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When I came to CWEE 33 years ago, I came for the mission. I have stayed for the tangible results of the important work that we do here. When participants come to CWEE, it is often easier for them to leave than to stay. It takes tremendous courage and determination to work towards self-sufficiency and move off of public assistance and so many of the individuals who succeed at CWEE demonstrate this spirit. It is visible on their faces as they begin to blossom. One graduate recently said, “CWEE was there not only to open doors, but to provide me the key to open the doors for myself.” When we impact one life, the ripple effect extends beyond the individual to his or her children and family and our community.
I believe that jobs can help us break the cycle of poverty. CWEE’s unique expertise and strong management combined with the continuous support of our private and public partnerships has served us well for the past 32 years.
Thank you for your support.
Chief Operating Officer
As CWEE’s Chief Operating Officer, Karen’s focus is on internal systems and supporting CWEE’s fantastic staff.ﾠ Her love for travel and culture and commitment to non-profit work has led her to work, live and travel in multiple countries and states, first with two tours in the Peace Corps, followed by years as an AmeriCorps member and staff.ﾠ Karen is a long time Red Cross disaster response volunteer, and enjoys living and hanging out in downtown Denver and trying out new bars and restaurants.ﾠﾠ Karen has a BA in English Education from the University of Illinois and an MS in International Development Management from American University in Washington, DC.ﾠ Karen can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"CWEE has helped me build my self-esteem. I feel worthy and inspired to do something positive everyday. Because of my wonderful experience at CWEE, I’m able to share it with others."
– Shawan, Alumni Award Winner 1998 & former CWEE staff member for 13 years
"I sit on many boards and councils but the endeavor that I am most passionate about is sitting on the Board of Directors for the Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE). CWEE helps individuals receiving TANF get the education and skills necessary to obtain viable employment putting them in a position to eventually transition off of public assistance and hopefully out of poverty."
– Taryn Lewis,
Board of Directors
"CWEE has given me the confidence I need and brought me some hope through this difficult time in my life. I am really grateful to be here."
– Michelle, CWEE Participant
CWEE has been a wonderful and positive experience for me. I’ve updated my skills and am preparing to re-enter the workforce. It has revived my self-worth.
– Rochelle, CWEE Participant
"One of the highlights of my year is taking pictures of the women and men of CWEE. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the graduates of this program, and especially the Alumni Award Winners."
– Whitney Yeager,
Whitney Yeager Photography
"Presenting at CWEE is an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. The participants are fun, interactive and willing to learn."
– Linda Hicks, Premier Members
Chris Pennington, CWEE’s Accountant, has worked for CWEE on a part time basis for 11 years. Chris graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder and received her CPA license in 1989. Her career began with Big 6 auditing and evolved into working for nonprofit agencies. She enjoys the culture of the nonprofit sector and the compassion of her coworkers. Working part time has allowed Chris to raise her 3 children. She loves spending time with her family and watching her children excel academically and athletically.
Development, Communications and Marketing
Director of Development
Baret Walker joined CWEE as Director of Development in 2016 to lead CWEE’s fundraising efforts, and to advance its major gifts program. Baret actively engages community members in CWEE’s program, and works to broaden CWEE’s exposure in the Denver Metro Area. She brings years of development experience supporting under-resourced families, predominantly in education settings. Prior to CWEE, Baret served as Development Director at Escuela de Guadalupe, an independent, dual-language school that created a pipeline to college for low-income Latino families. Baret earned her BA in Political Science and French from Middlebury College in Vermont. When she’s not expounding on CWEE’s positive impact, you can find her digging around in the garden, spending time in the mountains, or working on her next Trip Advisor badge. Baret can be contacted at email@example.com
Operations and Administration
Director of Operations and Administration
A native Coloradan, Jeannie became inspired by the single moms she worked with when she was a preschool teacher for Colorado’s Head Start program. The passion these Moms had for their children’s education made a lasting impression on her. This led Jeannie to a case management position in the TANF department with Jefferson County Human Services. In 2008, Jeannie found her way to CWEE as a Case Management Supervisor. She was promoted to her current position, Director of Operations, where she focuses on creating the best possible working environment and processes to ensure employees’ success in meeting the organization’s vision. Outside of work, Jeannie loves to play with her three grandchildren, travel, read, and entertain friends and family. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bio coming soon!
