Who We Are

The People Behind The Movement


EPIC is a group of prestigious business executives partnering to invest in children. As leaders in their companies and industries, our Members are leaving a legacy of true progress and lasting change.

EPIC’s Board of Directors


David Hammond

Chairman of the Board
Retired Partner
Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP

After specializing in complex civil litigation at both the trial and appellate levels throughout the western United States for 35 years, David Hammond retired from the practice of law in January 2015.  For his entire career, including 30 years as a partner, Davis Graham & Stubbs was his professional home.

David now devotes more time to his community activities.  He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mile High United Way since 2001.  He has participated in several strategic planning efforts for the United Way, including the decision to move from a model providing for the annual funding of established partners to a competitive request for proposals process.  Three times, he chaired the Board’s committee that selected winning proposals for multi-year grants.  He led the Board’s task force for two major revisions of the United Way’s bylaws.

David is Chairman of the Board of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC). For EPIC, David has written several newspaper guest columns, served on several of the Board’s committees, participated in the successful effort to extend Colorado’s Child Care Contribution Tax Credit, and promoted the collaborative use of the tax credit.

In 2017, David joined the Board of the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance, which works with Colorado’s local Early Childhood Councils to improve young children’s access to quality services and supports.

David and his wife, Mary Mead Hammond (universally known as “Mooey”), have three grown children, an art dealer, a physicist, and doctor.  Mooey and David enjoy travelling and gardening together.  In addition, David is an avid cyclist and backpacker.

David graduated from Dartmouth College and from Harvard Law School.

Greg Anton*


Greg Anton is a founding partner of Anton Collins Mitchell LLP (ACM), a Denver, Colorado based CPA firm with offices in Boulder, Denver and Greeley. ACM has been distinguished for both its rapid growth over the past decade and the creation of a desirable work environment. The 100+ member firm has been recognized as a 2010-2014 Best Accounting Firm to Work for by Accounting Today, a 2011-2015 Best Company to Work for in Colorado and a two time Fastest Growing Private Company.

Greg served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) (2011-2012). He is the recipient of the AICPA’s 2015 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Service, the highest award granted by the AICPA and is given to CPAs who have made major contributions to the CPA profession. Greg is the founder of the AICPA’s What’s at Stake? The CPA Profession on Federal Fiscal Responsibility initiative which offers non-partisan guidance on how the U.S. government’s financial statements can be used for greater understanding of the nation’s fiscal health and clear analysis into why the financial statements provide a different perspective compared to the annual federal budget. Accounting Today has recognized Greg as one of the Top Most Influential People in Accounting. He has also been named one of The Top 25 Thought Leaders in public accounting technology by CPA Practice Advisor magazine.

During his career Greg has provided accounting and auditing services to private, public and multinational businesses. He has consulted on debt and equity offerings and various IPO’s. Greg’s defining characteristics are the long-term relationships he fosters with his clients, and his dedication to their total business needs which go beyond traditional accounting and auditing services.

Greg served as Chair of the Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants (COCPA) Board of Directors during its Centennial year, is past President of the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Alumni Association and past chair of the UNC School of Accountancy Advisory Board. Greg also co-chaired the COCPA Foundation’s Centennial Scholarship Campaign which successfully raised over $1.0 million for college accounting scholarships. Greg is a recipient of the Honored Alumni Award from UNC for his contributions to business and has been recognized as a top business news maker by the Denver Business Journal.

Greg and his wife Julie have two children, Cameron and Jacob. He enjoys spending time with his family including skiing, mountain biking, boating and fishing.

Professional Affiliations:
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Board of Directors (2006-2009, 2010-2013), Chairman (2011-2012)
International Federation of Accountants, Nominating Committee
National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, Chairman
Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, Past Board Member
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Council Member (2011-2013)
Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC), Chairman
Mile High United Way, Board of Trustees
Junior Achievement, Board of Directors
Colorado Concern, Member
Wish of a Lifetime, Board Member
Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants, Real Estate Committee (1995-1999), Board of Directors (1999-2005), Chairman (2004-2005)
Governor’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC), Past Member
Colorado Concern, Member
Colorado License 0013767

BS Accounting, University of Northern Colorado

Geta Asfaw*

Addis & Company/Ababa & Company

Geta Asfaw is a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He moved to the United States at age 18 to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. He has earned three college and post-graduate degrees, including an A.A., B.A., and M.A. He has been married to his wife Janice for over 30 years and has three grown children named Elias, Desta and Abraham.

