Office of the Future of Work Team


Joe Barela

Executive Director, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

In December 2018, Governor Polis appointed Joe Barela as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Joe brings more than 25 years of experience in workforce issues to CDLE and is seen as a local and national leader in the field. Joe is passionate about creating more opportunities for better career pathways for working Americans, and brings that passion and leadership to his role at CDLE.

In 2015, Joe served at the U.S. Department of Labor as a Senior Advisor; he helped coordinate the USDOL’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) at state and local levels. In his current role as the Executive Director of CDLE, Joe serves on the Business Experiential and Learning Commission, the Education Leadership Council, and the Colorado Workforce Development Council. He also serves on the board for the Center for Work Education and Employment, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies while also chairing their Labor Market Information Committee.


Katherine Keegan, MSSW

Director, Office of the Future of Work

Katherine began her career in Boston with Catholic Charities providing resettlement services to newly arrived refugees. This work led her to pursue a master’s of science in social work at The University of Texas at Austin where she focused her studies on systems change, program development, and coalition building. Katherine honed her leadership abilities by managing statewide AmeriCorps VISTA and State programs in Texas. After returning to her home state, Colorado, Katherine worked as a Senior Manager of Coaching Initiatives with Skillful. There she oversaw the Skillful Coaching Initiative in Colorado and Indiana, and developed pilot projects to increase access to coaching services for target populations. In August 2019, she joined the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment as the Director of the Office of the Future of Work.



Denise Miller, Ed.D  

Director, Apprenticeship Colorado

Denise Miller, Ed.D. is the Director of Apprenticeship Colorado at the Office of the Future of Work in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). After 15 years in direct service and program leadership, Denise earned a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt's Peabody College with a focus on the social context of education from preschool through adult learning. She serves as the Colorado subject matter expert in state legislation and actively contributes to national apprenticeship expansion policy through her membership in the National Association of Apprenticeship State and Territorial Directors (NASTAD), the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, and collaboration with the US Department of Labor. Her background in education and workforce in low-income communities, commitment to Colorado's distinct local diversity, and dedication to partnership drives her to create an inclusive and equitable registered apprenticeship system. Since joining the CDLE in 2019, Denise has secured over $12M in federal investment for the state's apprenticeship expansion efforts, partnered with the Colorado Urban Workforce Alliance to launch the nationally recognized "Apprenticeship Hub", and consulted on the legislation and led implementation of the State's Apprenticeship Agency.


Melissa English, MS

Apprenticeship Specialist Manager

Melissa started her career in workforce development at the Larimer County Workforce Center as a Business Services Consultant shortly after graduating from college and moving to Colorado from the east coast. While at the Workforce Center, Melissa returned to school to complete her Master’s degree in Human Resources Management so she could better understand the needs of the businesses she worked with daily and could truly think like an employer, a perspective she still takes into every employer conversation today. After moving to Denver, Melissa made a career transition into higher education and began working as an Experiential Learning Coordinator at Red Rocks Community College, helping students gain hands-on experience to complement what they were learning in the classroom. While at Red Rocks Community College, Melissa helped develop the first cybersecurity registered apprenticeship program in Colorado and found a passion for helping organizations develop high-quality registered apprenticeship programs that expand apprenticeship opportunities to individuals throughout Colorado. Melissa brings over 15 years of registered apprenticeship, higher education, and workforce development experience to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the Office of the Future of Work.



Kate Anderson

Senior Strategist

Kate Anderson serves as Senior Strategist in a shared role between the Office of the Future of Work and Workforce Development Programs at CDLE. In this capacity, she brings 20 years of workforce development experience to provide consultation and analysis on federal and state legislation, policy, rulemaking, and strategic planning and alignment.

Prior to joining the Office of the Future of Work, Kate developed state policy guidance to help Colorado’s public workforce system transition from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA). She also led the initial implementation of sector partnerships in Colorado and established Colorado’s annual Sector Academies as a successful technical assistance model.

Before moving to Colorado in 2008, Kate was at the forefront of new grants and initiatives for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration’s Business Relations Group. Kate holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Duke University, a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College, and is a Certified Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner.


Bryn Nelson

IDEA Grant Coordinator

Bryn began her career in elementary education, working as both a teaching fellow and third-grade teacher for Denver Public Schools and San Antonio Independent School District. She transitioned from education to workforce development as a career-focused case manager for Denver Housing Authority. In 2018, Bryn earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado Denver. Bryn brings over eight years’ experience in workforce development, grant administration, case management, strategy development, and partnership creation to CDLE's Office of the Future of Work.



