Board of Directors

Jill Tew
Former Roots Elementary Director of Operations and Innovation

Jill joins the Roots team after a varied career in strategy, operations, and technology. Most recently, Jill was Manager of the Email Marketing team at Craftsy, an online education company dedicated to helping its members further their creative passions. Before Craftsy, Jill was a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, where she supported some of the world’s largest companies in solving their top-of-mind strategic and operational challenges. While at BCG, she also helped the firm expand its growing Education practice. Jill graduated with honors from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After spending years dipping her toe into the world of education, she is thrilled to be taking the plunge with Roots!

Eric Sondermann
Roots Board Chair; Political Consultant

As the founder of the well-respected media and public affairs consulting firm, SE2, Eric Sondermann sold his interest to his long-time partners in 2014 in order to devote his next chapter to civic pursuits, his media commentary and some limited, high-level strategic consulting. A high-profile political analyst and pundit, Eric is a regular panelist on Channel 12’s “Colorado  Inside Out” on Friday evenings and co-hosts the “Colorado Decides” political debate series. Beyond these television roles, he is called upon as a go-to source of independent  political insight by a laundry list of local, national and international publications and media outlets.

As a civic leader, in addition to his Board role at Roots, Eric serves on the Boards of the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation (immediate past Chair), Catapult Leadership (past Chair), the Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Colorado Symphony. In years past, he had a long-standing leadership commitment to The Logan School and also served on the Boards of Urban Peak, Colorado Public Radio and the Children’s Museum of Denver.

Eric and his wife Tracy Dunning are the parents of Katrina who now works in Chicago and Clarke who attends college in Anchorage, Alaska.

Tawnya Ramirez
Roots Board Treasurer; VP of Finance & Administration, Charter School Growth Fund

Tawnya currently serves as the VP of Finance and Administration for the Charter School Growth Fund, a nonprofit that invests philanthropic capital in the nation’s highest performing charter school operators to support their growth and dramatically expand their impact on underserved students. Prior to joining CSGF, Tawnya was the Controller and Compliance Manager for BRC Investment Management LLC, an institutional money management firm. In her role at BRC, Tawnya managed the firm’s accounting and client portfolio accounting in addition to ensuring regulatory compliance. She holds an active CPA license and is the current Vice Chair of the Board of the Colorado Society of CPAs. She obtained her BS in Financial Accounting from National American  University in Denver, CO.

Stephanie Itelman
Roots Board Secretary; Principal with Bellwether Education Partners

Stephanie Wilson Itelman is a Principal with Bellwether Education Partners in the Strategic Advising practice area. Bellwether is a non-profit that partners with education organizations to help them become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results, especially for high-need students. She supports strategic planning, growth planning, and advisory work for charter schools, districts, advocacy organizations, human capital organizations, and other non-profits. Prior to joining Bellwether in 2013, Stephanie was the Chief of Staff at Aspire Public Schools, one of the largest and highest performing charter management organizations in the country. At Aspire she also held the role of Director of Growth and Strategy, where she led the development of new schools and facilities. Previously, Stephanie worked at Education for Change, a charter management organization focused on school turnarounds. A former Broad Resident and Education Pioneer, Stephanie has also worked as a consultant for Bain & Company and the Bridgespan Group in Boston, San Francisco, and Sydney. Stephanie earned her M.Ed. and MBA at Stanford University and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia.

John Arigoni
Former President/CEO of Boys & Girls Club Metro Denver

Recently retired after a twenty-year career as President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver, he has received many awards within the National Boys & Girls Clubs Movement. Previously, Arigoni worked in health insurance as an owner of three insurance brokerage agencies and officer with what is now Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his MBA locally at Regis University.

Nate Easley [1]
Nate Easley
Executive Director, Denver Scholarship Foundation

Nate Easley, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF). The Denver Scholarship Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their postsecondary education goals by providing the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success. Prior to joining the Denver Scholarship Foundation, Dr. Easley served as President and Secretary of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. He also worked as Vice President for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC. COE is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities in postsecondary education for low-income and disabled youth and adults. Dr. Easley serves on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Framing Committee and his Education Leadership Council. He is a current member of the Community College of Denver Advisory Council and the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed Inc., the third largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States. Dr. Easley is a proud graduate of Montbello High School in Denver, Colorado.

Derrick Kelsey
Pastor, The Embassy Church

Derrick is a Pastor at The Embassy Church in Northeast Park Hill. He is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and a vocal supporter of the football team of his alma mater, the University Of Alabama (Roll Tide!), where he earned a degree in engineering. In 2003, after working several years as a traveling consultant in the software industry, Derrick married his good looking and good cooking wife, Zaneta, and they subsequently moved to Dallas for him to pursue a Th.M at Dallas Theological Seminary. During their time in Dallas their family grew to include two delightful sons, Drew and Zach.

Dr. Lydia Prado
Vice President of Child & Family Services at the Mental Health Center of Denver

Dr. Lydia Prado is the Vice President of Child & Family Services at the Mental Health Center of Denver, including five outpatient sites and one resource center.  Dr. Prado promotes the development of prevention and early intervention strategies, the establishment of community-based partnerships, staff development and training, and transformation of traditional delivery models for work with diverse populations.

Ileana Street
VP of New Business and Operations, Avid 4 Adventure

Ileana has worked for over 15 years managing marketing and operations for educational products and services companies. She directed leadership programs for Hispanic high school and college students at the National Hispanic Institute and founded and ran CraniaMania, a company specializing in online academic competitions for youth.  Ileana was the VP of Operations for Galileo Learning, the largest day camp provider in the U.S. focused on teaching kids innovation skills. Ileana now serves as the VP of New Business for Avid4 Adventure in Boulder, CO. Ileana received her BA in Psychology from Stanford University and MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA.

Please see here for a schedule of Roots Elementary Board Meetings. Complete records of Board Meeting minutes are available at our front desk by request.