Our Team

Our leadership and staff are proud to work toward making a lasting impact in the lives of our scholars.

We are honored to be a part of their lives and to share their stories of hope, determination and perseverance with our community.

We encourage you to join us in this mission.

Falkoski, Jennifer Headshot Nov. 20182

Jennifer Falkoski

Acting Executive Director


Jennifer was named Acting Executive Director of Forward Steps in January of 2020. She came to the organization through her affiliation with its sister organization, Realizing Aptitudes Foundation. Jennifer has served in various capacities throughout her 8 years with Realizing Aptitudes Foundation including two as executive director, a role she currently holds in addition to her new position with Forward Steps.

Realizing Aptitudes Foundation is a community based, non-profit organization that provides career and post-secondary readiness services to adolescents and young adults. Realizing Aptitudes helps students identify well matched career pathways based on what they are good at (abilities) and interested in, as well as exploring character strengths and positive coping resources that help students navigate life transitions from secondary to post-secondary education or workforce entry.

Prior to joining Realizing Aptitudes, Jennifer was an organizational consultant in the private and non-profit sectors focused on strategic planning and culture change, program development, and executive coaching.

As a first generation student positively influenced by a few key teachers along her path, Jennifer is committed to paying forward the guidance she received and taught as an adjunct instructor in the Colorado Community College System for 7 years. Jennifer earned a Doctorate of Psychology from the University of the Rockies in 2011 and holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology from The Colorado School of Professional Psychology as well as a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and Management from The University of Montana School of Business Administration. She is currently affiliate faculty at Metro State University teaching in the nonprofit studies program.

As a Wyoming native and living in Colorado for 15 years, Jennifer loves being in the mountains and enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and climbing Colorado’s many 14ers.

Julia Goldstein

Director of Development


Julia Goldstein joined Forward Steps in September of 2016 and oversees all of the organization’s fundraising initiatives. Julia brings a wealth of development experience accrued over 15 years in New York City’s nonprofit sector and through which has cultivated a passion for connecting people with the capacity to make a difference with meaningful causes.

Immediately prior to her move to Colorado, she served as the Director of Special Events for CancerCare where she raised over $1.5 million through the organization’s fundraising events. Previously, she served as the Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives at Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, Director of Special Events for Selfhelp Community Services, Director of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), in addition to positions at UJA-Federation of New York, Israel Policy Forum and at the Brain & Behavioral Research Foundation.

Born in St. Petersburgh, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Julia and her family moved to the United States in 1989 after being granted political refugee status. She remains deeply indebted to the advocates and philanthropists who worked for her release from the Soviet Union and for the incredible support provided by a multitude of organizations and agencies before, during and after her three-month journey to the United States. Julia earned her Bachelor of Arts in History at Hofstra University.

She lives in Lafayette with her husband, Jeremy and 2-year old daughter, Cooper.

Susi Urioste

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.

Vicky Judish

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 dog, Eddie.

Sarah Zakerski

Youth Development Specialist


Sarah joined Forward Steps in 2020 as a Scholar Mentor. Sarah also serves as a Youth Development Specialist with our sister organization, Realizing Aptitudes. Sarah’s passions for education and mental health have forged her path in becoming an advocate for assisting students on their journey to success.

Before moving to Denver, Sarah worked at a nonprofit in the Greater Boston area. In her role as an Intensive Case Manager, she worked to support families in meeting their basic needs by connecting them to local resources while supporting their overall well-being. Prior to this, Sarah worked with a community based program that fostered the safety and stability of those that had experienced domestic violence. Sarah earned her Masters in Social Work from Boston College and her Bachelors in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Sarah’s experience while pursuing her degrees provided her with a unique opportunity to serve as a university mentor for incoming students. These programs – developed with the goal of providing high-level support to decrease student drop-out – ultimately led Sarah to combine her experience in Social Work with her passion for aiding the progress of students in search of greater supports.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys getting outdoors, learning about lesser-known history, and practicing yoga. Sarah loves to travel, spend time with family and friends, and is an avid reader.

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.

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 Domenico

Board Member

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.

Stefan Magnusson2

Stefan Magnusson

Board Member

A recent transplant from New Jersey, Stefan and his wife, Ellen Morris, now reside in Boulder. Prior to their relocation Stefan served as Managing Director/Regional Head of Market Risk at Rabobank in New York.  He has spent 27 years working at various financial institutions in various aspects of quantitative modeling, risk management, regulatory compliance, and structured products.  Stefan’s previous roles include positions at Deutsche Bank, ABN-AmRo, Cantor Fitzgerald, HSBC, and Republic National Bank of New York.  Before moving into the financial sector, he worked as a geophysicist in energy/mineral exploration and development for about five years in Germany, Iceland, and the United States.

Stefan earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Geophysical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines as well as a graduate certificate in International Finance from Fordham University. In addition to his professional responsibilities, he has dedicated his time to serving as a Mentor at Nordic Innovation House – New York and as NY chapter director of the Global Association of Risk Professionals. Stefan and Ellen were both involved in supporting efforts of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for Children of Essex County.

Stefan and Ellen are parents to two sons, Evon (21) and Victor (19) who are both attending college, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and University of Dayton, respectively. The family enjoys traveling for adventure and to visit friends and family around the world.

Shantel McMeekin

Board Member

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

Board Member

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.

Alex McFarland

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.

Scott Papich

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.

Emily Schultz

Advisory Board Member

Emily Schultz currently works at Google as a solutions consultant in Boulder, Colorado. She helps Google advertisers and their account managers benefit from the full potential of Google’s products by using both her product expertise and understanding of customers’ needs. She is particularly active with a company-wide initiative called Grow with Google, where Emily has served as a digital skills Coach to nearly 110+ small business owners across the United States.

Emily studied Educational Studies (BA) at Denison University, and uses her background in the classroom everyday at Google. Recently, she created an in-house Global Mentorship and Onboarding Program for her team at Google. She used her master’s research on Mentorship in Higher Education from the University of Oxford (MS in Education) to inform the model she pitched to the global team. Prior to graduating with her master’s, Emily taught Leadership Studies for Oxford Summer Courses at Christ Church College (Oxford, UK), and authored the first Leadership Studies curriculum used by the summer school.

In Colorado, Emily is involved with several other non-profit organizations. Namely, she is an Associate Board Member at Blue Sky Bridge, a Grief Group Facilitator for Hospice TRU Community Care, and a member of the Junior League of Denver. For fun, Emily enjoys reading and musical theatre.

Shannon Webber

Advisory Board Member

Representing Red Rocks Community College (RRCC), Shannon Webber brings years of financial aid expertise to the Forward Steps Advisory Board.  As RRCC’s Director of Financial Aid, Shannon is committed to leveraging her professional roles to advocate for the dynamic needs of Colorado’s foster youth who are working to accomplish their goals in higher education, both at the ground level and systemically across the state.

For fun, she performs in a local band and co-directs the all-volunteer rock and roll summer camp for girls, Girls Rock Denver.


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