MISSION

Rise Above Colorado is a statewide prevention organization that measurably impacts teen perceptions and attitudes about the risks of substance misuse to help youth make empowered, healthy choices.

mission
mission

Our vision is youth who realize their full potential.

OUR WORK

Rise Above Colorado has been a successful leader in promoting healthy youth behavior and preventing substance misuse since its inception in 2008 as the Colorado Meth Project. Our public awareness work in correcting misperceptions about youth substance use is called Positive Community Norming. This evidence-based approach is based on The Montana Institute’s Science of the Positive framework and leverages Rise Above’s unique insight and experience in effectively communicating with teens in a compelling, relatable and accurate way. Rise Above Colorado, with its shared risk and protective factor approach to prevention, connects with and educates teens using honesty and data, ultimately paving a path to a healthy future for Colorado’s teens without the negative influence of drugs.

Rise Above Colorado offers expertise and collaboration to communities across Colorado through our Colorado Constellation Project (CCP), based on the constellation model of collective impact created by the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. The CCP is a network of youth and adults across the state who implement substance misuse prevention efforts in a meaningful and authentic way. Rise Above serves to align resources and approaches between partners at the community and statewide levels, allowing for youth substance misuse prevention strategies to be coordinated and have maximum impact across the social ecology and geography of Colorado. Shared objectives of the CCP are: coalition support, co-creating and leveraging a Positive Community Norms approach, leveraging Rise Above Colorado educational resources, and utilizing our youth civic engagement model called Lead the Change Colorado (LTCCO).


PARTNERSHIP

RISE ABOVE COLORADO PARTNERS WITH EXPERTS THAT EXPAND OUR REACH AND CREDIBILITY
Our national affiliation with The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids allows Rise Above Colorado to expand our prevention focus with the support of an organization whose singular focus has been to reduce drug abuse among young people for nearly three decades. This alliance will enhance our ability to provide teens, parents, and educators with educational resources and tools to prevent drug abuse among young people.

parnter-drugfree-logo

RESEARCH

RISE ABOVE COLORADO UNDERSTANDS THE DRUG ISSUES FACING OUR SOCIETY TODAY AND IS COMMITTED TO ONGOING RESEARCH
Rise Above Colorado employs current marketing principles and tactics to understand and reach teens, our target demographic. Our campaigns are based upon the premise of drugs as consumer products, with the objective of "un-selling" these substances by arming teens and young adults with the facts so that they make an educated decision when presented with the opportunity to experiment with drugs. Rise Above Colorado engages with teens in a multitude of settings, through qualitative focus groups during program development, face-to-face interaction in middle and high school classrooms, and the empowerment of teen ambassadors to deliver peer-to-peer messaging through our Teen Advisory Council.

parnter-drugfree-logo

RESULTS

RISE ABOVE COLORADO IS FOCUSED ON RESULTS
Research shows that if teens understand the risks of using a particular drug, usage declines. Rise Above Colorado communicates with teens in accurate and compelling ways in an effort to influence their attitudes about drug abuse, ultimately leading to decreased use.

As part of our efforts, Rise Above Colorado will use its expertise in public awareness and educational campaigns to support the state of Colorado’s goal to reduce prescription drug abuse by preventing 92,000 Coloradans from misusing prescription opioids by 2016.

parnter-drugfree-logo

SUBSTANCE USE RESEARCH

RISE ABOVE COLORADO YOUTH SURVEY ON SUBSTANCE ABUSE


Download Infographic

TEAM

Our team at Rise Above Colorado is made up of a group of dedicated and passionate people who are committed to helping prevent teen substance misuse. Backed by decades of experience with school and community health initiatives, positive youth development efforts and involvement in youth-serving organizations like the Colorado Meth Project, the Rise Above Colorado team has set its sights on helping empower teens to make healthy connections, decisions and change.

Katherine Harvey (She/Her/Hers) is a Prevention Fellow.
Katherine supports the planning and execution of our 50th mural event and celebration and the development of our #LeadTheChangeCO youth engagement framework. She has spent the past nine years working in youth development and holds a wide range of experience, from being a high school employee at a rural nonprofit and a youth advisor at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to a youth trail crew wrangler and a 4-H Extension Agent with Colorado State University. She is an endorsed Positive Youth Development trainer and is deeply passionate about youth-adult partnerships, health equity, mental health promotion, and working with rural communities.

