Lori Canova, President & CEO
Lori Canova has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County since 1997. Under her leadership, the organization has grown from 2 classes to 15, serving over 800 students, making the Boulder County affiliate one of the largest in the country. Lori helped start the local Mentors Matter group which focuses on recruitment of mentors, especially mentors of color. She also helped launch a county-wide collaborative school supply drive, Crayons to Calculators. Prior to joining “I Have a Dream”, Lori was the Program Director for Big Brothers of Metro Denver; a Program Director for the Mental Health Association of Colorado; the Director of SB94 Juvenile Diversion Program for Jefferson Center for Mental Health; and an Adolescent Counselor for Human Services, Inc. Lori has a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Denver and completed her undergraduate work in Social Work at Colorado State University. In 2010, Lori received the Woman of the Year award from the Boulder Professional Women group and in 2015, the Women Who Light the Community Award from the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.
Terry Bittner, CFO
Terry Bittner is responsible for the organization’s financial management, human resources, and information technology. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). He owned his own restaurant and catering company in Boulder for 15 years. Other previous employment includes the University of Colorado and Managed Business Solutions.
Kasia Szewczyk, Vice President of DONOR RELATIONS
Kasia Szewczyk brings over 16 years of business development and marketing experience in both the US and abroad. She joined her previous company, ProMorphics, as their first employee and Business Development Director in 2008 and helped the company grow to nearly 20 employees, with customers nationwide. Kasia also spent nearly eight years at Kelly Services working in a variety of senior marketing roles where she created programs and events for branches in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Kasia has had a life-long passion for non-profits, starting with her work with EFAA and Amigos de las Americas in Latin America and continuing with many others that focus on women’s and children’s causes. Having been a mentor for nearly three years as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, she understands firsthand the incredible difference that mentoring programs make for both the mentee and the mentor. Kasia enjoys participating in public speaking engagements and she has been regularly featured as a speaker at National and Regional SAP Technology Conferences and AARP conferences. Kasia has a B.A. in Spanish Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Garett Brownlee Plantz, Vice President of Programs
Garett Brownlee Plantz started her professional career as an AmeriCorps College Coordinator with “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County, where she carved out the post-secondary program, and for three years, pioneered the Director of College and Careers Programs. From there she was a teacher in rural Ecuador and Chile, worked in collective impact in Oaxaca, Mexico, and received her LMSW from the University of Texas at Austin working as a clinical School Social Worker for the Austin Independent School District. Most recently, Garett spent the last several years working for Whole Kids Foundation and launching Whole Cities Foundation of Whole Foods Market where she worked with schools and organizations on a national scale to promote healthy food options and education for kids and communities. Now, back in Colorado, Garett leads the "I Have a Dream’s" programs, with the privilege of serving the Program Directors, the Director of College and Career Programs, and the Wellness Program Coordinator.
DR. KRISHNA PATTISAPU, DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE AND CAREER Programs
Krishna comes to the "I Have a Dream" Foundation from the University of Denver, where she earned her Ph.D. in Communication Studies in 2014. As a first-generation college student, Krishna enjoys confronting social inequities through service, scholarship, art and activism. She brings over eight years of experience building inclusive campus environments and fostering conversations about inclusivity and college access. Her original research explores the experiences of queer students of color who learn in predominantly white contexts. A native of southern Illinois, Krishna appreciates Colorado's low humidity and mountainous landscape. In her free time, Krishna seeks out opportunities to interact with cats and harvest her creative energy.
Elyana Funk, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV) AmeriCorps Site Director
Elyana Funk joined "I Have a Dream" in 2000 and has a B.A. in Comparative Area Studies: Latin America and North America, with minors in Cultural Anthropology and Spanish from Duke University. As NDMV AmeriCorps Site Director, she supervises approximately 35-28 Notre Dame AmeriCorps members each year who serve at "I Have a Dream" program sites and with partnering organizations. Fluent in Spanish, Elyana served a year as an AmeriCorps member for the Longmont “I Have a Dream” Casa class in 2000 before becoming the program director for the Sanchez Dreamer Class from 2001-2012, supporting those Dreamers from 2nd through 12th grade. Elyana, her husband, and her 2 daughters live in Lafayette.
Ashley Keltner, Director of Volunteers
Ashley Keltner brings more than 10 years of experience in non-profit work and volunteer coordination to "I Have a Dream" Foundation as the Director of Volunteers. She received her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before moving to Guatemala for three years where she supported community members and international volunteers in small community development and human rights efforts. Upon her return to the U.S., she earned her M.A. in International Development from the University of Denver. Because of her own life-changing experiences as a volunteer, Ashley has a passion for working closely with people to help them find value and meaning in their volunteer experiences through making a difference in the lives of others and the broader community. In her free time, she enjoys watching all UNC Tar Heel sports, running, hiking, kayaking, traveling, and spending time with her husband and their two dogs.
