Staff Biographies


Representing UpLift since 2016...

Favorite UpLift character quality is caring because for the close work we do with students, they need more adults that genuinely care about them and their future. I also love that staff cares for one another as well.

My favorite quote is "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.” Charles Spurgeon.

A fun fact about me: I am continuously surrounded in a house of males, even my dog is male. I was raised as the only girl in a house of four boys by my father and I have three boys of my own, two step sons and an older step daughter.



Representing UpLift since 2018...


Favorite UpLift quality: Leadership 
Favorite quote: “There is nothing between young people and success besides opportunity and space.” -Jaelen Hyshaw 
Random fun fact: I have a twin brother and out of the both of us, I’m the cool auntie. 
Specialist, Accounting (Former Colorado UpLift Student)

...Representing UpLift since 2016

Favorite Quote: "The only time you should ever look back, is to see how far you’ve come."

Random fact: I have terrible eyesight, but I won’t wear contacts because I freak out about touching my eye. Nope. Not happening. So glasses have become an accessory.

UpLift's Impact on my life: Uplift has impacted my life in such a tremendous way. My mentor Sirena inspired me to go to college; she was a young Latina who grew up in my neighborhood. If she could go to college, what stopped me? So I worked hard and she stood beside me every step of the way. She was there at my high school and college graduation. Without Uplift, I wouldn’t have found someone who I could relate to that inspired me to defy being what the statistics in my neighborhood said I should be. 

Advanced Leadership Manager

. . . Representing UpLift Since 2007

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: Positive Work Ethic is my favorite character quality because it backs the very foundation of why I do what I do.  I also like it because it is not about results or a finished product. Nor is it about the destination. It’s all about the process… About the Journey. About the next step you take with or without being able to see the top. ..And the empowerment to stay on course... 

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: UpLift has impacted my life because as a younger student, I knew that impact was missing. So now that I'm older I can be the one to fill that void for students feel the same way about their life.

Favorite Saying: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.


Site Operation Manager - Southeast

. . . Representing UpLift since 2013

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: My favorite character quality is Courage. The reason being is with some of these students’ stories and what they have to go through day in and day out. Then to continue through it all with a smile on their faces, and to trust the UpLift staff must take all the courage they can muster every day.  

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: Uplift has impacted me in more ways than I can count. The staff that are pounding the pavement and not giving up inspires me to do more and to be more. I look up to a few staff to be as great of a father/role model to my kids as they are to theirs. That's real inspiration, the dailies and doing the job with care and integrity. 

Favorite Day at UpLift: One of my favorite days at uplift is when I had a student graduate and go off to the college of his dreams. On his spring break he drove all the way back to Colorado with buddies to see me, to celebrate each other, and to toast to what dreams have been accomplished and ones that we are looking forward to. It was an amazing and simple, but dynamic night. That night was filled with faith, hope, and most importantly love. 


Representing UpLift since 2017...


Quote "Far from where I once was, but not yet to where I am going to be."
Random fun fact about you: I love to travel and see all the beautiful and exciting places that I have not yet to encountered. 
Favorite UpLift character quality: Passion is key. I love what I do and I do it with all my heart without giving it a second thought because I'm passionate about my job, the kids I'm working with, and I have a desire to see these young people reach their full potential in every area of their life. 
Human Resources Director

Representing UpLift since 2018...

Manager, Transformative Initiatives

. . . Representing UpLift was so nice, she had to do it twice! Back since 2018

Favorite UpLift character quality: Vision. An exciting vision for the future is such a powerful source of hope and motivation, and serves as a practical guide for maintaining good habits everyday.   

Favorite quote: “Vision without traction is hallucination. Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” Japanese proverb

Favorite UpLift memory: I worked for UpLift some years ago before moving out of state. My favorite day was when I came back to work here and received a warm homecoming!


Representing UpLift since 2018...

Favorite UpLift quality: Caring, because it is an extension of Love and love is the foundation I choose to build my life off of.

Fun fact about me: I write and record my own music.

Favorite quote: “No worries”

Program Director

. . . Representing UpLift since 2007

Favorite Adventure Activity with Students: My favorite adventure activity with students is paintballing!

Favorite Day at UpLift: My favorite day at UpLift was when we went on an overnight rafting trip, and I was able to witness our students’ lives being changed first hand.

Favorite Quote: “I complained that I didn’t have any shoes, until I met a man who didn’t have any feet.” ~Unknown

Manager, Training and Curriculum

. . .  Representing UpLift since 2006

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: My favorite UpLift character quality is Integrity. It includes honesty, being honorable and keeping promises.

