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 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.
Phone Number: (719)232-3218
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.
Phone Number: (719)389-1249
Director of Programs and Systems
Lauren Taylor is an experienced counselor, database manager, and program coordinator. Driven by her experience as a first generation student, she takes pride in providing Peak Education scholars with social emotional skills, career readiness, and tools for success in higher education. Her background as a McNair Scholar and Career Counselor provides a strong foundation of support for the students of Peak Education.
In Spring 2020, she completed her Master's Degree in Counseling from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. 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, with continued education in strong data practices, research, and professional counseling. She is pursuing her Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) under the supervision of Dr. Rhonda Williams (anticipated completion 2023). She holds a Special Services Provider license (School Counseling License, Colorado), and is recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Phone Number: (719)425-9985
Director of College Counseling
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.
Phone Number: (719) 424-3041
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.
Phone Number: (719)357-7542
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.
Phone Number: (719)352-2053
Mentoring and College Success Coordinator
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. She also takes classes in Student Affairs in Higher Education at UCCS to learn more about the challenges and resources ahead for our Peak Ed students pursuing their post-secondary goals.
Phone Number: (719) 647-7164
Marketing and Communications Intern
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 alumna, and has been a volunteer with Peak Education since high 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.
Phone Number: (719)304-4360