Middle School Staff

Liz Wolfson

Chief Visionary Officer

liz.wolfson@galsdenver.org

Liz Wolfson created the vision for the Girls Athletic Leadership Schools eight years ago, raised over half a million dollars in angel funding, developed the strategic plan and moved to Colorado to open the flagship schools here in Denver. Currently GALS has grown to 350 students in grades 6-11, with its first graduating class in 2018. Liz Wolfson is also leading the charge to open a Denver boys middle school in 2017. Due to Liz's leadership, GALS is the first Colorado home-grown educational network to expand beyond the state's border, as GALS Los Angeles is set to open this fall of 2016. Liz believes her passion for comprehensive health in schools stems from her upbringing in the world of competitive athletics where she competed in Division I Field Hockey. Liz has spent the bulk of her career working for CEO’s and Philanthropists in manifesting their visions and starting up corporate and philanthropic projects locally, nationally and internationally. Former non-profit clients include the Institute for International Sport, The American Montessori Society, The Rose Institute (for homeless youth) and a former Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Former corporate work includes creating the first global communications division for Comverse, a world leader in voice activated systems, and raising seed-funding for TaskMail, the first Jordanian/Israeli high tech start-up company. Liz received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and earned her Masters Degree at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Liz considers herself a force in organizational behavior and strives to model leadership based on relationships, not compliance. Liz is married and has two daughters aged 5 and 9.

Carol Bowar

Executive Director

carol.bowar@galsdenver.org

Carol is thrilled to be at Girls Athletic Leadership Schools and The Boys School of Denver as Executive Director for GALS Denver (Colorado), after serving as a member of the founding board of GALS and a previous board member. Most recently Carol served as the COO of KIPP Colorado Schools, was the Director of Curriculum and Career Services at GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, and a consultant for the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Prior to living overseas with her family (Australia, 2012) she was President & CEO of Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. Additional past positions include Vice President, Program Services at Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, Director of Training, Education and Community Service Programs at Up with People, Policy Assistant for the Governor’s Office (Roy Romer, CO), Field Director at KaBoom!, and Program Officer for the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation. Carol received her Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She loves the quote, “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.” She is an avid hiker and runner, and spends her free time with family - Ted, Ellie - 12, Tate - 10, and Joey - 8.

Nina Safane

Co-Founder, Head of School 6-8

nina.safane@galsdenver.org

Nina, the co-founder of the Girls Athletic Leadership School, has worked as the RTI Coordinator, Director of Special Education, Director of Health & Wellness, and Director of Student Life at GALS. This year, Nina is excited to lead the Middle School! Nina graduated with a BA in Education from Brown University and an MA in Education from Columbia University. Prior to the opening of GALS, Nina worked as the Chief of Staff for State Senator Mike Johnston. A former Division 1 rugby player, Nina enjoys running, Crossfit, coffee, and ice cream.

Jessica Schwarz

Head of School, GALS MS, 2018-19 forward

jessica.schwarz@galsdenver.org

Jess is absolutely thrilled to be the next Head of School for GALS Middle School! She was born and raised in northern Michigan and has a Bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife management from Michigan State University (Go Green!), a Master’s degree in human geography from the University of Colorado - Boulder and a Post-Baccalaureate degree in secondary education from the University of Hawaii - Manoa. As an NSF– Graduate Research Fellow, she researched community-based conservation in northeastern Tanzania and has completed graduate work in educational psychology. Most recently, Jess has worked to incorporate restorative practices into middle school programming, served on instructional leadership and written science curriculum for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other environmental conservation non-profits connecting real-world scientific research to learning in public schools. Jess is passionate about learning opportunities that allow students to move their bodies and fuel the realization of their best, most authentic self. She couldn’t be happier to be among the dedicated and dynamic educators at GALS.