Random Fun Fact: I have a weenie dog named Louie.

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: UpLift impacts my life on a daily basis. My students really help make me a better person. I try to live by the character qualities and skills we teach to our students so I can lead by example. By no means am I perfect, but I try to lead by example so my kids can see the world differently. 


Representing UpLift since 2018...

Site Operation Manager - North

. . . Caring for UpLift since 2013

My favorite quote: "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style." ~Maya Angelou 

My favorite character quality: Caring because caring takes you where logic leaves you.

My favorite adventure activity with students: White water rafting day that's held in the summer. I enjoy it when students who have never gone rafting go because they don't know what to expect. 


Representing UpLift since 2017...




. . . Representing UpLift since 2015

My favorite UpLift Character Quality: Integrity is my favorite because living a life in truth has always been important to me. The world has enough broken promises, and so the ability to keep promises goes a long way and means a whole lot!

Random Fact: I published my first book before I was 22 (

Favorite Movie Quote: “Ah yes, the past can hurt…but the way I see it, you can either run from it, or, learn from it…" ~ Rafiki (Lion King)

Specialist, Data & Research

. . . Representing UpLift since 2015

Favorite Character Quality: Integrity is my favorite Uplift character quality. It is the backbone of forging positive relationships. 

Random Fun Fact: When I was 13, I lived in Singapore for a year. My brother and I went to an “American” school there but there were students from all over the globe. Singapore is centrally located in Southeast Asia, so we were able to travel to a bunch of different countries while we lived there. I loved every minute of it and one day, I will go back. 

Favorite Quote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~Arthur Ashel

Development Street Team

. . . Inspiring generations of change at UpLift for 24 years - since 1991

Favorite movie quote: "Every man dies...not every man lives."  William Wallace, Braveheart

Uplift’s impact on my life: I feel like I'm truly a part of a legacy because I've been involved with UpLift for 32 years and it has helped me become the man and positive role model I am today. Not only do I get to work with and be colleagues with my first mentor (the first employee of UpLift) but I get to work with and be colleagues with half a dozen staff that used to be students I mentored.

Fun fact: In the 2015-2016 school year, my entire family (my wife and our four kids) will be active participants in the organization. My wife and I are both staff members, my two high school sons are Lift Leaders, my youngest son is in 5th grade Little Lift and my daughter is in 4th grade Little Lift. Now that's living William Wallace, that's living.

Manager, Adventure Program

. . . Representing UpLift since 2012

Random or Fun Fact: I have been with Outward Bound for over 17 years as a Tennis Pro.

Favorite Day at UpLift: I love taking students on an adventure outig, seeing them experience the great outdoors, and seeing their resilience in the activity.

Favorite adventure activity with students? Rafting and Snowboarding

Favorite Quote: "Do or do not, there is no try." ~Yoda

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." ~ Frodo

UpLift’s Impact on My Life: UpLift has given me the opportunity to serve both staff and students.

Director of Development

...Representing UpLift since 2018


Site Operation Manager - Aurora

. . . Representing UpLift since 2004

My favorite adventure activity with students: Hands down whitewater rafting with Noah’s Ark. It is a definite memorable moment for all students. It’s scary, it’s adventurous, it’s FUN!

My favorite day at UpLift: It was a Beach Day at summer day camp and we were at Bear Lake. We were grilling the burgers, hamburger buns were lined up ready to grab, and kids were lining up to eat.  Suddenly there was a strong gust of wind and the hamburger buns went flying high and far and Max Garcia (former UpLift staff) yells “Grab your buns!” Everybody started cracking up and laughing hard. I don’t know why it seems corny looking back, but that has been a favorable moment of mine. 

How has UpLift impacted you/your life? I am so honored to be a part of Colorado UpLift because of the powerful platform and opportunity for influence on the students. We have the honor and privilege of cultivating the lives of young people. The relationships that we are able to build and foster are amazing and they are for a lifetime. I love when a student gets it! They have that deer in the headlights moment and the lightbulb clicks on and I see it in their eyes, they understand something finally or got a revelation. I am able to be a part of this amazing journey with students. 

Manager, Human Resources & Marketing Initiatives

Representing UpLift since 2017...


Favorite Quote: Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
Random fun fact about you: I love to run and have completed 6 marathons (including the Disney World marathon!)
Favorite UpLift character quality: Relationships, because the best results always come from group efforts… and because humans need each other!
Senior Ambassador

. . . Leading UpLift for 33 years - since 1982 (very first employee)

Fun Fact: I was a guest at a Broncos game in Chicago along with 3 UpLift students. We got to hang out with the players and go onto the field during the pre-game.  It was great!