Today Geta is the owner of eight McDonald’s restaurants and has a number of real estate investments throughout the Denver metro area. He has sponsored a number of activities with schools and non-profit organizations. Geta is a member of the “Global Hunger Project,” which is an organization dedicated to ending world hunger. This organization is active in over 24 countries. His achievements have been highlighted in the Colorado Black Leadership Profiles, and he has been named as a “Who’s Who among Colorado’s Outstanding Leaders.”

Geta has recognized the need to help the community, the city and beyond. He created the Asfaw Family Foundation to serve as a vehicle to give back to the communities in which he has served for over the past 20 years. One of these programs is, the “Arches of Hope Bicycle Giveaway,” which provides over 300 new bicycles and helmets to worthy elementary school students every Christmas season. The Foundation also provides tuition and other important benefits to school children in East Africa. In addition, the “Aim High” scholarship program provides financial assistance to African American male students. This program is designed to help increase the number of African American males on college campuses. Geta always believes that it is the responsibility of every business person to be involved and give back to the community – A strong community means a strong business and a win-win result for everyone.

Geta has been honored to receive numerous awards and to be recognized by a variety of organizations. Some of these recognitions include:

  • The Colorado Council of Mediators and Mediations, “Peace in the Community” award.
  • The Denver NAACP, “Caring and Sharing” award.
  • The American Red Cross, “Volunteer in Foreign Language Interpreter” award.
  • The Denver City Council, “Outstanding Community Service” award.
  • The Urban Spectrum News, “An African American Who Makes a Difference” award.
  • 100 Black Men of America, “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
  • The Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.

Geta has also lent his time to be involved with non-profit organizations, as well as board member and advisory positions. Some of these organizations include:

  • The Ronald McDonald’s House Charity
  • University of Colorado Boulder – Athletic Mentor Program
  • Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau
  • Denver Kids, Inc.
  • City Park Alliance
  • Urban Peak
  • The Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Beiser

Regional President
PNC Bank

In this role, Ryan is responsible for leading overall growth across Colorado with a special focus on the Denver Metro area, as well as overseeing all aspects of Corporate Banking in the region. His office implements all local sponsorship and philanthropic efforts to execute PNC’s community-based goals and initiatives.

Ryan previously served as the chief operating officer of PNC’s Corporate and Commercial Banking groups. Prior to his COO role, Ryan led Corporate Banking for PNC’s Florida East region. During his tenure, he has participated in numerous internal and external initiatives while at PNC, including Men Advocating Real Change (MARC), Women Connect, and United Way West Palm Beach.

In Denver, Ryan is a member of YPO Colorado and serves on the board of Mile High United Way, the Board of Advisors for the University of Colorado Denver Business School, and on the Major Gifts Council for Early Childhood Education of the Mile High United Way.

Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from St. Vincent College and a MBA from the University of Maryland. He and his wife Heather live in Denver with their three children.

Christine Benero*

President and CEO
Mile High United Way

Christine Benero is President and Chief Executive Officer of Mile High United Way, which just celebrated its 125th Anniversary as the first United Way in the country. Mile High United Way works to advance the common good of the community by investing and focusing on the issues of School Readiness, Youth Success and Adult Self-Sufficiency. Last year, Mile High United Way invested over $30 million in the Denver metro area.

Christine is the former Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter, in Denver, Colorado. Prior to joining the American Red Cross, Christine was the Director of the Office of Public Liaison for the Corporation for National Service in Washington, DC. She served in two Presidential administrations working for both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Christine has served as Vice President of the National Civic League, and as a Community Affairs Corporate Program Officer for Target Stores in Minneapolis, MN.

Christine serves on the Boards of HealthOne, the National Civic League, Community Wealth Partners, Colorado Society of CPA Board of Director’s, City Year Denver and EPIC. She was appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to the Denver Education Compact Board and currently serves on the National Professional Council for United Way Worldwide. Christine was named the 9News Leader of the Year in 2007 and in 2009 received the Community Leader Award by Goodwill Industries and was named by both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post as one of “Nine to Watch in 2009.” In 2010 she was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts of Colorado and in 2011 received the “Las Madrinas” award from Centro San Juan Diego. In 2012, Christine was honored nationally by Girl Scouts of America as one of “One Hundred Distinguished Alumni” in honor of Girl Scouts 100th birthday. In 2013, she was named one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Denver by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and presented with the Urban League’s “McKinley Harris Distinguished Warrior” award.

