Jeffco PEN is a non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to empowering the Jeffco community with accurate information about public education.
While our backgrounds vary, we all share the belief that public education is a vital component of a successful and vibrant community. We are dedicated to providing Jeffco stakeholders with timely, factual information pertaining to Jeffco Schools.
Meet Our Team
Amanda Pfeifer has lived in Jefferson County since 2008 and has two children attending a Jeffco charter school. She is a stay-at-home mother and has been a volunteer in Jeffco Schools since 2014. She has a BA in Computer Science and worked as an IT Business Analyst before moving to Jefferson County. When she’s not volunteering in the classroom or school library she spends her time reading and doing other wellness activities, like yoga and swimming.
Chief Administrative Officer
Dave Coren has lived in Jefferson County since 1993 with his wife and two children who are both Jeffco Schools graduates. He earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell University. His 40-year professional career has included managing large systems integration projects for health care and telecommunications organizations as well as for federal, state and local governments. Currently he serves as Director of Marketplace Finance for Colorado’s State-based health insurance marketplace. In addition to Colorado-based avocations (skiing, mountain-biking, 14er-bagging etc), Dave is passionate about social justice and the belief that public education is a key ingredient to lifelong opportunities. He is grateful to Jeffco Schools and teachers for the outstanding education and ensuing opportunities provided to his children.
Board Member and Writer
Jeff Lamontagne is a Colorado native who moved to Jeffco with his wife in 2000. He earned a BS in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a law degree from the College of William and Mary. Jeff is best known for being one of the co-founders and the long-time executive director of Second Wind Fund, which provides professional counseling services for uninsured and underinsured youth who are at-risk for suicide. He has also served as a board member for the Jefferson Foundation and as a member of the Jeffco Schools’ Strategic Planning and Advisory Council. While continuing to support Second Wind Fund, Jeff moved on to become the executive director of an open space/wildlife refuge and environmental science center for kids in Denver in late 2011 He is currently the Executive Director of Friends of Dinosaur Ridge, a designated National Natural Landmark. Jeff enjoys exploring a range of interests, especially with his two children. There’s always a board game or ping pong match on the horizon at home, and Jeff has spent endless hours playing baseball with his son and running with his daughter. Jeff has run several marathons and he and Suzanne have passed on a love for the outdoors and national parks by planning most family vacations around outdoor adventures.
Karyn Peabody, a parent of two Jeffco students and Jeffco resident since 2001, has always been an advocate for children and public education. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior and a minor in Education and then went on to combine these two passions by pursuing an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology at the University of Colorado, Denver. Karyn started her career as a School Psychologist in Jeffco. Since then she has continued her passion for advocating for the unique and diverse learning needs of all students at the individual, school, district, and state levels. At her children’s school Karyn currently serves as the PTA Advocacy Liaison, the parent rep on the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports team (PBIS), the parent rep on the school’s Health and Wellness team, and writes a number of articles for the school’s monthly newsletter. She also is a member on the board of the Golden Schools Foundation and is a graduate of the Colorado Children’s Campaign’s first Parent Academy. Karyn believes that every child deserves access to an education that is free, safe, supportive, inspiring, and empowering. In her freer time, she can be found on her bike, her horse, her skis, or her own two feet exploring and enjoying all that is Colorado.
Katie Winner has been a productive nuisance in public education and community advocacy ever since arriving in Jeffco from New York in 2014. With a Masters degree in higher education, an MBA, and a professional certificate in college counseling from UCLA, Katie began her service for Jeffco schools by volunteering with her local school accountability committee. She was also a member of the Legislative and Advocacy Committees of the Colorado and Jeffco PTA, and served on the Jeffco District Accountability Committee (DAC) where she co-chaired the budget subcommittee. Katie is also a graduate of the first class of Jeffco University, the Colorado Children’s Hospital Advocacy Bootcamp, and she also volunteers for the Jeffco Schools and Outdoor Lab Foundations. Before moving to Colorado and having the privilege to stay at home with her two young sons, Katie worked in public and private colleges and universities throughout the metro-New York City area in student recruitment, retention, first-year and transfer student services and Greek Life. Katie is not an employee of Jeffco Schools or the City of Arvada, but has a deep appreciation of public servants who serve the greater good. When not planning community meetings or pestering elected officials, Katie enjoys spending time with her husband and kids, playing or watching hockey, exploring the open spaces of Colorado, and getting back to the East Coast as often as she can.
Board Member and Writer
Kelly Johnson is a Jeffco Schools parent, married to a Jeffco grad and the daughter of two Jeffco Schools grads. She has volunteered with mill and bond campaigns since 2004, and co-chaired the 2012 Yes on 3A & 3B Campaign. Currently part of the district’s Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC), Kelly has also served on school accountability committees, volunteered with Jeffco PTA and individual school PTAs, and completed both the Citizens Budget Academy and Jeffco University. A member of the Jeffco Schools Foundation Board and Hope House’s Development Committee, Kelly previously served on the boards of Golden Schools Foundation, Judi’s House, Adam’s Camp, Mile High Down Syndrome Association and CultureHaus. Prior to staying home with her sons, Kelly worked in public relations, specializing in retail, restaurants and crisis communications, and as a local television news producer. Kelly graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism.
