Executive Committee

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Cassie Gannett,
Board President

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Todd Matia, 
Board Vice President

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Rick Mueller, 
Board Secretary

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Rick Gillit, 
Board Treasurer

 

He earned a BS in Accountancy from the University of Illinois and worked as a CPA in Chicago.  Returning to school, he attended the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago where he earned an MBA.  Rick joined the firm of Duff & Phelps as a research analyst, later becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst and Group Vice President at the firm.

Striking out on his own, he and his family moved to Colorado Springs over 25 years ago; there he started a successful wealth advisory firm.  His other business interests include real estate investment and management, plus having served as CFO and Board director for what was then a software startup, and now a leading technology firm in Colorado Springs, Cherwell Software.

Rick joined the Peak Education team in 2019, continuing his long tenure in the education reform movement.  In 1996 he helped found The Classical Academy, one of the largest and most successful charter schools in Colorado.  After serving in many capacities at TCA, including CFO and Board Treasurer, Rick led the Board at Atlas Preparatory School, another leading charter school in Colorado Springs.

 

Cassie is an assistant principal at Stratmoor Hills Elementary School in Harrison School District 2 in southeastern Colorado Springs. She has spent the majority of her career in District 2 where she worked as a high school math teacher and Instructional Coordinator for Secondary mathematics. Dr. Gannett has over 20 years of experience in education including K-12, community college, and university work.

 

Cassie is a Colorado native who returned to her home state after earning a degree in education from the University of Kansas. Her pursuit of knowledge continued at Regis University where she earned a Masters of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a focus on English as a Second Language. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Denver with a dissertation focus on equitable math education.

Outside of work and education, Dr. Gannett has been involved in a number community organizations. She has been a Regional Representative and Treasurer for the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics for the last nine years. In addition, she has been a member and volunteer for the following organizations; Colorado Math Leaders,Junior Achievement, TESSA, and Newborn Hope.In addition, Dr. Gannett was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2016 to serve through July 1, 2020 as an unaffiliated resident of the 5th Congressional District.

Cassie has been involved with Peak Education for the last five years. Her passion for equity in education and creating equitable opportunities for higher education led her to work with Peak Education.

 

While teaching he started a web-based educational program geared at teaching right-brained, creative 

thinkers to do algebra. He left full time teaching in 2016 to pursue a business opportunity in the marketing and community development space. He currently serves as a fiduciary Investment Advisor for Harvey Investment Management.  He is passionate about kids, and helping the to achieve success at their highest potential and calling.

Todd has an educator’s background having taught Pre-engineering, Math, Computer Science and Design.  He served as a teacher leader in the School of Design at Sand Creek High School in District 49 and taught at many prestigious universities around the nation, including Duke, University of Minnesota, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and Iowa State.

Rick joined the Board of Peak Education in 2019. He has always been drawn to organizations that seek to uplift youth, giving them opportunities to achieve more than they might have on their own. Toward that end, he recently served on the Board of Atlas Preparatory School, and was the Board Treasurer for Bizkids, an organization which helps young people understand and launch entrepreneurial ventures. 

 

A successful entrepreneur himself, Rick has owned his own insurance company for the past three years. Prior to that, he worked in finance and wealth management for over 16 years.

 

The child of two immigrant parents who served in the Air Force, Rick grew up largely in the Denver area, graduating from Englewood High School, and pursued postsecondary education at Lee University in Tennessee, where he earned his AA degree before a lack of funding required him to return home.

 

Aside from Atlas and Bizkids, Rick has contributed his time and expertise to many other community organizations, including Citizen-Soldier, which helps bridge the gap between military and civilian life.

 

Additionally has served as Committee Chair for the Pikes Peak Rodeo, Mutton-busting competition, and was elected to Chair the the Pikes Peak Regional Building Committee for six years.

Members

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Carrie McKee,
Board Member

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Sylvia Mendez, 
Board Member

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Evelyn Spencer, 
Board Member

Prior to her current position, she held several leadership roles at local area nonprofits including as the President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado, Executive Vice President of Pikes Peak United Way (where she learned about Peak Education for the first time) and an Area Director at Young Life. She attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Speech/Communication and played on the 1994 national basketball championship team.

Carrie currently serves as the Vice President of Regional Innovation Centers at Rocky Mountain PBS.

 

Sylvia’s research interests center on creating optimal higher education policies and practices that advance faculty careers and student success, as well as the schooling experiences of Mexican-descent youth in the mid-20th century. She is engaged in several National Science Foundation-sponsored projects focused on broadening participation and faculty success in STEM academia. She teaches foundations and research courses in the Inclusive Early Childhood Education BI program, Inclusive Elementary Education BA program, Leadership MA programs, and the Educational Leadership, Research, and Policy PhD program.

