Program Manager and Scholar Mentor
Susi joined Forward Steps in 2018 to serve our program part-time as a mentor to our scholars. She started her career as a financial analyst, having earned her Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After four years, she changed career paths to pursue her passions for education and mentorship. She transitioned to working with youth of all ages in both educational and therapeutic settings. During the past five years, she has worked as an academic coach at an online high school, a wilderness therapy guide, a behavior instructor for children with autism, and a K-12 substitute teacher.
Susi has also volunteered with various nonprofits both locally and globally. In Denver, she worked with R.I.S.E., a program that promotes early literacy to preschoolers from low income families, and CHILL, an organization that teaches life skills to underserved youth through board sports. She has also spent extended periods of time volunteering in South America. In Bolivia, she provided tutoring services and led extra circular workshops at a children’s home, and in Ecuador, she supported speech language pathologists at a therapy center for children with developmental disabilities. She is now pursuing her Master’s degree in speech language pathology at University of Colorado, Boulder.
During her free time, Susi loves to hike, backpack, and rock climb. While in the city, she can often be found doing yoga and cooking delicious vegetarian meals at home.
Administrative Office Manager
Vicky is originally from Kansas City, Missouri where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Business from the University of Central Missouri. She has been an administrative assistant for many years which includes her 21-year tenure with Coherent Technologies, Inc. Currently, Vicky works for part-time for Coherent Investments, Forward Steps and Realizing Aptitudes Foundation and is integral in supporting the operations of each company.
Other activities that keep her busy are volunteering at the Boulder County Humane Society and Meals on Wheels-Boulder; each nonprofit organization serving those areas she is strongly passionate about. When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys activities including hiking, biking, and golf.
Vicky was a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) for 7 years where held several officer/committee positions. She is a currently a registered Colorado Notary Public.
She and her husband, Bob, reside in Boulder where they enjoy the company of their two fun dogs, Sammy and Hunter.
Rob Morrison Tiernan
President, Governing Board
Rob has spent the majority of his career influencing communities by serving in senior executive roles that build bridges between companies and their markets. His focus on strategic positioning, effective communication and leadership through transition has resulted in a number of successful mergers and acquisitions and enriched opportunities for those involved. Rob is now the Managing Director of Coherent Investments, LLC.
As early as high school, Rob volunteered his time to serve in the community. He began these activities by supporting inpatients at the Arizona State Mental Hospital, then providing relief to victims through the Boulder County Police Department, serving the homeless through Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow and also EFAA. Since its inception in 2006, Rob has been supporting the mission of Forward Steps and the potential the organization has to provide each scholar an opportunity beyond their circumstance. The nurturing guidance, educational focus and financial support are a reflection of the positive elements that were accessible in his life, and what he strives to make available to others. He believes that it is only by working with and through people that the individual lives of those that comprise our communities can and will improve. We can all do our part, if only to impact one life in a positive way which can build a stronger community around each of us.
R. Milton Huffaker
Few entrepreneurs can match the breadth and depth of Milton’s scientific and business achievements. Active in the space program at NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wave Propagation Laboratory, he’s been recognized worldwide for his accomplishments.
But Milton’s commitment to people goes a step further. Early on he chose to support programs that benefited people and the human spirit. After he founded Coherent Technologies, Inc. (CTI) in 1984, the management and employees made it a goal to contribute 10% of their earnings to non-profits of their choice. Milton was also instrumental in developing Second Step, a transitional housing organization for people on public assistance, prior to its integration into Boulder’s Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA). In addition, he is a longtime supporter of Boulder Mental Health and Boulder Community Foundation. He is currently the Manager of Coherent Investments, LLC.
David Ambroz, Juris Doctorate
Executive Director, Corporate Citizenship & Social Responsibility – Executive Director, Internal Communications
Disney | ABC Television Group
Emeritus Board Member
In that role, David leads DATG’s pro-social and philanthropic efforts, aligning charitable giving and other pro-social activities with the business and brand objectives of DATG family of channels including ABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Jr., Radio Disney, the OTV, and ABC News.
Additionally, David coordinates efforts across platforms to inform and engage Disney | ABC employees through various internal networks, web platforms, and other efforts.
Prior to joining Disney, David was the Executive Director of Los Angeles City College Foundation. In that role, he led all aspects of fundraising, grant application & management, marketing & communication, alumni affairs – founded the Guardian Scholars Program; and taught American Political Science. Earlier, David was an active attorney.