Christine is a past President of the Association of Junior Leagues International, a past chairman of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Coalition for America’s Children and the Kiwanis International’s Young Children: Priority One Advisory Board. She was a delegate both to the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future in 1997 and to the NGO Forum at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

Christine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from Boston University, a Masters in Education from Harvard University, Graduate School of Education and was selected as a 2007 Gates Fellow for the Senior Executive Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Burnie Zercher

Vice Chairman, EPIC
Chairman, EPIC Pueblo
Industrial Constructors/Managers, Inc

Burnie Zercher started his career path at John Brown University located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. There he received his degree in Bachelor of Science – Building Construction and Design/Structural Engineering. Burnie was the highest ranking senior in the Division of Engineering and graduated with high honors from John Brown University.

His professional experience began as a carpenter on a rough frame crew in Security, Colorado. He made his way through the field as Construction Supervisor for Sudan Interior Mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Project Superintendent for Martin K. Eby Construction Co. in Wichita, Kansas. In 1983 Burnie Zercher started his own company, Industrial Constructors/Managers, Inc. The business is currently thriving as a successful construction company operating in three states and embodies 100-120 employees.

On top of running his own company, Burnie is also involved in the Pueblo Community. Burnie joined Rotary 43 in 1986 and served as President for the 1994-1995 year term. In 1997 Burnie was District Governor for Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Burnie has been a board member of the Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross since 2006. In 2012 Burnie became the Chairman of the Red Cross Peak Chapter and is serving still. His newest adventure was becoming founding member and current chairman of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children-Pueblo. After volunteering for 14 years in the Pueblo City Schools, Burnie became sensitized to the issues of early childhood development and the importance of early childhood education.

Akash Bhalla

Treasurer, EPIC
Ernst & Young LLP

Brad Busse*

Busse Ventures

Brad Busse is President of Busse Ventures LLC. Busse Ventures is an entity Mr. Busse formed to manage his business interests and investments.

Most recently, Mr. Busse provided senior industry coverage across all industry groups for RBC Capital Markets, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, from April 2012 to February 2014.

Previously, Mr. Busse was Co-Head of the U.S. Communications, Media & Entertainment (“CME”) Group for RBC Capital Markets from January 2007 to April 2012, where he was responsible for the management and strategic development of the CME Group’s business, which includes mergers & acquisitions, equity and debt capital formation and financial advisory engagements.

Mr. Busse joined Daniels & Associates in 1985 after receiving broad experience in finance and accounting. After briefly serving in the Cable Television Group, he took responsibility for building the Telecommunications Group, which completed more transactions in the wireline, wireless and telecom infrastructure sectors than any other investment bank during his tenure. Mr. Busse was President and one of two lead principals at Daniels & Associates when it was acquired by RBC Capital Markets in January 2007.

Mr. Busse began his professional career at Arthur Anderson & Co. in 1980 and, subsequently, became a financial manager for a $1 billion energy concern. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Denver and an MBA from Regis College.

Mr. Busse served as chairman of the PCIA Foundation (1999 – 2001), a leading wireless industry foundation, and was appointed by Governor Bill Owens to serve on the Colorado Commission on Science & Technology (2000-2006). In 2010, he was appointed by Governor Ritter to the Colorado Commission on Early Childhood Leadership and was reappointed by Governor Hickenlooper in 2012. Mr. Busse is a member of the Executive Advisory Board of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver which he chaired for three years (April 2009 – April 2012) and is on the Board of Trustees of Mile High United Way which he chaired for two years (July 2008 – June 2010). He also served as Chairman of the Million Dollar Roundtable Council for United Way Worldwide from 2002 to 2007.

Mr. Busse also chairs the Executive Roundtable of EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children) and is an active member of Colorado Concern, which is a non-partisan association that addresses issues which impact Colorado’s economy and lifestyle and whose membership includes most of the top business executives in Colorado

Kelly Causey

President and CEO
Colorado Children’s Campaign

Adeeb Khan

Executive Director
Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation

Adeeb is the Executive Director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. He was previously senior director of corporate social responsibility at TIAA, senior director of volunteer engagement at Mile High United Way, and regional director of health & safety and community services at American Red Cross. He holds an MBA from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and a BA in communications and media studies from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  He is currently serving on the board of College Track, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, and B:CIVIC.

Mike Kopp*

President and CEO
Colorado Concern

Mike Kopp is the President and CEO of Colorado Concern, an alliance of top business executives with a mission of enhancing the Centennial State’s business climate. Mike Kopp’s leadership experiences include service as a hotshot firefighter who battled wildfires in the west, an Army paratrooper who earned the Ranger tab and served in the Gulf War, a leader in ministry and as a member of the Colorado state senate. Mike owned his own consulting practice and served as Corporate Affairs Manager in the state’s largest electric cooperative. He has served on several nonprofit boards in the community. Mike is a runner and endurance athlete. So far his favorite races have been the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, the St. George half – Ironman and the Phoenix marathon. He plans to compete in the full ironman in Cozumel. He and his wife Shannon and their kids Meghan, Allie and Soren live in Golden. Their son Ethan serves in the Army infantry.

