RAFT Staff and Board Members

RAFT Staff

Stephanie Welsh, Dumpster Diving Diva (Executive Director)

stephanieStephanie is RAFT Colorado’s Executive Director, but the Board of Trustees has given her another title: the Dumpster Diving Diva. Stephanie is passionate about education and loves that RAFT’s business model supports teachers’ ability to teach in the way kids learn best – and preserves the environment at the same time! Launching RAFT in Colorado has drawn on her eclectic professional experience in non-profits, law, interior design, and education. Stephanie also serves on Colorado Fourteener’s Initiative Board of Trustees and on Rocky Mountain PBS’s Community Advisory Board.

Chris DeKay, Chief Re-Imagineer (Education Director)

chrisChris started preparing for his Chief Re-Imagineer job when he was a six-year-old “garage floor scientist,” gradually developing into a “MacGyver of education”! Chris has enjoyed teaching students and working with a wide variety of teachers at the Teton Science Schools, Keystone Science School, and the Thorne Nature Experience, using anything nature has to offer to spontaneously engage students in learning. Chris has a double major in Environmental, Population, and Organism Biology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and is a graduate of the Teton Science Schools Graduate Program.

Sarah Harvey, Marquee Maven (Outreach Director)

fd404a40-022c-443c-8583-6ef259e67315Sarah is working part-time as RAFT’s Outreach Director, developing and overseeing donor engagement and marketing strategies and implementation. Until she began working for RAFT, Sarah was a RAFT board and Upcycle committee member, so she is already very familiar with our mission, strategic plan, and operations. She has been a dedicated volunteer leader at Graland for over 10 years, and worked as a marketing communications manager in the Telecom industry for over seven years.

Gwen Vann, Stuff Scientist (Materials Manager)

GwenGwen brings over 20 years of teaching experience and a Master’s Degree in teaching to RAFT, with particular experience in early childhood education, literacy, and special needs.  She also started Colorado’s first educator consignment sale (Teacher2Teacher) after she retired because she loves teachers, “stuff,” and hands-on learning!   She is a force and she is fabulous!

Joyce Weaver, Re-Imagineer (Store Associate/Educational Coach)

We discovered Joyce at a joint DMNS / RAFT workshop.  Her joyful, problem-solving, can-do attitude, educational know-how, and love for science made a big impression and we were thrilled to make her part of the RAFT team.  In Joyce’s first career, she managed a Natural Foods store, then she turned her attention to teaching and has experience in PreK through 5th grade classrooms.  She supports everyone who comes in the door to RAFT, from teachers to volunteers.  Her hard work and positive energy are a winning combination! 

Rachael Rome, Re-Imagineer (Store Associate/Educational Coach)

 Rachael is the kind of person who likes to talk about stuff (what stuff looks like, what stuff can she do with stuff, where did this stuff come from?). Rachael brings 30 years of teaching experience, working with kids as a speech language pathologist and teachers as a literacy trainer. She has an abiding deep love of science and creativity and was a Destination Imagination Manager for 11 years. Before she took this job, Rachel had been coming to RAFT for over 6 years and had logged over 100 hours of professional development workshops at RAFT! At RAFT she will bring a deeper focus on early childhood, enriching both curriculum and teacher professional development. Rachael has a BS in Communication and an MA in Communication Disorders. 

Jack Willoughby, RAFT Wrangler (Warehouse Manager)

Jack is RAFT’s logistics wizard! After serving 4 years in the United States Air Force, he decided to move to Colorado with his wife and son. He also has a background as a personal trainer, which makes him the perfect person to acquire and move around all of RAFT’s many materials. We’re lucky to have his brains and brawn on board!

Chad Abshire, RAFT Wrangler (Facilities Manager)

 Chad has been with RAFT in various capacities since 2014. He is a jack-of-all-trades who is happiest when he’s juggling lots of things. Chad is involved in virtually every step of the RAFT process, including picking up donated materials, organizing, and stocking, and many, many other tasks that keep RAFT going every day. He loves not knowing what his work day has in store at RAFT—and seeing how the tons of materials are transformed by RAFT staff and teachers. He is a family man (married with a sweet daughter), and in his spare time (when he can find it!) plays basketball.