Born and raised in upstate New York, Emma recently relocated to Colorado after receiving her BA in Psychology and Hispanic Studies from Hamilton College. She joins the CWEE team after gaining interest in nonprofit administration while working in Hamilton’s Community Outreach and Opportunities Project office. During this time, Emma worked with a program connecting college students with local nonprofit organizations for long-term volunteer experiences, and also worked one-on-one with refugees at a weekly ESOL class in the local area. She is a strong believer in the power of communities, and enjoyed playing a role in creating a healthy relationship between Hamilton and the surrounding area. Emma hopes to continue building happy and healthy communities here at CWEE! In her free time, you can find Emma buried in a book, out frolicking in the mountains, or singing with her newly formed Denver a cappella group. Emma can be reached at email@example.com
Director of Employer Engagement
Stephanie, a Colorado native and graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, started her career in Miami, Florida. In 2009, she made her way back to her roots in Colorado. As the Director of Employer Engagement, Stephanie is responsible for executing CWEE’s employment-related services by developing strategy, generating leads and cultivating relationships with employers. Stephanie is also an advisory board member for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and uses her voice and connections to develop and support opportunities for advancement for her community, both personally and professionally. Outside of the office, you can find Stephanie and her husband at their kids’ sporting events, on a patio enjoying the Colorado sunshine or at the airport headed out for some rest and relaxation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Manager of Employment Services
As the Manager of Employment Services, Elizabeth enjoys being part of an organization that recognizes the important balance of education and support in order to create lasting change. In her role she oversees the day to day activities for the Employment Services team, working closely with case management and instructional staff, as well as community and employer partners. Elizabeth is a Colorado native and grew up in Lakewood before living in Minnesota and Tennessee. She returned to Denver in 2011 for school and received her M.A. in Higher Education from the University of Denver. She feels passionate about the work that takes place at CWEE and, in her free time, enjoys reading, baking, and spending time with her large extended family.ﾠShe can be reached at email@example.com
Career Development Specialist
A native of Michigan, Kira came to CWEE with experience teaching independent functioning, problem solving, and career related skills. Kira has a passion for helping others make positive life choices and she is thrilled to assist CWEE participants in preparing for, and finding, meaningful employment. It is Kira’s belief that it is both empowering and motivational to witness others build upon their strengths and skill set when faced with outside challenges. Prior to CWEE, Kira worked in mental health counseling and child welfare. Kira is a strong supporter of the non-profit sector and volunteers her time advocating for suicide prevention and mental health reform as a board member for a local suicide prevention organization. Outside of work, Kira enjoys writing, playing the ukulele and acrylic painting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Career Development Specialist
Rosie brings a wealth of experience from both education and the non-profit world. Prior to CWEE, Rosie was living in San Diego working for an educational non-profit and decided she was ready for seasons and snow. Over the past five years, she has dedicated her time to working with youth with disabilities to help them achieve higher education goals, employment and independent living. Rosie has always been passionate about working with diverse communities and addressing systematic issues in our world that create barriers for equal access to education and employment. During her time at University of California San Diego, Rosie studied Sociology and Ethnic Studies. As a fierce advocate, Rosie looks forward to becoming more integrated within the vibrant community in Denver and continue her passion for social justice. When she is not working, you can find her trying new food, soaking up the beautiful Colorado sunshine or traveling. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Career Transition Assistant
Roxanne brings a diverse range of experience to her role at CWEE supporting participants in their efforts to obtain economic self-sufficiency. As a Career Transition Assistant, Roxanne works closely with program participants to maintain their motivation, and assist them in the final phase of their transition from classroom to career. She deeply appreciates CWEE’s informed approach to addressing the whole individual, and providing comprehensive educational and support services designed to facilitate growth and success. Prior to moving to Colorado, Roxanne earned a M.A. in Program Evaluation from the University of Minnesota, and has worked in that capacity within higher education and nonprofit organizations. A focus on advocacy in the areas of economic self-sufficiency, homelessness, affordable housing and worker cooperatives has led to her involvement with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and Boulder Rights Watch. Roxanne also greatly enjoys foreign and domestic travel and has taught EFL in Japan and Portugal. In her limited spare time she enjoys hiking in the mountains, attending community events, and perusing local bookstores for works of literary fiction whenever possible. Roxanne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Training and Education