Marc Pasquariello-Williams

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor
RBC Wealth Management

Marc has been serving clients in the private wealth management industry since leaving public accounting in 1991 and is currently, Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor for RBC Wealth Management. Prior to RBC, he was Family Wealth Director, Senior Vice President, Senior Portfolio Manager and Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley for over 9 years; and then Senior Vice President for almost 18 years at Wells Fargo. Marc has a background in law, JD from William Mitchell College of Law, accounting (CPA), and business (MBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management).

When Marc is not busy earning the title of trusted advisor to his client base who seek to fulfill their true intent for advancing purpose and legacy, you can find him engaged in any one of several outdoor activities, enjoying all that Colorado has to offer. Marc is the single father of two daughters. His oldest, Gabrielle, graduated from the University of Richmond this spring and is living in Raleigh, N.C., and his youngest, Sophia, is heading back to college this fall after recovering from her fourth and final shoulder surgery in less than 5 years. Marc is also a professionally certified tennis racquet stringer. Having strung thousands of racquets while his daughter was pursuing her passion on the tennis courts, he created Last Second Stringing, a purely philanthropic endeavor and donates all funds collected to a foundation that runs a school for children in Uganda.

Marc participates on EPIC’s Policy and Initiatives committees and his expertise and input is highly valued.

Sue Renner*

Vice President
Merage Foundations

Sue E. Renner directs a consortium of private foundations representing three generations of the David and Laura Merage family in Greenwood Village, Colorado. The Merage Foundations invest in, and take risks with, innovative social entrepreneurs to achieve significant community impact in the United States and Israel. In addition to overseeing grantmaking and operations, Sue is spearheading the development of the Foundations’ Early Learning Ventures initiative to increase the stability and productivity of Colorado’s ECE sector through market-based interventions.

Prior to joining the Merage organization in 2006, Sue was the Executive Director of Early Childhood Connections, a non-profit corporation providing early intervention supports and services to over 1,000 infants and toddlers and their families each year in the Denver-metro region. Sue also worked as a Senior Program Manger with the Colorado Office of Resource and Referral Agencies where she was responsible for launching Colorado’s T.E.A.C.H. program, a public-private venture to provide early care and education professionals with college scholarships.

Sue’s experience includes volunteer leadership roles with several community development, family support and early care and education organizations. In her tenure as President of the Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council she established several new initiatives including the Developmental Surveillance Project, a successful venture to engage pediatricians and parents in the early identification of developmental delays. Ms. Renner received her BS in Human Development from California Polytechnic University, and her MS in Child and Family Development from Colorado State University.

Amy Schwartz*

Executive Director
BuildStrong Education

Ms. Schwartz has been with BuildStrong Education (formerly the Foundation for Educational Excellence) since 2008. Before moving to Colorado in October of 2007, Ms. Schwartz lived and worked in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with her M.A. degree in Social Research Methodology, from the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies in June 2007. While in graduate school, Ms. Schwartz consulted with First 5 LA, the Los Angeles County Proposition 10 Commission, with their School Readiness Initiative which administered $134 million to 42 diverse communities within the county. Before attending graduate school, Ms. Schwartz spent three years as the School Readiness Program Director with a non-profit agency serving a densely populated Hispanic neighborhood in the Los Angeles metro area. Ms. Schwartz began her career in education and the non-profit field as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer in 1997.

In total, Ms. Schwartz has twenty years of experience working with various educational and family-support programs. Her work has centered on the goal of increasing student outcomes in low-income, low-performing schools through collaborative, family support and public-private partnerships.

Ms. Schwartz was a founding board member of the Lyons Valley Preschool which opened soon after the devastating floods of September 2013. She is also a founding board member of Steps to Success a non-profit created in 2016 with the mission to sustain youth violence prevention work in the Montbello neighborhood of Denver.

Susan Steele*

Secretary, EPIC
President and CEO
Buell Foundation

Susan received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado and began her career as a middle school math teacher. After several years of teaching, she moved into the business arena serving in management and accounting positions for several family-owned businesses in Denver. She joined the Buell Foundation as controller in 1993. In 1998 she was named Executive Director.

