Denise and her husband, Chris, founded Growing Colorado Kids in 2008 as a way to mitigate hunger among refugee families newly resettled in Denver. Denise was working as a youth case manager at the time and discovered that more often than not, refugee families were going hungry. In a very short period of time, Denise has transitioned Growing Colorado Kids from primarily a hunger abatement program into a fully functioning farm program that provides opportunities for leadership, teamwork, community building, and service to others!
A master gardener who has worked with youth and families across the metro area for 25 years and with refugee youth and their families for 14 years. Prior to GCK she successfully designed and implemented an anti-bullying curriculum focusing on peace and leadership skills for youth in the Mercy Housing system Lines has worked for social justice and equality in welfare to work programs, affordable housing, and education.
Chris Martinez | Board President
Chris is a Senior Advisor for Human Rights/Community Planning for the City of Denver. He also spent 4 years working in Division of Small Business for Denver. Mr. Martinez served eight years on the Regional Transportation Board. While on the RTD Board he served two terms as Chairman and four additional years on the Executive Committee. His professional career included Sales and Marketing for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Denver Branch. He received his B.S. from Regis University. Mr. Martinez has 40 years of experience as a community and political activist. He has a long history of involvement in the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch schools. He is currently a member of several community, civic and non-profit organizations. Chris Martinez and his wife Terry have two adult children and six grandchildren.
Marielle Grenade-Willis | Board Vice President
Marielle originally moved to Colorado to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. She worked as a site manager, grant writer, and marketing guru for a community garden nonprofit in Frederick, Colorado. She recently moved to Denver to pursue employment in environmental and animal rights law. She is very excited about joining Growing Colorado Kids to apply her practical gardening knowledge as well as her creative talents to the board. She hopes to explore the intersection of multiculturalism, public heath and sustainability through the power of story telling. In her spare time, she hikes, dances, writes and sings.
Donald L Martell | Treasurer
Don is the treasurer and photographer for Growing Colorado Kids. As treasurer, he interprets the financial statements into an easily understandable form. He flags fiscal situations that need attention. Don also works closely with the Founding Director to prepare the Growing Colorado Kids budget.
As photographer, Don has developed a photo record of many growing seasons at Growing Colorado Kids. These include the refugee youth, volunteers, and others who work together on Farm Days. Don's prints were featured at the Moonrise Fund Raising Dinner in August.
Professionally, Don has a BSEE from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from Boston College. He was previously a manager at a high tech firm. He is an active volunteer and has been involved in church finances for the past 20 years.
Joan Wallach | Past Chair
Joan and her husband Arthur had the joy of covering Growing Colorado Kids for the Greater Park Hill News. Their passion for the program led to sharing their yard for Growing Colorado Kids' first harvests and Joan becoming part of its founding board and is its only baby boomer rapper.
Joan's background includes a BA from the University of Pacific and a certificate in Community Development (Nonprofit Management) from Metro State University. Joan was Co-Editor of the Greater Park Hill News for 14 years and has been a lifetime activist. She is a certified Lifecycle Celebrant, business partner, and writer. Reading, cooking and loving life are her extraciricular activities.
Lauren Dorn | Board Member
Lauren is a yogi, information-gatherer, innovator and empowerment coach who integrates multiple fields into her work to provide holistic and compassionate client centered services. She is the co founder of "Picture Me Here" a digital storytelling program for refugees and other people experiencing displacement that weaves storytelling into the exploration of identity and place. Lauren also works as a Youth Specialist working with refugees, asylees and Central America parole youth on leadership, empowerment and goal setting, as they navigate their new lives in the United States. In this role Lauren has built innovative empowerment and service learning programs for refugees and immigrants at local high schools. Lauren’s led a mission driven career working in the fields of social work, social scale and self-empowerment.
Lisa Miller | Board Member
Lisa's passion for event coordination and native state of Colorado, eventually lead her to earn a BS from the University of Colorado Boulder and an MBA from Regis University. Her hobbies include managing her "homestead" (comprised of a veggie garden, herbs, hops, fruit orchard and chickens), home brewing, mid-century modern design, reading and learning new skills. When Lisa heard the CPR article about GCK, she felt compelled to become involved when she recognized GCK combines the love of nature, nutrition, compassion and teamwork. Lisa brings to GCK her previous non-profit board experience and over 15 years of Marketing experience.
Tiffany Martindale | Board Member
Tiffany is the Impact Analysis Director at Engineers Without Borders USA and is responsible for measuring EWB-USA’s program impact in the world. Tiffany holds a BS in Structural Engineering and an MS in International Development. She served nearly four years in the U.S. Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, which gave her a keen appreciation for creating a new life in an unfamiliar place. An avid urban homesteader, Tiffany is committed to sustainable lifestyle choices and raising her own Colorado kid on the best food possible. Her position on our Advisory Board blends her dedication to the international community with a love of growing good food. She finds her peace with her husband and young son in music, in the garden, in the mountains and learning about different cultures.
Heather Newell | Board Secretary
Heather is the U.S. Program Officer at The Women’s Bakery (TWB) where she leverages extensive international education experience, relationship-building skills, and an unyielding belief in the limitless capacity of women to deepen TWB’s impact throughout the world – with a particular focus in the United States. Prior to joining TWB, Heather lived and worked in Rwanda for three years – serving as an Education Specialist with the United States Peace Corps and working as a consultant with Urwego, a Kigali-based microfinance bank. Heather was born and raised in Denver. In addition to regularly advocating in the refugee community, Heather is a writer, with publications on her blog and various magazines. On weekends, can find her pursuing new adventures regularly: be it traveling, rollerblading, or attending Denver Community Church. Her three most important travel items are: coffee, red wine, and a notebook for writing.
Peter Galligan | Board Member
Peter is the newest addition to GCK's board. Peter is a senior communications manager at a large financial firm where he is responsible for providing principal approval for marketing collateral and communications with the public. He has worked in the investment management industry for 14 years. Prior to that, he was an event planner for 8 years. He graduated magna cum laude from National University with a BA in English and is currently pursuing an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (business administration and writing) at Western New Mexico University. Over the past decade, he has enjoyed studying and advocating for ancestral health lifestyles centered on organic gardening, pasture-raised meats, and countering modern stress with natural play. Peter and his wife, blessed with a wonderful girl born with Spina Bifida, have enjoyed becoming advocates for children with disabilities. In his spare time, Peter is also a writer and music producer. His songs have been featured on numerous dance music compilations, while his debut novel will be published by First Cold Press in late 2017.
Paula Davis | Board Member
Paula Davis' connection to GCK began with the construction of an earth oven. Along with her interest in using earth ovens to make great pizza, Paula's interest in GCK stems from her commitment to education in all its forms. Paula has worked in education in Colorado for many years, first at The Logan School and then as a policy fellow at The Donnell-Kay Foundation. Paula has a masters degree in Philosophy of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and she's always looking for ways to push at the boundaries of what education can look like. She relishes living in a state with such incredible mountains, and is always trying to spend more time enjoying them.