Our Team


Cindy Chang (she/her/hers)
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.


Pat Barron-Baca (she/her/hers)
Energy Efficiency Services Coordinator

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.

Image of Erin Fernandez standing in front of a row of produce in the Groundwork Denver greenhouse. She wears a blue tee shirt and a big smille.

Erin Fernandez (she/her/hers)
Green Pathways Project Manager

After two decades of living in the southwestern and northern mountain regions of Colorado, Erin recently returned home to the Denver metro area. Her years spent exploring the outdoors informed her about the benefits that having access to nature can have on communities. Within that, she also understands the systemic barriers and challenges to accessing natural spaces and is elated to be part of a team that centers diversity, inclusion, and youth in its mission. Erin is currently studying Intercultural Communication at CU Denver, has a background in SEL (social-emotional learning) for young adults along with experience facilitating belonging and inclusion work with teams.  Her interests include FAMILY, food, discovering and strolling through city parks, memoirs, Spanish, art and dance.

Headshot of Savanna smiling.

Savanna Hanson (they/them/theirs)
Director of Development

Savanna comes to us with a love of the Denver community and passions for environmental justice and community-centered fundraising. While finishing their BA at Metropolitan State University of Denver, they interned at a local animal shelter. In that time, they realized that the nonprofit sector was the path for them. Since then, Savanna has been raising funds and getting the word out about community-based organizations in Denver. They enjoy tending to houseplants, reading, DIY house projects, snuggling on the couch with their spouse and pups, and lounging on sunny patios. Savanna is thrilled to be a part of the Groundwork Denver community!

Elissa poses with her dog in snowy woods. She's smiling and wearing snowshoes.

Elissa Madonia (she/her/hers)
Human Resources & Office Manager

Elissa is originally from upstate New York, where she obtained a Bachelor's in Community Health and a Master's in Public Health. She joins Groundwork Denver after several years at Seeing Our Adolescents Rise ("SOAR"), where she most recently served as the Programs Director. Elissa is excited to be a part of Groundwork Denver’s commitment to a more sustainable and equitable environment by engaging our community and centering youth voice. When Elissa is not at work, she can be found spending time outdoors with her loved ones (including her dog, Charlie), mountain biking, hiking, and running.

Headshot of Molly McPhee smiling into the camera.

Molly McPhee (she/her/hers)
Director of Youth Programs

Molly is originally from New Hampshire but discovered her love of Colorado while working at a summer camp in the mountains near the Indian Peaks Wilderness. She decided to relocate to Denver upon receiving her master's degree in Community Development and Planning from Clark University. She spent many years working in the Health & Outdoor Education department at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver before working as a program manager in the edtech industry. She is thrilled to reconnect with the Denver community and join a team that is committed to centering youth and community in its actions. When she is not working, you can find Molly running, hiking with her dog, and puttering around her tiny garden.

Photo of Aracely smiling

Aracely Navarro (she/her/hers)
Director of Climate Justice

Aracely Navarro is a first-generation Chicana, daughter of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants. Aracely believes deeply that there is great healing and decolonization needed for the land and the people. For this reason, Aracely's work centers environmental justice, reproductive justice and the healing of her community, the Mother Earth, all the generations. Aracely holds a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health from Emory University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science from Colorado College. Aracely loves learning about herbal medicine, birth work and regenerative agricultural practices. Her heart is truly in this work to heal the community and protect Mother Earth and all of her children.

Aracely will always welcome you with an open heart and a ready ear!