LESLIE MCCORMICK, DIRECTOR OF WELLNESS AND PREVENTION
Leslie McCormick, licensed professional counselor and registered dance movement therapist, brings her passion for creativity and social equity to her role as Wellness Program Coordinator with "I Have a Dream." Grounded in practices backed by research, Leslie’s orientation to health has its roots in embodiment, expressivity, nature, high-quality presence, and community. Her work in mental health has included hospital, residential care, community health, and private practice settings. Leslie’s graduate research in the somatic impacts of social inequities led her to serve as a health disparities program coordinator with Boulder County Public Health. Prior to receiving her master’s degree in somatic counseling psychology from Naropa University in 2006, Leslie traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to live and study, coordinated a hospice volunteer program, taught creative movement and poetry, and drove a “SAG wagon” for trans-American cyclists. Leslie enjoys singing, dancing, cycling, playing in nature, trying new creative pursuits, reading, meditation, and spending time with her wife and friends.
Alex nelson, dirECTOR OF academics
Alex Nelson is a Boulder County native with more than 10 years of experience working in education. Prior to joining the team at the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County, he spent six years in Denver Public Schools as an elementary school teacher, where he specialized in providing instruction to students learning English as a second language. Earlier in his career, Alex taught English in Spain before returning to Colorado as an AmeriCorps Program Coordinator with the “I Have a Dream Foundation” of Boulder County where he worked with the Columbine, Iris and Phoenix classes for two years. Alex is thrilled to have returned to the “I Have a Dream Foundation” team, providing support for Program Directors and AmeriCorps in designing and implementing academic programming. Alex holds a B.A. in Spanish from Colorado State University and an M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Denver.
STOREY BLACKWELL, DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Storey Blackwell worked in the mortgage and tech industries before starting her work with the Boulder County nonprofit community in 2008. She was part of the finance team at Boulder-based BeadforLife, whose programs work to eradicate poverty in Uganda. She then spent 2 years with Foothills United Way, while earning a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. Later advising a start-up nonprofit, she helped expand their local scholarship program to the national level and launched a new national program for pediatric cancer patients. Storey has also served as the Board Treasurer for the Boulder Youth Body Alliance and volunteered with the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County. She is passionate about creating opportunities for underserved members of the community to reach their full potential, and is excited to continue this work with “I Have a Dream” Foundation. Storey lives in Longmont with her husband and 2 children. She enjoys yoga, the outdoors, and impromptu dance parties with her kids.
KRISTIN PAZULSKI, GRANTS MANAGER
Kristin Pazulski is a Philadelphia-native, Los Angeles escapee, and Colorado transplant who is delighted to be serving "I Have a Dream" as Development Coordinator and Grant Writer. After several years spent as a journalist and barista, she spent two years as executive director and editor of the Denver VOICE, a street newspaper, and freelanced for Denver's alternative weekly, Westword. She earned her B.A. in Communications and Marketing at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She serves as president of the board for Denver VOICE. Kristin was inspired by the "I Have a Dream" mission after years of working with people who were homeless; she's seen firsthand what a lack of education and support system can do to an individual's future. In her free time, Kristin loves reading, running, a smidgen of yoga, and rocking out to loud music or a good audiobook during her Denver-Boulder commute.
Courtney Geib, Executive Assistant & Special Projects COORDINATOR
A native Coloradan, Courtney Geib returned to her home state to join the "I Have a Dream" Foundation in 2015. She began her nonprofit career as a Notre Dame AmeriCorps member in the San Francisco Bay Area and has continued to work toward making educational and enrichment opportunities more widely available in communities across the country. Her experience includes classroom and after-school support for youth, literacy programming for inmates, coaching, tutoring, grant management, national program coordination, and performance measurement. Courtney holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
CHRISTIAN WIGERT, AMERICORPS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Christian joined the "I Have a Dream" Foundation in 2013 as a volunteer for the Phoenix class. After volunteering for a year, he went on to serve two years as an AmeriCrops member for the Griffin class in Lafayette. Originally from Colorado, he earned a BA in psychology and a minor in Education from CU Boulder. Christian has experience tutoring, coaching, mentoring, teaching and running after school academics/enrichment with the "I Have a Dream" Foundation. Christian is proud to be working towards narrowing the education and achievement gap in the community he grew up in.
FRANCISCO MEJIAS, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: IRIS & PHOENIX CLASS
Francisco Mejias joined "I Have a Dream" in 1999. He has a B.A. in Education and Bilingual Education from Metro State College. Francisco is fluent in Spanish and taught in the Boulder Valley School District for 13 years and the Denver Public Schools for seven years. He’s taught at elementary, middle and high school levels. He worked as the Program Director with “I Have a Dream’s” Broadway Class in Boulder from 1999-2009 and is now working with the Iris Class.
