Staff

Denise Lines | Executive Director
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 Lines | Executive Director

Chris Lines is a veteran of state and local government in Colorado and has broad experience in the non-profit sector.  He has served on non-profit advisory boards.  He has worked in communities across Colorado on a number of projects, and now promotes the mission and successful outcomes of Growing Colorado Kids.

Advisory Board

Chris Martinez | Interim Chair

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.

Joan Wallach | Treasurer
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.

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.

Heidi Hoffman | Board Member

Heidi Hoffman came to GCK as a farm volunteer and has recently joined the Advisory Board to assist with grant writing and support for staff and events. She is the State WIC Director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. After serving with the Peace Corps in Gabon, Central Africa, supporting maternal and child health efforts, Heidi had a winding vocational road including municipal government management, economic development, community development, parks and recreation, and, finally, public health where her work has focused on access to healthy food and health equity. Proud to be a fifth-generation Coloradan and mom to a CSU Ram, she enjoys camping, cooking, and taking road trips in the mountains with her friends and dogs. 

Trish Krajniak | Board Member

A lawyer by background and currently the Director of Legal and Policy Initiatives at the Colorado Charter School Institute, Trish is dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality public school options.  Knowing that learning happens best in an environment where kids are happy and healthy, Trish was drawn to GCK because of the organization’s dedication to nutrition and community building for local refugee youth.  

In her free time, Trish can be found outside – typically either hiking, biking, or skiing – or in the kitchen coming up with ways to make her favorite food more healthy and nutritious.  Trish also serves on the governing board of a Denver charter school and enjoys volunteering with local community organizations whenever she can. 

Charlie Lewis | Board Member

A Solution Architect with an interest in building the most effective workforces possible. For over 20 years, he's been helping businesses discover and modernize their IT infrastructure. In addition, he consults on project costs and benefits analysis, IT processes, and identify new ways to help company culture.

When not on the job, Charlie loves hiking with his dog, working through every recipe in the family cookbook, and indulging a love for gardening.

Melissa Leder | Board Member

Melissa came to GCK as a farm volunteer during the 2017 season and immediately wanted to get more involved. By joining the Advisory Board, she puts her marketing and graphic design background into action and in support of the GCK Marketing Committee. Melissa has worked for CorePower Yoga as their Senior Designer for the past decade. Trained in several styles of yoga including kids yoga Melissa has been teaching the kids at GCK how to use the mindfulness that is learned on the yoga mat and bring it into their everyday lives. A proud Colorado native, Melissa enjoys all that Colorado’s great outdoors has to offer.

Jessi West Gunteski | Board Member

Jessi is the Lead Designer for a Wedding and Event Design Company. Jessi has a strong drive to create something extraordinary out of the ordinary. Jessi's love for farming/gardening, nutrition, art, and education drove her to become a board member with GCK. With a masters degree in elementary education and a bachelors degree in art, Jessi loves to find creative ways to help children access education. 

In her free time, you can find Jessi hiking, running, painting, making papier mache sculptures or baking with her husband and their puppy, Luna.