Katherine holds a BA in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Population Mental Health and Wellbeing. She also serves as an officer on the Gilpin County Public Health Advisory Board and co-leads the statewide Youth Employee and Leader Empowerment Training System. In her spare time, she backpacks, bakes, and hangs out with her donkey.

Close

Kent MacLennan (He/Him/His) is the Executive Director for Rise Above Colorado.
Kent MacLennan is the founding executive director of the Colorado Meth Project, now doing business as Rise Above Colorado, a statewide drug prevention nonprofit that empowers teens to a life free of addiction. Since 2009 he has overseen local public service messaging, fundraising, educational resource development and community outreach efforts to reduce substance use among Colorado teens.

Kent has more than 25 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, including Young Americans Center for Financial Education, the University of Denver, Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada) and Up With People. He also has direct experience with the teenage demographic, with 3 kids (2 teens) at home and from teaching social studies for two years at Pomona High School in Arvada, Colorado.

Kent holds a bachelor of science in foreign service from Georgetown University and a master of education from the University of Denver.

Close

Liz Sielatycki (She/Her/Hers) is the Manager of Communications & Community Partnerships.
Liz is passionate about the distribution of resources and knowledge, and in her role with Rise Above she gets to do that through managing the Colorado Constellation Project, connecting communities across the state in their shared objectives to empower and engage youth.

A native to North Carolina, she has called Colorado home for the past 3 years. Her experience runs the gamut across the fields of social work and public health. As a former Communities That Care Mobilizer in Chaffee County, Liz gained a wealth of experience in upstream prevention and the incredible power and capacity of local communities to make foundational change. She received her Master of Social Work degree at the University of North Carolina in Community Management and Policy Practice and was greatly inspired in her work with migrant farmworkers in rural NC. For three years prior, she provided in-home intensive behavioral health services to Latinx families at risk of family separation. She also received her Bachelor of Social Work degree at North Carolina State University.

What brings her joy is quality time spent outside mountain biking, running, river frolicking and rock climbing with loved ones. Her personal goal is to become a gifted high-altitude baker.

Close

Jenna Garrow (She/Her/Hers) is the Director of Prevention Education.
As Director of Prevention Education, her role is to further create and disseminate substance use prevention strategies and resources for youth across CO, while guiding the evolution of our community partnerships and collaborative learning communities. Jenna brings 18 years of direct experience in public schools as an educator, case manager and school leader where she has loved leading and collaborating with adults and youth to found and improve public schools in service of more equitable educational outcomes for all. Jenna is focused on increasing access, inclusivity and an authentic sense of belonging to this work. She feels a deep commitment to empower teens to live a life free from substance misuse and addiction and equip CO youth with the knowledge and skills to make healthy choices throughout their own lives.

Jenna holds a bachelor of science in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and loves finding adventure with her two young children, seeing live music, running (on the trails and on the track) and supporting moms and babies in her work as a certified birth doula.

Close

Angelica Ochoa (She/Her/Hers) is our Denver Teen Action Council Coordinator.
Angelica leads a new youth civic engagement initiative to empower Denver youth to address pressing behavioral health issues in their communities. As a Denver Public Schools alumna, she builds relationships with students and staff across DPS and other youth prevention initiatives in the city to help recruit, select and facilitate this group of Denver youth. Angelica graduated in 2022 with a degree in psychology at MSU Denver. Angelica grew up in South Denver, Colorado where she still lives.

Close

Jonathan Judge (He/Him/His) is the Director of Media and Campaigns at Rise Above Colorado.
He brings significant curriculum design and program management experience to his role leading the outreach efforts for the organization. As director for the International Towne program at Young Americans Center for Financial Education from 2003-2008, Jonathan led curriculum creation as well as overall program management of a middle-school, hands-on education program in global economics. Moving on to become the program manager for the Colorado Meth Project, Jonathan developed and led the organization’s volunteer network, oversaw statewide outreach to schools and youth serving agencies, and led an initiative to design and pilot a nationally utilized Meth prevention curriculum. Jonathan designs, implements, and monitors the organization’s social media activity and leads large-scale community art projects across Colorado. Jonathan is an alumnus of the Peace Corps and holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Nebraska-Wesleyan, a master’s in international studies from University of Denver, and he always returns his grocery carts.