During her tenure, she has helped guide the foundation to prominence as a leader in early childhood development throughout the state of Colorado. Under her leadership, the Foundation was recognized as the Colorado Foundation of the Year in 2012. In 2013, Susan was appointed to the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission, where she helps to advise the Office of Early Childhood on issues related to early childhood education and development. Susan currently serves on the Management Team for the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program at the University of Colorado at Denver and has played an important role in the creation of the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Network. Both of these groups exist to nurture and build the leadership capacity of experienced and emerging leaders to create equity, opportunity, and educational excellence for all young children and their families in Colorado. She also chairs the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative and is immediate past president of the Colorado Association of Funders. Susan is one of the founding partners that created Colorado EPIC and remains an active member on the governing board today.

* Founding members/organizations



Dan Ball

Senior Managing Director
RBC Wealth Management

Rachel Carlson

CEO and Co-Founder
Guild Education

Wes Gardner

Prime Trailer

Wes Gardner is the founder and CEO of Prime Trailer, a semi-tractor-trailer dealership with an emphasis on rental and leasing. Prime has operations in Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Wes is a successful entrepreneur with a strong faith which he integrates into his businesses and the marketplace. He has an ardent desire to give back to his employees and his community. Wes believes that a “Good Job” is the best way to fight poverty which is why he founded The Gardner Family Foundation which provides grants to nonprofits that focus on education, job training and sustainable self-sufficiency programs for single moms. Wes sits on several boards including CityUnite and Activate Workforce Solutions. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Allyson, and has two children and 6 grandkids that he calls his “True North!”

Pat Hamill*

Chairman and CEO
Oakwood Homes

Patrick Hamill received his BSBA in the School of Real Estate and Construction Management from the University of Denver in 1981. In 1991, he founded Oakwood Homes, LLC. His company’s commitment is and always has been, to listen to the customer, focus on their needs and provide a rewarding buying experience. Currently Oakwood Homes is the largest private builder in the Denver metropolitan area and is ranked third in the market share. Oakwood homes celebrated their 20th year in the home building business in 2011, as well as building their 10,000th home. Aside from the sales figures, Oakwood Homes, under the direction of Mr. Hamill, is a company committed to the growth and development of the Denver area beyond housing.

He is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Oakwood Homes, LLC. In addition to Oakwood Homes, Mr. Hamill’s other business affiliations include: Town and Country Title and Insurance, Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, Precision Building Systems and PKK Investments. He is a Past Chairman and a member emeritus of the Board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Trustee of the University of Denver, Chairman of the Colorado Open Golf Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Colorado Concern and serves on the board of HealthOne. He is also serving on the Governor’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission.

In an effort to not only build a master-planned community in the Denver area, but also support the community in and around it, Mr. Hamill co-founded two community development organizations in the greater Denver area: The Foundation for Educational Excellence and the 21st Century High Tech Academy.

His creation of the “Home for Good” program where Oakwood Homes, along with affiliated trade contractors, built and donated a home valued over $300,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. This program raised in excess of $700,000 for the Clubs. In 2012 Oakwood, and its affiliated trade contractors, built and donated the Dream Home for St. Jude’s Hospital, which netted them $1,200,000 for research and the hospital. In 2013 Oakwood completed their second Dream Home for St. Jude’s.

Mr. Hamill has received the “Professional Achievement Award” through the University of Denver Founders’ Day in 1999 and in 2007 was awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs Champion of Youth Award.

Jena Hausmann

President and CEO
Children’s Hospital Colorado

With nearly 20 years of experience in healthcare administration, Jena Hausmann is one of the leading women in healthcare in the US. As President and Chief Executive Officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, she oversees an integrated healthcare system for children, which is affiliated with the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

With 700,000 patient visits annually and 593 licensed beds, Children’s Hospital Colorado has consistently ranked in the top ten children’s hospitals in the nation. Jena oversees the Children’s Hospital Colorado at the Anschutz Medical campus, the Children’s Hospital Colorado network of care in 17 locations in the metropolitan Denver area, the Children’s Hospital Colorado pediatric services at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, and the newly opened Children’s Hospital Colorado South Campus, a full service generally licensed hospital in south Denver.

During her tenure, unprecedented increases in patient volume have been achieved. With employees now numbering over 5000, Jena is proudest that Children’s Hospital Colorado continues its focus on the precious children and families it serves through a culture of intimacy, connection and purpose. In a reaffirmation of the values inherent in Children’s Hospital’s child and family focused culture, the scores for patient satisfaction and employee engagement rank among the highest in the US.

