missoula Partnership. Educated at the University of Montana where he earned a B.A. in Communication; Topher also loves to bike, hike, camp and enjoy all the outdoor activities associated with living in the Rocky Mountain West.
John Dillon, Manager, Compliance and Member Resource, Leadership fo Educational Equity
John Dillon serves as the Manager of Compliance and Member Resource at Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonprofit organization focused on the leadership development of former educators. Originally from Maryland, John has spent time working in both the legislative and campaign aspects of politics in the 'Old Line State' until recently moving to Colorado. John is a proud graduate of the University of Maryland where he played offensive line for the 'Terps' football program. An avid outdoorsman and conservationist, he is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and has partnered with the Colorado Fourteener's Initiative to raise funds to protect Colorado's 53 tallest peaks.
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