Close

Kavitha Kailasam is the Director of Community Partnership & Capacity Building for Rise Above Colorado.
Kavi’s role is to develop the partnerships and systems that will support capacity building and quality improvement in Rise Above’s internal and external efforts.

Kavi has worked in various aspects of prevention and community development in Colorado, including as the director of the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program, funding community-based organizations working in positive youth development across the state and working closely with various statewide youth initiatives in Colorado, like Colorado 9to25. She has also managed the community initiatives programs for a Colorado-based community bank, finding shared vision and creating partnerships with community organizations around the issues of education, wellness, and environment. Prior to that, Kavi spent time in direct prevention services with adolescent girls through a locally based organization in rural India.

Kavi enjoys finding and creating opportunities for all youth to thrive. She holds a master of arts in International Administration focusing on global health and humanitarianism, and a bachelor of arts in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Denver.

Close

Maelah Robinson-Castillo (She/Her/Hers) serves as a Youth Partner at Rise Above.
Maelah works closely with Rise Above’s community partners to support efforts across the state at engaging youth in their prevention work. Maelah’s role is to provide youth voice and input through the cultivation of youth-adult partnerships.

Maelah is currently a second-year student at the University of Denver, majoring in Chemistry with a concentration of Biochemistry. Pursuing this degree Maelah hopes to receive her PhD and merge her passion for youth engagement and science. She was previously involved with Rise Above for two years as a Teen Action Council member, a part of CDPHE Youth Partnership for Health Advisory Board, and on a national board called Youth Engagement Strategies and Support Youth Advisory Board to ensure the importance of youth engagement efforts. She has also been a part of campaigns to contribute her voice on projects that were being creative for youth. At the University of Denver, she is a Puksta Foundation Scholar, in an Equity for STEM program and the treasurer for Chemistry Club.

Close

Stazi Snelling (She/Her/Hers) is a Youth Partner.
Stazi works closely with Rise Above’s community partners to support efforts across the state at engaging youth in their prevention work. Stazi’s role is to provide youth voice and input through the cultivation of youth-adult partnerships.

Stazi has always had a passion for helping people and has felt the call to helping youth through structured programs that utilize Positive Youth Development and mentoring roles. Previously, Stazi worked at Teens, Inc, which is an organization designed to help youth and their families make healthy choices. Stazi is currently a student at Front Range Community College pursuing Wildlife Biology.

Close

Sara Jean Cardona is the Community Partnership Coordinator for Rise Above Colorado.
Sara Jean’s role is to implement a comprehensive, statewide outreach strategy through Rise Above’s Constellation partner community and statewide Teen Action Council.

Sara Jean brings with her over 15 years in positive youth development and prevention services. Sara Jean worked with Girls Inc. of Metro Denver from 2006-2017. She served mainly as a community educator, and spent her last three years as a program manager. For six years, she also worked at Denver Health as a Health Educator at Lake Middle and North High School-Based Clinics. In this role, she provided sexual health counseling to prevent teenage pregnancy and risky behavior.

Sara Jean’s passion is to work with youth and the community to collaborate on providing a positive learning experience. She loves to empower youth to make better, healthier choices. She holds a bachelor of arts in Behavioral Science, with an emphasis in Psychology, and a minor in Business Management.

Close

Ben Edwards (He/Him/His) is the Youth Engagement Manager at Rise Above Colorado.
His role is to coordinate the efforts of Rise Above Colorado’s teen council members and Youth Partners to empower Colorado teens to make healthy connections, decisions, and change.

Ben brings several years of youth serving experience to his role from a variety of contexts. He earned his bachelor's degree from Sterling College, thinks of himself as somewhat of a musician, and enjoys his eventful life with his wife, 2 kids, and their canine companion, Zero.

Close

MavaMarie Cooper is the Community Partnership Coordinator for Rise Above Colorado.

Mava’s role is to support Rise Above Colorado’s statewide partner network through local outreach, resource sharing, technical assistance and training.

Mava has worked on a variety of public health and prevention topics in Colorado, nationally and internationally. This includes coordinating health promotion and communication efforts at El Paso County Public Health in Colorado Springs and building international partnerships through the University of Michigan’s Office of Global Public Health. She also coordinated a youth mentoring program in Northern Michigan through AmeriCorps and continues to mentor and volunteer with organizations that work with young people.

