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
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.
Monica Abrahams, Interim Treasurer & 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.
Vani Tangella, Secretary
Vani Tangella joined the Early Milestones team in 2017 and serves in the role of Senior Project Manager for LAUNCH Together, Planning to Prevent Child Maltreatment, and the CCCAP Contracted Slots Pilot. Her work in child maltreatment and family support is extensive, as she previously held the positions of Program Associate for Children and Family Futures and Change Leader Associate for the Prevention and Family Recovery Initiative, which was funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Duke Endowment.
Vani received her master of public health degree from California State University, Long Beach, as well as a bachelor of arts degree in public health policy from the University of California, Irvine. Vani completed the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program, Cohort 12, in June 2020.
Sarah Bridich, Former Chair
Sarah brings twenty years of education experience to the board. Sarah taught high school history in San Francisco, New York City, and the Denver-metro region. Before and after teaching she worked at the Charter School Development Center (in Sacramento, CA) and at Catapult School Leadership (in Denver, CO). Currently, Sarah is an education consultant on school leadership and governance, and occasionally is an adjunct professor. 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.
Kristin Schledorn, Former Chair
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.
Phil Cooke, Member
Operations Consultant, RS Consulting
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 that 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 doing 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 scientific 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.
Shannon Langner, Member
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.
Jessica Mace, Member
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.
Julissa Martinez, Member
New Legacy Alumna; College Student
Julissa is a New Legacy Alumni that attended in 2015 through 2017. She is currently a student at the Metropolitan State University of Denver and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work. While becoming a social worker, she is setting forth in the field of child protective services to help children and adolescents in need to help take them out of harmful situations. she hopes to help make a difference in her community by helping teen moms pursue their goals while raising their children and setting great examples for their families.
Angie Peluse, 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 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.
JH Sava, Member
JH Sava is currently a second-grade teacher of math, science, and social studies at Creativity Challenge Community School (C3) in Denver Public Schools. He has served in education for 25 years and has taught at Stanley British Primary School and the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning. He also worked in the Denver Public Schools Innovation Lab supporting school leaders and teachers as they adjusted their practice to become more student-centered. His experience working in schools has focused on personalization for our students. JH is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder and received his Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver.
Paula Smith, Member
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’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.