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.


Lubna Ahmed
Director of Water Programs

Lubna Ahmed is passionate about working at the community level to build capacity and advance the sustainable well-being of under-resourced populations. Lubna was born and raised in Ohio and holds a BA in Psychology from Miami University. After living in Washington, DC for a number of years where she earned her Masters in Public Health from the George Washington University, Lubna served as an Environmental Educator with the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. She then went on to work at WE ACT for Environmental Justice in New York City before coming to Groundwork Denver. Lubna loves all things food including cooking, baking, and of course eating. She enjoys hiking, dancing, gardening, sci-fi, and playing the ukulele.

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Jasmin Barco
Climate Safe Neighborhoods Program Manager

Jasmin Barco is an Environmental designer, trained in Architecture, Resource Efficiency and Urban Design with a love for Graphic Design, Outreach and Engagement. She started her journey from the age of 5 when she emigrated from Peru to America; life’s lessons on adaptability and open-mindedness have led her to travel to over 20 countries to date. She believes that integrating experiences and design from abroad is crucial to sustainable design and environmental and social justice.  In her spare time, Jasmin loves nature, yoga, and the arts.


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.


Vanessa Bernal
Home Energy Specialist & Water Programs Assistant

Vanessa’s pronouns are she, her, and ella. Vanessa was born and raised in Denver; A daughter of Mexican immigrants, her parents instilled in her the importance of her Mexican roots. During her youth she attended Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales’ revolutionary school, Escuela Tlatelolco—a place where the intersections of social justice, art, and heritage helped shape her worldview. Vanessa’s journey to sustainability and energy/water conservation began in 2016 when she joined Mile High Youth Corps as an Energy and Water Team Member. During her term, she gained a deeper understanding of her community’s needs and the intersectional relationship between environmental, economic, and racial justice. Since then, Vanessa’s passion for the aforementioned have only grown stronger. In her free time she enjoys illustrating, roller-skating, tending to her worm farm, and copious amounts of coffee.


Sadot Castañeda
Director of Energy Programs

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 the Energy Programs Director. 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.


Joseph Cordova
Director of Youth Programs

Joe was born and raised in Denver and spent some time living in Mexico with his grandma when he was younger. He started working when he was 14 for a professional moving company to help support his family and worked there for four years. As a senior in high school, he was presented with the opportunity for a summer internship with Rocky Mountain Conservation Corps in Rocky Mountain National Park as part of the historical restoration and preservation team. He spent weeks living in a tent, hiking, building trails, and working on some of the coolest historical buildings in the park. Ever since then he has been passionate about teaching, learning, experiencing national parks, and working in the conservation field.

He has spent the past 5 years working for Groundwork Denver as a youth team member, and then a youth team supervisor, and is now excited to transition to being part of the staff as the Youth Program Assistant and Energy Audit Team Member. His hobbies include playing music (piano and guitar), painting, and storytelling, and he has visited over 14 National Parks and backpacked most of the Appalachian Trail.


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.


Jai Phillips
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.

Magali Rocha
Volunteer Coordinator

Magali’s roots are in Aguascalientes, Mexico where her parents migrated from; however, she was born and raised in Denver Colorado. As a daughter of immigrants, Magali quickly learned about the lack of resources in low-income communities and for underrepresented groups. She believes that the best way she can serve her community is through sharing knowledge and education. Magali’s first job was as a youth team member for the Green Team in 2014, since then she’s taken on the position of assistant supervisor and ultimately, Youth supervisor for two different teams. Magali received her Associate of Arts degree at Red Rocks Community College in 2019 and is working to earn her Bachelors's degree in Fall 2021. In the future, Magali will continue her higher ending attending law school. Magali’s favorite hobbies are photography, music, astronomy, and watching basketball.
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Allie Runne
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
Energy Specialist

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!

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. 


Quinn Yawger
Marketing and Fundraising Coordinator

Quinn was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, and has an immense amount of dedication to the communities that construct this city. She graduated from Colorado College with a B.A. in Environmental Science and is excited to fight for environmental justice in a place that she holds so close to her heart. Quinn is passionate about science communication, overarching climate equity, and increasing the diversity of representation within the environmental movement. In her free time, Quinn enjoys writing, reading, making films, cooking complex recipes, and partaking in various outdoor activities in the Colorado mountains.