Mava holds two degrees from the University of Michigan, a bachelor’s degree in Global Health and the Environment and a master’s degree in Health Behavior and Education. When she is not at Rise Above Colorado, Mava can be found learning to bake or with her nose in a crossword puzzle.

Close

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Join the Rise Above Team!

Current opportunities:

Check back soon for more opportunities

mission

BOARD

The Rise Above Colorado board is made up of a group of dedicated and passionate people who are committed to helping teens live a life free of drug abuse. Each of our board members has been involved in the organization since the launch of the Colorado Meth Project in 2008. Our directors bring strong governance to the organization given their longtime support of youth-serving agencies and extensive backgrounds in substance abuse prevention, law enforcement, nonprofit management and legal expertise.

Geoff Blue is on the Board of Directors.

Geoff Blue is an attorney with Klenda Gessler and Blue, LLP.

Recently Geoff has served as an attorney with Greenberg Traurig and as the executive director of state government relations for JPMorgan Chase. From 2008-2011 Geoff served as deputy attorney general for legal policy in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Previously, Geoff practiced law with Fairfield and Woods, P.C., as a general commercial litigator.

Geoff received his bachelor of arts degree in politics from Princeton University. From there, he matriculated to Victoria University of Manchester, England, where he earned a master of arts in health care ethics. Finally, Geoff was granted a JD from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1998. During law school, he served as president of the Society of Law, Health and Bioethics.

Close

Darrick Christopher is on the Board of Directors.

Darrick is the Managing Partner at PEAK Partners which specializes in real estate and golf course development.

He is a proud husband and father of two teenagers and loves nothing more than creating memories with his family.

Darrick's business experience includes over 15 years of senior executive roles in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to not for profits. His true passion lies in the development of small businesses that can positively impact their communities.

Darrick earned a BS in Management from Clarkson University and an MBA from the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester in New York.

Close

Dana Duran is on the Board of Directors.

Dana Duran is Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado, serving Craig and Steamboat Springs. The Boys & Girls Club is a youth development organization working to enable and inspire youth to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. She has a passion for helping youth reach beyond their circumstances to achieve their personal best. Dana’s background includes working with underrepresented populations, decreasing barriers to access in afterschool and summer programming and previously in college admissions. Dana sits on the Northwest Regional Council for the El Pomar Foundation and the State Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs and previously served as on the State Judicial Nomination Commission.

She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Regis University, and is a graduate of the advanced leadership program through Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Close

Patrick Gaines is on the Board of Directors.

Patrick Gaines is Chief Development Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.

Prior to joining Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Patrick served as the Executive Director for the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Senior Director of Development at the University of Colorado Foundation, Director of Major Gifts at the American Cancer Society and Director of Corporate Development and Sponsorship Marketing at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Patrick has lived in Colorado since 2000 and is an avid outdoor enthusiast, having competed on three continents as an ultramarathon runner and mountaineer. Patrick also enjoyed a 15 year career as a classical musician, having held positions with the Mannheim Steamroller, Omaha Symphony and Colorado Symphony.

Close

Vy Nguyen is on the Board of Directors.

Vy is a Director in the Denver office of Alvarez & Marsal Disputes & Investigations, LLC, an independent consulting firm providing services to government agencies, legal counsel and business entities.

Vy earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Denver in 2005 and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010.

Close

Gina Tincher is the Chair of the Board.

Gina Tincher is an attorney with Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck, LLP.

Her practice involves general commercial litigation as well as environmental cleanup disputes. Before law school, Gina was a narcotics detective in Gainesville, Florida for nearly 14 years. Gina’s previous experience equips her to understand the enormous effects drug use has on young adults and our communities.

Gina earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Florida in 2000, her master of science degree from Florida State University in 2006, and her JD from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law in 2015.

Close

Kathleen (Kiki) Traylor, MD on the Board of Directors.

Director, Amgen State Government Affairs

Dr. Kathleen (Kiki) Traylor joined Amgen Global Government Affairs team in 2007. A physician and former Colorado State Senator, Kiki focuses on state legislative issues in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Kiki served through 2006 as a member of the Colorado State Senate, where she sat on the Health and Human Services and Judiciary Committees. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine (M.D. with Honors) and Stanford University (B.A., Human Biology). She has actively treated patients for the past 20 years, practicing primary care pediatrics in private practice, hospital-based primary care, insurance-based managed care, and foster care clinic settings. She is currently affiliated with Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine (Associate Clinical Professor), where she sees patients every week in the Foster Care Clinic.