Jena joined Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2004 as the Vice President of Strategic Planning and Network of Care Operations and assumed the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2008. In May of 2015, Jena was named President and Chief Executive Officer.

She was motivated to become a healthcare administrator after watching a loved one go through the system in their final moments of life. After earning a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1996, Jena completed an administrative fellowship at the Fairview Health System in Minneapolis, MN. There, she helped redesign the care delivery and financing models for nursing home residents through a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant.

Following the fellowship, she served as the Director of Provider Relations at The University of Minnesota Medical Center, an organization consisting of a then recently-merged 500 bed community hospital and a 500 bed academic medical center. After 11 months in the role, she joined the senior management team and remained there for the next six years providing leadership over a large number of operational areas as well as planning and business development activities. The cultural and operational challenges in this merger of two large entities into a comprehensive, integrated health system prepared Jena for her executive role at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

In 2008, Modern Healthcare featured Jena as one of 12 “rising healthcare management stars.”

Jena currently serves on the board of directors for the Metro North Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, she served as the March of Dimes’ March for Babies revenue chair and she served on the YMCA Metro Denver board from 2009-2012.

As a leading woman in healthcare, she annually mentors as many as 30 individual women at the CU School of Medicine as well as throughout the Children’s organization to help them understand their roles and opportunities and to demonstrate personally and professionally the ability of women to succeed in executive roles in healthcare.

Jena, her husband Kevin, and three children, Ellie, Andrew and Carson, find their life’s purpose is to provide much love and laughter each day.

James Iacino

Executive Chairman
Seattle Fish

Paul Major

President and CEO
Telluride Foundation

Paul Major has served as the President and CEO of the Telluride Foundation since its inception in June 2000. Major leads the Foundation’s multi-million dollar development, grantmaking, capacity building and initiative efforts.
Prior to the Telluride Foundation, Major worked as the Director of Business Development for Booth Creek Ski Holdings six resorts. Major’s ski industry experience began in 1984 with the U.S. Ski Team in Park City, UT. He served as the Vice President of Athletics and Alpine Olympic ski coach, directing and managed all athletic aspects of the 6 Olympic sports of the U.S. Ski Team including 200 athletes, 60 staff and 50,000 members.

Major is a board member of the Mobile Accord, Bright Futures for Early Childhood and Families, EPIC (Executive Partnering for Investment in Children) and formally Colorado Association of Funders, and the Council on Foundation Community Foundation Leadership Team and chaired the Technology Task Force.

Major holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder and studies towards a master in Mechanical Engineering. Major lives in Telluride, Colorado with his wife, Lois Whitesel Major, J.D.. They have three children, Victor currently at Williams College, Naomi currently at St. Michaels College and Malcolm at Telluride High School.

David Merage*

Chairman and CEO
Consolidated Investment Group LLC

Until its sale to Nestle in September 2002, David Merage was co-owner and co-founder of Chef America, Inc., a national frozen food manufacturer. Chef America, Inc. products are sold in supermarkets, club stores, and other institutional operations throughout the United States under brand names such as Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, Croissant Pockets, etc. In 2002, Chef America, Inc. sales were approximately $750 million and had 1,800 employees.

Prior to founding Chef America, Inc., David was involved in real estate investments and continues to be active in this area. David is currently Principal of Consolidated Investment Group (CIG), an investment management company specializing in Wall Street and real estate investments for a select group of private clients. The company’s Wall Street investment group allocates capital through opportunistic and value-oriented strategies to preserve capital while maximizing returns. CIG’s Real Estate Division seeks optimal returns through creative partnership structures, asset repositioning, and other innovative techniques. CIG has been actively investing in value added real estate since 2003 and is building a diverse portfolio. Real estate is acquired in multiple US and International markets through operating partners, direct investment, and opportunistic funds. Target asset types include residential, multifamily, office, industrial, retail, mixed use and land.

In addition to the CIG operations, Mr. Merage also provides leadership to three philanthropic foundations: David and Laura Merage Foundation, Andre and Katherine Merage Foundation, and Merage Foundations – Israel. The operational platform of the foundations was modeled on Mr. Merage’s successful business ventures, and his entrepreneurial spirit and management expertise provide a clear road-map for the social investment strategy. The foundations have a focus on venture philanthropy, and the investment process is highly interactive to ensure grantee partners have programs with measurable outcomes and significant community impact. One of these projects, Early Learning Ventures, was founded by the David and Laura Merage Foundation in 2009.

