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.
Chief Executive Officer
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.
Assistant Director of Programs
Lauren Taylor is Peak Education’s new Assistant Program Director. Her background as a McNair Scholar, tutor, and career counselor provides a strong foundation to support the students of North Middle School and Manitou Springs Middle School and High School. She promotes strong relationships with families and students, life skills, and career readiness, as well as offering support during the college and scholarship application process.
Lauren is a first-generation student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, completing her Master's Degree in Counseling in May of 2020. She strives to create a warm and welcoming environment to encourage a safe space for healing and growth. Lauren works from a collaborative, strengths-based approach; assisting and supporting students to be the authors of their own lives.
She has served as the events chair for Chi Sigma Iota and taught graduate students in the counseling program at UCCS. Along with her professional organization participation, She continues to grow as a life-long learner, seeking training and certification in experiential counseling, career assessments, play therapy and telemental health.
Public Interest Fellow
Benedict is Peak Education’s Public Interest Fellow from Colorado College. In this role, Benedict helps to train mentors and facilitate the relationships between mentors and Peak Ed Scholars. Since graduating from high school in Denver, Benedict has worked with several education-focused nonprofits on the Front Range: as an Americorps member for City Year at an elementary school in Denver, a summer teaching fellow for Generation Teach in Denver, and a tutor and volunteer coordinator for the Children’s Literacy Center in Colorado Springs.
Upon graduating from Colorado College in 2020 with a B.A. in History and Philosophy, Benedict joined the Peak Education team to help support the organization and learn more about non-profit work. He was drawn to Peak Education’s mission of ensuring that all students have the tools and opportunities to achieve their educational goals. He has found passions for education and building supportive relationships among community members, families, and young people.
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 which 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 Boys Soccer program.