Find bios of speakers here. Please read these before panels/speakers come to be able to ask informed questions.
June 16th - "Great Schools"
Jon Hanover – Founder and Executive Director
At the Charter School Growth Fund, Roots founder Jon Hanover worked closely with the leaders of the most successful and innovative charter school networks in the county. Over 90% of students at these schools matriculate directly to colleges and universities, even though most are the first generation in their family to do so. Jon was responsible for advising the founders and CEO’s of these organizations on a wide array of strategic issues. He also evaluated new school models, recommended investments and monitored performance of portfolio schools.
Jon began his career at Bain & Company where he advised clients on strategy, management and operations. While at Bain he also worked pro bono with the founder of Rowe Elementary during her planning year, contributing to the successful launch of a K-8 charter school on Chicago’s west side. Jon is currently a founding teacher and grade level chair with Teach For America at Rocky Mountain Prep in southeast Denver. In his second year of teaching, Jon’s scholars demonstrated over two years of growth in reading and math.
Christine DeLeon - Moonshot edVentures founder
Christine has a wide range of experiences in leadership development, entrepreneurship, and new school models. She began her career as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and later became the Los Angeles lead for The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s leadership development portfolio, focusing primarily on school leadership preparation programs.
In 2010, she founded the Analyst Fellowship for Education Pioneers, which has grown from 10 to more than 100 fellows annually in fewer than five years.
Christine spearheaded efforts for districts (including Denver Public Schools), charter networks, and city-based nonprofits to develop and support innovative new school models in conjunction with Next Generation Learning Challenges and Education Cities. She also led the recruitment of the second cohort of Summit Basecamp schools, growing the program from 19 schools to more than 130 schools.
She possesses experience in cultivating entrepreneurs through her time as a Harvard Innovation Lab Fellow and is a trained facilitator of Intergroup Dialogues, structured to explore social group identity, conflict, community, and social justice. She holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University, and is a member of the inaugural Pahara Next Gen Network.
Josh Scott - Co-founder Craftsy
Craftsy, an online education and eCommerce community for passion makers. At Craftsy he led Product & Marketing as the company grew to over 200 employees serving 10 million+ members.
In addition to his board role at Craftsy, Josh is also on the board of Roots Elementary, Havenly and Betabrand and actively advises several other companies including Guild Education and Artifact Uprising on growth, product strategy and talent development.
Prior to Craftsy, Josh worked for eBay and Bain and Company and has degrees from Michigan and Berkeley.
Lisa Escárcega - Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives
Serving as the Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives since 2016, Lisa represents more than 2,400 Colorado education leaders. CASE's mission is to empower Colorado education leaders through advocacy, professional learning and networking in order to deliver on the promise of public education.
Prior to CASE, Lisa Escárcega was the Chief Accountability and Research Officer for the Aurora Public School District. She had been with Aurora Public Schools since 2002, serving as the Director of Assessment/Research prior to moving into her senior leadership position in 2006. Lisa served on the district leadership team and on the Superintendent’s Cabinet.
Lisa was awarded a doctorate in Quantitative Research Methods from the University of Denver, and possesses a Master’s & Specialist degree in Educational Psychology from Ball State University. She has served on a number of state committees on the topics of assessment and EL students, and has served on several charter school and foundation boards.
June 23rd - "Jobs for All"
Rob Smith- Executive Director of Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute
With a Finance degree from DU under his belt, he moved to the mountains for the 90’s working for 1stBank. It was at the bank where he got his first professional taste of the power of small business and its critical role in the health of a community.
Feeling the itch to come back to Denver, Rob went back to DU to get his MBA and Masters of Science in Information Technology. What followed was a winding road of professional opportunities ranging from riding the internet start-up bubble in the year 2000, to some management consulting work doing business modeling and process improvement projects for Fortune 100 companies across the country, to a number of years running the operations for a couple coffee roasting companies, which ultimately landed him as one of the founders and as the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance (RMMFI) Institute where he has been for the last 8 years.
Rob feels strongly about being civically engaged in the community in which RMMFI operates. He is a Commissioner at the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, an Advisory Board Member for the Agency on Human Rights and Community Partnerships, a Board member at a collective impact organization, on the Board at Community Shares Colorado, an Advisory Board Member for the Denver Metro SBDC, and is on the Advisory Board for Mile High Connects. Rob is also honored to have been named a Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow in 2012 and to have graduated from Leadership Denver 2015. Rob is proud to be so involved in the Denver community and to play a role in helping shape Denver as a place where anyone can access opportunities to take charge of their own destinies. He is excited to see RMMFI take on more of a leadership role in the effort to use business ownership as a transformational economic and social mobility tool for people and communities facing persistent barriers to advancement. As a wonderful nod to the work of RMMFI and the entrepreneurs it supports, the organization recently won the Metro Chamber’s Small Nonprofit of the Year award and Rob was personally awarded the David E. Baily Small Business Advocate of the Year award
Jenny Smith - Talent Pipeline Liaison for the Denver Opportunity Youth Initiative at The Denver Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Colorado Workforce Development Council
As the Talent Pipeline Liaison for the Denver Opportunity Youth Initiative Jenny works collaboratively with local foundations, public agencies, education, community based organizations, business, and workforce centers to build an effective career pathway system that includes work-based learning opportunities for young adults who are disconnected from school and work.
