Our Team


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.


Pat Barron
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.


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.


Melake Getabecha
Director of Youth Program

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 youth to help improve the environments in which he was raised.


Elysa Goldman
Director of Energy Audit and Weatherization Programs

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 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.


Andrea Savage
Project Manager

Andrea is passionate about her work with water and youth. Originally from California, she entered the environmental justice world fighting fracking in the California Central Valley before moving to Mexico to work with young people and integrative water solutions in the Oaxacan Valley. Now a happy Denverite, Andrea loves being able to bike to work on the South Platte and work on her beloved Bear Creek. Andrea is grateful to have the opportunity to work with youth and community to restore healthy urban waterways in the West.


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.


Kelly Shinn
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.


Alex Xavier Tiscareño
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. 


Samantha Villatoro
Program Manager

Sam’s passion has always been giving back to the community while creating sustainable change. She was able to find exactly what she was looking for interning at Groundwork Denver directly after graduating from the University of Colorado Denver with a double major in International Studies and Spanish. After gaining experience as a community organizer with Groundwork Denver and a volunteer in the Peace Corps Nicaragua, she now works as a Program Manager for Groundwork Denver’s Climate Safe Neighborhoods. As a First Gen, Mexican-American, she works hard to encourage and support communities of color to become their own activist and leaders within the community.