We have assembled a professional team of compassionate and competent individuals dedicated to supporting youth and engaging the community in our mission.
Mary Ann Burdick - Executive Director
Mary Ann has a Master's Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor's Degree in English and Secondary Education. She has twenty years of experience in management of non-profits. She has worked with at-risk youth for over thirty years in various areas, including alternative education and mentoring programs. Ms. Burdick has extensive experience in program evaluation and implementation. She has been with Metro Denver Partners since 1988.
Francisco (Cisco) Gallardo – Program Director, GRASP
Francisco "Cisco" Gallardo assisted in setting the foundation for gangs in Denver. In his teen years, he joined and helped create what has been one of the largest gangs in Denver's north side. Since that time, after facing a possible 48 years in prison, he has dedicated his life to undoing the damage he helped cause. Over the past 14 years, through his work in the community to redefine respect, power, and pride, and by making a commitment to help the youth heal, he has helped countless young people to redefine their own lives.
Ronald Blan - Outreach Worker, GRASP
Ronald, a Denver native, comes from a gang background. Although in a gang in his youth, he avoided being sent to juvenile detention; however, as an adult, he was facing 32 years in prison for gang-related crimes. Since being set free from the charges, he has been working with youth for 18 years to ensure they would not follow his path. He now strives to give youth positive alternatives by educating them on the truths of gangs. He joined GRASP as the Aurora GRIP and Adams City High School Outreach Worker in January 2012.
John Kraft - Lead Case Manager
John has a Bachelor's Degree in Education and Fine Arts and has worked for Metro Denver Partners for over twenty years matching adult volunteers with at-risk youth. John coordinates the Adams, Denver & Douglas County Program, targeting youth, ages 8 to 12, who come from families that have experienced substance abuse. John also matches other youth in our service area and age range of 8 to 17, coming from low-income and poverty situations. John has been with Metro Denver Partners since 1989.
Benjamin Lopez - Outreach Worker, GRASP
Ben graduated from Jim Elliot High School in 2006. Ben joined a program called Masters Commission and City Conquest from 2006-2010 in Phoenix, AZ working with at-risk youth of Arizona with the Phoenix First Assembly and Scottsdale Assembly of God. Through that program, Ben became an Outreach Pastor, Youth Leader, and main speaker for the City Conquest School assembly program. In 2011, Ben came back to Colorado and worked for West Side Learning Center for a year, then spent time in Australia working with youth. Ben became a valued member of GRASP in April of 2014.
Pete Reyes- GRASP Assistant
A former gang member, and now a reformed community activist, began his road to redemption when he realized all the pain and damage he caused his family and community when he was actively part of the gang. In hopes of bettering his community for his nieces and nephew, Peter began mentoring local youth by taking them to boxing classes and church on Sunday's. He later became the assistant coach of a boxing program at a recreation center in his neighborhood, before finally accepting a position with “GRASP”
Jerry Morgan - Outreach Worker, GRASP
Jerry Morgan was raised in different parts of the United States, but he spent the majority of his life in Denver, Colorado. He had a rough childhood and was in and out of trouble, but made a transformational change while in high school. He started his work with youth when he was 11 years old and has worked with them since. He currently volunteers his time with numerous organizations throughout the state, and other organizations throughout the country. He studied Human Services and Cultural Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver and received a degree in Youth Development through Cultural Awareness. He is now working in the At-risk Intervention and Mentoring program that is a collaboration between GRASP and Denver Health.
Michelle McDaniel - Outreach Worker, GRASP
Before accepting a position as a GRID Outreach worker in January 2012, Michelle volunteered for GRASP for 5 years while pursuing a degree in Human Services. Her experiences as a former runaway and gang member have allowed her to educate and empower as well as encourage youth to make better choices.
James Mora - Production Manager, GRASP Enterprises Silk Screen and Embroidery Division
James Mora has been involved with working with youth for 30 plus years in the form of case managing youth, coaching baseball, football and boxing in Northern Colorado. As a youth James had his run-ins with the judicial system and decided to change his life and repair the damage he helped create in his community. James has taken the concept of paying it forward by working with youth by providing hope and opportunities through the Bam's Legacy Foundation that he helped co-found (and currently chairs) which provide educational college scholarships and Christmas gifts to the less fortunate. James' experience in Case Managing youth in the judicial system the last 8 years, along with his 22 years experience in silk screen printing made this opportunity of accepting the Production Manager for GRASP Enterprises Silk Screen & Embroidery Division a perfect match for him. James looks forward to growing this social enterprise business and he is eager to teach the young people that join GRASP Enterprises work skills, life skills, and the drive to become successful individuals in the work environment.
Karen Quinn - Program Coordinator, Adolescent Females Program
Karen has an Associate's Degree in Sociology and has completed coursework in Juvenile Counseling. Karen has over twenty years of experience working with at-risk youth. She has worked with potential dropouts in job counseling, pre-employment workshops, academic skills, and conflict resolution to help kids become self-sufficient. Karen has extensive experience in case management and volunteer management. She is very involved in the community as well, and regularly works with the Black Round Table, DPS Collaborative Decision Making Team, many PTAs in Northeast Denver schools, and is a block organizer for For Our Kids. Karen has been with Metro Denver Partners since 1995.
Estefania Palenzuela - Program Assistant, Adolescent Females Program
Estefania graduated from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and Elementary Education. She taught for 8 years at the elementary level at a Title I school in the Jefferson County Public School District. Estefania aspired to continue to work with highly impacted children and is excited to have this new opportunity to motivate and guide adolescent females.
Sandi Schoob - Bookkeeper
Sandi has a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from Metropolitan State College and a Master's Degree in Financial Planning from Kansas State University. Sandi has over 18 years of progressive accounting experience managing Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Reconciliations, Grant Accounting, Financial Reporting, Payroll, Fixed Assets and banking relations. She has worked in private, public and non-profit arenas. Sandi joined Metro Denver Partners in July 2007.
Johnnie Williams – Outreach Team Coordinator, GRASP
Johnnie is currently working with youth in the community by supplying constructive alternatives to gangs and other destructive activities. He is actively involved within the community, focusing primarily on educating teenagers on gaining and preserving self-respect, finding a positive purpose in life, learning to be more responsible and learning to make good choices as well leaving the gang lifestyle. Johnnie joined Metro Denver Partners in 2008.
Alyssa Phannenstiel - Development/Administrative Assistant
Alyssa grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado, and graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and English. After graduating, she spent a year and a half traveling, where she discovered her passion for community engagement and improvement. She has spent the past three years as a mentor for at-risk youth in the Vail Valley and plans to continue her mission to bettering communities with Metro Denver Partners as a recent addition to the team.