KEELIN MCGILL, PROGRAM COORDINATOR: PHOENIX CLASS
Keelin McGill's interest in volunteerism and working with communities was sparked when she started volunteering at the farmers market in her hometown of Morgantown, WV. After graduating from West Virginia University with degrees in Technical Editing and Spanish, she joined AmeriCorps as a nonprofit literacy program coordinator and ESOL teacher in Virginia. Her second year of AmeriCorps service brought her to "I Have a Dream" Foundation, where she worked with 3rd and 4th graders in the Oak Class. Working with "I Have a Dream" Foundation has deepened her passion for youth empowerment, multicultural education, and social justice. She continues to pursue learning and growth through work as Phoenix Class Program Coordinator at Boulder High School.
MARISSA SEUC-HESTER, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: GRIFFIN (RYAN & EAGLE) CLASS
Marissa Seuc-Hester joined the "I Have a Dream" Foundation in 2012 as Program Director for the Ryan Dreamer Class. She holds an M.A. in Secondary Education and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. Marissa is an alumna of Teach For America; after Duke, she returned to her hometown of St. Louis, where she taught literacy and social studies in urban middle schools. Her passion for kids and education stems from her belief that education is the most powerful catalyst for change. In her free time, Marissa practices yoga, enjoys cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
RACHAEL DURHAM, GRIFFIN PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Rachael began her journey with the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County in 2013 as a volunteer with the Ryan Class. Since then, Rachael has served two years as an AmeriCorps member with the College Department and Griffin Class (formed when the Ryan Class combined with the Eagle Dreamer Class) and is a proud mentor to a Griffin Dreamer. Originally from New Mexico, she attended University of Colorado-Boulder and graduated with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Rachael has experience as a teacher in Denver Public Schools and as an Educational Outreach Specialist with Colorado Youth for a Change in which she supported high school dropouts as they returned to school. She has experience with elementary, middle and high school youth and is incredibly excited about the opportunity to serve the Griffin Class again.
Seth Hays, Program Director: Aspen
Seth Hays joined "I Have a Dream" in 2013. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in Biology and Earth Sciences from Colorado Christian University and the University of Northern Colorado, respectively. Bilingual in Spanish and English, he spent three years in Nicaragua doing rural community development work before returning to Colorado. Seth has worked with kids most of his adult life in a variety of capacities and programs. He enjoys building relationships and the opportunities it brings for growth and change and to get to see life from someone else's shoes. He has a background in science and enjoys being outside, especially with his wife and daughter. He is highly motivated by his personal faith and connections with family and friends. He also enjoys trying new things, especially food.
Olimpia Mejia, Program Director: Rocky Mountain
Olimpia Mejia joined the "I Have a Dream" Foundation in 2014 as the Program Director for the Rocky Mountain Dreamer Class in Longmont. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She has had a very diverse background ranging from being the Head of Education, Training and Forestry Culture at Comision Nacional Forestal in her home state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, working as a Bilingual Instructor for the Cal-Wood Education Center, being a Bilingual Facilitator for the Latin American Center for Arts, Science and Education, and as an Assistant Producer, spending five months at sea to help produce various documentaries. She came to "I Have a Dream" to continue to work with children and help them to become achievers. She loves to hike, camp, run, bike, go to the movies, scuba dive, snowboard and travel. But what she loves the most is to spend time with people who love life.
Tracy Leffingwell, Program DIRECTOR: Oak Class
Tracy Leffingwell joined “I Have a Dream” in 2015 as the Oak Class Program Director. She has a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Masters in Foreign Language with a Teaching Emphasis from the University of Northern Colorado. As part of her studies, she worked and volunteered in the Dominican Republic as an English teacher and a sports camp instructor. Tracy has worked and volunteered as a literacy, math, and study skills tutor in Colorado for a number of years. She also taught Spanish in Boulder Valley School District for four years at a college preparatory and character education school.
JOrge Cisneros, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Elk class
Jorge Cisneros will lead our new Elk Class. Jorge has a bachelor’s degree in Computing Systems Engineering from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He worked for more than 13 years on corporations like IBM and Sybase. He moved to Boulder in 1996. In 2009 he gathered a group of Latino professionals to produce a health awareness radio show in Denver. In recent years he has provided consulting for Denver Public Schools with media production for both radio and Internet with podcasts by creating educational, social, and community content for their major Latino outreach initiative called Educa Radio. He is a yoga practitioner, enjoys new technology and loves to share his knowledge and experience with others.
AURORA SANTOS, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Carbon Valley CLASS
Iván Díaz, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: La vista CLASS
Iván Díaz was born and raised South Texas until the age of eight when his family moved to Eastern Colorado. After graduating high school, Iván attended the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) as a first-generation college student where he received his Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies in 2008. After graduating from UNC, Iván worked as the Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Weld County where he worked with underserved youth in the Greeley community before transitioning into higher education where he served as an Admissions Counselor at UNC and Retention Advisor at Aims Community College. During his six years in higher education, Iván also received his Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from UNC in 2013. Iván's drive and commitment to support and uplift young students of color comes from his own identity as a first-generation working-class student of color and work in access and retention support services. Outside of work, Iván enjoys art, music, discovering local eateries, being active through sports, biking, running, etc, and spending time with his partner and three kids. He is also a professional photographer in the Northern Colorado area.