About

The Homegrown Talent Initiative is facilitated by Colorado Succeeds and the Colorado Education Initiative and supported by local and national foundations, including the Daniels Fund, Walton Family Foundation, and Gill Foundation.

About Colorado Succeeds

Colorado Succeeds is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to ensure all kids are educated to their greatest potential and all businesses have the homegrown talent they need to thrive. Since 2006, Colorado Succeeds has connected leaders in business, education, and government to advocate for students and their futures. Through initiatives in policy, practice, and philanthropy, Colorado Succeeds supports educators who are innovating in the classroom and policymakers who are changing the system to support student success.

About the Colorado Education Initiative

Since its inception in 2007, the Colorado Education Initiative (formerly the Colorado Legacy Foundation) has played a pivotal role in advancing critical initiatives in Colorado’s public education system as a key partner to the Colorado Department of Education. Ten years later, CEI has established innovative partnerships with districts and schools that give educators a meaningful role in driving sustainable improvement in public education. CEI has a multi-faceted role serving as implementation expert, innovation thought leader, and state-wide convener and trusted partner. CEI’s work is grounded in a long-term vision that every student in Colorado is prepared and unafraid to succeed in school, work and life, and ready to take on the challenges of today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Scott Laband

President, Colorado Succeeds

Scott currently serves as the president of Colorado Succeeds, where he served as the vice president of between 2010- 2012, overseeing the organization’s policy agenda and programs. Prior, Scott worked as the Legislative Director for Sen. Mike Johnston, where he oversaw the education policy agenda and legislative strategy, and in the private sector for six years in corporate finance, strategy, and marketing. Scott is a founding board member of Rocky Mountain Prep, a high- performing charter management organization serving primarily low-income students.

Rebecca Holmes

President & CEO, CEI

Rebecca brings leadership and a strategic vision that enables CEI to deliver meaningful and impactful change to as many Colorado students and communities as possible. Prior to CEI, she was the Associate Commissioner for Innovation, Choice, and Engagement at the Colorado Dept. of Education; there, she gained invaluable experience leading Next Generation Learning initiatives, supporting systems-level innovation activities, and spearheading Colorado’s work in postsecondary readiness, dropout prevention, student engagement, and adult education. Rebecca began her career as a teacher in Denver and also has experience leading a network of public charter schools serving over 90% low-income students.

Shannon Nicholas

Chief of Staff, Colorado Succeeds

Shannon brings over a decade of knowledge around teaching, communications, and policy to Colorado Succeeds and the project at large. Prior, Shannon was with the U.S. Dept. of Education where she led educator effectiveness and human capital policy and grants for over six years. She also worked for a national public relations and public affairs agency in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, where she engaged with clients on developing robust earned media campaigns and social media outreach. Shannon began her career as a high school English teacher in Las Vegas via Teach for America.

Alex Carter

VP of Implementation, CEI

Alex leads the field implementation team at CEI to support districts, schools, and educators in their work to accelerate educational improvement and innovation across Colorado. Before CEI, Alex enjoyed an exciting 20-year career as an educator, including serving as the superintendent of schools for Montezuma-Cortez School District in SW Colorado. Before that, he was the principal of Telluride High School, a principal and assistant principal in two high schools in Virginia, and taught high school history. In 2003, Alex’s work as a teacher was recognized with a National Milken Educator Award.

John Strott

VP of Programs & Strategy, Colorado Succeeds

John leads multiple initiatives at Colorado Succeeds focused on generating positive action and measurable results for our students. Prior to CS, John worked as a Director of Product Strategy at Cengage Learning, a higher-education learning solutions and curriculum provider. Before that, he was with the Boston Consulting Group, where he worked across a variety of industries on strategy and organizational change initiatives, including education. One of his first projects was supporting the World Economic Forum’s development of their New Vision for Education, conducting a global assessment of “21st- century skills” development and emerging technologies targeted at those skills. John began his career in the classroom, serving as a 7th grade earth science teacher in Las Vegas through the national teacher corps, Teach for America.

Landon Mascareñaz

VP of Community Partnership, CEI

Landon leads community engagement, family partnership, equity, and policy initiatives at CEI. Landon is also a regular writer and speaker on issues of education, family engagement, and politics. He serves on the board of Community Colleges and Occupational education. Prior to CEI, Landon led advocacy and partnership efforts as a Vice President at A+ Colorado, an action think tank focused on school districts to build momentum for educational change across Colorado. Additionally, Landon has previous experience helping lead family and community empowerment efforts at Denver Public Schools. He began his career teaching first grade on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, has his doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University, and is a Pahara Aspen Next Gen Fellow and Flamboyan National Family Engagement Fellow.

Madison Knapp

Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Colorado Succeeds

Madison joins the HTI project with several years of experience in grant writing and event coordination. Most recently, she worked at an information and advocacy organization in Minnesota that serves children and youth with disabilities and their families. As an instrumental member of the development team, Madison supported a $6m annual operating budget through securing grants, corporate sponsorships, and successfully executing multiple fundraising events each year. Madison holds a bachelor’s degree in Community & Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and master’s degrees in nonprofit management and business administration from Hamline University.

Amy Spicer

Senior Program Lead, CEI

Amy leads projects in CEI’s Competency-Based and Personalized Learning portfolio. Featured projects Amy oversees include Assessment for Learning, which has worked for the past year with schools and districts across Colorado to build capstone and portfolio processes with embedded performance assessments, and the Common Assignment Study, which leverages teacher collaboration to design, implement, and refine common performance assessments embedded in curricular units. Amy also facilitates networked improvement communities and School Retool sessions with educators across the state of Colorado. Amy brings expertise in program design, implementation, and evaluation and has extensive experience working with local and national partners to achieve programmatic goals and objectives.

Erin Kerr

Erin Kerr

Communications Manager, Colorado Succeeds

Erin serves as Communications Manager for Colorado Succeeds, focused on supporting the marketing and communications efforts of the Homegrown Talent Initiative. Prior to joining Succeeds, Erin participated in El Pomar Foundation’s Fellowship program, a two-year professional development experience that focuses on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector in Colorado. In this role, Erin supported the Foundation’s communications, place-based grant making, and community stewardship programming. Erin also worked in Washington, D.C. supporting the federal judicial nominations process for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Erin earned her BA in geography and political science at the University of Vermont.

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Daniel Houser

Manager of Communications & Partnership, CEI

Prior to joining CEI Daniel worked for Denver Public Schools strengthening family and community engagement and outreach systems and capacity building for families. He led the adoption of the customer relationship management  tool to focus and adapt outreach to families for the largest school district in Colorado. Daniel also did program development and system improvements with the Schools Division department.  Originally from Ecuador, South America, he brings his multicultural lens and experience working years in education and both the public and private sector. 

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