Staff

Central Office

Lori 2016Lori Canova, President & CEO

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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 served 1,000 students and their families in four communities (Boulder, Lafayette, Longmont, and Carbon Valley) within two of the largest school districts in Colorado (Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley), and has awarded over $2 million in college scholarships.

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, and is a co-founder and co-chair of a collective impact initiative called Dream Big, focusing on closing the achievement and opportunity gap in Boulder County. Prior to joining "I Have A Dream," Lori worked at Big Brothers of Metro Denver; the Mental Health Association of Colorado; the SB94 Juvenile Diversion Program for Jefferson Center for Mental Health; and at Human Services, Inc.

Lori has a Master of Social Work from the University of Denver and completed her undergraduate work in Social Work at Colorado State University. She has served on the board of directors for Foothills United Way and Volunteers in Prevention. She is a member of the Sanchez Foundation Board and in 2017, was appointed by the Boulder Board of County Commissioners to serve on the Boulder County Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee. Lori received the Woman of the Year award from the Boulder Professional Women Group in 2010, and, in 2015, received the Partnership Award from Boulder Housing Partners and the Women Who Light the Community Award from the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

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Terry Bittner, CFO

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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.

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Kasia Szewczyk, Vice President of DONOR RELATIONS

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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.


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Garett Brownlee Plantz, Vice President of Programs

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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.

KrishnaDR. KRISHNA PATTISAPU, DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE AND CAREER Programs

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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.

elyanaElyana Funk, Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV) AmeriCorps Site Director

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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

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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.

LM photo 1 vsmLESLIE MCCORMICK, DIRECTOR OF WELLNESS AND PREVENTION

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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 Bio Pic 2Alex nelson, dirECTOR OF academic PROGRAMs

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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 webSTOREY BLACKWELL, Director of DEVELOPMENT and communications 

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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 then serving as their Executive Director, 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 PhotoKRISTIN PAZULSKI, GRANTS MANAGER 

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Kristin Pazulski is a Philadelphia-native, Los Angeles escapee, and Colorado transplant who is delighted to be serving "I Have a Dream" as Grants Manager. After several years as a journalist and barista, she spent two years as executive director and editor of the Denver VOICE, a street newspaper, and has freelanced for Denver's alternative weekly, Westword. She earned her B.A. in Communications and Marketing at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She has served on a number of nonprofit boards, including board president for the 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, hanging with her pup Jade, and rocking out to loud music during her Denver-Boulder commute.

LizLiz bolejack, Volunteer COORDINATOR

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Liz, California born, Minnesota raised, came out to Colorado to attend the University of Colorado - Boulder, where she studied Sociology and Education. She has served "I Have A Dream" for two years in multiple positions, most recently as an AmeriCorps member in the Volunteer Department. She is excited to be building on her year of service as a full-time staff member, growing the Volunteer Department's capacity and continuing to recruit and train quality volunteers to support the Dreamer Scholars.

IMG 0536 3Courtney Geib, EVALUATION AND OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

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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.  

nancyNancy mejia-arias, College and Career programs coordinator

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Nancy graduated from Colorado State University as a first generation student with a major in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Ethnic Studies. She was born in Los Angeles, California, but grew up in Denver, Colorado. Her passion for college access and educational equity has grown from her own personal struggles and growth. She has served as an intern, mentor, and in leadership positions with a variety of youth, specifically underrepresented students of color, all who are first generation and she supported them through the college process. Being Bilingual in Spanish and English has helped her enhance parent involvement within the College and Career Department at "I Have A Dream" during a year serving as an AmeriCorps member. In her spare time, she enjoys enjoy spending time with her family and friends, camping, hiking, playing soccer, traveling, and swimming.

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CHRISTIAN WIGERT, AMERICORPS PROGRAM COORDINATOR

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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.

 

Program Sites

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FRANCISCO MEJIAS, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: IRIS & PHOENIX CLASS

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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 web KEELIN MCGILL, PROGRAM COORDINATOR: PHOENIX CLASS

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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.

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MARISSA SEUC-HESTER, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: GRIFFIN CLASS

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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. 

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scott krieger, PROGRAM directOR: GRIFFIN Class

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Scott Krieger joined the "I Have A Dream" Foundation after finding his passion for education and serving the youth of his home state of Colorado. Before joining Team Dream, he taught for four years in the Denver area, beginning with 6th and 7th grade English Language Arts at STRIVE Prep - Westwood, and then transitioning to 11th and 12th grade English at Eaglecrest High School. After growing up in Golden, Scott graduated from Gonzaga University with a B.A. in Journalism. The two years following, he worked for a large corporation, knowing all the while that he was being called to education. He returned to school and received a M.A. in Education from the University of Denver, and has focused on providing meaningful educational and experiential opportunities to his students ever since.

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Seth Hays, Program Director: Aspen

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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.

byon croppedTeresa Byon, PROGRAM specialist: ASPEN


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Teresa Byon was born in New Jersey where she attended Rutgers University and studied art history, psychology, and religion. She moved to Colorado and joined the “I Have A Dream” Foundation of Boulder County as a volunteer and then served two years of Americorps as a program coordinator. She is thrilled to be staying with the IHAD family, serving the Aspen Dreamers as a program specialist.

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Olimpia Mejia, Program Director: Rocky Mountain

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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 webTracy Leffingwell, Program DIRECTOR: Oak Class

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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 2016JOrge Cisneros, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Elk class

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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 smallAURORA SANTOS, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Carbon Valley CLASS

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Aurora Santos grew up on a small Pacific island called Saipan and then moved to Frisco, Colorado, to attend high school and pursue sports at a higher level. She studied Biology and played volleyball at West Virginia University, spent a year as a missionary in Uruguay, and then returned to her mountain home. She has worked with SOS Outreach, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center for adaptive sports, and with pre-schoolers at an elementary school. Most recently she worked with Summit Pre-Collegiate assisting First-Generation students with their college pursuits. She loves sand volleyball, snowboarding, hiking, building relationships and community, and remembering funny quotes from kids, but smiling's her favorite.
 

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Iván Díaz, PROGRAM DIRECTOR: La vista CLASS

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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.