David was born in Tehran, Iran. At the age of fifteen he traveled to England to pursue his studies. Later, he moved to the United States where he continued his education. David received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from California State University. David is married to Laura Merage. Laura was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to Los Angeles at the age of fifteen. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California and her Masters Degree in Art from New York University. Laura is an artist/photographer with works in public and private collections nationally and internationally.

Dick Monfort

Owner/Chairman and CEO
Colorado Rockies

David Perez

Independent Board Member
Retired President and CEO

Terumo BCT

Dan Ritchie*

Chancellor Emeritus
University of Denver

Daniel L. Ritchie is former Chairman of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and served as Chief Executive Officer from January 2007 until May of 2015. He served as the 16th Chancellor of the University of Denver for 16 years from 1989 to 2005. He was Chairman of the Board of the University of Denver from 2005 to 2007. Ritchie’s involvement with the University of Denver began in 1983 when he became a trustee. He served as vice chairman of the board and chaired the development committee before becoming Chancellor. In his 24 years of involvement with DU, the school steadily gained stature and strengthened academic programs.
Ritchie was CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting for eight years before moving to Colorado in 1987. The move to Colorado capped a career of nearly 30 years spent in executive positions with MCA, Inc. and Westinghouse.

Ritchie currently serves as President of the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, which focuses on early childhood education and development, and has served as Chairman of the Board of the Daniels Fund, which supports programs that encourage personal responsibility and achievement by funding college scholarships and community programs.

Some of Ritchie’s awards include: The Citizen of the West Award given by the National Western Stock Show to an individual who exemplifies the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer; the National Samaritan Institute Award; the Gold Medal Award of the Poor Richard Club; Outstanding Philanthropist at National Philanthropy Day; the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee; and membership in the Colorado Business Hall of Fame.

He received the Evans Award, the highest award of the University of Denver, as well as DU’s Ethical Leadership Award.

He holds both undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard.

Dave Rogers

Retired Shareholder
Deloitte & Touche LLP

Dave was a Partner in Deloitte’s Government & Public Services (GPS) practice prior to his retirement from Deloitte in May 2020. From February 2017 to May 2020, Dave served as the GPS Geographic Hyper-Growth leader for Colorado and, in that role, was responsible for leading the expansion of the GPS Defense, Security & Justice, Civil Government and Health sectors in Colorado. Dave also served as the GPS Risk & Financial Advisory Geography Champion for the Pacific & West Geographies. Dave has over 40 years of experience consulting with a diverse group of federal and state government and commercial organizations on a broad range of internal control, corporate governance, business process, financial, operational and regulatory issues, and had a specialty in helping clients address their Sarbanes-Oxley and financial reporting internal control challenges. Dave was the Lead Client Services Partner for the National Institutes of Health from 2015-2017, the Lead Advisory Partner for the US Postal Service from 2007-2015, and the lead Federal Advisory Practice Quality Risk Manager from 2007-2017. Dave is a Certified Public Accountant and served as an Audit partner in the Deloitte & Touche commercial audit practice from 1993-2001.

Dave received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is a native of Colorado (Colorado Springs). Dave enjoys skiing, biking and running, and he and his wife, Pam, enjoy traveling and spending time in Boston with their two daughters and their families, including two granddaughters and a grandson.

