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Office of the Future of Work Team

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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.

 

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Melissa English, MS

Program Development 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.

 

Jessica Mathis

Program Development Specialist Lead

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.

 

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David Beck

Program Development Specialist

Dave first moved to Colorado in 2006 and quickly fell in love with the people and the beauty only found in our great state! He spent the majority of his adult life in the service and hospitality industry in Colorado, California, and North Carolina. The thrill of working with people from incredibly diverse backgrounds in restaurants, bars, and event centers is an irreplaceable experience that gave him a connection to the wide range of unique needs Coloradans have and their ambitious aspirations. From 2001 to 2004, he served as a community liaison at a North Carolina non-profit serving individuals coming out of homelessness. Additionally, Dave has also worked for the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment in the Unemployment Insurance Division, gaining valuable experience in the public sector. In 2022, Dave was chosen to be an apprentice with the Office of the Future of Work, completed his apprenticeship program in 2023, and now serves as an Apprenticeship Specialist. For Dave, serving the people of Colorado, growing our statewide workforce, and being part of shaping the future of work in our state is a high honor.  

 

Brett Schager, MBA, SPHR

Program Development Specialist

Brett Schager is a Colorado native and has lived here his whole life.  He obtained a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy and earned a Secondary Teacher Licensure from the University of Colorado in Boulder.  He began work in the nonprofit field as a Volunteer Director and Outreach Coordinator and developed a youth apprenticeship program teaching teenagers bicycle mechanics.  For the last 8 years, he was worked for the Adams County Workforce and Business Center, first as a Business Development Representative for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Program and then as a supervisor for WIOA and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (formerly known as welfare).  He has helped expand apprenticeships through several grants from the U.S. Department of Labor and Jobs for the Future.  Meanwhile, Brett earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Colorado in Denver and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources.  He is passionate about helping youth and adults enter meaningful career pathways and helping businesses find their future workforce.

 

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Penny Brooks

Program Development Specialist

Penny Brooks is a Colorado native and has lived in Rural Colorado her whole life. She obtained a bachelor's degree in science with an emphasis in Biology and Chemistry minor. Her experience includes peer tutoring/mentoring, SI (supplemental instruction), grant operations, academic advising, recruitment, retention, and apprenticeship coordinating. Her journey in higher education began at Colorado State University-Pueblo where she supported students wanting an opportunity to excel in the S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related fields. She later worked with numerous youth and local school districts at Pueblo Community College looking to get students college-ready and/or upskill their abilities in a trade-related occupation. She has helped expand apprenticeship for several employers on a national and state basis with a passion of building stronger communities through increased career and educational pathways.

Jasmin Tellez

Program Development Specialist Apprentice

Jasmin grew up in Colorado on the Western Slope. She holds two degrees from Colorado Mesa University, a bachelor’s of business administration in international business and a bachelor’s of art in political science. Jasmin’s first experience in working in the public sector came through an internship with the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. There, she supported diplomacy efforts with logistical planning and preparation of two trade missions for Governor Polis and Lt. Governor Primavera. After graduating from CMU in the spring of 2021, Jasmin moved to Denver and continued her career in public service after joining the Colorado Workforce Development Council Office as the board liaison. She is currently a Govern for America Fellow and is excited to be joining the Office of the Future of Work as a Program Development Specialist Apprentice for Apprenticeship Colorado!

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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.

 

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.  

 

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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.

Beatris Alvarado

Quality Assurance Specialist

Prior to joining the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Beatris worked in Higher Education for 17 years.  Her experience includes: grant coordination, advising, coaching, retention, recruitment, events, state and federal policy implementation, and student success initiatives. Her journey in the public sector began at Arizona State University Graduate College in Tempe, Arizona as a Student Support Specialist Senior. She has been a resident of Colorado as of 2016 and worked at Front Range Community College as a Bilingual Pathways Advisor. She has obtained a Master of Administration degree with an emphasis in Public Management from Northern Arizona University and a BA degree in Sociology from Arizona State University. Beatris’ passion has always been in helping others and helping build a strong community. Beatris honors the purpose and mission of the Office of the Future of work and looks forward to helping increase careers and education pathways for all Coloradans.

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Bryn Nelson

Access Team Manager

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.

 

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.

 

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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.

Laura Oliveto

Grant Specialist

Laura began her professional journey in Human Resources, where she honed her expertise in both the public and private sectors as a Generalist for nearly a decade.  She has also worked as a freelance grant writer, amassing a track record of crafting multiple successful and award-winning grant proposals. Her portfolio includes extensive research, innovative project design, and hands-on implementation of diverse programs.  In addition, Laura possesses over two decades of dedicated volunteer experience, primarily focused on serving communities impacted by inequities.

In January 2022, Laura transitioned into Workforce Development with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and HR Management. She also proudly holds certifications as a Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resource Management and a Certified Workforce Development Professional.

Laura's roots trace back to her Italian immigrant ancestors from Calabria, Italy, and Palermo, Sicily, who embarked on a life-changing journey to the United States in the late 1800s.