Jai Phillips (he/him/his)
Youth Programs Assistant

Jai Phillips is originally from the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. The lower ninth ward is also where he was introduced to Groundwork. Through school recruitment, he became a youth team member of GWNOLA. After his first GWUSA youth summit, he gained connections to Groundwork Denver which eventually made him feel comfortable to move to Colorado. Since being in Colorado Jai has become a proud father, husband, and green team supervisor for 5 years. He is now starting his journey as the Assistant Youth Program Director. His hobbies include basketball and playing dinosaurs with his daughter.
allie greenhouse pic

Allie Runne (she/her/hers)
Greenhouse Manager

Allie is a Denver transplant from North Carolina, where she studied Sociology and Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University. She found her love for plants by exploring herbalism and gardening. Allie's passion lies in using food as a lens for social justice and believes that food is the core of culture and nourishment! When she's not growing greens at the Groundwork Denver greenhouse, Allie enjoys exploring colorful Colorado with her partner and dog, playing board games and cards with friends, and gardening. Allie works toward being part of a sustainable food movement where all people can access healthy food more easily while supporting local farmers and cultivating a community-based food system.


Lorenzo Sanchez (he/him/his)
Director of Energy Programs

Lorenzo is the son of immigrant parents from Mexico and grew up in the Denver Metro area. He attended the University of Denver where he studied Spanish and Sociology on a Daniels Fund Scholarship.  After receiving his Bachelor’s from DU, Lorenzo worked for six years as a middle and high school math teacher in low-income communities including West Denver, Montbello, and rural Eastern Oregon.  Lorenzo absolutely loved teaching, however, as a teacher, he noticed a dire need for healing and wellness in low-income communities of color. Lorenzo decided to leave education and began working on a Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine at the Colorado School for Traditional Chinese Medicine, where he studied acupuncture, fire cups, moxibustion, and herbal remedies. His passions include health, wellness, meditation, traveling, jewelry, and martial arts. He first walked into a community Boxing gym seventeen years ago and has since also trained in Muay Thai, Jiu-Jitsu, and Kung Fu. He has always loved connecting with nature and is excited to be a part of the Groundwork team!
Photo of Kelly with trees with yellow leaves in the background

Kelly Shinn (she/her/hers)
Associate Director

Kelly grew up and has lived most of her life in and around Denver, Colorado.  She started as an Urban Servant Corps Volunteer at Rainbow Alley working with LGBTQ youth, and then was hired on as the Program Manager.  Next, she headed to the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, where she served as the Staff Coordinator at Holden Village.  From there, she made her way to Washington DC, where she was the National Recruiting and Placement Director for Lutheran Volunteer Corps.  She then returned to Denver to pursue her Masters in Social Work, which she earned in 2012.  Most recently, Kelly served as the Program & Garden Director at EarthLinks for several years before joining the staff at Groundwork Denver.  She is excited about Groundwork’s commitment to ensuring equal access to a clean and healthy environment for everyone as well as the inclusion of all in decision making and action within our own communities.

Picture of Jessica Swindon, Director of Water Program

Jessica Swindon (she/her/they/them)
Director of Water Program

Jessica is originally from upstate New York and grew up next to Onondaga Lake, one of the most polluted lakes in the country, which evoked her deep commitment to environmental justice. She has spent most of her career as an environmental scientist specializing in plant and soil science. She received her master's degree from the Yale School of the Environment where her thesis work brought her to Colorado. Jessica is committed to serving her community and is an active volunteer in several organizations related to environmental and social justice in Colorado and New York. When she is not focusing on her environmental work, Jessica enjoys gardening, attending live music, and spending time with her dog, Ruby.


Alex Xavier Tiscareño (El, He, We, Us)
Sheridan Inspire Initiative Coordinator

Alex's passion for working with people and nature began growing up in the outdoors in Mexico. When he was 11, his family moved to Colorado where he attended his first school in Sheridan and where twenty one years later, he now serves as coordinator for the Sheridan Inspire Initiative through Groundwork Denver. Alex has a Bachelor's in Psychology and is also a licensed massage therapist and life coach. He loves to meditate in nature, grounding and reading, his favorite books include The Mastery of Love, The Alchemist and The 4 Agreements. His driving force for the work that he does is a vision of the future where this world is a better place for all.