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.

HTI is rooted deeply in the context of local community assets and needs, cultivating and solidifying partnerships between often siloed organizations. Facilitated by Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative and supported by local and national foundations, including the Daniels Fund, Walton Family Foundation, and Gill Foundation. HTI aims to:

  • Identify exemplary programs already occurring across Colorado and support the documentation of best practice such that others can learn from their efforts.
  • Support communities in leveraging these and other efforts to develop and strengthen access to high quality learning experiences in their schools and districts, as well as multiple pathways that lead learners to success in postsecondary education and career – a concept we call the Career- Connected Learning Continuum.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Madison Knapp

Senior Manager, 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 Director, Implementation, Partnership & Strategy, 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.

D Houser Pic

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. 

Matt Klausmeier

Matt Klausmeier serves on the project management team for HTI, specifically supporting the Coordinators in each community. In addition to project management, Matt facilitates data strategy and use in districts and other educational agencies in Colorado and across the country. For the past 15 years, his work has focused on assessments, surveys, and improvement planning. He holds a BA in History and Psychology from Columbia University and is a fellow alum of the Strategic Data Project at Harvard University.

Gretchen Morgan

Gretchen Morgan has spent the past 20 years as an innovative educator. She has experience as an elementary teacher, middle and high school principal, K-12 program developer for Expeditionary Learning, the Executive Director of Choice and Innovation for the Colorado Department of Education., and President of CareerWise Colorado. Gretchen continues to influence innovation in education sector through consulting on policy, career-connected learning, the intersection of K-12, workforce and economic development, and higher education.

Griff Wirth

Griff Wirth is a career educator who, as a high school principal, became frustrated with traditional curriculum and practices, particularly as they pertain to disengaged students.  He and his team arrived at their own solution by working with community partners to create Career Explore, a program that focuses on individual student strengths, abilities and work desires.  Partnering with the workforce, students explore career opportunities and develop skills essential for their success and their post-secondary plan.  Since leaving the principalship, Griff has been consulting with school districts to creatively design work-based learning programs aligned with local workforce needs.

Supported by: