Jon Stepleton has served since July 2013 as CEO of Peak Education Inc., which has evolved over its 23-year history into a comprehensive, community-based pre-collegiate program working today with nearly 250 socio-economically disadvantaged scholars and their families in Southeast Colorado Springs.
He was a journalist and newspaper executive for nearly 30 years before beginning to focus his energies on helping nonprofit organizations grow their capacity to deliver on their missions. He came to Colorado Springs in August 1985 as managing editor of The Gazette Telegraph, now The Gazette, and also served as editor, associate publisher, interim publisher and as a the founder and President of Gazette Charities, before leaving in November 2002.
He has held a variety of leadership positions since then in nonprofit organizations involved in education, emergency and transitional human services, health services, youth services, and the arts. In 2003, he served for eight months as interim President/CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and again more briefly in 2007. In 2004, he served as interim President/CEO of Silver Key Senior Services. And, from 2004 through 2012, he served as director of the Pikes Peak Community College Foundation, a 501 C 3 public charity which awarded $2 million in scholarships to PPCC students during his tenure.
He also is the founder of Cheyenne Mountain Civic Solutions, a “micro” 501 C 3 public charity established in 2008 to work in support of efforts in the Pikes Peak Region to enhance economic opportunity and community vitality.
Director of College Counseling
Carlos is Peak Education’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of College Counseling. 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 Freshmen 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.
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 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 Communication 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 is currently starting her second term as a board member for the African American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC). In addition, she is in her seventh year as a mentor with the Sachs Foundation’s “Elevated” program, which empowers students to achieve excellence in postsecondary education.