Jen Derosby

Dean of Students

jennifer.derosby@galsdenver.org

Jen is so proud to be in her 16th year of teaching and learning. She spent her first ten years at an urban charter school here in Denver and this is her sixth year at GALS. She received her teaching license from Metropolitan College of Denver in Secondary Social Studies and received her BA in liberal arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. This marks her third year as a full time administrator in her role as Dean of Culture. She will be working hard to keep the culture of GALS a positive and supportive one for our girls and their families. She has a passion for teaching about issues of social justice and believes that creating a space where girls can be the leaders and exceptional learners they naturally are is so very important. She is a 2008-09 United States National Holocaust Memorial Museum teacher fellow, a member of the Facing History and Ourselves teacher advisory board and 2006 Denver Mile High Teacher.

Betsy Barrow

Director of Enrollment

betsy.barrow@galsdenver.org

Betsy has been with GALS since 2011, and is currently the Director of Enrollment for both GALS and The Boys School of Denver.  She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Davidson College in North Carolina. She served as the Program Director for Breakthrough Houston, an educational enrichment non-profit in Houston, TX and then taught Biology and Environmental Science before moving to Denver in 2011. She loves hiking, yoga, vegetable gardening, and hanging out with her husband, daughter, and three pets.

Dolores Schaack

Director of Operations

dolores.schaack@galsdenver.org

Dolores was born and raised in Liberia, West Africa. She moved to the United States for college and studied General and Religious Education at Southern Methodist College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Dolores moved to Denver and attended the University of Denver where she majored in Business Administration. Prior to joining the GALS team, she worked as a Business Manager for another Denver Charter School, and a Sr. Administrative Coordinator for a laboratory products distributor, also in Denver. Dolores has a 6 year old son with whom she enjoys relaxing and hanging out in her free time.

Elissa Soden

Director of Strategic Partnerships

elissa.soden@galsdenver.org

Elissa grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where she competed on the women's tennis team. Prior to her work at GALS, Elissa worked in development and community outreach roles for Teach For America, Stanley British Primary School Children's Hospital Colorado, the Atlanta Falcons, and Kroenke Sports Enterprises. She loves swimming, yoga, hiking, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Jennifer Benningfield

Athletic Director

jennifer.benningfield@galsdenver.org

Jenni is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. She played collegiate basketball at Vanderbilt University and went on to play professionally in the WNBA and internationally. Upon retiring, she returned to the classroom where she received her master's degree in education with a focus on sport psychology. JB has served many roles in an academic setting as a director of operations, coach, and sport psychology consultant. She is ecstatic to share her passion for athletics and her love for teaching here at GALS!

Amber Brydon

Psychologist

amber.brydon@galsdenver.org

Amber is the school psychologist at Girls Athletic Leadership School. She is thrilled to be part of the Inclusion Team, working together to support our students’ growth. Prior to coming to GALS, Amber worked as a school psychologist and MTSS Coordinator near Chicago. Amber graduated with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Coaching from Miami University. She earned her Ed.S. from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Amber enjoys running, hiking, biking, and spending time with her family, especially her young son.

Julie Dolin MA, LPC, BC-DMT

Director of Counseling

julie.dolin@galsdenver.org

Originally from New York City, Julie has been living and working in Boulder for the past 25 years. She holds a BA in English from Vassar College, an MA in Dance/Movement Therapy from Naropa University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has a private psychotherapy practice working with individuals and groups, adults, teens and parents. She has also been Adjunct Faculty in Naropa University’s Somatic Counseling Psychology program, focusing primarily on group work, Authentic Movement, and mentoring students in their internships and in writing the Master’s Thesis. She has been fielding the question “why movement in psychotherapy?" for so long, she cannot believe her good fortune to be at GALS where the power of movement is a given, and playful, creative and strenuous activity happens daily. She is also the mother of two sons, ages 17 and 11.