Director of Education and Training
Stephanie comes to CWEE with a background in both education and social work and a commitment to advocating for justice and equity for all. As the Director of Training and Education, she strives to ensure that CWEE’s curriculum addresses the comprehensive needs of our participants. Stephanie values community building as a way to strengthen resilience against the harmful impacts of poverty, trauma, and oppression. She believes that we are best able to make positive change in our lives when we feel understood, respected, and valued by those around us. Stephanie has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Secondary Education, a Master’s degree in Social Work, is fluent in Spanish, and has traveled throughout Mexico, Central and South America. Stephanie has an active life in Denver, especially in the summers when you will either find her working in the garden or backpacking in the mountains. Stephanie can be contacted at: email@example.com
Digital Literacy Specialist
With over 30 years of teaching experience, Novella came to CWEE in the early 90’s and has taught and facilitated a number of classes and subjects. As CWEE’s Digital Literacy Specialist, Novella enjoys creating curriculum and designing trainings to increase participants’ knowledge of social media, using the Internet, email, and Microsoft Office Suite. Novella has a daughter and two grandchildren. In her spare time, she and her husband are restoring a vintage 1968 American Built Coach trailer home at Lake McConaughy in Nebraska. She also enjoys spending time at her cabin near Conifer, Colorado. Novella can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Native of Oklahoma, Zenzal has lived in Denver since 1976. She began her career in the civic and corporate arenas prior to being introduced to CWEE in 1982. After completing the CWEE program as a participant, Zenzal worked for two major banks in downtown Denver as an Executive Secretary before returning to work at CWEE.ﾠ Zenzal’s experience gave her a passion to help single mothers transition into a self-supporting lifestyle. She has worked as a development coach, trainer, and program manager at Hope Communities, Inc., the Piton Foundation, and Urban League of Metropolitan Denver. Zenzal served as a Director on numerous boards, and is an alumna of Denver Community Leadership Foundation program. She is a self-proclaimed “CWEE Sister.” Zenzal can be reached at email@example.com
Bio coming soon!
Career Readiness Trainer
Throughout her work experiences, Meredith Jones has lived her passion to support individuals in overcoming obstacles and reaching their goals. Meredith graduated with her MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado and has worked in classrooms for young children, youth with Autism spectrum disorders, and teens preparing for life after high school. Originally from Alabama, Meredith moved to Colorado to work at a dude ranch and immediately fell in love with the outdoor spirit of the state. In her free time, Meredith enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Support Services
Director of Family Support
Carie has dedicated the past thirteen years of her career to working in the non-profit field, supporting underserved populations and helping them to achieve financial independence and personal success.ﾠ Before joining the CWEE team in 2009, she was a TANF case manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota and relocated to beautiful Colorado for the sunshine!ﾠ Carie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and was a licensed social worker prior to moving to Colorado.ﾠ She is certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator and enjoys working with a diverse group of individuals to reach their goals.ﾠ She oversees and provides direction in the Family Support Program department and is fortunate to have a wonderful team of case managers to support. She can be reached at email@example.com
Allyse Vander Plaats
Manager of Family Support
Allyse Vander Plaats moved to Denver from Des Moines, IA after working for a non-profit agency focused on the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Prior to working with WIOA funding source, Allyse served four terms as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. She studied applied arts, behavioral sciences and cross cultural studies while in college. Allyse is passionate about creating platforms for those voices that are not always heard. She has worked in advocacy and human services for her entire career and is so happy to have the opportunity to continue working in the field she is most passionate about. In her free time Allyse is an avid reader and enjoys exploring all that Denver has to offer. She is especially excited about camping and hiking in the area. One of Allyse’s favorite things about Colorado so far is the constant sunshine, not something she experienced in her time in the Mid-West. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Visiting Case Manager and Clinical Specialist
CWEE’s Home Visiting Case Manager and Clinical Specialist, Anna, has a Master’s degree in social work and over fifteen years of experience advocating for system change and working to support survivors of trauma and oppression. Anna conducts home visits with participants who are facing barriers to participation, in order to provide support and help connect them to resources. She also facilitates support groups and provides individual psychotherapy to on-site participants. Anna is particularly invested in understanding how poverty and violence disrupts our communities and silences us – and how we can strengthen our resiliency, reduce our isolation, and work together for change. Anna is glad to call Denver home and, along with her two young children, has developed quite the knowledge of the area’s many playgrounds.