Prior to her current position, Jenny worked as a WIOA Youth ProgramSupervisor at Arapahoe/Douglas Workforce Center. Jenny brings more than seven years of experience working with and designing programs for opportunity youth in educational, workforce, and correctional settings.
Haroun K. Cowans - Executive Director of Prodigal Son Initiative
Haroun K. Cowans has 15 years of experience in the world of banking and finance and 18 years as a entrepreneur, Haroun was previously employed by a national commercial bank and oversaw two retail branches and was able to turnaround a subpar performing branch in a blighted neighborhood to a top performing branch achieving pinnacle success, which was the first time in its 20 plus year history.
Foregoing to that Haroun was employed by the likes of Merrill Lynch, Waddell & Reed and W.A.A. Consulting where he was a financial advisor and also responsible for raising capital through relationships with institutions and accredited investors for startup technology based firms while also giving guidance to these firms on the best approach to strategically growing their business and fine tuning their business model. In Haroun’s last financial position was a highlight for him was to oversee a proposed transit real-estate project in South Africa which resulted in the accomplishment of a better understanding of International business, and the valuable support with the community of South Africa.
Haroun has applied himself to an unusual broad base of experience with finance, marketing and community endeavors. He has volunteered on many boards and organizations and currently steering the turnaround of Prodigal Son Initiative dba Impact Empowerment Group as the executive director. Haroun’s board and community involvement has been with organizations such as: Youth Biz board, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance board, Judaism in the foothills board, Colorado Enterprise Fund board, Denver African American Philanthropist, Barbershop Talk board, former East Denver YMCA board, Denver Health Hot Rocks committee nevertheless Haroun’s greatest passion is following Christ and associate pastor with Church in the City Beth Abraham. Haroun has been featured in a number of articles nationally and locally magazines such as ICOSA Magazine, Vice Magazine, Yahoo News and the Denver Post for his work in the community and as an entrepreneur.
Sade’ Cooper - Founder and Executive Director of C.H.I.C. (Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities)
Sade is a native to Denver Colorado, although raised in Moreno Valley CA. her roots are deeply embedded in the Mile-High City. Returning to Colorado in 2000 to finish high school, and pursue a degree in Health Care Management, as a child, Sade’ unceasingly had interest in becoming a doctor or financial advisor. Her passion lead her to pursue a career with U.S Bank in 2004. There, Sade’ found her purpose and that was to serve and focus on her community.
Sade’ commitment to her community has led her to several volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles. For Sade’ Cooper, that meant giving back to Project Voyce, as a board member and Second Chance Home Ministries. Sade’ also participated as a mentor for Goodwill’s Summer Bridge Mentor Program and acted as an American Heart Ambassador.
Sade’ continues to give back to her community, as the founder and Executive Director of C.H.I.C. (Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities) C.H.I.C was created to help tackle the disparities and economic shortcomings that directly affect families, communities and members of local gangs, particularity that of the female population. C.H.I.C. work directly with females between the ages of 10-25 who are from low to middle-income communities imbued with violence, substandard living conditions, and inequitable educational systems. Sade’ is a real steward for her community, changing lives one day at a time.
June 30th - "Colorado's Marijuana Policies"
Lewis Koski Co-Founder and Senior Director
Lewis Koski is a government executive with a broad range of experience in comprehensively regulated industries to include casino gambling, liquor enforcement, racing, auto industries and marijuana legalization. During the last six and half years, Lewis played a pivotal role building the first agency in the world to implement medical and retail marijuana policy, constructing innovative strategies to make rulemaking participation more effective, launching the first marijuana inventory tracking system and finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges the State faced developing and implementing divisive mandates related to contemporary marijuana laws.
ewis is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in formative marijuana policy. He is among a small group of government executives who have been intimately involved in the development and implementation of marijuana policy from the infancy of medical marijuana through the realization of legalization. Lewis’ leadership contributions and devotion to implementing marijuana policy thoughtfully played an important role achieving what has become one of the most fully developed marijuana regulatory frameworks in the world.
ewis holds a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis on International Business and is a Doctoral Candidate in Public Administration with a focus on policy analysis and public participation in rulemaking.