Yolanda Dandridge

Lead Counselor

yolanda.dandridge@galsdenver.org

Yolanda Dandridge is a registered psychotherapist and researcher who has committed her career towards integrating Psychology and the Arts as an approach to emotional health stability. Yolanda has a master’s degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology, specializing in body and movement therapy. She has facilitated therapeutic and empowerment groups for over 10 years, addressing areas related to body paralyzation and phobias associated with: attachment styles, life transformations, women’s health, traumas, illness and community health. In, particular Yolanda’s master paper “Unveiling the Embodied Riddle - The Role of Dance/ Movement Therapy in the Black Body’s Developmental Experience” has started the conversation addressing the black body, and intergenerational trauma and how dance/movement therapy application can support the awakening, healing and re-educating the black body from the state of paralyzation to mobilization through the lens of developmental psychology. She also was a professional dancer for over 15 years, trained extensively in West African Dance, under the direction of Melvin Deal, African Heritage Dancers and Drummers. Yolanda’s philosophy “movement and body awareness are major components to healthy psychosocial development which support unity between the body, mind and spirit, as one.”

Laura Fajardo-Arbelaez

Counseling Intern

laura.fajardo-arbelaez@galsdenver.org

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Laura is currently pursuing a MA in Counseling with a concentration on Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Counseling from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. After graduating from Regis University in Denver with a BA in Sociology, Laura moved to Kansas City and worked in a Child Advocacy Center as the bilingual education specialist. She has experience creating and implementing personal safety educational programs in schools to students and staff. She is very excited to be part of the GALS community!

Ilana Fishman

SPED

ilana.fishman@galsdenver.org

Ilana comes to Colorado from the best city in the world, Philadelphia! She lives in Denver with her husband (a local) and their 2 daughters. Ilana has taught for over 17 years, and has taught every age from pre-school through Adult Education, and has enjoyed each age group immensely. When not teaching, or dragging her children to the mountains or bike trails Ilana loves to relax with a good book and espresso.

Karen Davidson

Director of Special Education

karen.davidson@galsdenver.org

Karen is thrilled to be the Director of Special Education at GALS. She is a native of Denver and loves to read and travel. Karen received her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Denver and her Master's degree in Special Education from Metropolitan State University. She has worked for DPS, Adams 14, Children's Hospital Colorado, and as an independent educational consultant. When not at GALS, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband, 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.

Lori Riley

Paraprofessional

lori.riley@galsdenver.org

Originally from Los Angeles, Lori found her way to Colorado via Texas and Florida. She attended Florida Southern College where she received a BS in Business Management. Lori has worked for Denver Public Schools for the past 5 years in the role as a paraprofessional and a Restorative Intervention Coordinator. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking, working out, yoga, and is especially passionate about hanging out with her two daughters.

Jenn Green

GALS Series Teacher

jenn.green@galsdenver.org

Jenn grew up in Denver and has a BA from Stanford University (Anthropology/Theater) and an MA in Education (University of Colorado/Denver). Her game plan for life is: find something you like to do and get paid doing it! To that end, she has worked for the Navajo Tribe in Arizona, joined a circus, performed on stage in New York City, Mexico and Europe, raised and trained horses, and managed community gardening programs at the Trinidad History Museum in southern Colorado. All these experiences inform her teaching, and after 20+ years in the education business, she is honored to be a part of the GALS family. This year (her 5th at GALS!) she will be splitting her time between teaching (GALS Series, grade 7) and working with the Leadership team (instructional coaching, curriculum development, GALS/Guatemala.)

Lynnsey Molinaro Gwaltney

GALS Series Teacher

lynnsey.gwaltney@galsdenver.org

Lynnsey has a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology and a Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus of Secondary Social Studies, both from the University of Arkansas. After graduating with her Masters degree in 2012, Lynnsey joined Teach for America in Chicago, IL where she completed an additional graduate program in Elementary Education at Dominican University. Lynnsey has taught at the University of Arkansas, Stagg School of Excellence in Chicago, IL, and Vantage Point in Fayetteville, AR. Out of the classroom, Lynnsey enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing Frisbee with her Border Collie, Edwin.

Maggie Dickman

GALS Series Teacher

maggie.dickman@galsdenver.org

Maggie Dickman is so incredibly excited to be in her second year at GALS as the 6th grade GALS Series teacher. Having attended a women's college, Maggie is thrilled at the opportunity to work to empower the young women of the Denver community. Maggie graduated from Scripps College with a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and then went on to the University of Colorado Denver for a Masters degree in Curriculum and Pedagogy. Before coming to GALS, Maggie taught 2nd and 3rd grade at AXL Academy in Aurora, CO. Born and raised in Colorado, Maggie is grateful to be able to work in this community. Outside of school, Maggie loves to travel, camp, hike, snowboard, play in the water and generally be in the great outdoors. Ideally with a dog, of course!

Alfredo Cervantes

6th Grade Science

alfredo.cervantes@galsdenver.org

This is Alfredo’s first year teaching. Prior to GALS, he graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology. He then attended the University of Colorado School of Medicine, from which he will be earning a MA in Medical Science. He spent the majority of his childhood living in West Denver and lived in El Paso, TX for his teenage years. He moved back to Denver at the age of sixteen and has lived here since. He married his high school sweetheart from El Paso and has two daughters, one of which is attending GALS. He has always wanted a career working with children and science, so becoming a science teacher is a natural fit. He is excited to be teaching at GALS because he loves incorporating movement into learning. When he is not working, he is learning new things and spending time with his wife, daughters, and many pets. He enjoys mountain biking, skateboarding, and eating Mexican food.

Alix Bowman

7th Grade Science

alexandra.bowman@galsdenver.org

Alix is excited to begin her first year at GALS as a 7th grade science teacher. Alix has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Environmental Health from Spelman College and Master of Science in Education from The University of Pennsylvania. Before moving west and teaching at GALS, Alix taught science at Miss Porter’s School in Hartford,CT and The Field School in Washington, DC. Alix is excited to rejoin the world of single-sex education and continue inspiring girls to pursue their passions in STEM.

Amanda Nichols

7th Grade Language Arts

amanda.nichols@galsdenver.org

Amanda moved to Denver from Pittsburgh, PA. She dual-majored in Creative Writing and Urban Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating, Amanda joined Teach for America Denver and taught three years at a traditional public school in Denver Public Schools. Amanda is excited to be working at GALS for the second year, and loves being a part of such a beautiful and supporting community.

Ben Slivnick

6th Grade Language Arts

ben.slivnick@galsdenver.org

Ben Slivnick has a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland and an MA in Data-Driven Education from Johns Hopkins University. He is passionate about reading, as an avid reader himself and as a teacher of reading. His favorite moments in teaching come when students discover new things while reading, and when reading pushes kids to see the world in different ways. Before moving to Denver, he lived in Chicago and Baltimore. His favorite sports team is the Chicago Bulls!

Caitlin Long

7th Grade GALS Series

caitlin.long@galsdenver.org

Caitlin Long is thrilled to teach 7th grade GALS Series and to be joining the GALS community this year! Caitlin graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in cultural anthropology and certificate in peace and conflict studies and has a Masters of Education in curriculum and teaching from Teachers College Columbia University. Before GALS, Caitlin has worked with several girl-specific organizations such as Girls Incorporated and Girls Leadership. Caitlin is honored to be teaching GALS Series and is looking forward to continuing to provide students the learning conditions necessary for them to strive on their own terms and become powerful advocates for themselves and others.

Carissa Solomon

8th Grade Social Studies

carissa.solomon@galsdenver.org

Carissa grew up in Pennsylvania and Maine, where she spent lots of time hiking in the Appalachian Mountains with her family. After earning her BA in Philosophy & History from George Washington University and an MA in Political Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, she decided it was time to conquer new challenges in life. In 2009, she moved out to Colorado to begin her teaching career and try her hand hiking in the Rockies. She is also a certified yoga instructor who enjoys sharing her love of yoga with the students at GALS.

