Middle School Leadership

Sara Shapiro

Head of School 6-8


Sara joined GALS in the founding year of the high school and is thrilled to be a part of something so awesome! Sara grew up near Chicago (Go Cubs!) and has a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a M.A. in Education from University of Colorado, Denver. She moved to Colorado in 2010 and has not looked back! In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, hanging out with friends, talking about politics and history, attending her book club, and snuggling with her dog George. Sara's favorite movie is Beauty and the Beast (1991).

Nina Safane



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.

Jen Derosby

Dean of Students


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.

Jenn Green

Dean of Students


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.

Carol Bowar

Executive Director


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.

Liz Wolfson

Chief Visionary Officer


Liz Wolfson created the vision for the Girls Athletic Leadership Schools in 2008, 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. 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 opened in 2016, and GALS Idaho is set to open in 2020. 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.

Middle School Staff

Alix Bowman

7th Grade Science


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.

Jake Bury

7th Grade Social Studies


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!

Alfredo Cervantes

6th Grade Science


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.

Teri Creach

6th Grade Social Studies


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.

Paige Dersham

8th Grade Science


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.

Maggie Dickman

6th Grade GALS Series Teacher


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!

Lynnsey Molinaro Gwaltney

8th Grade GALS Series Teacher


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.

Courtney Jensen

8th Grade Language Arts


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.

Sarah Johnson

6th Grade Math/Enrollment


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.

Caitlin Long

7th Grade GALS Series


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.

Eric Messerli

8th Grade Math


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!

Ben Slivnick

6th Grade Language Arts


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!

Carissa Solomon

8th Grade Social Studies


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.

John Stanley

7th Grade Math


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.

Lynne Spear

8th Grade Geometry & 6th Grade Math


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.

Student Support Team

Amber Brydon

School Psychologist


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.

Sarah Covey

GALS Special Education


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!

Yolanda Dandridge

Lead Counselor


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.”

Karen Davidson

Director of Special Education


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.

Julie Dolin MA, LPC, BC-DMT

Director of Counseling


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.

Laura Fajardo-Arbelaez

Bilingual Counselor


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

GALS Special Education


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.

Tim Lloyd

GALS Special Education


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.

Lori Riley



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.

Devin Romano

GALS Counseling Intern


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!

Michelle Shea



Michelle grew up in Connecticut and has been living in Colorado for close to 10 years. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and an MA in Special Education from the University of Colorado Denver. Prior to GALS Michelle completed two years of AmeriCorps at Mile High Youth Corps, where she built trails, used a chainsaw and provided the Denver Metro area with environmental education. She then went on to become a Denver Math Fellow at DCIS Montbello teaching 6th grade math in a unique small group setting. When outside of the classroom, Michelle can be found exploring the city and mountains she has grown to love so much!

6-12 Support Staff

Betsy Barrow

Director of Enrollment


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.

Jennifer Benningfield

Athletic Director


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!

Laura Mondragon

GALS Front Office


Coming soon!

Elissa Soden

Director of Strategic Partnerships


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.

Felicia Soifer

MS Director of Academics & HS Academic Support Liaison


Originally from Los Angeles, Felicia graduated from University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Sociology. After college, she moved to New York City, where she taught for nine years and received her Master's degree in Elementary Education and Curriculum from City College, City University New York. Felicia came to GALS after working for various educational non-profits as a freelance writer. She taught 6th grade language arts for two years at GALS before becoming the Director of Academics. When not working, Felicia spends all her time playing in beautiful Colorado with her amazing family, husband Josiah, their two boys Jackson and Spencer, and the family dogs, Harlem and Renaissance.

Dolores Schaack

Director of Operations


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.