Our Board of Directors
Liza Coughlin, Co-Chair
Liza brings fourteen years of strategic planning experience to the board. Liza’s consulting experience has primarily been in the area of child and teen healthcare. She has led operational improvement projects that streamlined existing systems and guided strategic partnerships between major hospital networks. Liza has experience analyzing programs and processes and understanding where and how to increase efficiencies. Liza received her B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University.
Mike Kotlarczyk, Co-Chair
Assistant Attorney General, Colorado Attorney General’s Office
Mike Kotlarczyk is an Assistant Attorney General at the Colorado Department of Law. Prior to law school, Mike worked for an educational non-profit in Washington, D.C. In his current practice, Mike represents Colorado’s statewide elected officials in litigation and advises several state bodies. Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Mike worked in private practice for a decade at two Denver-based law firms and worked 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.
Jennifer Douglas, Interim Secretary & New Legacy Founder
Consultant, Right Hand Solutions, LLC
Jennifer Douglas has an extensive background in non-profit and school leadership. She has worked as an educational consultant since the fall of 2018 after stepping down as Executive Director of New Legacy Charter School. Jennifer is the founder of two public charter schools: Highline Academy in Denver and New Legacy. In addition to serving on New Legacy’s board, she also serves on the board of Empower Community High School. Equity and inclusion are driving values and, while still learning herself, Jennifer chooses to work with organizations that share these values and commit themselves to ongoing learning and growth in these areas. Jennifer received her B.A. in English and education from St. Olaf College and her M.A. in Administrative Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Colorado Denver. When not working, Jennifer enjoys hiking, reading, camping, volunteering with impactful organizations, making good food, and hanging out with her family.
Jessica Mace, Treasurer
Financial Consultant; Affiliate Faculty, Finance Department at Metropolitan State University
Jessica has spent the majority of her career in the financial services industry as a stock analyst with various Wall Street firms. With this, she brings over a decade of experience in financial statement analysis to the Board. Over the past few years, she has also taught at Metropolitan State University in Denver. She is an instructor for the Managerial Finance course and also taught workshops in Personal Finance for Student Success. Jessica received her B.A. in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University and her MBA from Cornell University.
Monica Abrahams, Member & Former Chair
When Monica first heard about the plans for New Legacy Charter School, she was immediately drawn to its mission and vision of success for young families. She became involved in the start-up of the school as a member of the Health and Wellness Committee before joining the Board of Directors. Monica’s background includes working in health-focused philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, and she currently works as an independent consultant. Monica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
Brace Gibson, Member
Director of Policy & Engagement, Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative
As CPCQC’s Director of Policy and Engagement, Brace serves as a liaison between the Colorado legislature, Governor’s office, state agencies, and patient-family advocates around maternal and infant health policy issues. Brace also provides leadership and support to the Colorado Maternal Mental Health Collaborative. As a former teen parent, Brace believes that just opportunities to achieve optimal health are realized when those most impacted by laws, policies, and practices are properly represented as stakeholders of such initiatives. She is committed to applying deep relational practices that value narrative autonomy and lived expertise, diversify participation in decision-making processes, and aim to increase the personal and institutional power of historically disenfranchised groups. Brace earned her Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law with a focus on public interest law and policy. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Southern Indiana.
Paul Heskin, Member
Chief Nursing Officer, Avista Adventist Hospital
Paul Heskin RN, MBA, CCRN, serves as the Chief Nursing Officer at Avista Adventist Hospital. A relationship-focused leader, Paul is passionate about coaching, mentoring, and developing the incredible nurses who care for those in our communities.
Before joining Centura Health in August of 2021, Paul held leadership positions at multiple Colorado hospitals, where he focused on nurse engagement and development. He has frontline experience working in cardiac and pediatric intensive care units. Paul earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Rush University in Chicago and his Master of Business Administration at the University of Colorado Denver.
When he is not leading Avista’s nursing teams, Paul enjoys exploring Colorado outdoors on skis, on his bike, and on foot. A Chicago native, he and his wife have two children.
Shannon Langner, Member
Physician & Association Professor in Family Medicine, the University of Colorado
Shannon is a physician and Associate Professor in Family Medicine at The University of Colorado. She trains medical students and residents in medicine. Her area of expertise is maternal-child medical care and providing resources for populations in need. Her passion is connecting with patients and their communities. Shannon received her B.A. and M.D. from the University of Kansas and did her residency at the University of Colorado.
John McHugh, Member
Director, Fennemore Craig, PC
John McHugh is the office managing partner of Fennemore Craig, P.C.’s Denver office, and a director in the business litigation practice group with experience in trade secrets, financial services, natural resources and LGBTQ+ rights. John is originally from Idaho and received his B.A. in English and Classical Studies from the University of Idaho, and his J.D. from New York University School of Law.
David Meschke, Member
Litigation Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP
David Meschke is a litigation shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, where he specializes in high-stakes, complex commercial litigation. He has been practicing law at Brownstein since 2015, and was previously a judicial clerk for now-Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright of the Colorado Supreme Court. David has engaged in a number of pro bono projects, including work in furtherance of a civil right to counsel, representing children in protection order cases, assisting refugees seeking permanent residency, and providing legal assistance to religious organizations. He was an AmeriCorps Community Service Fellow for two years before entering law school. David received his B.A. from Middlebury College and J.D. from the University of Colorado.
Angie Peluse, Member
Entrepreneur & CEO/Founder, Swimming Simply, Galileo Learning Colorado, and Aspen Root Strategy
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 founder and CEO of several companies. 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.
Paula Smith, Member
Paula Smith, Vice President of Educational Services, Clayton
Paula has more than 25 years of front-line experience working in Early Head Start and Head Start programs, passionately serving culturally diverse children from birth to age five and their families. Since joining Clayton, Paula has led and managed all aspects of education, health, mental health, early intervention, and child and family services to support school readiness and strengthen families. She has also directed and leveraged numerous community partnerships throughout the state, enhancing both quality of and access to early childhood care and education programs, particularly for underserved communities. Paula currently provides leadership and oversight of Clayton’s school-based, home-based, and community-based early childhood programs with an additional focus on strategic initiatives that include professional development and coaching throughout Colorado. Paula earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, and a master’s degree in early childhood studies, specializing in management, administration, and leadership, from Walden University.
Jenifer Tellez, Member
New Legacy Alumna; Administrator, Tri-County Health Department
New Legacy’s governing board plays a significant role in advancing the school’s mission and vision by providing strategic direction, conducting academic and financial oversight, and securing adequate resources.
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 9-15 members with each member serving three-year terms. 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.