Courtney Jensen

8th Grade Language Arts

courtney.jensen@galsdenver.org

Courtney has a BS in Youth Studies from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. After graduating in 2013, Courtney joined Teach For America in Houston, TX where she taught 8th grade Language Arts. During this time she also completed HISD's Effective Teacher Fellowship. As a Language Arts teacher, Courtney is passionate about spreading the joy of reading and writing to all students in the hopes they become confident and life long learners. Outside of the classroom, Courtney can be found reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two dogs.

Devin Romano

GALS Counseling Intern

devin.romano@galsdenver.org

A Colorado native, Devin is currently pursing an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver, CO. After graduating from The University of Colorado at Boulder with a BA in Psychology and English Literature, Devin moved from Boulder to Denver to pursue her dream of working in an empowering all-girl environment. She has experience working in settings that support the social, emotional, and psychological health of girls. She is thrilled to be a part of the GALS community this year!

Eric Messerli

8th Grade Math

eric.messerli@galsdenver.org

Eric has a BA in Mathematics from the University of Vermont and an MA in Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Colorado. With 20+ years in education, Eric has worked educating youth in neighborhood and charter schools, a private school, and an outdoor education center. He has had many roles during this time, including teaching and administrative positions. He is married and has two girls (Ellie & Cady) and one very large dog (Moose). He spends fall and spring weekdays and weekends helping coach his girls' soccer teams. He says Thursday is the best day of the week, as that is the day he plays ice hockey!

Hannah Miller

6th Grade Math

hannah.miller@galsdenver.org

Hannah loves teaching math at GALS! She graduated from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with a BA in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Middle School Science. Hannah was born and raised in Minnesota, but now calls Colorado home. She is currently working on her MA in Educational Leadership from Regis University. During her undergraduate career she was selected as a Nobel Peace Prize Scholar and spent a summer in Oslo, Norway and later participated in Teachers Ready for Peace, a 6-week graduate course in India. Before moving to Colorado, Hannah spent time teaching abroad in Slovakia and Tanzania as well as 4th grade in Sioux Falls. Outside of the classroom, Hannah can be found enjoying this beautiful state. She spends her free time hiking, biking, getting lost, skiing, gardening and adventuring with her family and friends. Teaching is her passion and she hopes to ignite curiosity in all of her students.

Jake Bury

7th Grade Social Studies

jake.bury@galsdenver.org

Jake hails from the bustling prairie metropolis of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He earned his BA from Augustana University in History and Secondary Education and then spent two years teaching, first in Eagle River, Alaska working with high school students and then in Windsbach, Germany, where he lived and worked with eighteen energetic 7th graders in an all-boys boarding school. From there, he spent two years at Utah State University in Logan, Utah where he obtained his MA in religious history. He is now living in downtown Denver and is incredibly excited for his first year at GALS!

John Stanley

7th Grade Math

john.stanley@galsdenver.org

After graduating from Clarkson University with a BS in Engineering, John started his career working in the automotive industry. While working for General Motors, he earned his MBA from University of Michigan. John’s career progressed through of series of positions that included running manufacturing operations around the world. Throughout his career, John spent part of his free time volunteering to youth organizations through the United Way and the CHOICES Education Group. He also spent time tutoring students in subjects from introductory algebra to college level calculus and chemistry. Five years ago, John made the decision to pursue his passion for developing the academic and leadership skills of young people full time. He enrolled in the Boettcher’s Teacher Residency program where he was a teacher resident in sixth grade math. When he is not teaching, John enjoys pursuing an active, outdoor life by hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and camping.

