Our hard working team is constantly on the lookout for new ideas and programs that get more people involved, inspire philanthropy and power community.

We are a team dedicated to sharing big ideas and visions, innovative strategies and hard work. We love being part of an organization that is creating tangible change.

Select a Team:

Noah Atencio

Vice President of Community Impact

720.898.5931

Noah Atencio

Vice President of Community Impact

"I care about the general well-being of my community and the power of mutual aid." 

720.898.5931
natencio@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Noah joined the Foundation in June 2014 as vice president of Community Impact. He brings more than 18 years of grantmaking and program development experience to his role of overseeing the deployment of the Foundation's grantmaking resources. Previously he served in leadership positions at the Daniels Fund and El Pomar Foundation. Noah has also served on numerous commissions and held advisory roles on issues related to early childhood, homelessness and substance abuse. A student of leadership, he is a proud alumnus of the President's Leadership Class at the University of Colorado - Boulder, the El Pomar Fellowship in Community Service, Leadership Jeffco and, more recently, the Latino Leadership Institute.

Noah is a native Coloradan and grew up in Westminster. He holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver.

Community Participation:

  • Colorado Office of Early Childhood - Early Childhood Mental Health Finance Working Group, member
  • Pueblo Opportunity Fund, donor-advised fund trustee
  • Denver Drug Strategy Commission, past mayor-appointed commissioner
  • Tedx Mile High Conference, past community advisory member
  • Community Resource Center, past board member
  • Denver Young Nonprofits Professional Network, past board member
  • Denver’s Road Home – past 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, Resource Allocation Committee member

Kayla Arnesen, APR

Director of Strategic Communications

720.898.5919

Kayla Arnesen, APR

Director of Strategic Communications

"I care about ensuring the health, safety and security of children and animals."

720.898.5919
karnesen@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining Community First Foundation, Kayla served as a marketing and public relations strategist at Denver Health. Previous positions include marketing and communications leadership roles with Rocky Mountain Health Plans and PacifiCare of Nevada.

Kayla earned her master’s degree in Mass Communication at the University of Denver and her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at Colorado State University — Pueblo. She is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Community Participation:

  • Arvada Economic Development Association, Retention Committee
  • Good News Coalition, Steering Committee
  • Institute for Leaders in Development, Communications Chair
  • Jeffco Schools Foundation, Hero Awards Nomination Review Committee
  • National Philanthropy Day in Colorado, Steering Committee
  • The Communications Network, Denver Chapter Founding Member
  • Jefferson County Leadership Program, Class of 2016

Angela Bevacqua

Senior Communications Specialist

720.898.5909

Angela Bevacqua

Senior Communications Specialist

"I care about the environment, the arts, and health."

720.898.5909
abevacqua@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining the Foundation in 2004, Angela worked in marketing communications for the specialty foods industry. She has experience in brand identity, promotions, event planning and art direction.

Angela received her bachelor’s degree in English from Barnard College at Columbia University in New York City.

Community Participation:

  • Intercambio Connecting Communities, English teacher, 2016 - present
  • Cooking Matters program of Operation Frontline, health class assistant, 2010 - 2015
  • Boulder International Film Festival, festival volunteer, various years
  • Downtown Boulder Inc., ambassador, summer 2010
  • Colorado Shakespeare Festival, former public relations volunteer
  • KGNU Radio, former volunteer news writer/announcer

Memberships:

  • Colorado Foundations Communicators
  • ComNetworkDenver

Valerie Brown

Meeting Space Administrator

720.898.5906

Valerie Brown

Meeting Space Administrator

"I care about equal access and opportunity for the marginalized and outcast."

720.898.5906
vbrown@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


As the Foundation’s Community Meeting Space Administrator, Valerie is accountable for day-to-day operations of the organization’s public meeting space.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 2015, Valerie worked as an office administrator at Gill Foundation. Before that time she served as a development associate at Up With People.

Valerie studied dramatic theater at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Neelamai Chunlapak

Senior Accountant

720.898.5913

Neelamai Chunlapak

Senior Accountant

"I care about children and animals."

720.898.5913
nchunlapak@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Mai joined the Foundation in July 2011. Most recently she has served as a Senior Accountant at Diageo Moet Hennessy in Bangkok, Thailand, a distributor of premium wine and spirits. Before that position she served as Accounting Supervisor at ZTE Co, Ltd, a telecommunications equipment company in Thailand.

Mai earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Bangkok University and a master’s degree in accounting from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

Kelly Degering

Community Impact/Data Administrative Asst.

720.898.5935

Kelly Degering

Community Impact/Data Administrative Asst.

“I care about environmental sustainability, civil liberties, and cultivating mental wellness.”


720.898.5935
kdegering@CommunityFirstFoundation.org

Kelly joined Community First Foundation in May 2014, bringing with her years of experience in administration and customer service. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Italian from the University of Colorado/Boulder.