David Beck

Apprenticeship Specialist Apprentice

Dave has been chosen to be the Apprenticeship Specialist Apprentice in CDLE's Office of the Future of Work. As an apprentice, Dave will be developing the skills and hands on experience necessary to become an Apprenticeship Specialist with a focus on creating and expanding high quality registered apprenticeship programs with the Colorado Department of Corrections. He brings over ten years of experience working in the service and hospitality industry and an excitement to advance and grow registered apprenticeships which will provide pathways to thriving careers for justice-involved individuals as well as opportunities for all Coloradans.


Brad Roller

Quality Assurance Manager

Brad has diverse experience in public affairs, which encompasses policy analysis, grant management, and government relations. Most recently, before joining the Office of Future of Work, Brad served as a regional liaison with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment's (CDLE) Workforce Development Programs office functioning as a team lead for program monitoring and technical assistance activities for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) programs and several discretionary grants. Prior to joining CDLE, Brad was a senior analyst at Maher & Maher (an affiliate of the American Institutes for Research), where he assisted the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration provide technical assistance to state agencies expanding apprenticeship, and trained local workforce development professionals in the use of the Human-Centered Design. He began his work in workforce development as a government relations associate for the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association, where he worked as a liaison between the local workforce development system and state and federal agencies. He has a Master of Public Administration from Penn State University and a BA degree in Anthropology from Dickinson College.



Charlene Wisher-Howard

Program Assistant 

Charlene continues her career in executive level administrative support; working for DuPont, Cap Gemini/Ernst & Young, ReMax International, Sage Hospitality and currently for the past 14 years with the State of Colorado. In 1998, Charlene earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix-Colorado campus.  Charlene brings over 30 years’ experience in Administration to CDLE's Office of the Future of Work.


Jessica Mathis

Apprenticeship Specialist

Jessica is a Colorado Native.  She moved from Southern Colorado to Northern Colorado to attend the University of Northern Colorado where she obtained her Bachelors in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology and went on to achieve a Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling. Jessica began her career as a Rehabilitation Counselor at North Range Behavioral Health in Greeley Colorado and joined the state as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in 2016. She brings over 8 years of experience helping build relationships between employers and job seekers and excitement to expand registered apprenticeship opportunities. She is passionate about providing services to Coloradans to ensure a diverse, inclusive, and stable workforce for generations to come.



Londell Jackson, M.Ed.

DEIA Specialist

Throughout his career, Londell has supported organizations which have worked to uplift Denver's underserved and marginalized communities as well as those organizations which support Colorado's nonprofit sector do what they do better.  Additionally, he has worked for private foundations and nonprofit organizations which have had a national reach to support LGBTQ+ rights, workforce development priorities, and our nation's personal financial education sector. Over the years, Londell has lent his time and talents to numerous groups and organizations such as local workforce development boards, citywide commissions, foundation boards, educational committees, national affinity group committees, and several more.  

Londell earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver in Nonprofit Administration in Urban Communities and went on to complete a Master of Education degree from Regis University with a specialization in Adult Learning, Training, and Development.  These educational attainments have allowed Londell to assist nonprofit professionals and their customers and clients achieve their highest goals, objectives and outcomes.

Londell is proud to be a 4th generation Denver native as well as a 6th generation Colorado Territory native who has over 25 years of combined professional, volunteer, and educational experience from which he draws upon while in his role as Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) Specialist for CDLE’s Office of Future of Work. 

Katie Reidy Buelter

Communications Specialist

Katie began her career providing resources and educational programming to underserved communities in the nonprofit sector.  She comes to the Office of the Future of Work after spending four years providing support and grants management to the Department of Public Safety's Office for Victims Programs.  Katie attended the University of Denver where she obtained her bachelor's degree in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in Art History.  During that time, she lived abroad in Quito, Ecuador studying social services and working with survivors of domestic violence.  She looks forward to creating engaging, accessible content and finding new efficiencies for the Apprenticeship program.



Melanie Colletti

Digital Equity Manager

Melanie’s experience with digital equity evolved during her seventeen years at public libraries. Interactions with patrons who did not have access to reliable internet connections, devices, and/or the skills needed to use devices, prompted Melanie’s work with State prisons and halfway houses, and included outreach to a variety of community-based organizations that helped job seekers overcome barriers to employment.

Melanie joined the Office of the Future of Work as Digital Equity Manager in September of 2022, bringing with her an awareness of inequities around digital inclusion, resilience, and literacy, which she acquired while working directly with library customers wanting to create email accounts, apply for jobs, or connect with family online.

Melanie has a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Denver and has attended several other Colorado higher education institutions. Born and raised in Colorado, she has lived in cities from Cripple Creek to Denver.