Senior Case Manager
As someone who is passionate about helping others and motivating them to advocate for their success, Case Manager Brandi Singleton has found her niche here at CWEE. In addition to being a case manager, Brandi is also the project manager for the Steps to Success program at CWEE, a program designed to support participants in retaining employment. A Colorado native, Brandi completed her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Colorado State University. Life eventually took her to Phoenix, where she worked in the child welfare field. Brandi has also worked in victim advocacy and volunteers when she can. In her spare time, Brandi loves spending time in the mountains, skiing, hiking, and camping with her husband and two dogs. She can be reached at email@example.com
Senior Case Manager and Program Specialist
Originally from Wisconsin, Allyson relocated to Denver in 2012. While obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, Allyson worked concurrently at a homeless shelter in Wisconsin serving various roles throughout the shelter. Once she obtained her degree, she was promoted to the case management department and carried a caseload that consisted of working with both families and single adults connect to community resources and navigate any obstacles that interfered with obtaining stable housing. After relocating to Denver, Allyson gained experience working for the county to determine eligibility for public assistance programs such as Medicaid, TANF, SNAP and other financial assistance programs. Due to her passion and drive for helping individuals reach their goals and obtain self-sufficiency, she decided to pursue case management opportunities again and joined the team at CWEE. In her spare time, Allyson enjoys hiking and being with family and friends.
Fadumo is originally from Minnesota. Upon moving to Colorado in 2010, Fadumo has worked extensively building partnerships, developing trainings and advocacy that address structural barriers immigrant and refugee populations face. Her commitment to immigrant rights, economic and social justice has led her to work in a plethora of settings prior to joining CWEE. Fadumo’s experiences include developing leadership trainings on school discipline policies for concerned parents in Aurora Public Schools. She has also worked alongside community partners and legislators to implement workplace policies that ensure low-income families can take care of responsibilities. Fadumo has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado. Living in Colorado affords her endless opportunities to explore! Fadumo also enjoys blogging, solo travel and cooking. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John grew up in Denver in the Parkhill neighborhood where his experiences led him to obtain a better education to improve his life and better his community. After being a football coach for the Aurora Youth League John saw a need for struggling young men to have a mentor and receive support in education. John then decided to pursue a career in education while also volunteering his time in areas of adult education for nonprofits like Warren Village. John earned a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies, and an Adult Training and Development Certificate from Regis University. He enjoys building rapport with individuals and finding resources to support those in need. As a hobby he enjoys fiction and screen writing and video editing. John can be reached at email@example.com
Anthony developed an interest in psychology while volunteering at an HIV Clinic in Los Angeles. He realized there that his niche in life was helping people, and proceeded to earn his BA in Psychology. Anthony went on to work with teenagers in inpatient settings who were pursuing their GED while coping with mental illness. Anthony has since served diverse populations including LGBTQ communities, homeless families and youth, and those afflicted with chronic medical conditions and mental illness. He enjoys discovering new restaurants, playing video games, and watching documentaries, and plans to begin working towards his Masters in Healthcare Administration, focusing on ever-changing policy and accessibility. Anthony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica came to Colorado in 2014 from northern California and has long believed in connecting people to each other and to their communities so together we can create futures rooted in cooperation, equality and hope. She received her Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Denver focusing on sustainable development and global practice. Jessica has worked with agencies and institutions ranging in services to elders, children, refugees, higher education students and low-income families with roles including program coordination, family mentorship and administration. In her free time she enjoys cooking, going to the movies and hiking with friends. Jessica can be contacted at email@example.com
