Staff Bios

Stephanie Welsh, Executive Director

Stephanie 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.


Chris DeKay, Program Director

Chris started preparing for his  job when at RAFT 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.

Nick Haag, RAFT Re-Imagineer

Nick 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 at RAFT practically since we opened in Denver; we finally started feeling guilty about all the free work and started paying him.  Nick has a gift for engaging and challenging children through hands-on learning and loves to share his enthusiasm and strategies with other teachers, which he does exceptionally well both within the walls of RAFT and out in the world where he represents RAFT at numerous conferences and fairs.

Julia Milwid, RAFT Re-Imagineer

Julia has early childhood teaching experience in private and public schools in Colorado and in Texas.  She told us she wanted to work of RAFT because teachers “have limited resources, they are constantly in need of inspiring and engaging projects, and most importantly, they need a place to go when they need help.  RAFT is that place.”  Julia has tons of energy and creative ideas along with a great sense of humor!  Not only does Julia support teachers in the store, she has asked (and received our blessing!) to use some of her considerable charm and energy to source more great hands-on materials from Colorado companies … not to mention delicious baked goods for members (and their spouses) to enjoy as they shop!


TracyTracy Cress, RAFT Re-Imagineer

Tracy 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!”

Gwen Vann, RAFT Re-Imagineer

Gwen 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 after she retired because she loves teachers and she loves “stuff” and hands-on learning!   She is a force and she is fabulous!