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:

Marla Williams
President and CEO

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
  • SCL Health System, Director and Audit and Investment Committee member
  • 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).


 

Cheryl Haggstrom
Executive Vice President

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.

Noah M. Atencio
Vice President of
Community Impact

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 in the newly-created position of Vice President of Community Impact. He comes to the Foundation from the Daniels Fund, where for eight years he served as assistant vice president of the grants program. In that role, he managed a portfolio of grants in areas defined by Bill Daniels: aging, alcoholism & substance abuse, amateur sports, early childhood education, K-12 education reform, ethics & integrity in education, homeless and disadvantaged, and youth development. He has also held leadership positions with El Pomar Foundation and the University of Southern Colorado.

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:

  • Denver Drug Strategy Commission, mayor appointed commissioner
  • Pueblo Opportunity Fund, donor advised fund trustee
  • Tedx Mile High Conference, community advisory member
  • Community Resource Center, board member
  • Denver Young Nonprofits Professional Network, board member
  • Denver’s Road Home – 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, Resource Allocation Committee member

In 2008, Noah was honored as one of Denver’s top young business leaders in 40 Under 40, a program of the Denver Business Journal.

Vickie M. Wilson, Ph.D.
Vice President of Development

Vice President of Development

“I appreciate all the cultural arts opportunities our community has to offer and I want to see them thrive.”

720.898.5933
vwilson@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Vickie joined Community First Foundation in August 2014. Prior to joining the Foundation, Vickie served as Director of Professional Advisor Programs and Senior Philanthropic Planner for The Denver Foundation. Formerly, Vickie was Director of Planned and Endowment Gifts for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Vickie has also held leadership positions with Members Trust Company of Colorado and First Trust Corporation.

Vickie earned her Ph.D in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver’s Graduate School of Public Affairs, an M.S. in Management (Finance) from Purdue University in Indiana, and a B.A. in Economics and Business from Beloit College in Wisconsin.

Community Participation:

  • Centennial Estate Planning Council, member
  • Colorado Philanthropic Advisors Network, board officer
  • Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, member, past board officer
  • Denver Community Leadership Forum, 1993 graduate
  • Financial Planning Association, member
  • Institute for Leaders in Development, steering committee member
  • Rocky Mountain Estate Planning Council, board member
  • Southeast Estate Planning Council, member
  • Society of Financial Service Professionals, member
  • Women’s Estate Planning Council, member
Kenneth R. Kirwin
Chief Financial Officer

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.

Kayla Arnesen
Director of Marketing & Strategic Communications

Director of Marketing & 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

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
Samantha Barlow
Communications Coordinator

Communications Coordinator

“I care about creating innovative pathways for collaborative community development work.”

720.898.5938
sbarlow@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining Community First Foundation in 2016, Samantha served as a Program Director for El Pomar Foundation. Previously, Samantha held public affairs and marketing positions with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and Kadi Energy Company.

Samantha earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

 

Community Participation:

  • Colorado Refugee ESL Program, in-home tutor, 2016-present
  • Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, board member, 2014-2016
  • Colorado College, board member, 2012-2013
  • Amnesty International, member and former chapter leader, 2006-present
Valerie Brown, Meeting Space Administrator
Meeting Space Administrator

Meeting Space Administrator

“I care about sustainability, clean water and food for all.”

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.

Jennifer Griffis
Program Associate

Program Associate

“I care about global health care, mental health, and crisis intervention.”

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:

Jennifer’s interests include education, mental health and health awareness.

  • Young Professionals Board Member of Project C.U.R.E. (2014 – present)
  • Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Denver, member (2015 – present)
  • West Chamber Young Professionals, member (2014)
  • Suicide Intervention Specialist (2012-2013)
Kelly Degering
Administrative Assistant

Program Associate

“I care about global health care, mental health, and crisis intervention.”

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:

Jennifer’s interests include education, mental health and health awareness.

  • Young Professionals Board Member of Project C.U.R.E. (2014 – present)
  • Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Denver, member (2015 – present)
  • West Chamber Young Professionals, member (2014)
  • Suicide Intervention Specialist (2012-2013)
Lynda Ricketson, CFRE
Director of Development

Director of Development

 “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)
Sachi Ishida
Development & Communications Administrative Assistant

Development & Communications Administrative Assistant

“I care about hunger, civil 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:

  • Colorado College, former Admission Fellow
  • El Pomar Foundation, former Grants Intern
Christine Moreland, CPA
Controller

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
Neelamai Chunlapak
Senior Accountant

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.

Karen Newcomb
Accounting Clerk

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.

Dana Rinderknecht
Director of Online Giving

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.

 

Paul Mulligan
Grants & Donor
Services Manager

Grants & Donor Services 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:

Paul’s interests in the community include child welfare, senior services, historic preservation and community building.

  • Leadership Jefferson County, Class of 2011 – 2012 graduate
  • Grants Managers Network, member
  • Brown Elementary School, volunteer
Bryce Wilkinson
Senior Online Giving Specialist

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:

Bryce’s community interests lie in education, the environment, and human rights.

  • Peace Corps, former natural resource management volunteer
  • Former disaster relief volunteer in Nicaragua, Central America
Lisa Lujan
Online Giving Coordinator

Online Giving Coordinator

“I care about supporting arts organizations and public media.”

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:

Lisa’s interests in the community include the arts, women and children’s issues, and people with disabilities.

  • Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities, volunteer (2010)
Abigail Smith
Donor Support Specialist

Donor Support Specialist

“I care about the cultural arts, environmental sustainability and combating food deserts in the community.” 

720.898.5915
asmith@CommunityFirstFoundation.org


Prior to joining Community First Foundation in the summer of 2016, Abigail Smith worked at local nonprofits. 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 College and a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Memphis.

Community Participation:

  • Alliance Management Institute – Planning Committee Conference
  • OUR Center – Intake Volunteer
Lynn Homenick
Executive Assistant

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:

Lynns community interests involve the welfare of the region’s senior population.

  • Community Involvement Committee at Bryan Cave LLP, volunteer