Cindy Chang
Executive Director

Cindy has been serving Groundwork Denver in various roles since 2010, including as a volunteer, Board, and staff member. Cindy has a background in nonprofit management, philanthropy, and has a deep passion for the environment. She earned a Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management and a Masters in Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She also has a B.A. from Tufts University.  In her free time, she enjoys yoga, walking, and her two cats.

Tangier Barnes Wright
Director of  Community Planning and Transportation

As Director of Community Planning and Transportation, Tangier is responsible for managing Groundwork Denver’s multi-modal transportation efforts and their Strive To Not Drive program which is aimed at reducing single occupancy vehicle trips. Her duties also include advocating for improved transportation access and better pedestrian, bicycling, and transit infrastructure in neighborhoods where Groundwork Denver works. In addition, Tangier continues to help manage Platte Farm Open Space; a resident-led, brownfield project being redeveloped for community benefit. Tangier has been with the Groundwork network since 2009. She started as an intern then worked as Director of Community Planning for 6 years. After a year of working at Groundwork USA providing technical assistance to communities affected by brownfields, Tangier came back to Groundwork Denver in 2016 to continue her work locally. Originally from Greeley, Colorado, Tangier currently lives in southwest Denver where she enjoys gardening, cooking, and riding bikes with her husband.

Paul Baca
Strive to Not Drive Canvasser

After 30 years of practicing law in the specialized areas of employment discrimination and civil rights, Paul now serves as a door-to-door canvasser for Groundwork Denver. Paul received his bachelor’s in economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder and then went on to attain a J.D. in Law from the University of Denver. After receiving his law degree, Paul worked briefly in the Denver Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund before entering private practice, which he stayed for the remainder of his law career. Now, in his free time, Paul enjoys watching professional sports, following politics, reading, and creative writing. You may also find Paul watching television game shows with his wife, and fellow Groundwork Denver staff member, Pat Barron.

Pat Barron
Energy Efficiency Services CoordinatorPat Barron

Pat is no stranger to extending a helping hand to members of the community in need of assistance. She recently retired after 36 years with the State of Colorado as a staff and administrative assistant. Pat primarily worked with the Office of the State Public Defender, which provides legal representation to the criminally accused who are unable to afford private legal representation. After a short-lived stint as a retiree, she realized that she had many productive years ahead of her and decided to go back into the workforce. She was faced with the choice of continuing in the field of providing legal services in the private sector or moving into the nonprofit sector, providing services in furtherance of the mission of Groundwork Denver. The choice was easy and thus, she became a member of the Groundwork Denver team to help our clients connect with all of the energy efficiency assistance and resources available to them.

Sadot Castañeda
Energy Auditor

Sadot began working at Groundwork Denver in 2010 as a green teamer, often riding bikes and working in community gardens. In the summer of 2015 Sadot served as a Green Team Leader, managing a group of young people working at the Schmitt Elementary Farm. Sadot is now a member of the Groundwork Denver Energy Audit Team. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son in the great outdoors and recreating. He also enjoys growing as a leader, mentoring youth, and being an environmental activist. Sadot is currently pursuing a degree in engineering in hopes of building a future while keeping the planet’s health in mind.

Jason Fuller
Farm Manager

Since he could walk it has been hard to keep Jason from getting dirty, whether it was playing in the river near his house or helping his parents tend the garden, and it hasn’t changed much since. Jason started his time with Groundwork Denver in the summer of 2016 growing vegetables at local elementary schools for the Denver Public Schools free and reduced lunch program. He grew up in Wisconsin, but before moving to Denver Jason lived in Savannah, Georgia where he earned a bachelors degree in biology, managed the Forsyth Farmers Market, and worked with the Caretta Research Project. If he is away from the farm, you can probably find Jason searching for fungus of any kind, wherever he can.

Lauren O’Connor
Outreach Coordinator

Lauren works closely with Groundwork Denver’s canvassing and outreach events. She spends her workday ensuring all of Groundwork’s canvassing projects are well-thought out and planned for, supplying canvassers with their routes, materials, and instructions. Lauren also collects data from participants in our Strive to Not Drive program. When Lauren isn’t in the office working, she is running, biking, knitting, or coding. Lauren is currently pursuing her degree in computer science at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Miriam Colón
Outreach SpecialistMiriam Colon

Miriam Colón has more than 20 years of experience working in social services and client relations. At Groundwork Denver she specializes in outreach and education in the Spanish-speaking community. Specifically, Miriam works as a health promoter to inform families about lead poisoning, organizes the community to plant trees and conduct other improvement projects, and educates people about how to reduce their energy bills. Miriam’s enthusiasm for helping others motivates her to continue serving the community and make families aware of beneficial resources. Whether she has five minutes at the door or an hour at an in-home energy audit, Miriam is sure to leave with a customer happy and ready to act on improving the environment.

Sandra Douglas
Park Rx Program Manager

Sandy works on Groundwork Denver’s Mestizo-Curtis Park Prescription (Rx) Program, which is part of a national effort to renovate and reconnect residents to their neighborhood parks. Sandy obtained her undergraduate degree in Business Management from Metropolitan State College and a Master’s Degree at Regis University in Nonprofit Management. She has a passion for people, a need to serve others and believes that resident participation is the key to neighborhood revitalization.  Sandra enjoys working with children and families, mainly in the Cole neighborhood of Denver, where ParkRx is based and where she’s resided for over 30 years.