Nick Haag, Re-Imagineer (Store Associate/Educational Coach)

nickNick  was a para for five years, ran a before-and-after school program for four years, and has coached and worked with kids in a variety of educational settings since he was a kid himself (his mom is a teacher too!). Nick has been hanging out and helping part-time at RAFT practically since we opened in Denver. Nick has a gift for engaging and challenging children through hands-on learning and loves to share his enthusiasm and strategies with other teachers.

Ellen Spangler, RAFT Raconteur (Grant Writer/Outreach Associate)

 From the day Ellen cut up her mother’s typewriter-written dissertation at age four, she has always been a curious person. She has an MAT in Museum Education and spent fifteen years designing and delivering programs in art and children’s museums, including the Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Children’s Museum of Memphis. Ellen has worked with RAFT since its beginnings in Denver, and taught numerous teacher workshops at RAFT as a museum partner. She brings a solid professional grounding in non-profit organizations and a familiarity with all aspects of grant-funded programs.

Theresa Stets, Kit Conductor (Kit and Volunteer Coordinator)

b5e696c2-e9a9-4d14-91c9-78005dbe4885Theresa coordinates kit production and volunteers – and somehow manages to do it while only working part-time! Theresa had a pre-existing relationship with RAFT before she joined our team; she was a member and an was also an exhibitor at the first STEMosphere at DU. Theresa’s experience make her a natural for this job: She has supervised hands-on science activity development and production, as well as volunteers, at the World of Wonder Children’s Museum in Lafayette, the Youth Science Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota, taught in the Teach for America program in Arkansas, and earned a Masters of Science degree in Alabama.

Tracy Cress, Re-Imagineer (Store Associate/Educational Coach)

tracyTracy has been teaching in a variety of positions at DPS for the past 13 years, and has been a RAFT member since 2012. She is very aware of challenges teachers face every day, and loves that “RAFT provides hope that teaching can still be fun, exciting, and hands-on!” Tracy still teaches full-time and devotes one day of her weekend to RAFT.

 

 


 

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Community Advisory Board

Carrie and John Morgridge, Morgridge Family Foundation

Zachary Neumeyer, President, Sage Hospitality

George Sparks, CEO, Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Margie Gart, Former Director of Philanthropic Services, Rose Community Foundation

Frank Reeves, Superintendent, East Grand County School District

 


 

Teacher Advisory Board

Lorraine Anderson

Tracey Calderon, Adams 12

Beth Crist, Colorado Department of Education

Susie Dykstra, Adams 12

Nick Haag, RAFT Colorado

Robyn Jennings, The Logan School

Tonja Mitchell, Boys & Girls Clubs

Justine Sawyer, DPS

Lisi Quinby

Angie Willsea, APS

Sarah Brenkert, Children’s Museum

Maureen Creswell, Speech Pathologist

Chris DeKay, RAFT Colorado

Tom Graves, Douglas County

Jaquita Hurst, DPS

Lauren Lehmann, Colorado College

Violeta Garcia, PhD, National Inventors Hall of Fame

Kate McDonough, Adams 12

Sue Sava, Stanley British Primary

Monica Strass, Adams 50

Cynthia Way, Adams 12

Kathy Zook, Adams 50

Mark Arseneau, DPS

Tracy Cress, DPS

Shawna Crocker, Project Learning Tree

Diane Gaston, DPS, CTEA

Christine Holpuch, Clayton Early Learning Schools

Sharyl Kay Lawson, Brighton 27

JPatrice Mason-Dawan, DPS

Rachael Rome, Adams 12

Shirley Stafford, Retired

Amy Turino, PhD

Mike Willsea, APS

Barry Kluger-Bell, PhD, Inquiry Science Educator