Katie Ritchie

Staff Accountant

katie.ritchie@galsdenver.org

Katie is born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She has a BS in accounting, and has worked in various non-profit and for-profit accounting roles for the past 10 years. Her passions include education and environmental stewardship. In her free time she power lifts, hikes, and spends time with her 2 sons and husband.

Laura Mondragon

GALS Front Office

laura.mondragon@galsdenver.org

Coming soon!

Lynne Spear

8th Grade Geometry (PT)

lynne.spear@galsdenver.org

Proud to be a part of the GALS community as both a parent and part-time math teacher, Lynne is in the midst of a career change from stay-at-home mom to public-school math teacher, in which she hopes to narrow the opportunity gap and inspire her students with the art of crafting elegant explanations for mathematical phenomena. She is from an eclectic education including a Master's in English Literature from CU Boulder, undergraduate studies in classics and visual arts, and some amazing adventures like visiting the California Grey Whales' Nursery in Baja and touring the perimeter of the US by bicycle. She is a fan of the United Nations, classical music (especially when played by her oldest daughter), toe socks, cats, and superheroes.

Paige Dersham

8th Grade Science

paige.dersham@galsdenver.org

Paige is a Colorado native who grew up on a farm near Brighton, CO. She has degrees from Western State Colorado University, University of Denver, and Mississippi State University. She has been teaching for 20+ years. Paige is a National Board Certified Teacher, one of the first to earn certification in Colorado. In her free time she loves to bike - both road and mountain, garden, read, and just hang out with family.

Penny Marez

GALS Office Coordinator

penny.marez@galsdenver.org

Coming soon!

Sarah Johnson

6th Grade Math/Enrollment

sarah.johnson@galsdenver.org

Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in Education from DePauw University and a Masters in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University. She spent a few years in the nonprofit world before diving into education with the Inner-City Teaching Corps in Chicago. Sarah has been teaching middle school math for a decade and adores watching her students fall in love with math. As a part-time teacher, she can either be found tutoring students at school or playing with her two little boys at home.

Sarah Kaplan

GALS SPED

sarah.kaplan@galsdenver.org

Originally from California, Sarah moved to Boulder 15 years ago to attend University of Colorado, Boulder, where she completed her BA in English and History. She went on to complete an MA in Special Education at the University of Colorado, Denver. This is her 10th year teaching. Her experience has taken place in three different districts, in regular neighborhood schools and charter schools, with students from Kindergarten through 8th grade, and in various models of education. She is very excited for her first year at GALS!

Teri Creach

6th Grade Social Studies

teri.creach@galsdenver.org

Teri Creach is a proud 7th generation Colorado native who enjoys sending time with her husband and family in this beautiful state. Teri left her first career in the tech industry to go back to school where she found her calling in a political science class. She studied many social and legal issues as she earned her bachelor's degree and ultimately realized that she wanted to dedicate herself to one of the biggest social justice issues of our time, equity in education. Teri went on to earn her master's degree in curriculum and instruction and has been teaching since 2007. As a social studies teacher, she hopes to empower her students to think critically about our past and creatively about our future.

Tim Lloyd

GALS SPED

tim.lloyd@galsdenver.org

A native Coloradan, Tim has also lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Tim became inspired by adventurous social experiences when he was a teenager. Inspired by friends, novels, and music, he found insight in addressing and, at times, embracing life’s unforeseen challenges. This resolve stuck with him through college, leading him to get his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Tim quickly saw a need and developed a deep passion for working with adolescents of divergent backgrounds. He eventually went on to earn his MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver. In his spare time, Tim works out, makes music, and explores uncommon, often illogical, creative ideas. He also loves/hates exploring Colorado and the West with his family in their 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon, responding to its frequent breakdowns, as a paradigm of life itself.

Vanesha Mcgee

6th Grade Social Studies

vanesha.mcgee@galsdenver.org

Vanesha grew up in New Jersey and has spent nearly all of her life living on the east coast. She graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice then went on to earn her Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania’s Teacher Education Program.