Dale Reed

Salesforce Administrator

Dale is the Salesforce administrator for the Colorado Workforce Development Council and the Office of the Future of Work.  He had an extensive career as a software developer in the private sector, including working for Siemens in Munich, Germany for ten years.  He has a deep passion for technology.  His expertise spans across different programming languages, software development tools, and technologies.  He began working for the state of Colorado at CDLE in 2013 with the Unemployment Insurance division.  He then moved to HR and was the system administrator for the performance management EQEP system.  He became a Salesforce administrator in 2022.  Dale is committed to providing exceptional service and being an asset to the CDLE team.  Apart from his work, Dale loves to read, hike, be in the mountains, fish, and cycle. He enjoys spending time with his family and exploring new adventures.


Courtney Phillips

Operations Manager

Courtney has experience working at various levels of local and state government and several prominent nonprofit organizations in Colorado. She began her career at Jefferson County Human Services and then transitioned into the nonprofit sector, working in case management and grant administration. Courtney has always been mission-driven, which ultimately led her back to a career in state government, working to improve community access to physical and behavioral health care and quality of health care. Courtney looks forward to bringing her diverse experience and skill set to the role of Operations Manager at CDLE’s Office of the Future of Work. 

Drew Grissom

Career Services Specialist

Drew has a diverse professional experience working in a variety of roles in social services for both nonprofits and government.  His professional background is primarily in Child Welfare, working as a Child Welfare Social Worker for the State of Idaho.  After moving to Colorado, Drew worked for the Denver Indian Center.  First as a case manager and data specialist in the Honoring Fatherhood Program and later as the Program Manager of the Native Workforce Program.  Drew joined the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment in 2019 as a Program Monitor in Workforce Development Programs.  In that role, he was the subject matter expert for the WIOA Title I Youth Program and provided technical assistance and training on a variety of items relating to Data Integrity and Data Validation for Title I programs.  He joined the Office of the Future of Work in 2022 as the Career Services Specialist.  Drew holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College and a Master’s of Social Work from Eastern Washington University.


Cristi Villamil

Program Assistant

Cristi joins the Office of the Future of Work (OFW) and the Office of New Americans (ONA) with over 25 years of experience in Office Management and Executive Administration in various industries, within both public and private sectors.  Prior to joining the OFW and ONA, Cristi spent two years working in the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) at CDLE where she learned the importance of providing intentional training and resources to underserved communities.  Born and raised in rural Colorado, she also brings with her an understanding and appreciation for the diverse communities and cultures in our state.  Cristi looks forward to using her experience and skill set to provide high-quality services and guidance on resources and referrals in her role. 

Katie Reynolds

Quality Assurance Specialist

Prior to joining the Office of the Future of Work, Katie worked as an employee benefits and executive compensation consultant for eight years, providing regulatory compliance and quality assurance assistance to a variety of organizations in both the public and private sector.  Originally from New Jersey, Katie received her law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law and has lived in Colorado since 2014. Katie strongly believes in the purpose and mission of the Office of the Future of Work and looks forward to helping increase career and education pathways for all Coloradans.  


Joanne Sax

Quality Assurance Specialist

Joanne moved to Colorado from Northern California when she was 12 years old. After obtaining her BA in Human Biology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, she moved back to the Bay Area.  After missing the Colorado Rockies, she moved back to Colorado in 2005 and started her career at El Paso County Public Health Department as an Environmental Protection Specialist, specializing in regulatory compliance. Previously working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, she was a local public health liaison in support of federal and state-wide initiatives. She brings 14 years of experience training and monitoring business owners, public and private institutions, and their employees to prevent communicable disease transmission throughout Colorado. Her passion is to serve, support, help and empower the community around her. She stands behind CDLE’s mission and is grateful to participate in the Office of Future of Work to equip our partners for success.

Jessie Hawthorn

Digital Navigator Program Administrator

Jessie graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and worked for a short time with the National Conference on State Legislatures as a Research Analyst helping legislators around the country implement welfare reform.  Around that time, Jessie learned of an opportunity to volunteer in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning.  This experience deeply impacted Jessie and started her career serving historically marginalized communities.  Jessie has helped youth and adults improve their basic skills, English language proficiency, earn their high school equivalency diplomas and gain other skills needed for success in career and postsecondary education and training as an instructor, program manager and as a member of the adult education department at the Colorado Department of Education.  She has connected youth and adults in adult education programs with Connecting Colorado and their local workforce centers.  Jessie served on the Adams County Workforce Development Board from 2017-2020.  She has also served on the board of the Colorado Adult Education Professional Association (CAEPA).

Shortly after earning her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education at the University of Colorado at Denver, she was accepted as an English Language Fellow by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the US State Department.  Jessie served as a fellow for a year at Jimma University in southwestern Ethiopia.  After that, she taught English at the Universidad del Istmo in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Jessie was born in Flagstaff, Arizona and has lived in Colorado since 1996.  She lives in ‘original’ Aurora with her three children, dog and cat.