Community Participation:

Kelly's interests include social services, poverty alleviation, the environment and human rights.

  • Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (2016 - present)
  • Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, clerical volunteer, 2014
  • Food Bank of the Rockies, office volunteer, 2014

 

 

Veronica Farrell

Receptionist/Office Assistant

720.898.5928

Veronica Farrell

Receptionist/Office Assistant

"I care about protecting the environment and ensuring quality early education for all children."

720.898.5928
vfarrell@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Veronica joined Community First Foundation in July 2017. Previously she worked as a service corp member at Metro Caring. There she served as a program assistant coordinating financial assistance for clients needing support with utility costs.

She recently received a B.S. in Environmental Science at the University of South Carolina with a minor in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior.

Community Participation:

  • Carolina Community Farm and Garden, University of South Carolina,  volunteer
  • Summerfield Farms, Greensboro, North Carolina, volunteer

Jennifer Griffis

Program Associate

720.898.5907

Jennifer Griffis

Program Associate

"I care about improving communities in which we all exist and strengthening our connections to one another."

720.898.5907
jgriffis@CommunityFirstFoundation.org

Jennifer joined Community First Foundation in April 2013 as the Grants and Gifts Coordinator and is now a Program Associate in the Community Impact department. Jennifer is pursuing her Master's of Nonprofit Management at Regis University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Community Participation:

  • Young Nonprofit Professionals Network - Denver, member (2015 - present)
  • Young Professionals, Project C.U.R.E. board member (2014 - 2016)
  • West Chamber Young Professionals, member (2014)
  • Suicide Intervention Specialist (2012-2013)

Cheryl Haggstrom

Executive Vice President

720.898.5921

Cheryl Haggstrom

Executive Vice President

"I want high-quality health care services to be available to everyone."

720.898.5921
chaggstrom@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Cheryl assumed the role of executive vice president in 2008 after serving as vice president development and COO at the Foundation since 1997. Her prior experience is in the area of quality improvement and risk management at Lutheran Medical Center, where she was employed for 15 years.

Cheryl served as a fellow in the Regional Institute for Health and Environment Leadership Training Program at the University of Denver. She is a graduate of the Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, and a graduate of the West Chamber’s Leadership Jefferson County program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in science and management from Regis University.

Community Participation:

  • Colorado Philanthropic Advisors Network, board member
  • Early Childhood Mental Health Funders, member
  • Institute for Leaders in Development, volunteer
  • Denver Homeless Commission, commissioner
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, Colorado Chapter, member
  • Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, member
  • National Committee on Planned Giving, member
  • Colorado Association of Funders, member
  • Centennial Estate Planning Committee, member
  • Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, member
  • Jefferson County Community Advisory Board, board member

Cheryl has also served on the advisory council on Adolescent Health for the State of Colorado, the policy council for Head Start, the Denver Drug Strategy Commission, and the Council on Foundations Standards Action Team. She also served on the boards for the Action Center, Seniors’ Resource Center, the Susan M. Duncan Family YMCA and the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver.

Lynn Homenick

Executive Assistant

720.898.5922

Lynn Homenick

Executive Assistant

"I care about the well-being of our children and senior citizens."

720.898.5922
lmalloy@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Lynn joined Community First Foundation in May 2014 after serving at Bryan Cave LLP (formerly Holme Roberts & Owen LLP) for more than twenty years. She received an associates degree from Arapahoe Community College.

Community Participation:

  • Community Involvent Committee at Bryan Cave LLP, volunteer

Sachi Ishida

Philanthropy and Communications Assistant

720.898.5930

Sachi Ishida

Philanthropy and Communications Assistant

"I care about hunger, immigrant rights and education."

720.898.5930
sishida@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining the Foundation in the fall of 2016, Sachi was the Event Coordinator for Colorado Springs Food Rescue and the co-founder of the Political Science Club at Colorado College.

Sachi earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Colorado College.

Community Participation:

  • Spring Institue for Intercultural Learning, Adult ESL class volunteer
  • Chinook Fund, Giving Project, Sprint 2017
  • Colorado College, former admission fellow
  • El Pomar Foundation, former grants intern

Kenneth R. Kirwin

Chief Financial Officer

720.898.5924

Kenneth R. Kirwin

Chief Financial Officer

"My charitable passions are supporting those suffering from poverty and protecting children in difficult/dangerous environments."

720.898.5924
kkirwin@communityfirstfoundation.org


Kenneth Kirwin joined the Foundation in December 2008 after serving as Controller/CFO for the Tennyson Center for Children. He has served in a financial capacity in the nonprofit sector since 1991 at organizations such as Denver Rescue Mission and New Ventures of Regis University.