Dave Younggren*

Founding Director and Board Chair
Gary Community Investment Group

* Founding members/organizations



  • Jeff Allen
    CEO and Co-Founder
  • Ginger Andenucio
    Assistant Superintendent
    Pueblo County School District 70
  • Camalyn Armijo
    Pueblo School District 60
  • Joe Arrigo
    Arrigo Restoration
  • Tom Ashley
    Regional President
    ANB Bank
  • Jeanette Baysinger
    Pueblo School District 70
  • Marc Beasley
    Executive Vice President
    Lockton Companies, LLC
  • Darlene Bermudez
    Central Office Administration
    Pueblo School District 70
  • Cindy Bernal
  • Kristen Blessman
    President and CEO
    Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce
  • Deron Brown
    President and COO
    PCL Construction
  • Bernie Buescher
    Of Counsel
    Ireland Stapleton
  • Matt Cornwell
    President – Northwest
    First Bank
  • Paula Dunn
    Community Relations
  • Norm Franke
    Regional President
    Alpine Bank
  • Heidi Ganahl
    CEO and Founder
    Camp Bow Wow/SheFactor
  • Mireya Garing
    Senior HR Manager
    Consolidated Investment Group LLC
  • Katherine Gold
    Gold Inc.
  • Gerri Gomez Howard
    President & CEO
    Gomez Howard Group
  • Tim Johnson
    Vice President of HR
  • Ken Gooden
    Managing Director
  • Theresa Hartley
  • Bianca Hicks
    United Way
  • Mike Kehoe
    Vice President, US Finance
    PCL Construction
  • Maria Kramer
    Pueblo Library District
  • Karen A Krepps
    Colorado State University
  • Harold R. Logan
    Founder and Director
    Basic Materials and Services LLC
  • Ben Lutze
    Vice President
    Evraz North America
  • Michelle Lyng
    Founder and CEO
    Novitas Communications
  • Teresa Mathews
    Pueblo Early Childhood Council
  • Rob McDaniel
    Founder and President
  • Paula McPheeters
    Pueblo Community College
  • Jeanine Myers
  • Kim Nava
    Goal Academy
  • Neil Oberfeld
    Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Rebecca O’Hearn
    Senior Controller
    Consolidated Investment Group LLC
  • Greg Osborn
  • Samatha Peck
    Hub International
  • Chris Pelley
    Managing Director
    Pelly Group
  • Kathy Plath
  • Ida Rhodes
    Director of Programs
    Pueblo Catholic Charities
  • John Richardson
  • Todd Roebken
    Executive Managing Director
  • Marty Ruffalo
    Senior Vice President, Retired
    Ball Corp
  • Angie Shehorn
    Pueblo Early Childhood Council
  • Rick Simms
    Rick Simms LLC
  • Cindy Skerjanec
    Chief Strategist
    5280 Accelerator
  • Rich Todd
    Chief Executive Officer
    Innovest Portfolio Solutions
  • Janice Weiland
    Vice President Wealth Management
    Colorado Wealth Solutions of Raymond James
  • Ken White, Jr.
  • Ralph Williams
    Vice President and Client Executive
    HUB International
  • Julie Wolf
    Senior Partner, US Business Leader
    RHR International


We are the business community’s nonpartisan voice for early childhood care and education.

Passionate Purpose


Nicole Riehl

President and CEO

Nicole joined Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC) as President & CEO in September of 2019. Her experience spans across the private and non-profit sectors, with her career beginning as an early childhood teacher at an on-site corporate child care program. After working in the financial sector on behalf of a large national homebuilder for several years, Nicole returned to early childhood and supported the quality ratings and onboarding of over 200 child care programs participating in the Denver Preschool Program after it was authorized by Denver voters in 2006.  Her work grew to include the management of quality improvement initiatives and grant contracts at Qualistar Colorado, which sparked her passion for non-profit leadership and management.

Most recently, Nicole held the position of Chief Operating Officer at Denver’s Early Childhood Council, where she helped build a team of 30 staff and an organizational operating budget of $5.5 million over the course of 8 years.

Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Colorado at Denver and a graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from Duke University.  She is also an alumna of several leadership development programs and stays active within the community as a volunteer and supporter of several organizations.

Nicole is a Colorado native and enjoys traveling, cycling, skiing, and staying active with her husband and Kindergarten daughter in her free time.

Marianne Hodge

Administration and Operations Manager

Marianne joined EPIC in December of 2019 and on the very same day, she and her family moved into their first mountain home in Bailey, Colorado. Formally, an east coaster, Marianne grew up in Upstate Ny in the Adirondack mountains. After, obtaining a B.S. in Finance at Siena College, she decided to seek out a business career in Washington, DC. After a couple years in the business sector, Marianne followed her heart and switched paths into education. She worked as a paraprofessional, until she found her calling as Lead Teacher, in the Child Development Center at Sidwell Friends. There she learned the value and importance of a child’s most formative years from zero to three, and there she learned of her desire to shout it from the roof tops! While happy with her purpose in life, the mountains were calling her name, except this time it was the Rocky Mountains. She knew she needed to be around like-minded individuals who not only cared about the importance of early care and education but also cared about it from 5,280 feet. She picked up and moved to cap hill in Denver, where she could walk to Warren Village and teach her students and their parents in a full circle operation about how the brain develops, and how important “windows of opportunity” can impact a child’s future success.

Prior to EPIC, Marianne served as a Quality Navigator at Denver’s Early Childhood Council, where she helped over 45 child care providers with business administration, PDIS, and navigating the QRIS system to effectively use QI funding.

Marianne has collectively 10 years’ experience as an Early Childhood Educator and home provider, while she stayed home with her now 6 year old son for his formative years until he was ready for preschool.

When she is not busy maintaining EPIC’s daily operations and supporting EPIC’s President & CEO, advocating for early care and education, she is spending time with her friends and family enjoying the outdoors of colorful Colorado.

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