Strong foundations for an incredible future.
Meet our founding team of visionaries. Assembled to help build and guide Be The Change Community School through its first years, this group brings a range of expertise and unlimited passion for the future of our children.
Co-Founder & Director of Innovation
More about Amanda Marquez
Amanda Marquez is a proud bicultural Latina and first-generation college graduate who is proud to own a home in Commerce City. She believes in continually growing and learning best by doing.
She has studied business, cosmetology, and earned an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Harvard. In her first year as a special education teacher serving the community of Brownsville, Texas, she fell in love with the idea of changing the world through education. Over the past 17 years, Amanda has worked to change the world and fight for racial equity as a special education teacher, math teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of innovation in communities in Texas, Massachusetts, and Colorado.
She lives life to the fullest by competing in triathlons, traveling, listening to books, watching K-dramas, hanging out with her 3 dogs, and eating delicious food. She believes in finding what you are passionate about and going all in. She is thrilled to support others in doing the same in order to change the world.
More about Amanda Gonzales
Born and raised in Denver and a former Adams City High School Special Educator and teacher leader, former Commerce City resident, and past Adams 14 parent, Amanda's passion for youth advocacy and social change has been her north star over the past 25 years of work with teens in the education and community based non-profit fields.
Identifying as an Indigenous Chicana, her drive is rooted in the Nahuatl word tiahui, which roughly means to move, change, or go forward. With the belief that education can get one out of their situation, her commitment to empowerment and movement has always been focused on young people of color in Denver and Adams counties.
She has served in various positions including high school principal and secondary school administrator with both Denver Public Schools and KIPP Colorado, gang outreach and violence response with GRASP, field-based mental health with the Mental Health Center of Denver, youth mentoring with the Latino Coalition, teaching and program development with Adams 14 School District, and she has taught all content areas in secondary education. Her true passion is special education law, where she specializes in serving teens with affective needs and significant mental health disabilities.
A first-generation college graduate and child of a Displaced Aurarian, Amanda holds a B.A. from MSU Denver in Special Education and Linguistically Diverse Education and an M.A. from the University of Northern Colorado in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Special Education Administration. Her Doctoral research (in progress) interests include families as systems within school models, discipline practices of students of color, and teaching in third spaces. She is also the founder of Ollin Educational Consulting and is the Managing Director of Schools at Moonshot edVentures.
Our Founding Board of Directors
Matthew Dodge, Board President< has been a CareerConnect Pathway Director for DPS for the last 7 years serving in this role for Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design(DSISD) and North High School. As the Pathway Director, he led the building out of and maintaining the work-based and college learning pathways that earned the DSISD first graduating class over $150,000 in college scholarships and earned over $350,000 in wages through internships and apprenticeship.
Before moving into this leadership role, he spent two years developing as a leader through the REDDI leadership program and five years as a secondary math teacher.
Matt is excited to bring his years of service to support as a board member of Be the Change Community School, where he has the opportunity to bring his skills to serve students and families of his own community. After supporting multiple start-up schools and learning the complexities of leading within a large comprehensive school, he hopes to bring his wife and two daughters to school design events and any future school events. Matt is looking forward to building more opportunities for students at Be The Change that supports students in exploring the world and developing personal passions so that they can leave with a strong purpose.
Minerva Cobos, Secretary
Minerva Cobos, Board Secretary, is a marketing and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in advertising, marketing, and communications from agency to the non-profit sector.
Born in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, she moved to Denver at eight years old, which helped shape her unique perspective as a first-generation Latina. She is a firm believer that every community deserves unfettered access to quality education, support, and opportunities.
Compassion, knowledge sharing, and empathy are the cornerstones that guide her work ethic. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with her family, including her husband, five-year-old son, and Great Pyrenees canine companion. She holds a B.A. in marketing from Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Geoff Brovich has held various positions in investment banking and management consulting, including the Director of Finance for KIPP Colorado schools.
A proud alumnus of K-12 public schools, Geoff aspires to be part of a team working to make education better for all kids. Geoff is also a Board Member with Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and a graduate of Villanova University.
Michelle Juel specializes in communication and language interaction. She has a master’s degree in linguistics from CU Boulder with a concentration in sociolinguistics and is currently a Ph.D. student studying Language and Social Interaction (LSI) at the same university, focusing on critical scholarship.
Michelle understands the importance of language and communication and how they influence the reality around us. She believes that being mindful in the language we use to describe cultures, interactions, groups, and other topics is a necessary step in achieving equality.
A self-proclaimed life-long student, she recognizes the magnitude of cultivating a passion for education both inside and outside the classroom. Growing up in a military family, she’s had the pleasure of calling many places home, but has put down roots here in Colorado. She enjoys doing crafts and pottery in her free time, and spending quality time with her husband, eight-year-old daughter and two senior dogs.
Cecilia Quintanilla was born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In December of 2017, she moved to the United States to work for Denver Public Schools at Bryant Webster Dual Language to teach in a Spanish Immersion Early Childhood Classroom.
In the summer of 2020 she founded the nonprofit organization “Yachayniyuq” in her home country of Bolivia where she provides resources and consulting services to students and families. As a member of GTLCA - Gifted and Talented Leaders of Color and Allies, she is a fierce advocate for gifted, underrepresented students.
Cecilia enjoys music and playing the piano, she is currently a board member of the Denver Children’s Choir.
Ron Gallardo has over 30 years of educational experience, with the majority of his time working with students and community education programs in underserved communities. With over 15 of those years as a high school administrator at both Adams City High School and Northridge High School in Weld County School District 6, Ron is focused on empowering youth to create a better and brighter future for themselves and their communities. He also brings his experience of working with community groups and non-profit agencies.
Ron’s passion has always included music and education and was the reason he decided to come out of retirement and accepted an offer to return to work with Youth on Record as Interim Director of Academic Success. Working with the students’ and staff has inspired him to start performing again professionally. He feels that the arts are invaluable in bridging learning gaps and are relevant in focusing on the whole student and their success in today’s world.
Ron holds degrees from University of Colorado Boulder (MA/Education and BA in Music Education) as well as a Colorado administrative license. He has traveled extensively in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras to photograph the beauty of the countries and experience their various arts, music and cultures.
Maria Barco currently serves as Deputy District Attorney, where not only does she work with adult defendants but also children and young adults that are having early encounters with the criminal system. She has been involved in the prosecution of cases and responsible for court dockets, where her main aim is to do the right thing. During law school, she interned with various district attorney offices, where she learned about discrepancies but also the complicated dynamic of the criminal system within our society. Her experiences have allowed her to work with defendants from diverse populations and further developed her communication skills.
Maria is proud to be an immigrant and bilingual in Spanish and English. She has a deep understanding of navigating society as a first-generation student and community member.