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"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
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.
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.
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
Communication and Events Coordinator
Chloe credits her Master’s degree in Rhetoric & Composition from Northeastern University with giving her a desire to empower the disenfranchised. Through years of tutoring diverse populations, this desire has primarily manifested itself as a passion for supporting others in the pursuit of education. Her varied administrative background includes both world-class companies – i.e., Morgan Stanley and Fresenius – and local nonprofits, including the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in Boston, and MilkWorks in Lincoln, NE. Chloe enjoys putting her significant experience to work in service of her colleagues at CWEE. Her spare time is spent dancing, doodling, cuddling kittens, and traveling as frequently as possible. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
Erinn found herself transplanted to Colorado at the age of seven and has enjoyed growing up here ever since. She went to Metropolitan State College in Denver, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management. Growing up in Colorado and working in banking for many years, Erinn found herself involved with the local community and enjoyed helping people. Erinn has always wanted to work for a nonprofit and was happy to find a position with CWEE as the Receptionist. When Erinn is not working, she enjoys Colorado’s beautiful scenery, and visiting the parks and mountains regularly. A little bit of a foodie, she is always happy to dine out and try local cuisine with friends and family. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suzanne comes to CWEE with a background in international economic development. After graduating with a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, she served in the Peace Corps in Panama, where she worked with coffee farmers to improve their market options. Her time there solidified her passion for development work. After the Peace Corps, Suzanne returned to her home state of Colorado and completed her MA in Global Finance, Trade, and Economic Integration at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Suzanne has worked in industry and for the federal government, employing her finance and economics skills, but her passion lies in working directly with those in need, which is why she was so excited to join the non-profit world again and contribute to the important mission of CWEE. In her free time, Suzanne enjoys participating in community theater, traveling the world, and hiking with her dog Miel. She 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 at her 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
Joe is originally from Madison, WI and has dedicated the past six years of his professional and academic journey to workforce development in the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors. His experience includes training, recruiting, human resources, program coordination, and coaching. Joe discovered his passions for social justice and workforce development through internship/volunteer experiences in college, as well as his study abroad experience in Thailand. Joe believes that everyone, regardless of income or education, deserves equal access to employment training and opportunities. Prior to CWEE, Joe worked for a local nonprofit on the south side of Chicago which supported families and individuals in need with healthcare, education, and employment services. In his spare time, he is a huge movie buff and also enjoys hiking, cooking, singing with his local chorus, exploring Denver’s live music scene, and scoping out the best coffee shops in the city. He can be reached at email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Having worked in the nonprofit sector for years, Sarah joined the CWEE team in 2015 as the ABE/GED instructor, a contract position with The Learning Source. Sarah graduated with a B.A. from Boston University and received an M.A. from the University of Denver in 2007.ﾠ Sarah has held various education/program management positions through which she’s developed and implemented standards-based programming for people of all ages and backgrounds. Sarah grew up in Colorado and enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors. Sarah can be contacted at: email@example.com
Career Readiness Trainer
Jillie, originally from outside of Chicago, relocated to Denver in June 2016. Her passion to empower women and create an environment of positivity, inclusiveness, and equality has lead her life. After graduating she worked as a community organizer on the Southside of Chicago fighting for racial, social, and economic justice. The strength and resiliency she saw in women, helped inspire her to begin her own women’s empowerment program called, Love Letters to Yourself. She teaches self-love to women of all ages holding workshops and speaking events. While she did this in the U.S., she went to volunteer in Northern Peru helping start a women’s empowerment program. Before long, her and her friend co-founded Malayeka Charity Empowerment Center for Women and Children. Their mission is to empower women and children through self-love and education and it is still running today . After returning back to the U.S. in 2015, she has continued her motivational speaking and empowerment/life coaching on self-love to women around the world. When not at CWEE you can find Jillie hosting fitness classes, doing yoga, training for marathons, hiking with her cat, water coloring, being outside, and traveling whenever she can. Jillie can be contacted 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
Throughout her work experiences, Case Manager 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Raissa has long been a believer in the spirit of service. She's worked since a young age to be an active member of the global community, participating in projects in Haiti and Spain that focused on bringing quality health and educational services to rural areas. In 2011, she graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Special Education, at which point she started a career as an educational case manager and teacher. In the summer of 2015, Raissa relocated to the Denver Metro Area and decided to focus her efforts on Case Management where she felt she could make a significant impact by supporting families in need. In the summer of 2017, Raissa joined the CWEE team as a bilingual case manager and is enjoying her work helping young families find pathways to financial security. In her spare time, Raissa is avid traveler, a lover of languages, and a voracious reader. Raissa can be reached at email@example.com.
1175 Osage Street
Denver, CO 80204