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Meet Our Team

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Carlos Jiménez

Chief Executive Officer

 (719)232-3218 | Carlos@peakedu.org

Carlos is Peak Education’s Chief Executive Officer. He was drawn to Peak Education by the opportunity to build on the track record of success with Harrison School District 2 students as well as the possibility of increasing college opportunities for students from across the city.

A graduate of Colorado College from a low-income, first generation background, Carlos has developed a passion for guiding students through the application process, especially those who are  first-generation college students. He began his career as an Admission Counselor and Assistant Director of admission, in charge of underrepresented recruitment, at Colorado College (CC) in the summer of 2004. He worked for CC until the fall of 2010 when he was selected to oversee first-year outreach and recruitment at Colorado State University –Fort Collins (CSU), where he found working at a state flagship school and Land Grant institution to be both a privilege and an incredible opportunity. Using experience gained from a leadership position at CSU, Carlos was invited to become the Director of Admission at Colorado College in 2014 and continued to serve in that role until the summer of 2019.     

 

He has held several leadership roles in admission counseling professional organizations including a term as President of the Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling (RMACAC), chairing the national Member Relations Committee for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), co-chairing the NACAC Hispanic/Latino Special Interest Group and serving as a member of the faculty of the College Board Summer Admission Institute. He currently serves as a board member of Atlas Prep as well as the Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation. He is a state appointed Advisory Board Member of Pikes Peak Community College and serves on the Western Regional Advisory Board for Cambridge International.      

     

Since graduating from Colorado College with a B.A. in History and Political Science, Carlos has completed an M.A. in Student Affairs and Higher Education at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and is currently pursuing an Education Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and Change through the University of Southern California.

Vennita Browning

Director of Programs

 (719)389-1249 | Vennita@peakedu.org

Vennita has been the Program Director for Peak Education since August 2005.  In this position, she is, in effect, our Chief Relationship Officer, maintaining and strengthening our connections with each Peak Education Scholar and family. Her experience as a single mother of three boys, all of whom are college graduates, has given her unique insight into the daily struggles of low-income families served by Peak Education.     

Vennita moved to Colorado Springs in 1986 from California after graduating with a B.A. in Mass Communications with an emphasis in radio and television from the University of LaVerne in LaVerne, California.

 

Before coming to Peak Education, Vennita worked with the Girl Scouts Wagon Wheel Council for 13 years as a Membership and Marketing Specialist. She recruited, trained and supervised leaders and marketed the Girl Scout program to girls in the Greater Colorado Springs area and surrounding counties. She developed successful outreach programs in low income and underserved areas of the council.

     

In addition to her work with the Girl Scouts, she served on the board of the Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD), and finished her second term as a board member as the African American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC).  In addition, she is in her tenth year as a mentor with the Sachs Foundation’s “Elevated” program, which empowers students to achieve excellence in postsecondary education.

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Pedro Ramírez

Sr. Director for Strategic Initiatives & Development

(719)389-1249 | Pedro@peakedu.org

Pedro's higher education experience spans over 15 years in enrollment management, academic success, and student affairs. The past decade plus has been dedicated to college admissions, where he's worked at a variety of institutions to increase the quality and quantity of traditionally underrepresented students for matriculation. Prior to arriving at Peak Education, Pedro served as the Associate Director for Outreach & Access at Colorado College. 

 

Born and raised in California's San Joaquin Valley, Pedro received his B.A. from the University of California, Irvine, and his M.Ed. from the University of Texas at Austin. In his free time, he enjoys going on hikes with his wife Krista and son Leo, learning a new recipe, and enjoying SF Giants baseball. 

Jasmine Rainey

Director of College Counseling

 (719)424-3041 | Jasmine@peakedu.org

Jasmine is Peak Education’s new Director of College Counseling. She is excited to grow and expand the college counseling program for Peak Education.

Jasmine is a graduate of Colorado State University. She comes from a low-income, first-generation background, which contributed to her passion of empowering and helping students from similar backgrounds.  Jasmine was a recipient of the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and became the first 

DSF scholar to work for the organization. During her time at DSF from 2011 until May 2020, she served in a variety of roles, working as a TRIO advisor, a college advisor and later as a lead advisor who supervised and guided other advisors. Through her work she has assisted hundreds of students across the Denver Public Schools district, helping them gain access to higher education and obtain financial aid to support their plans. She has developed core college success programming, increased college enrollment rates at various high schools, led community trainings and presentations, and much more.

In addition to her passion for college access, Jasmine is pursuing her counseling degree to increase her ability to holistically impact students.

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Nataya Stepleton

Operations Manager

 (719)352-2053 | Nataya@peakedu.org

Nataya Stepleton joined Peak Education as the organization’s first Fellow in May 2019. Her efforts have been instrumental to the redesign and relaunch of the Peak Education website as well as our enhanced social media presence.  She has also focused on communications and program support for Peak Education’s nearly 300 scholars.

Nataya graduated in May of 2019 from The College of Idaho and received a Bachelor’s in Business with a focus in Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. One of her overarching goals is to help strengthen community.  In college she was involved in an initiative to invigorate the presence of ENACTUS, an international organization that connects college scholars, academic and business leaders, worked with the college’s “Yotes Social Enterprise” and started a movement called #WeCareWednedays which spread to Boise State University and the University of Utah, creating a greater connection and community among students of the three schools.