Makalah Emanuel
Volunteer Outreach and Communications Coordinator

As a former Green Team member, Makalah now serves as Groundwork Denver’s Volunteer Outreach and Communications Coordinator. From 2011 to 2016, Makalah worked with Groundwork Denver on a variety of projects, including building community gardens and managing two of Groundwork’s Green Teams. She has also traveled to and worked on, several national parks with Groundwork Denver, including the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming and the Anacostia Park in Washington, D.C. Makalah attained her bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and advertising in 2015 from the University of Northern Colorado.  In her free time, she enjoys visiting the mountains with her family and watching basketball games.

Fatuma EmmadFatuma Emmad
Director of Urban Farms

Fatuma was born in Denver and raised in Ethiopia as well as Colorado. Fatuma has worked farming organic and heirloom vegetables on her own acreage as part of a co-op, setting up farms for restaurants, and as farm manager for a two-acre community garden in Milwaukee. Before becoming a farmer, Fatuma was a political scientist who engaged in issues affecting marginalized farming communities such as the fight against the push for genetically modified seeds across Sub-Saharan Africa She believes in resistance by the world’s land caretakers to single solutions for crop productivity and seeks to work on re-framing ideas of food security. Her future plans include becoming a kung fu artist, furthering her yoga practices, learning more about trees, and establishing a seed bank within the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. She is excited for the opportunity to farm in her own home neighborhood at Sister Gardens and become a part of a new program for sustainable food systems in Denver.

Dawn Fernandez Williams

Financial Manager

Dawn started her Financial Management career in nonprofits with the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Cancer Research. She then gained her grants expertise from her time at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. From there, Dawn transitioned into the for-profit arena, where she stayed for 17 years. Dawn has returned to her nonprofit roots, helping Groundwork Denver with our business organization, grant reporting, and accounting. When Dawn isn’t punching away with numbers, she’s at home baking cookies with her granddaughter, Eva, or sewing. You may also find Dawn in her backyard searching for insects to add to her insect collection.

Melake Getabecha
Project Manager
melake@groundworkcolorado.orgmelake headshot

Melake Getabecha started with Groundwork Denver as a Green Team member, working for three summers building trails, planting trees, and improving Denver’s physical environment. He graduated from Middlebury College where he studied Architecture and Environmental Studies. After graduating, Melake returned to work for Groundwork Denver as a part-time technology and youth program assistant before becoming a full-time program assistant for Groundwork’s Youth, Land, and Water programs. Having been born in Denver, Melake is eager to work with communities to help improve the environments in which he was raised.

Elysa Goldman
Director of Energy Audit and Weatherization ProgramsElysa Goldman

After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in History from Regis University, Elysa decided to pursue her passion for the outdoors by enrolling in a year-long AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation Program with Mile High Youth Corps in Denver. Elysa participated in extensive energy, water, and land management projects, ranging from park restoration and rehabilitation to invasive species removal, to energy audits in low-income households. A desire to help others save money while also decreasing their carbon footprint led Elysa to Groundwork Denver, where she happily accepted a position as our Energy Audit Coordinator.

James HarrisJames Harris

Energy Auditor

James has two turntables and a microphone. An avid musician, James became passionate about alternative energy after experiencing Red Rocks Community College’s renewable energy program. Known as a “jack of all trades,” James also enjoys mentoring high school students and getting them excited about energy efficiency. James has become a real asset to the Groundwork Denver’s energy team, even though he realizes that he was hired because he is tall enough to change light bulbs without a ladder.

Mitch Ruter
Energy Auditor

After completing a Bachelors in Architecture from the University of MN, Mitch began his career in nonprofit work with the Appalachia Service Project, providing emergency home repair for low-income communities throughout Central Appalachia. After moving to Denver, he served as an Americorps member with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver and transitioned into the role of Rehab Project Manager for the affiliate. While working with Habitat, Mitch gained knowledge and experience in energy efficient construction. His first experience with Groundwork Denver was volunteering to canvass for the energy program during MLK Day of Service. Little did he know, a few years later, his interest in energy efficiency and resource conservation would lead him to work with Groundwork as a Home Energy Specialist, providing energy audits to the community. He is excited to find and teach people ways to save energy in their homes, and money in their wallet.

Emily Sepulveda
Groundwork Greens Greenhouse Manager

Emily Sepulveda comes to Groundwork Denver from Phoenix Arizona, where she worked in hydroponics, urban farming, greenhouse design, viticulture, and within the restaurant industry.  She relocated from Phoenix to southern Colorado in April of 2015 to help establish a poly-culture organic farm and associated farm to table cafe. Emily moseyed up to the Denver area the following September and is thrilled to join with Groundwork Denver in bringing sustainable, local, fresh, and delicious produce to the surrounding communities.

Shane Wright
Director of Youth Programs

Shane has worked with youth in the fields of education and recreation since 1994. With a passion for the environment and the outdoors he has taught skiing and snowboarding and guided river and mountain trips professionally. He enjoyed working as a Recreation Specialist for the State of Washington as well as teaching at-risk youth for the Littleton School District in Littleton, Colorado. He was honored to direct Camp Paha, a day camp for kids and young adults with disabilities, for the City of Lakewood, Colorado. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Western State College of Colorado, “where champions are made out of thin air”, and his Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis University in Denver. Shane started with Groundwork Denver in June of 2009 and is thrilled to be directing the Groundwork Denver “Green Team” Youth Programs. He is a father of three great boys, Aidan, Noah, and Griffin has a lovely wife named Erin, and a crazy yellow lab named Hazel.