Sylvia joined the Peak Education Board in 2022 to actualize her mission of ensuring higher education is accessible to all who desire to further their educational pursuits. She is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Leadership, Research, and Foundations in the College of Education at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Evelyn is an Account Manager in one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America where she is skilled in commodity risk management, asset optimization, and relationship management. She was set on a success-oriented path early on in life through Carmel Middle School, Sierra High School, and Colorado Technical University where she graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration and an MBA in Project Management.

 

Evelyn is an active member of the Colorado Women in Oil & Gas Association and Women's Energy Network, which provides resources to women working in all aspects of the energy industry. She has also held leadership roles with the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals, where she chaired the Mentorship Committee and co-chaired the Sports and Culture committee. Evelyn has also served as chair of the Awards Committee for Boy Scouts of America. 

 

Throughout her career, Evelyn encountered many individuals who invested in her professional and educational success. She knows firsthand how important it is to have champions come alongside our students to support them in each of their journeys, and that is why she is passionate about serving Peak Education and the broader community that helped guide her to ensure that all students have access to every opportunity possible. 

Evelyn came to Colorado Springs because of her family's military service, but she has stayed because of how the community made it her home. 

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Porschae Chitmon-Turner,
Alumni Board Member

 

She is in her 6th year of teaching and enjoys how much teaching includes learning from students. She graduated from Colorado College with a B.A. in English. She recently received her M.A in English from Arizona State University. Porschae is an avid reader and dog lover. She is passionate about

seeing students succeed and reach their full potential. Porschae is also a mentor for a college mentor program called Elevated. This program seeks to provide African American students a road map for their future. She is also an alum of Peak Education.

Porschae Chitmon-Turner grew up in Colorado Springs. She considers Colorado Springs her home and loves having the mountains as her backdrop for inspiration. As a Colorado native, she attended Harrison High School which is where she now works as an English, Film and Literature and Yearbook teacher.  

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Chuy Alvarez, 
Alumni Board Member

 

In 2000, after moving to Colorado and learning English, he began his Peak Education journey while attending Carmel Middle School. Being among the first round of students in the program, he received direct life-mentoring from co-founder Dr. Dalton Conner and contributed to the design of the original Peak Education logo. After graduating from Sierra High School with honors, Chuy

attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, studying Electrical Engineering and Visual Arts. Upon graduation he was selected as the Colorado Engineering Council's Graduating Student Engineer and received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Pikes Peak Section award for outstanding graduate.

He began his career characterizing degradation effects on Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors for use in radiation-hardened integrated circuits for space implementation. In 2012, he took on a more direct space role as an engineer for the Air Force Satellite Control Network. He now works for the government as part of the United States Air Force's 517th Software Engineering Squadron, continuing to support the AFSCN.

As a Peak Education alumnus, he remained engaged and worked to fulfill the Peak Education student pledge of giving back to the community by helping with photography and speaking to families and students. Now as a Board Member, he hopes to bring together his ideas and life experiences to help Peak Education move forward and succeed! Chuy enjoys traveling, playing guitar, painting, brewing, puns, spreadsheets, and spending time with family and friends.

José de Jesús "Chuy" Álvarez grew up in the small town of Juchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. As part of a low-income migrant worker family, he would spend his early summers in cucumber, cherry, and grape fields.

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Dalton Connor, 
Co-Founder & Life Member

 

Begun as a scholarship initiative Peak Education quickly transformed into a comprehensive set of programs focused on college and career readiness; leadership development; family engagement; and community connection. Dalton’s overarching aspiration from the beginning has been “to prevent talent from being wasted.

 A pioneering periodontal surgeon now retired, Dr. Dalton launched Peak Education in 1997 along with co-founder Steven U. Mullens an outreach program helping boys and girls in Southeast Colorado Springs escape lives where violence and drugs too often kept youth from graduating from high school and pursuing postsecondary education.

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Steve Mullens, 
Co-Founder & Life Member

 

He served on the Peak Education board from its inception until his passing in June 2015. A well-respected attorney, Steve came to Colorado Springs in 1974 and established himself as one of the leading practitioners in workers compensation law in Colorado. Peak Education remains grateful for his leadership, the inspiration he provided and his expectation that when each of our scholars achieves their educational goals, they will find ways to give back to those who follow in their footsteps.

As a co-founder of Peak Education, Steve brought to our mission his love of books and a deep belief in literacy and educational opportunity as essential to building lives of possibility. It was this that energized his commitment to our scholars and families more than anything else.

Co-Founders & Life Members