Editor in Chief
Lisa Cook, Ph.D., is a writer, editor, musicologist and Jeffco resident since 1999 with two children attending Jeffco Schools . A former Chicagoan and reporter for Russell Publications and the Joliet Herald, she wrote about education and other local topics for many years before moving to Colorado in 1996. From 2012 to 2016 she wrote about Jeffco Schools for the online publication, Examiner.com. Lisa currently works as a freelance academic editor and volunteers at both her children’s schools in various capacities, including as chair of a 5K fundraiser, chair of Holiday Shop, PTA newsletter editor, and as the director for the elementary school’s advanced orchestra. When not working, she can be found running (ideally on mountain trails) with Midnight, her miniature poodle. If you run into her at a meeting, she’ll likely be knitting while taking notes. Lisa earned a BA from Valparaiso University, a Masters in Music from Colorado State University, and her Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Mary Parker has been a resident of Jefferson County since 2005. She has two daughters who are Jeffco Schools teachers and four grandchildren who attend Jeffco schools.
Mary is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for neglected and abused children, and she and her husband are small business owners. Previously, Mary was a Systems Engineer for Hewlett-Packard in their business computing division. She has served on several non-profit Boards of Directors and was president of her HOA. In addition, Mary taught parenting classes for 20 years with the Parent Encouragement Program in Kensington, MD.
Mary has run for Colorado State Representative from HD22 in South Jeffco. She closely follows legislation at the state Capitol and frequently testifies on bills having to do with families and children.
Sally Kate Tinch is a mom of two Jeffco Schools students and has lived in Jeffco since 2013. She works part-time as a substitute science teacher in Boulder Valley School District and teaches yoga and meditation. Active in leading educational change at both the local and state level, Sally Kate has served as School Accountability Chair (SAC) chair at West Jefferson Middle School and Conifer High School, was a PTA officer, and served on the Colorado PTA Legislative Team. She currently serves on the Jeffco Health and Wellness initiative, the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC), on the District Accountability Committee (DAC) Executive Team, chairs the DAC Charter Review Committee, and is a 2018 Jeffco University graduate. At the state level, she served on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Standards Spoke Committee and advocates at the capitol for educational issues. Sally Kate earned her BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and previously worked as an IT project manager and consultant. She is passionate about expanding health and wellness through public service, and championing efforts to improve health in marginalized populations for 25 years; creating and working in wellness programs in county jails, drug rehabs, women's shelters, and homeless shelters; and working to advance learning for English Language Learner (ELL) students. She enjoys yoga, hiking and writing, and lives in the mountains with her family and neurotic spaniel.
Thia is Mom to two sons: one a Jeffco graduate and one still enrolled in Jeffco schools. She graduated from a public high school in Colorado and received a BS and MBA from University of Colorado Boulder and Denver, respectively. Thia is an advocate for public education, believing strongly that everyone deserves the opportunity for a high-quality education and a pathway to success in life. Thia enjoys family, yoga, autobiographies, and coffee with friends!
Tina Gurdikian has been a Jeffco resident since 2008, and is the parent of two Jeffco Schools students. She has a BS in Environmental Analysis and Planning with a minor in Biology. Tina works part-time from home as an Environmental Compliance Specialist, and first began advocating for Jeffco Schools in 2012 with the mill/bond campaign, and has continued to work on Jeffco Schools funding campaigns since. She has served in a variety of school, district and community roles, including Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter’s troop; School Accountability Committee (SAC) Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary; PTA Advocacy Liaison; District Calendar Committee; District School Safety Task Force; and is a 2018 graduate of Jeffco University. She is not a teacher, has never been a teacher, and is not cut of the fabric to be a teacher, but she supports and partners with Jeffco educators to ensure a quality education for not only her children, but for all Jeffco students! In her not-so-spare time, she enjoys fostering dogs, scuba diving, backpacking, hiking, biking, and kayaking with her family.
Tori Devine is a high school senior in Jeffco, interning this summer with Jeffco PEN. Interested in a career in journalism, Tori has a passion for writing, seeking the truth, and learning about current events. She is a member of the National Honor Society, National Art Society, and Spanish Honor Society, and is active in her community through a variety of volunteer efforts. Through this internship, Tori hopes to learn more about journalism; improve her research, writing and communication skills; and ultimately determine if she wants to pursue a career in journalism. When not working or studying, Tori enjoys various activities. When she’s at home, Tori likes to create art. Whether it is painting or drawing, Tori likes to experiment with different art styles or themes. She also likes to read - anything from philosophical to fiction books. When Tori is not at home, she likes to hang out with her friends and spend their time outdoors. When going to different places, Tori likes to meet new people and try new things.