Ken was raised in Colorado and received a bachelor of science in professional accounting and business administration/ finance from Regis University. He received an M.B.A. in finance at Loyola University in Chicago. He is a certified public accountant.

Community Participation:

  • Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation, board member
  • Knights of Columbus, member
  • Leadership Jefferson County, class of 2010

Ken previously served as board member and treasurer for Smart Energy Living Alliance.

Lisa Lujan

Online Giving Coordinator

720.898.5920

Lisa Lujan

Online Giving Coordinator

"I care about supporting many different initiatives; some of which include people with disabilities, media accessibility for all, animals, children, victims of domestic abuse, foreign language and the arts."

720.898.5920
llujan@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Lisa joined Community First Foundation in April 2013. Previously, she served as the executive assistant/development associate at Firefly Autism, whose mission is to transform the lives of children with autism. Before that position she worked for Gray Line Worldwide as an online marketing coordinator.

Lisa received her Bachelors of Arts from the University of Wyoming.

Community Participation:

  • Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities, volunteer (2010)
  • Tech4Good Denver, board member (2014-2016)

Christine Moreland, CPA

Controller

720.898.5914

Christine Moreland, CPA

Controller

“I care about ending the plight of homeless children, helping special needs individuals and supporting performing arts programs in our community.”

720.898.5914
cmoreland@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Christine joined the Foundation in May 2015 after serving as the Director of Finance and Accounting of Columbine Country Club for ten years. Before that time she served as Controller of Arapahoe House. A Colorado native, she has served the nonprofit sector since 1990.

Christine received a B.S. from the University of Colorado – Denver.  She is a Certified Public Accountant and also holds a Chartered Global Management Accountant designation.

Community Participation:

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, member
  • Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants, member
  • Leadership Jefferson County, class of 2016- 2017

Paul Mulligan

Grants Administration Manager

720.898.5918

Paul Mulligan

Grants Administration Manager

"I care about preventing the victimization of children, seniors and other vulnerable populations."

720.898.5918
pmulligan@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Paul Mulligan joined Community First Foundation in September 2006.

Before joining the Foundation he served as database manager at Family Tree, a nonprofit in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, and senior development associate at The Educational Alliance, a nonprofit in New York City.

He comes to the region from New York, where he received his bachelor’s degree in English from City College of New York.

Community Participation:

  • Leadership Jefferson County, Class of 2011 – 2012 graduate
  • Grants Managers Network, member
  • Brown Elementary School, volunteer

Karen Newcomb

Finance Administrative Assist./Accounting Clerk

720.898.5910

Karen Newcomb

Finance Administrative Assist./Accounting Clerk

"I care about protecting those who cannot protect themselves, the very young (children), the very old (seniors) and those without a voice (animals)."

720.898.5910
knewcomb@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining the Foundation in 2006, Karen worked for six years as an office manager at a shelving company. She has also served as an accounting analyst, inventory coordinator, computer operator and underwriting assistant in previous positions.

Karen graduated from Alameda High School and attended an in-depth business course at WarrenTech career and technical high school.

Rebecca Olchawa Barker

Director of Philanthropic Services

720.898.5933

Rebecca Olchawa Barker

Director of Philanthropic Services

"I care about empowering individuals, specifically providing children with the support, resources and opportunities to pursue their dreams and achieve the things they never thought they could."

720.898.5933
rbarker@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Rebecca joined Community First Foundation in August 2017 with more than 13 years of experience in development. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the Associate Director of Major and Planned Giving at History Colorado. Additional experience includes fundraising roles at National Jewish Health, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Arts at Western Michigan University. She is also a graduate of the Institute for Leaders in Development at the University of Denver, class of 2013. Rebecca grew up in a Chicago suburb, but the lure of the mountains persuaded her and her husband to relocate to Denver in 2007.

Community Participation:

  • Institute for Leaders in Development, volunteer (2017- present)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, Board Member (2014-2015)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, Member (2010-present)
  • Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, Member (2013-present)

Lynda Ricketson, CFRE

Vice President of Philanthropic Services

720.898.5916

Lynda Ricketson, CFRE

Vice President of Philanthropic Services

 "I'm passionate about increasing the strength of the nonprofit sector, connecting donors to their passion and making the community a better place."

720.898.5916
lricketson@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Lynda joined Community First Foundation in May 2016. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as Vice President of Philanthropy at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Director of Development and Alumni Giving at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She also held a philanthropic advisory position at Rose Community Foundation.

Lynda earned a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a writing concentration at the University of Denver and a Bachelor’s in English at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She received a Certified Fund Raising Executive designation by CFRE International in 2014.

Community Participation:

  • Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Board Member and Secretary (2014 – present)
  • Institute for Leaders in Development, Steering Committee Member and Chair of the Capstone Committee (2012 – present)
  • Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, Member (2008 – present)
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals (2008 – present)

Dana Rinderknecht

Director of Online Giving

720.898.5911

Dana Rinderknecht

Director of Online Giving

"I care about increasing the well-being of humankind while making our community robust and vibrant."