Favorite Day at UpLift: My favorite day at Colorado UpLift is the day I met Kent Hutcheson.  It was June 11, 1982. UpLift was then called “Getting It All Together.” We would rename it "Colorado UpLift" a month or two later.  The “LIFT” in UpLift stands for “Leadership Involvement for Teens”.

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: UpLift has impacted me by fulfilling my calling in life.  Colorado UpLift has never been just a job to me - it is my life’s work.  It is indeed a rare privilege to have worked at the same company for over 33 years. 

Senior Manager, Community Engagement

. . . Interacting and leading UpLift students since 1994

UpLift is a 2-way experience: The students at UpLift have impacted my life by allowing me to be a part of their lives. I am privileged  to be a part of their lives in many ways which include weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, college graduations parties and many more joyous occasions with countless stories. But I have also been a part of their tragedies and heartaches; those are extremely tough and also apart of life’s journey. To allow someone access to the intimate parts of a life is precious to me… an undeserved blessing.

One of my favorite movie quotes: from “A League of Their Own” (when life gets tough… and it will)  Player- “It just got too hard”  Coach- “It is supposed to be hard, if it wasn’t hard everyone would be doing it - and that’s what makes it Great!”

Random fun fact: I married my mom's best friend’s son (they have been friends since Jr. High School).  I have known my husband my entire life.

Director, Post Secondary

. . . Representing UpLift for 18 years - since 1997

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: My favorite UpLift quality is goal setting because I enjoy helping students set their career and life goals and inspire a vision for their future.

Favorite day at UpLift: My favorite day at UpLift was when Sue Erickson hosted a breakfast for the female staff at her house in Boulder, and taught me how to make a breakfast chile relleno casserole. I have made it every year for Christmas morning ever since. It’s a family tradition now.

Favorite Quote: My favorite movie quote is “You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal…Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.”


. . . Keeping it real at UpLift since 2014

Favorite Quote: “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”  ~Mark Twain

Favorite UpLift memory: Telling my old UpLift mentors that I’d now be working with them.

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: UpLift was there with me every step of the way in high school and after, even when I wanted to quit on myself. 

Teacher/Mentor (Former Colorado UpLift Student)

. . . Representing UpLift since 2014

Fun Fact: From kindergarten to senior-year graduation I maintained perfect attendance!

UpLift’s Impact on my Life: UpLift inspired me to gain the potential to find and fulfill my purpose in life. I am doing what I love to do, and what I am best at. UpLift allows me to work with youth and show them the same thing.

Favorite Day at UpLift: Going to different service trips with my Summer Advanced Leadership Teams over two summers in New York and New Orleans.

Site Operation Manager - West

. . . Representing UpLift since 2014

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: UpLift has impacted my life because I get to invest in kids coming from the same neighborhood, city, and culture as myself. It allows me to help them learn from my mistakes. UpLift has also impacted my life in another way. My personal family is able to be involved in the lives of our students and work. Uplift has given my wife and three children a platform to help serve our kiddos.

Favorite Adventure Activity With Students: My favorite adventure with the kids was going to Breckinridge because most of them had never even been out of Denver city limits. They were able to experience something brand new!


Representing UpLift since 2016...

Favorite UpLift Quality: My favorite UpLift quality has to be respect. I feel like without respect you can only go so far in life.

Favorite Quote: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fun Fact: I'm so scared of heights that I've only been on an airplane once when I was 25.

Chief Executive Officer

Joe Sanders is a renowned character leadership development expert. He is a retired Air Force Colonel and the former Director of the Center for Character and Leadership Development, United States Air Force Academy. Joe earned his PhD in Leadership and Human Resource Development from Colorado State University in 2003. He has authored and published several articles and book chapters on topics ranging from transformational leadership and servant leadership to organizational spirituality and moral development. In addition, Joe has delivered over 2,000 lectures and workshops on these topics to a variety of audiences.

Joe has served his community in multiple capacities. In addition to currently serving as CEO of Colorado UpLift, Joe is an adjunct professor at UCCS. He is also the founder of Touchstone Leadership Academy which focuses on creating new possibilities for current and future leaders in underserved communities. He has regularly hosted and keynoted church conferences and retreats, taught Bible classes, and led a local ministry for the homeless in Colorado Springs, CO. However, Joe’s most significant contribution to the community is his family. He and his wife, Lourdes, are the proud parents of Isaiah, Jasmine, and Josiah.