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Debbie Shackelford

Outreach Specialist

Debbie began her career in Financial Services, where she established successful divisions in Cash Management and Corporate Training. Passionate about empowering others, she transitioned to roles at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, first as part of the training team and then as Program Manager for Youth and Adult Case Managers. At the Colorado Department of Higher Education, she served as an Apprenticeship Consultant from 2019 until July 2023, focusing on expanding Registered Apprenticeships in the Healthcare Industry. Debbie is dedicated to helping individuals achieve their career goals and has volunteered with numerous nonprofits, including Special Olympics Colorado and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communications from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Alma Salas

Outreach Specialist

Alma Salas is a seasoned professional who has dedicated 13 years to the field of education, leveraging her expertise to serve her community as an Outreach Specialist for the State of Colorado, with a specific focus on Weld County. Her primary mission is to promote and expand apprenticeship programs within the region for seniors in High School.

Starting her career as an educator, Alma honed her skills in understanding community needs, fostering meaningful connections, and implementing impactful initiatives. With a Master's degree in Education from Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU), alongside minors in Chicano Studies and Political Science, reflecting her commitment to social justice and community advocacy.

Transitioning into her role as an Outreach Specialist, Alma brings her wealth of experience and passion for community engagement to the forefront. She spearheads efforts to bridge the gap between government services and the local community, particularly in Weld County, ensuring that resources are accessible and tailored to meet the diverse needs of students, with a specific emphasis on apprenticeship programs.

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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. 

Kate Anderson

Policy Advisor

Kate Anderson serves as Policy Advisor for the Office of the Future of Work. 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.

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Cristi Villamil

Program Assistant

Cristi joins the Office of the Future of Work (OFW) 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. 

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.

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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 Manager

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.

 

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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.

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.

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Tsiky Maxey

Digital Navigator

Tsiky Maxey is from Madagascar with over nine years of experience bridging two distant cultures. With a background in linguistics, Tsiky brings a deep understanding of communication and cultural nuances to her role as a digital navigator. She is passionate about technology and specializes in user interface and user experience. Before joining CDLE, Tsiky worked on increasing health equity in Denver, which enabled her to realize that digital access is also a crucial aspect of health equity. As a digital navigator at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Tsiky is excited to use her skills to bridge the digital divide in Colorado.

Heather Arellano

Digital Navigator 

Heather worked in the banking and finance industry for more than 10 years, providing education to adults through credit counseling, teaching financial literacy and educating customers with banking products and services. As a Branch Service Manager, she was responsible for providing training and coaching to new tellers and member services representatives. In 2013, she made the decision to transition to teaching Elementary Education, where she has served students for the past 9 years.

Heather attended Colorado State University-Pueblo, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science with a Spanish minor and certification in K-6 Elementary Education, K-12 Language Arts/English and Business/Marketing. She earned a Master’s Degree in Adult Education and Training from the University of Phoenix.

As a native of Pueblo, Colorado, Heather is excited and passionate about using her experience to help her community with access to digital resources and providing educational tools and resources necessary to become digitally literate.

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Edgar Medina

Digital Navigator

Edgar began his career providing services and educational programming to underserved communities in the nonprofit sector and moved to higher education organizations.  He comes to the Office of the Future of Work - Digital Equity Division after spending 15 years providing Career Pathway guidance and Apprenticeship programming in community college Adult Education, Career Services, and Workforce Education departments.


Edgar attended both the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin where he obtained his Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts and Master’s Degree in Education.


Edgar is a first generation college graduate, bilingual (Spanish), and son of immigrant parents from Central America.  He was born and raised in Oakland, California.

Erika Leon

Digital Navigator 

Erika is a lawyer in Mexico, where she worked in the public and private sectors for 7 years. She moved to Colorado with her family and has been involved in the community ever since.

Erika has been a community liaison, both formally and informally, working together with non-profit organizations, Boulder County, and school districts. Seeing the need to improve the social capital of immigrant families from her own experience, she started an organization called Familia A Familia where she helps families connect with the community through social, cultural, nature, and S.T.E.M. activities in Colorado.

A real estate investor and a passionate Colorado outdoors enthusiast, she joined the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment as a Digital Navigator, and she is excited to help bring Digital Equity to the Colorado community.

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Chad Cullen

Digital Navigator

Originally from Florida, Chad has spent most of his adult life abroad, having previously studied in Australia, Thailand and China as an undergraduate across a range of exchange, internship, and language programs. After graduation, he taught high school in rural Japan on the Japan Teaching and Exchange (JET) Program, later completing his Master's of Teaching at the University of Tasmania in 2015 and teaching in Tasmanian secondary schools for a further six and a half years. Now a dual US/Australian citizen, he relocated to the Denver area in 2023.


Chad has been very keen on technology from an early age, and prior to becoming a teacher, worked in educational technology. Helping others use and understand technology is one of the things he enjoys most about teaching, and having had the opportunity to live in many different countries where language could often present a barrier to accomplishing everyday needs, the work of a Digital Navigator is something very close to his heart.