In addition to her work at Peak Education, Nataya also is Head Varsity Coach of the Girls Soccer Program at The Colorado Springs School, her high school alma mater, and has served as well as Assistant Varsity Coach for the CSS Girls Basketball program. She loves her dog Denver, who has become the office dog.

Anne Taylor

Associate Director-

High School Programs, 

Mentoring and College Success

 (719)647-7164 | Anne@peakedu.org

Anne first connected with Peak Education in 2013 when she was directing the REACH (now Full STEAM Ahead) summer program for District 2 middle school students at the Colorado Springs School. She volunteered with Peak Ed for two years before recently joining the staff to develop and coordinate the Near-Peer Mentoring, Community Mentoring and College Success Programs. She also helps out with Full STEAM Ahead coordination and various other projects. 

A West Coast native, Anne earned her BA in American studies at Stanford and her MA in English at UC Berkeley. She retired from classroom teaching after spending 15 years teaching high school social studies and English in Oakland, California and 13 years at The Colorado Springs School. Since then, she has volunteered with several organizations working to increase opportunities and success for students of all backgrounds and learning styles.

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Grace Miller

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

(719)304-4360 | Grace@peakedu.org

Grace joined Peak Education as the Marketing and Communications Intern in July of 2021. In this role, she creates content for Peak Education, including photography, video editing, social media networking, and design editing.


Grace is a graduate of Louisiana College where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Mass Communications and a minor in French. Her activities included being an anchor for the school’s weekly newscast, a script writer/editor, and photographer. In her senior year she was the President of Alpha Mu Gamma, the college’s foreign languages honor society.

Grace is a Colorado Springs native, a District 2 and 3 alumna, and has been a volunteer with Peak Education since middle school. This background fuels her passion for Peak Education’s mission of closing the opportunity gap and helping Peak Education students reach their full potential.

Lindsay Leggett

Assistant Director for Programs and Development;

Basecamp College Counselor and Consultant

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(719)389-1249 |Lindsay@peakedu.org

Lindsay Leggett is the Assistant Director for Programs and Development, as well as a Basecamp College Counselor and Consultant. Upon receiving her undergraduate degree, she began working as a Regional Director of Recruitment for Western Colorado University in Gunnison, CO. There, she worked with hundreds of students to advise them through the admissions and enrollment process at Western. 

Lindsay is passionate about student success and seeing all students thrive in their transition into their post-secondary choice. She is in the process of getting her M.A. in Counselor Education and looks forward to continuing to serve students in the Pikes Peak region both on the college counseling side and the social/emotional wellness side. She is excited to work with students during a very transformative time in their life.

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Jiayu (Amy) Ji

Public Interest Fellow

(719)722-9935 |Amy@peakedu.org

Amy joined Peak Education as the Public Interest Fellow in June 2022. She assists with college counseling as well as middle and high school programming.

 

A Shanghai native, Amy came to Colorado Springs in the fall of 2017 and has since been enjoying the mountains and the breathtaking sunset views. She graduated from Colorado College with a BA in English literature and minors in Education and Religious Studies. Since discovering her passion for education in high school, she has been avidly involved in the education field. Some of her most memorable experiences include volunteer teaching at the NGO Peer Experience Exchange Rostrum (PEER), coaching high school service-learning projects, and tutoring academic writing at Colorado College Writing Center for more than three years. Her volunteer experience with PEER was instrumental in shaping her career interest in the nonprofit field. Amy enjoys interacting with students and cares deeply about educational equity, which fuels her passion for Peak Education’s mission of closing the opportunity gaps. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing, films, diverse cultural cuisines, and the outdoors.

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Nancy Whitley

Basecamp College Counselor

(719)389-1249 |Nancy@peakedu.org

Nancy recently moved to Colorado Springs from Dallas, Texas, where she was Director of College Guidance at a private, college preparatory high school. Prior to that she served at Vail Christian High School as English Department Chair and Director of Academic and College Guidance. As a career educator, Nancy graduated from Baylor University (BS in ED, 1984; MS in ED, 1985) and now holds several professional memberships, including with National Association for College and Admission Counseling (NACAC), The Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling (RMACAC), and the Colorado Council on High School/College Relations.

Most recently, Nancy achieved certification as a Highlands Certified Consultant, undergoing intensive training on how to understand and interpret the results of the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) so as to help students take stock of their natural talents and abilities in pursuing a college, field of study, and subsequent career that aligns with their strengths and passions.

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Jessica DeSantis-Berg

Basecamp College Counselor & Consultant

(719)389-1249| Jessica@peakedu.org

Jessica DeSantis-Berg is a counselor and consultant with Basecamp after an 18-year career in higher education admissions. As an undergraduate student, she studied business and economics (marketing) and Spanish at Lehigh University (PA). After admissions roles at Caldwell College (NJ) and Capital Institute of Technology (MD), she returned to Lehigh where she remained for the next 16 years. For 11 of those years, she built relationships in Colorado as part of her work to increase representation from Western states.

Throughout her college admissions career, Jessica contributed to a variety of areas—including file review, information systems, merit selection, and marketing. Additionally, she has been an active member of the admission counseling network, presenting at the Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling (RMACAC), Hawai’i Association of College Admission Counseling (HACAC), and the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) conferences, among others.

 

Jessica earned a Master’s of Art in Environmental Policy Design in 2013. In 2021, she left her role as a member of the admissions senior leadership team. Working within an organization that is dedicated to increasing opportunities for students from all backgrounds is the perfect fit for Jessica. She is passionate about access and equity, and enjoys sharing insight into the intricacies of the college admissions process. 

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