Manager of Development Database

...Representing UpLift since 2016

Favorite uplift character quality:  My favorite UpLift character quality is integrity. Integrity is all about moral judgment and character, honesty and leadership values. All of these characteristics are the building blocks for healthy relationships, positive change, and serve as strong foundation for the mission at UpLift.
Favorite quote: “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”  Rumi

Fun fact: This year I have finally manifested my beehive. I am excited about my new journey in beekeeping and look forward to reaping the benefits…happy bees, happy, garden, and honey!


Chief Financial Officer

. . . Representing UpLift since 2008

Fun Fact: After already working at UpLift, I received offers to play professional basketball but turned them down because UpLift was and is my calling.

UpLift’s Impact on My Life: UpLift has given me a perspective of the struggles students face, and the solutions to helping them through these struggles.

Favorite Day at UpLift: My favorite day at UpLift was when I went on the Advanced Leadership Trip to Orlando, and got to serve next to many of our students. 


. . . Representing UpLift since 2013

Favorite Adventure Activity With Students: I love going white water rafting with students!

Favorite Quote: “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” ~William Wallace

Random Fun Fact: In an average NFL football game, There are only about 12 minutes of actual play time.



Representing UpLift since 2016...

Favorite uplift memory: Jumping off of a huge cliff into a lake in the mountains alongside my closest friends and Uplift mentors during my sophomore year in high school.
Favorite quote:  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” –Jim Elliott
Fun fact about yourself:  My junior year in high school I was able to meet Tim Tebow at a Denver Nuggets game because of Uplift!



. . . Giving my all to UpLift since 2006

Favorite adventure activity with students: Overnight Rafting is my favorite activity with the kids - honestly, because I get to prank our students

Favorite saying: Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Dr. Seuss

Random Fact: I met my husband on the side of the road when I was 15.


. . . Representing UpLift for 22 years since 1993

Site Operation Manager - South (Former Colorado UpLift Student)

. . . From UpLift Student to Staff member since 2005

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: My favorite character quality is Leadership! Everything rises and falls on Leadership. It is the way we are going to bring and inspire change in our neighborhoods that are struggling to strive and succeed. With a strong leadership culture we can do the unimaginable! We will bring change into our world, and to people around us.

Favorite Adventure Activity With Students: My favorite adventure activity by far is snowboarding. It is a challenging, life-pushing activity that gives our kids an opportunity to grow mentally, emotionally and personally. I have seen so many kids build confidence and self-esteem from this activity, and just to get them out in our beautiful Rocky Mountains is a life changing experience for me also.

Uplift’s Impact On My Life: Uplift has impacted my life in a major way. It has been impacting and challenging me ever since I was a student at North High School. I’m an alumnus of the program and a living testimony that having a mentor and leadership guidance can have a huge impact on youth. Uplift is worth investing my own life and abilities to work with the inner city youth of Denver.


...Representing UpLift since 2016

Favorite uplift character quality: Vision, because with it, new frontiers are trail blazed. The ability to see beyond one's current situation, limitations, and lack of.

Favorite quote: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” 

Fun fact: My wife and I love to travel. We will go anywhere for the first time.


. . . Representing UpLift since 2015

Fun Fact: I used to play semi professional football for the Colorado Cobras in the Colorado Football Conference league.  

Favorite Saying: "Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breath and love as long as you live." ~Unknown- 

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: My favorite character quality I would have to say Is goal setting because you get to help students set goals for there lives and watch them successfully achieve there goals and be able to be a part of it all at the same time is life changing in it self. 


. . . Representing UpLift since 2010

Favorite UpLift Character Quality: All of the qualities and skills we teach must be lived to set an example to our families and students. They all work together.

UpLift’s Impact On My Life: I have experienced many joys and adventures being a part of the community. Uplift has blessed me and my family in many ways!

Favorite day at UpLift: Any day that I see a student realize that there is hope, and a purpose to their life during a class or bonding activity.

Site Operation Manager - East (Former Colorado UpLift Student)

. . . UpLift Student morphed into UpLift Staff since 2012

UpLift Student morphed into UpLift Staff since

Favorite Uplift Character Quality: My favorite UpLift character quality has got to be Vision. I believe that without it, you cannot even begin to touch on our other twelve qualities and skills. If you do not know where you are going, or you do not have direction, you are just stuck and incapable of real change. UpLift has taught me that when you have vision, all things are possible!

Favorite Day at Uplift: My favorite day at UpLift is Dolous! When our high school “lift leaders” meet the “little lift students” for the first time. There is just something special about the relationship created throughout the day. The very beginnings of life changes happen right before our very eyes! All of the excitement from the team building activities spills over into the staff and the elementary school. It is a very special day indeed.

Random Fact: I know a lot of Random Facts.