David received a juris doctorate from the UCLA School of Law. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, VA.
David has been active on issues regarding homelessness, since his own time living homeless before entering foster care. David resides in Hollywood, California with his husband.
In his free time, he serves as the President of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission; serves as a California Child Welfare Commissioner, previously serving as a Commissioner with the ABA, is formerly a contributing writer to Huffington Post. David was recently recognized by President Obama, as a Champion of Change for his work on behalf of foster youth.
Janel is currently Vice President of the Liberty Foundation of America and is a respected national political and policy-oriented fundraiser. She has led finance efforts for more than a half-dozen United States Senate campaigns, and has worked on education and policy-oriented fundraising projects in Colorado and around the country. Some of her clients have included U.S. Senators John Thune, George Allen, Wayne Allard and Congressman Bob Schaffer, as well as the Denver Public Schools Foundation, and the Liberty Foundation. Before transitioning to the private sector, Janel worked as an aide to U.S. Senator Don Nickles in Washington, D.C.
While living in D.C., her eyes were opened to the challenges faced by at-risk youth and she became a regular volunteer. She and her husband have also served as foster parents.
Janel now lives in Golden with her husband Dan and their two energetic children.
Shantel is currently the Senior Director of Finance and Treasury for Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in Boulder, CO. She possesses a broad finance and accounting background within a variety of industries with specific experience in mergers and acquisitions and financial planning and analysis. Shantel earned her bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Creighton University in Omaha, NE and her CPA license from the State of Illinois. Before moving to Colorado, Shantel spent several years in Chicago, IL where she was involved in mentoring at-risk youth in Chicago’s south side neighborhood and volunteering with programs that support low-income families.
Shantel now lives in Boulder, CO with her dog, Lenny and enjoys camping, hiking and being outdoors.
Jeff Mendel has been a member of the Forward Steps Advisory Board since its inception in 2008. Jeff’s experiences in many aspects of small business, entrepreneurship, non-profit and social services suit him well for the Board. Jeff is a veteran of 30 years in the craft brewing industry, 20 as a partner and director at Left Hand Brewing Co. He previously participated as co-founder of Tabernash Brewing Co., Indian Peaks Distributing Co. and the Colorado Brewers Guild. In addition, Jeff worked six years at the non-profit Association of Brewers, served three years on the non-profit Boulder County Head Start Pre-School Policy Council, and most importantly took two years to be a stay-at-home foster father.
Jeff lives in Boulder with his wife, Daphne, and their two dogs (rescues, of course). He currently serves as a consultant in the craft beer industry.
Advisory Board Member
Alex McFarland is a young activist passionate about change with over 9 years experience working on both state and federal policy reform. As an alumnus of Ohio’s foster care system, he leverages his first-hand experience to advocate and elevate the voices of youth in out-of-home care. As a young leader he has served as president of Ohio’s statewide youth advisory board, an inaugural member of the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council and participated in the founding of Ohio Reach, an organization tasked with increasing the enrollment and retention of out of home youth into post-secondary education. In addition to his volunteer roles his professional roles include time with The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and FosterClub.
Alex graduated with honors from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology and zoology. He is currently earning his doctorate in veterinary medicine at Colorado State University, class of 2020. He serves as a national delegate to the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) and intends to specialize in exotic and zoological medicine.
Advisory Board Member
Scott Papich brings two decades of business experience as a market researcher, financial analyst and strategic advisor. He has served companies across numerous industries, from biotech to hospitality, to retail, to sports. His activities have been largely focused on identifying and evaluating risks and opportunities, and in providing concise recommendations that facilitate decision making.
Scott is degreed (Summa Cum Laude) in Finance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is a graduate of Seth Godin’s altMBA.
Advisory Board Member
Representing Community College of Denver (CCD), Shannon Webber brings years of financial aid expertise to the Forward Steps Advisory Board. As CCD’s Associate Director of Financial Aid, Shannon infuses her passion for social justice in everything she does. She currently serves as CCD’s single point of contact for homeless, unaccompanied and foster youth, actively working to break down barriers to higher education for foster youth both through direct work with youth at CCD and through statewide collaborations with key stakeholders. Shannon is committed to leveraging her professional roles to ensure that the dynamic needs of Colorado’s foster youth who are working to accomplish their goals in higher education are met, both at the ground level and systemically across the state. For fun, she performs in a local band and is the Program Director for the all-volunteer rock and roll summer camp for girls, Girls Rock Denver.