Close

Mae Thompson is on the Board of Directors.

For the past five years, Mae has been an advocate for youth voice, in various capacities, at both local and state levels. Most recently she served two years as the Youth Partner for Rise Above Colorado where she focused on youth engagement across the state. She is passionate about creating environments where young people feel comfortable to speak up and share their opinions in order to create a more informed community. Mae currently works at HDR Inc., a civil engineering firm as a Project Support Assistant.

Close

José Esquibel is on the Board of Directors.

Director, Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention
University of Colorado, Anschutz Campus

Along with Dr. Rob Valuck of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Colorado, and Kelly Perez, a former Senior Policy Analyst with the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper, José is one of the architects of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, which utilizes a collective impact approach for reducing the impact of the opioid crisis in Colorado.

Initially trained as a clinician with mentors from the fields of child and family psychiatry and psychology at the University of New Mexico, José worked as a certified addictions counselor and family therapist in outpatient and inpatient treatment settings for over a decade before entering state government service.

From 2005 through 2011, he served as a co-director of two substance abuse prevention grants awarded to the Colorado Office of the Governor, one related to implementing screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment in medical settings.

Since 2013, he has served by appointment of the President of the Colorado Senate as the vice chair of prevention for the Colorado Statewide Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, a legislatively mandated task force chaired by the Colorado Attorney General The task force uses a cross-discipline approach for determining strategic responses in assisting local communities in addressing the impacts of drug abuse.

José also recently served as the director of the Office of Community Engagement in the Colorado Office of the Attorney General.

Close

STATEWIDE TEEN ACTION COUNCIL

teen-council

Rise Above Colorado staff work closely with our statewide Teen Action Council to further empower youth in their passions to prevent drug misuse and addiction. Representing the geographic and personal diversity of the state, the Teen Action Council works with staff to ensure Rise Above messages and resources are relevant, reliable and powerful to teens across Colorado. Check out their latest accomplishment – a “for teens, by teens” website filled with their original content focused on the facts about drugs, how to rise above and live a life on purpose as well as a safe space to share stories of how Colorado teens are on the rise. http://www.iriseaboveco.org

Councilmembers are carefully selected through an application and interview process led by current members and staff. Each teen is responsible for leading outreach and educational activities within their community and for representing Rise Above at community, school and statewide events. Connect with Councilmembers through social media with #IRiseAbove.

MEET THE 2021-2022 TEEN COUNCIL

Roll over a TAC member to see how they rise above.

ALIYAH ACEVEDO
Commerce City

DOLORES CASTILLO
Pueblo

CHRISTOPHER CHEN
Broomfield

SAVANNAH COCHRAN
Lakewood

ALLISON DAME
Littleton

ADDISON DOLAN
Westminster

LILY EMMANUEL
Denver

DEREK GARCIA
Denver

ALEJANDRA GUTIERREZ
Aurora

SAMANTHA MORALES JURADO
Westminster

RYAN LEMLEY
Bayfield

CAITLIN MCCRADY
Colorado Springs

ADITYA NANDYAL
Broomfield

WILLOW SHULZ
Ignacio

CASSIE SMITH
Loma

SPENCER TIMMERS
Littleton

DENVER TEEN ACTION COUNCIL

teen-council

Rise Above Colorado staff, in partnership with Denver Public Schools and the Public Health Institute at Denver Health, work closely with the Denver Teen Action Council to further empower Denver youth in their passions to make a positive impact in their community and prevent drug misuse and addiction among their peers. Representing the geographic and personal diversity of Denver, the Denver Teen Action Council works with staff to promote prevention resources within DPS and make a positive impact in their community through a civic engagement project of their choosing.

Councilmembers are carefully selected through an application and interview process led by current members and staff. Each teen is responsible for leading outreach and educational activities within their community and for representing DTAC at community and school events.

Denver Teen Action Council Members

Roll over a TAC member to see how they rise above.

GABRIELA KOBAK

LILAH ROHNSTOCK

NICO GOMEZ-LUCERO

OLIVIA HERNANDEZ

PRIYA HECOX

STELLA WAGNER