Jennifer Waaler joined the Forward Steps team in December 2017 and brings over 20 years of business operations experience to her role as executive director. She started her career in the corporate world, serving small to medium size companies before switching to the nonprofit field in 2004. She’s been an Assistant Controller, Director of Human Resources, Executive Account Manager and Managing Director. For the last six years, Jennifer has been fundraising for worthy causes along the Front Range as a Development Director.
A volunteer since childhood, Jennifer has always been interested in civic engagement. She has served on various boards, advisory councils and committees across the country. Jennifer has also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Delaware Hospice, Meals on Wheels, and Thrive, a program that helps people achieve economic stability through education, mentorship and employment support. Jennifer currently volunteers with the Longmont Community Justice Partnership, helping to build a better world through restorative justice practices.
Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and her Master of Nonprofit Management degrees from Regis University in Denver, Colorado.
Away from Forward Steps, Jennifer enjoys dancing around her kitchen with her husband, Luke, and boxing with her friends at The Corner Boxing Club. She also enjoys cooking, reading, tennis, and kayaking.
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 in 2016, 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 Boulder with her husband, infant daughter and very presidential pup, Jefferson.
Student Development Manager
Andrea Righi is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Guardian Scholars Scholarship program. Her responsibilities include ensuring that current scholars have the resources and support necessary to complete their educations. Andrea is also responsible for structuring the program to best suit the needs of the students and the organization’s objectives. In addition, she is the principal recruiter for applicants to the program.
Andrea completed her Master’s Degree in Counseling in 2010. Prior to this, she worked as AmeriCorps Member and served foster youth engaged in the Chafee Program with Boulder County. During this time, Andrea discovered her passion for working with young people aging of the foster care system in Colorado, and she has continued to serve this population in her position at Forward Steps.
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
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.
Mr. Kruteck joined Pharmaca as CFO in January 2011. Prior to Pharmaca, Mr. Kruteck held senior finance roles at Molson Coors Brewing Company, Crocs, and some smaller privately owned companies. He possesses a broad finance background with specific experience in financing and recapitalizations, divestiture of non-core assets and investments, core treasury functions, supply chain, and financial planning and analysis. Mr. Kruteck received his MBA from the Garvin School of International Management (Thunderbird) and his BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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
Eric is a financial professional with over eight years of experience in the banking industry. He manages two branches for First National Bank in the Westminster and Broomfield areas. Eric focuses on the expansion of his markets by building relationships with consumers and business owners while guiding them to financial success. As part of the Community Reinvestment Act, he donates additional time to the surrounding communities, on behalf of First National Bank, by providing financial education in hopes of literacy development. He holds an Associate of Arts Degree from Front Range Community College and is currently working on his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication with Colorado State University-Global Campus.
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
Brenda entered foster care when she was 14 years old, lived on her own her senior year and emancipated from the system in 1988 after she graduated from high school. Following a year of working and searching for family members she entered Mesa State College where in 1994 she received her degree in Counseling Psychology. Brenda returned to college and received her MSW from Colorado State University in 1998.
While a college student, Brenda had the opportunity to work as a youth advocated at the local mental health center. She also had a practicum with a local independent living program, one that allowed youth to move out on their own before their child welfare case closed. It was from this experience that she started her career working with youth in foster care who emancipate from the system. In 1998, Brenda began working with the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program in Larimer County and now works with the same program in Adams County where she has been for over 10 years.
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.