New Legacy’s governing board plays a significant role in advancing the school’s mission and vision by providing strategic direction, academic and financial oversight, and securing adequate resources. Our Board is legally and ethically responsible for ensuring the school’s academic achievement, organizational viability, and adherence to the terms of its charter.
Our Board asserts much of its leadership through its policy-setting responsibilities. Board-level policies allow the school to operate effectively and efficiently in pursuit of its mission by establishing clear frameworks for the implementation of the school’s work. All powers of the Board lie in its collective action.
Our by-laws dictate that our board has eleven members with each member serving a three-year term. Terms are staggered so in any given year, three board seats are up for appointment or re-appointment. Board members are limited to serving three consecutive terms. NLCS has a policy requiring 100% of board members to either make a personally meaningful financial contribution or secure a contribution from another individual or organization.
Sarah Bridich, Board President
Sarah brings fifteen years of education experience to the board, with the majority of that time being in a classroom. Sarah taught high school history in San Francisco, New York City, and the Denver-metro region. She spent the past two years as the Director of Advocacy and Outreach for Catapult School Leadership and is currently an education consultant. Sarah received her B.A. from Harvard University, her M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Denver.
Philip Cooke, Board Vice-President
Phil currently works as an operations consultant in the Denver area. Since leaving the high school classroom as a science teacher, Phil remains passionate about finding ways to make great education easier, in the service of those who benefit from it most. NLCS is building an educational foundation which will naturally incorporate the principles of great science education in the years to come. When he heard the vision for this program, and using science as a tool to solve real-world problems, Phil committed to do what’s necessary to ensure this school’s success. Along with NLCS success, comes two generations of students that would be most under-served by a traditional class environment (books and rote facts), and most helped by great education (application of science principles to 21st century problems). Phil also runs a website for science teachers to share their best classroom activities, and works in private industry in continuous improvement and engineering roles.
Monica Abrahams, Board Secretary
Monica Abrahams is a program officer at the Colorado Health Foundation, where she works to advance the Foundation’s grantmaking and other investments to promote healthy living in communities across the state of Colorado. A native of Colorado, Monica is committed to giving back to the community she calls home. Monica first served a a member of the Health and Wellness Committee before transitioning to the Board of Directors for New Legacy. Monica is is excited to deepen her commitment to New Legacy’s mission and vision of success for Aurora’s young families. Monica also coaches track and field with the City of Aurora and volunteers for Stanford University’s Office of Undergraduate Admission, where she participates in admissions outreach activities for prospective applicants in Metro Denver. Monica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
Jessica Gutknecht, Board Member
Jessica is the co-owner and vice-president of Continental Sausage. Continental Sausage is a company that produces and sells European style and gourmet sausage. Continental Sausage also produces and sells a variety of specialty products and across the country. Jessica oversees two retail stores in the Denver area and all of the company’s shipping operations. She has an extensive background in organizational and business management, including fourteen years in leadership at Continental Sausage. In addition, Jessica has volunteered as the treasurer of her children’s school’s parent organization and with Safehouse Denver. Jessica holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.
Felicia Kirk, Board Member
Felicia Kirk is the assistant director of Candi’s House, a group home that specializes in working with young ladies in the foster care system who are pregnant, parenting, and/or working on reunification with their children. Felicia and her partner have 8 children of their own (6 of whom have been adopted from foster care) and they also serve as guardians for a number of other teen moms with their babies and girls who live at Candi’s House. Felicia is passionate about helping children and young adults develop healthy relationships with family, partners, persons in positions of authority, and peers; setting goals; organizing; developing responsibility; and learning financial responsibilities, life skills, and employability skills. Felicia has also worked as a professional photography. In her free time, she enjoys skiing, hiking, gardening, and motorcycle riding.
Mike Kotlarczyk, Board Treasurer
Mike Kotlarczyk is an attorney at the Denver-based law firm Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP. Prior to law school, Mike worked for an educational non-profit in Washington, D.C. In his current practice as a trial lawyer, Mike serves a wide-range of clients, including non-profits, local businesses, and Fortune 100 companies. Mike also maintains an active pro bono practice, and was one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case that won marriage equality in Colorado. Previously, Mike was a partner at Reilly Pozner LLP, and has served as a judicial clerk for two federal judges. Mike received his B.A. in History and Political Science from Drake University, and his J.D. from Georgetown University.
Noel Magee, Board Member
Noel serves as the associate director of Monarch Montessori. Monarch Montessori is an early learning center and charter school in northeast Denver. She brings of a wealth of expertise in early childhood education, non-profit organizations, Montessori instruction, and charter schools. Prior to joining the staff at Monarch Montessori in 2010, Noel worked as a Montessori/Head Start preschool teacher, children’s yoga instructor, and an environmental science program director. Noel holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education Special Education, Primary Montessori Teacher Certification, and a B.S. in Human Development and Early Childhood Education. She brings an important and unique perspective to the Board of Directors.
Alison Monaghan, Board Member
Alison Monaghan has been volunteering on the Academic Committee at New Legacy Charter School since before the school was built and students arrived. Now that New Legacy is in its third year, she is honored to serve as a Board member and co-chair of the Academic Accountability Committee. In doing so, she continues to celebrate and recognize student and staff success while also focusing on increasing growth in all academic areas. She has served in the field of Education for over 20 years, most recently as a Learning Lab Facilitator and teaching intern coach at the Stanley Teacher Preparation Program (now Boettcher Teacher Residency). She holds a Professional Teacher License K-8, a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado, Denver and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Buffy Naake, Board Member
Buffy Naake is Director at Design4Change, a consulting practice providing management and business development strategies for nonprofit organizations and business with public purpose missions. Buffy has over 20 years of management experience in for profit and nonprofit organizations, and a highly relational approach to systems level work. Prior to Design4Change, Buffy served as Director of Friends of Manual High School, an independent nonprofit affiliated with an historic Denver Public Schools high school (2006-2011). From 1990 to 2003, Buffy was Managing Partner at The Center for Applied Research, a private, for-profit consulting firm. Buffy has a BA from the University of San Francisco, and an MPA from the University of Colorado, Graduate School of Public Affairs. She has completed the BoardSource Certificate in Nonprofit Governance, and is certified in Group Facilitation and Participatory Decision Making from Community at Work. She has also studied collective impact theory through the Stanford Center for Social Innovation, and Chait’s theory of Governance as Leadership through the National Association of Independent Schools. Buffy is a native of Colorado and enjoys traveling to beaches and mountains with her family, and loves working with people who believe they can effectuate positive change in the world.
Angie Peluse, Board Member
Angie has over 15 years of experience in health and education related organizations, and deeply believes that all young people should have the knowledge and skills to live healthy and productive lives. She is currently the Vice President of Financial Strategy and Innovation at Teach for America. She has also been a K-12 teacher; a Division-I Swimming coach; a strategy & management consultant; and worked at other non-profits, focused on health and education. She has an AB from Harvard College and an MA from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She lives in Stapleton with her husband and three girls.
Kristin Schledorn, Board Member
Kristin Schledorn brings thirteen years of experience as a practicing attorney to the New Legacy Charter High School Board of Directors. She currently works for the City of Littleton as City Attorney. Prior to her work in Littleton, Kristin served as an associate counsel for Urban Villages, Inc. She also worked as an Assistant County Attorney for Jefferson County and as a business and real estate associate for Sherman & Howard, LLC. Kristin received a Juris Doctorate from Cornell Law School, and holds a Master of Science in Applied Research and Program Evaluation and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and International Studies, both from the University of Denver.