Sylvia Kamau-Small – North Denver
Sylvia, among other roles – is a mother, a wife, sister, aunt, and doggie mom. With a passion for social determinants of health, she’s followed an educational and professional journey to address the disparities experienced by far too many.
For a large portion of her career, Sylvia has supported the critical work of community organizations, health care centers, school districts, and community coalitions as a grant maker in the philanthropic sector. With Sylvia’s lived experience as a black woman, and an immigrant’s daughter; she’s used her perspective and knowledge to initiate the integration of equitable practices in grantmaking. Sylvia has introduced and advocated for the adoption of participatory grantmaking by the philanthropic sector. Sylvia believes that one of the many benefits of the Youth Roots work is to further advance participatory approaches in the philanthropic sector, while spotlighting the perspective and contributions of youth in philanthropy.
Candice Bailey – Aurora
Candice Bailey is an avid way maker, educator, advocate, and leader in the Denver metro area and across the nation. She is the Founder and CEO of Lighthouse Consultants Colorado, which supports community-based action inside of systems, and is the Founder and ED of Light Carrier, a nonprofit dedicated to nationwide interruption of oppression. She has been an advocate for many campaigns, including being the lead organizer for the Elijah McCain murder, and advocating for the families of Jesse Cedillo, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. Additionally, she was a founding member of The Caravan for Racial Justice in 2020; a former President of National Action Network Denver; and has had the honor of serving the community on many boards and committees across Colorado and the country. Having both education and lived experience has given Ms. Bailey a raw comprehension of what is truly needed for impactful change for everyone
Ru-Jün is the Program Manager on the Contemplative Programs team at Hemera Foundation with over two decades of nonprofit and philanthropy experience in Asia and the US. She is passionate about empowering youth to explore and express their experiences and imagination through the arts. In parallel, she has become a student of somatic contemplative traditions and has learned through years of meditation and dyad practice how we can be with each other with a present and open heart. Ru-Jün is currently in a Master of Oral History program at Columbia University.
Sydney Zorensky – Douglas County
Sydney is a born and raised “Cali girl”. Before moving to Denver, she lived and worked in NYC where she fell in love with working in youth development and empowerment. After ten years of living and working in NYC, she made her home in Denver to be closer to the mountains. Sydney is happy to bring all her years of experience from working in NYC and CO to the YouthBoard. Sydney is a licensed social worker who enjoys immersing herself in the community professionally and personally. When she is not working, she cooks for friends and family, and has adventures with Mr. Rufus (her dog).
Ashley Jaramillo – Caring for Denver Youth Advisors
Ashley Jaramillo serves as the Student Events Coordinator in the Office of Student Life at the Community College of Denver. In her role she creates opportunities of engagement for her students by creating diverse and inclusive events. Ashley’s passion is to work with young people and create a sense of community and belong for everyone.
Isaac Winchester – South Denver
Isaac is a current GIV Fellow and President of his college’s SGA, where he has worked on a variety of initiatives for students including sexual health and food insecurity. He has always been inclined towards opportunities that allow him to have a positive impact on others, so he is quite excited for his upcoming time with YouthRoots.
Sean Kloppenburg – Boulder 15 Forever
Sean Kloppenburg is a Program Associate at Hemera Foundation with experience in education, mindfulness, and philanthropy. Working in the philanthropic sector since 2017, he also taught Social Studies, Health, and personal finance at the High School level. He is a Naropa University certified meditation instructor and has an M.A. in Contemplative Education.
Ann Kolbrek – CEI Youth Connections
Ann is the facilitator for the Youth Connections Youth Council in partnership with Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) which uses the YouthRoots program to empower youth to make a difference! Previously, she was the facilitator for the Youth Advisory Council in Sioux Falls, SD and was in YAC with our founder when the idea of YouthRoots was planted.
Angela Adams – SCYC Youth Leadership Council
Angela began working with youth in 2001 during her year with AmeriCorps. After moving to Cortez, CO with her husband in 2005, Angela went into the education sector and taught for 12 years. She enjoys spending time with her wonderful daughter and amazing family and friends, swimming in natural bodies of water, listening to music, dancing, cross country skiing, reading, watching movies, and traveling. Angela is currently a Program Coordinator at SCYC Listens.
Brianna Apodaca – Pueblo Youth Action Council
Brianna is a proud Colorado Native, born and raised in the San Luis Valley. She has been passionate about empowering youth since she was in high school. She received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College in Anthropology. She is a 2018 Teach for America Corps Member and recently completed her Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado-Denver. She enjoys working with youth to build their leadership skills and become activists in their community. She believes that students should have a voice and have the ability to impact and change the world around us. She currently serves as an Exceptional Student Services Generalist teacher in Pueblo at Pueblo Academy of Arts.
Melissa Heston – Yellow Springs Youth Action Board
Melissa has more than 40 years’ experience as a competitive athlete, fitness professional, and dance/theatre artist. She holds a BFA and MFA in Dance and has worked with several nonprofits, universities, and schools in the US in a variety of positions. A “jack of all trades,” she has nimbly shifted from providing food to the food insecure during the pandemic, to ushering the Yellow Springs Schools through the Youth Action Board, scholarship and grant processes, to overseeing the Foundation’s social media presence, all while maintaining her full-time job as owner of a personal training company. During her free time, Melissa enjoys partaking in outdoor activities – from gardening to hiking, biking, kayaking, and just sitting by water and watching the waves roll by. Melissa is the wife of Mary Kay Smith (a local business owner) and a mother of 3.
Ellen Hartman – YouthRoots Routt County
Ellen Hartman is originally from Pennsylvania and has lived in Colorado for the past 22 years. In parallel with her 20+ year corporate career in learning and development, Ellen has dedicated her time and passion to serve nonprofits and address needs within her community. She has supported causes including workforce development, affordable housing, school district needs, the arts, equine therapy and youth sports. Leveraging her MBA, curiosity, facilitation skills and humor, Ellen is passionate about connecting the dots and bringing people together to tackle meaningful opportunities.
Ellen and her family moved to Steamboat Springs in 2019. She enjoys taking in Routt County’s beautiful views and live music, the energy of her two year old yellow lab, and cheering on her two teenage daughters from various sport sidelines.