Staff

Jubitza Figueroa

Jubitza joined Child-Advocates Denver CASA in July 2022. She is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s Genders and Sexualities Studies from Elon University in 2021. Jubitza was previously a 6th grade teacher and has a background working with BIPOC and LGBTQIA... Read more

Nicole Brown

Nicole joined Child Advocates – Denver CASA in June 2022 as the Volunteer Retention and Data Specialist. She graduated from Front Range Community College with an Associate’s degree in American Sign Language Interpreting in 2014. She has a passion for child advocacy and her career in the child welfare system... Read more

Lauren Kapuranis

Lauren joined Child Advocates – Denver CASA in May 2022 as an Advocate Supervisor. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and holds a master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. Lauren began working in child welfare in 2015 and managed a mentoring program for... Read more

Melanie Griffin

Melanie is a longtime CASA volunteer and expert advocate on behalf of children in Denver’s foster system. Melanie has been a CASA volunteer for over five years and a Peer Coordinator for three years. Prior to working with CASA, Melanie had a career working in elementary-aged education. She is originally... Read more

Shelley Banker

Shelley Banker is a visionary leader passionate about changing inequities in education for Colorado youth, and organizing and empowering communities. Shelley is the Executive Director of the Community College of Denver (CCD) Foundation. Prior to CCD, Shelley served at the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) since 2014 as an... Read more

Donna Schmalberger

Judge Donna Schmalberger was appointed to the Denver Juvenile Court bench in October 2007, and served until her retirement in April 2020. During that time, she established the Denver ICWA Court in January 2017, for which she was awarded the Impact of the Year Award from the National Council of... Read more

Savanna Phelan-Jones

Older Youth Program Supervisor

Savanna joined Child-Advocates- Denver CASA in March 2022. She is originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, and she received her bachelor’s degree in Studio Art from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2018. Savanna has a background working in suicide prevention, and currently serves as a Commission Member of the Colorado... Read more

Austin Coyne

Development Associate

Austin Coyne joined Child Advocates – Denver CASA as a Development Associate in March 2022. He grew up in Golden and graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a BA in History. Since then Austin has worked in government, nonprofit and museum research roles, most recently as the Food Delivery... Read more

Theresa Cole

Director of Operations

Theresa joined the CASA team in March 2022. Driven by a passion for service to others and social justice, she has more than 20 years’ experience in the non-profit sector, previously working for Children’s Hospital Colorado, The Denver Preschool Program, and Catholic Charities of Denver. She earned a B.A. in... Read more

Drea Dowlin

Advocate Supervisor

Drea Dowlin joined Child Advocates-Denver CASA as an intern in 2018. Upon graduating from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Psychology with a minor in Spanish, Drea worked with Denver CASA as a Volunteer & Administrative Coordinator. Drea spent the last two years on the... Read more

Rachael Friedman

Community Engagement Manager

Rachael joined Child-Advocates- Denver CASA in August 2021. She is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania (home of The Office!), and she received her bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Syracuse University. Rachael then served as a Community and Youth Development Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia where she worked at... Read more

Vonia Adams

Director of Programs

Vonia Adams serves as the Program Director for Child Advocates-Denver CASA. Vonia has a background with the foster care system and CASA through her previous position as the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program Manager with Lutheran Family Services, including serving as a CASA volunteer. Vonia graduated from Clark University in Worcester,... Read more

Kara Angelini

Director of Development

Kara joined Child Advocates-Denver CASA in June of 2021 as the Director of Development. Her background is in nonprofit development for child welfare organizations, most recently working with development data and strategy at Tennyson Center for Children in Denver. Prior to working in nonprofit development, she got her start working... Read more

Robert Statton

Board Member

Ryan Gensler

Board Member

Ryan Gensler is the Director of National Partnerships for CareerWise Colorado, working to expand modern youth apprenticeship across the US. His career in workforce began after his time as Marketing Manager and Director of Community Engagement for Intertech Plastics. Ryan was contracted by the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance to build... Read more

Colin Ware

Board Member

Colin Ware is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience working in the arts, higher education, academic medicine, and non-profit consulting. Colin holds an M.B.A. from UCLA and served as a major gift or planned giving officer for University of Washington and University of Montana prior to... Read more

Bek Coelho

Board Member

Bek Coelho has been closely involved with the CASA organization since 2014 – serving on a multi-child case with Boston CASA and as a Development Committee member with Denver CASA. Bek, a Colorado native, spent nearly a decade on the East Coast, working in research at Boston Children’s Hospital and... Read more

Tiffany Edwards

Advocate Supervisor

Tiffany Edwards joined Denver-CASA February 16th, 2021. Tiffany graduated with a Bachelors in Feminist Studies with a Minor in Applied Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Most recently Tiffany graduated with her Masters in Legal Studies from the University of Denver with a focus was on Juvenile Law.... Read more