Joseph grew up in Colorado. He comes to CWEE with experience in youth residential treatment, transitional housing, school social work, and homeless case management. Joseph graduated from Metropolitan State University with a Master of Social Work Degree in 2013. While working on his degree, Joseph had an internship experience at a local transitional housing agency helping people experiencing homelessness navigate community resources. After obtaining his degree, Joseph worked as a Housing Stabilization Advocate at The Gathering Place, a drop-in day center serving women, children, and transgender individuals experiencing homeless and poverty. He is very passionate about helping and empowering people to accomplish their goals. In his spare time, Joseph enjoys cooking, playing golf, and playing the piano. Joseph can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura feels passionate about supporting individuals as they realize their strengths, self-worth, and build confidence to achieve their personal and professional goals. Laura graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in International Studies and Human Rights. She worked closely with refugees in the resettlement process which sparked her interest in a career in social work. Laura obtained her Masters of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where she continued working closely with refugees to integrate into a new culture and become self-supporting. Laura’s passion for service and to learn from other cultures took her to Costa Rica where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a rural, coffee farming community. There she worked with women who had experienced domestic violence, started a community-driven ceramic mural project, facilitated a girls' leadership program and taught Costa Rican youth about healthy sexuality using soccer. Laura moved to Denver in 2015 and began supporting individuals working towards personal and professional goals to advance their careers and overall family prosperity. Laura loves volunteering as both a mentor for youth living in a transitional housing program and with a refugee youth leadership program. In her free time, Laura enjoys hiking with her dog, dancing salsa and exploring the mountains. Laura can be reached at email@example.com
Scott relocated to Colorado from Oregon in 2017 after graduating from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Education in Family and Human Services. His passion for human services was sparked 10 years ago when he volunteered at an after school mentor program for children from financially disadvantaged households. That experience opened his eyes to the struggles and needs of people living in the community and started his path in the human services field. Since then he has worked with people experiencing homelessness, therapeutic preschool, hospice, HIV/AIDS support, and substance abuse outreach. When not working, he loves to garden and explore all the hiking opportunities Colorado has to offer. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat is originally from Kansas, but has been a long-time Denver resident. She believes that all can succeed, especially if provided with the necessary resources and support from their communities. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (emphasis in Criminology) and Psychology from the University of Colorado, focusing on mental health issues and treatment. Pat has worked with a variety of agencies providing services in corrections, substance abuse treatment, long-term care Medicaid, Employment First, TANF and other financial programs, and employment services. In her free time, she likes to sew, spend time with friends and family, enjoy Colorado, and travel. Pat can be contacted at email@example.com
Tosha has lived in Colorado since 1993. Her father, who was in the Military, moved around often. Tosha was born in Germany and has lived in Puerto Rico, Kentucky, Texas (all parts) and Colorado. Tosha obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/ Sociology with an Associates in Business. “Since I was a little girl, I remember watching the “Cops” television show with my father who was and is currently a State Trooper for the state of Texas. Watching that show inspired me to not only capture the “bad guys” but also to help rehabilitate those who have criminal backgrounds in order to become normal, law-abiding citizens”. For the last 12 years, Tosha has served the “hard-to serve population”, unemployed or underemployed and low-income families with non-profit agencies in El Paso County. “It is my passion to assist individuals reach their highest level of independence and self-sufficiency and I enjoy what I do”. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children and making tie blankets. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
1175 Osage Street
Denver, CO 80204