720.898.5911
drinderknecht@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Dana joined the Foundation in December 2007 after serving on the staff and board of several nonprofits, including director of resource development at Dental Aid, Inc., executive director at Family Pathways of Colorado, and development officer at Work Options for Women.

Dana holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Denver and bachelor’s of science in applied math from Colorado State University.

Community Participation:

  • Denver Office of Strategic Partnership, commissioner
  • Colorado Women’s Golf Association, board member
  • Junior Achievement, volunteer

Dana has also served as a past board member of the David Taylor Dance Theatre and Family Pathways of Colorado. She is also a past president of the West Chamber Foundation Board, the Junior League of Denver and the Junior League of Denver Foundation.

 

Abigail Smith

Donor Support Specialist

720.898.5915

Abigail Smith

Donor Support Specialist

"I care about the cultural arts, environmental sustainability and civil rights." 

720.898.5915
asmith@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining Community First Foundation in the summer of 2016, Abigail Smith worked at local nonprofits on the Front Range. She focused on database development, donor relationships, website content management, social media and events.

Abigail received a degree in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee-Martin and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Administration at the University of Memphis.

Community Participation:

  • Colorado Professional Researchers for Advancement, member
  • Alliance Management Institute - Planning Committee Conference

Jenica Tomdale

Communications Coordinator

720.898.5938

Jenica Tomdale

Communications Coordinator

"I care about empowering women, strengthening families, reducing the stigmas of mental health, and improving health care in our community."

720.898.5938
jtomdale@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining the Foundation in November 2017, Jenica served at a local tech startup as a Marketing Coordinator. Prior to her move to Colorado in 2016, she served at various for profit and nonprofit organizations in Texas. Her experience ranges from social media marketing to project management to event planning.

Jenica earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Communications from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas.

Community Participation:

  • The Justice Run to End Modern Slavery, Runner, October 2017
  • Denver Community Church, Volunteer Childcare Worker, 2016 - Present
  • Denver Community Church, Volunteer Small Group Leader, 2017 – Present

Tina Trela

Accountant

720.898.5908

Tina Trela

Accountant

"I care about improving the quality of health care and respectfully assisting individuals with disabilities."

720.898.5908
ttrela@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Tina joined Community First Foundation in June 2017 after serving as an intern and audit associate at BKD, LLP (Baird, Kurtz, and Dobson). Previously, she assisted in the store management of a men’s formal wear retailer.

Tina received her master’s degree in Professional Accountancy from Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD). She also achieved bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Health Care Management from MSUD. Tina obtained her associate’s degree with a focus in Business from Red Rocks Community College.

Community Participation:

  • St. Anthony Hospital, volunteer, 2011-2012
  • Developmental Disabilities Resource Center, volunteer, 2012
  • Citizens for Patient Safety, Intern, 2010-2011

Bryce Wilkinson

Senior Online Giving Specialist

720.898.5917

Bryce Wilkinson

Senior Online Giving Specialist

"I care about early childhood education and protecting the environment."

720.898.5917
bwilkinson@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining the Foundation in September 2007, Bryce worked as an office manager at Wyoming Community Foundation in Laramie, Wyoming, where one of his roles was to review funding proposals for an immediate needs grant program.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, Bryce served as a Peace Corps volunteer. He spent two years in Niger, West Africa, educating rural communities about HIV/AIDS, and addressing natural resource management issues.

Community Participation:

  • Peace Corps, former natural resource management volunteer
  • Former disaster relief volunteer in Nicaragua, Central America

Marla J. Williams

President and CEO

720.898.5922

Marla J. Williams

President and CEO

"I care about community—its power to bring out the best in us, individually and collectively, and to draw strength from our differences as well as what we share."

720.898.5922
mwilliams@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Marla has served as president and CEO of Community First Foundation since 2010. Formerly she was a partner with the law firm of Holme Roberts & Owen LLP (now Bryan Cave), and also served as president and CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

She earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her A.B. from Indiana University. She grew up in Indiana and has been a proud citizen of Colorado since 1980.

Community Participation:

  • Colorado Association of Funders, Director and past Board Chair
  • Women’s Forum of Colorado, Member and past President
  • Sturm Financial Group, Director and Audit Committee Member
  • The Women's Foundation of Colorado, Honorary Trustee
  • Colorado and Denver Bar Associations, Member and past Board of Governors
  • Colorado Women's Bar Association, Member and past President

Marla is the recipient of the Mary Lathrop Award (the highest honor bestowed by the Women's Bar Association). She has also been honored by the Girl Scouts of Colorado as a Woman of Distinction and named Woman of the Year by the Colorado Business and Professional Women's Association (now Colorado Business Women).