Brianna Holmes

Advocate Supervisor

Brianna joined Child Advocates – Denver CASA in August 2019 as an Advocate Supervisor. In 2014, she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Following graduation, she spent three years working directly with at-risk youth in a residential and alternative school setting. Upon relocation to Denver,... Read more

Karen Silverman

Executive Director

Karen Silverman has over 20 years of experience working in non-profit organizations with a background in children’s issue including child welfare, early childhood education, teen prevention and mentoring programs. From 2009 to 2014 she was the Executive Director of Smart Girl. Most recently, she was the Director of External Affairs... Read more

Dick Hulseman

Director of Operations

Dick has been involved with CASA for over ten years, first as a volunteer, then supervising CASA volunteers for programs in Denver and in Illinois. In a prior life, he had a varied career in the foodservice packaging industry. He has an MBA from Kellogg and a master’s in Organization... Read more

Selene Figueroa

Selene has a passion for advocacy and increasing institutional access for marginalized communities. She is entering her 6th year in the nonprofit world, and has dedicated her career on child advocacy, and has previously focused on barriers to education. While earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Society at the... Read more

Sally Vizas

Director of Programs

Sally comes to Denver CASA with over 15 years of experience in Colorado’s nonprofit sector. Having spent 7 years in development, she has been working with youth or supervising staff and volunteers working with youth in Northeast Denver since 2010. Sally is passionate about social justice, youth development and working with... Read more

Jackie Heins

Advocate Supervisor

Jackie joined Child Advocates-Denver CASA in March 2018 as an Advocate Supervisor. She graduated from New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition. She began her career working in the restaurant industry with her husband, owning and managing a few different restaurant concepts. Jackie discovered her... Read more

Suzy Martin

Senior Advocate Supervisor

Suzy Martin joined Child Advocates – Denver CASA in 2015. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in Psychology. Suzy has worked with adolescents for most of her career. Prior to her work with Child Advocates, she worked for several years with Adams County Department of Human Services... Read more

Caitlin McHugh

Past Board President

Caitlin McHugh is an attorney in Denver at the firm Lewis Roca Rothergerber Christie LLP. Her practice is focused on commercial litigation.  In her work, Cait enjoys finding creative solutions to address her clients’ short and long term needs.  Cait has been on the Board of Child Advocates Denver CASA... Read more

Kirsten Stewart

Board Secretary

Kirsten Stewart has been a member of the Child Advocates – Denver CASA Board since November 2015. She is a member of Sherman & Howard LLC and specializes in employee benefits law.  Kirsten’s interest in helping children in the child protection system began in 1996 when she was a law clerk... Read more

Michael Holland

Board Treasurer

Michael Holland joined the Child Advocates – Denver CASA Board in 2014. In addition to serving on the Executive Board, he also serves as Treasurer. Michael is a Colorado native and graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. Michael strongly believes that every child... Read more

Roy Banes

Board Member

Roy Banes is the Vice President of Financial Planning & Analysis at Ball Corporation where he has worked since 2010.  At Ball, Roy is a Finance leader focusing on strategic partnership in support of other business leads, and serves as the Finance lead on the Global Beverage Leadership Team.  ... Read more

Melissa Cizmorris

Board Member

Melissa Cizmorris is an associate attorney with Akerman LLP, where she has been since 2011.  Melissa’s law practice centers around labor and employment, with a focus on multiple and joint employers.  Melissa also serves on Akerman’s Philanthropic Initiative team and is involved in numerous pro bono projects in Akerman’s Racial... Read more

Suzanne Sanchez

Board President

Suzanne Sanchez is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Empower Retirement. Sanchez is responsible for all human resources functions. In her role, she leads the company’s efforts to attract, engage and retain top talent in support of the company’s long-term strategic roadmap. This includes providing attractive benefits, competitive compensation and... Read more

Alexander Savinar

Board Member

Kendra Smith

Board Member

Kendra Smith is a Senior Director at TIAA and has been with the financial services firm for over 25 years in various client facing, business management and product development roles.  Currently, she manages the health savings account (HSA) product offer.  She is also a member of the TIAA Denver Leadership Council. Kendra... Read more

Chris Vandall

Board Member

Chris Vandall is an Associate Principal and Sr. Project Manager at OZ Architecture where he has worked since 2005.  At OZ, Chris is a leader in the Resort/Hospitality/Mixed Use Practice Area, leads Social Responsibility and OZ Gives initiatives, and serves on the Sustainability Committee. Chris has been serving on the... Read more

Wendy Withee

Member

Associate Product Manager, Fixed and Fixed Index Annuities, Jackson National Life Insurance Company

Jack Weixel

Board Member

Jack Weixel is a Senior Director with IHS Markit and plays a key role in product development and client support focused on modeling real-time, short-term and long-term forecasts of natural gas supply, demand and storage. Jack comes to IHS Markit from OPIS where he helped build that company’s first ever... Read more