Denver Urban Scholars has a team of experienced, highly dedicated staff working with our students and their families, mentors, teachers, and benefactors to ensure that students reach their full potential as both a student and a member of the community.

  • Patrick Byrne, MSW, MNM, PhD

    Executive Director

    Patrick is an advocate for at-risk youth, with a focus on improving secondary and post-secondary educational opportunities for disadvantaged students to optimize their career potential. He founded the Byrne Foundation (now Denver Urban Scholars) in 1995, developing the mentoring, volunteer, and tutoring programs as well as directing staff and recruiting volunteers. Under his leadership, annual funding for Denver Urban Scholars has grown from $80,000 to over $950,000. Patrick obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from Gonzaga University, and received a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management from Regis University. He completed his Masters in Social Work at the University of Denver in 2006 and in 2012 earned his PhD in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Denver and Regis University.

  • Barbara Decker, MSW

    Capstone Program Lead

    Barbara has spent much of her professional career working with students with disabilities at both the university and high school levels. She directed a comprehensive support program for students with learning disabilities and ADHD at a Denver high school. Previously she worked at the University of Denver’s Learning Effectiveness Program and taught at the Women’s College at DU. Barbara is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver. Barbara earned both her BA in Sociology and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver.

  • Christina Stimson, MNM

    Accountant/Human Resources Manager

    With more than ten years of experience in the nonprofit industry, Christina has worked teaching children in both NGO and nonprofit settings. She has also supported Fair Trade by working with artisans in the third world and marketing their hand-crafted products in the US. With a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management, Christina has a true passion for the industry.

    Christina has more than five years of Accounting and HR experience. She has worked for many local nonprofits including radio, foundations, colleges, and international nonprofits. She is also an experienced for-profit Accountant. Happy to be at home in the nonprofit industry, Christina appreciates and supports the mission of Denver Urban Scholars. When she is not working, you can find Christina traveling with her husband, hiking with her dogs, or enjoying a fantastic afternoon with her daughter.

  • Miranda Graul, BS

    Development Director

    As the Development Director for Denver Urban Scholars, Miranda helps create and build diverse funding streams to support youth empowerment in the Denver area. Miranda received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Management from the University of Colorado and has dedicated her professional career to supporting the work of mission driven organizations. With nearly 15 years in the non-profit sector, Miranda has a variety of experience, having worked for The “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County, March of Dimes, and Butterfly Pavilion. She has a variety of fundraising skills including event fundraising, grant writing, working with major donors, corporate partnerships, and individual giving. When not at work Miranda loves spending time outdoors rafting, camping, skiing, and rock climbing. Miranda also has a passion for good food, loves spending time with family and friends, and feels that these two combine well. You can often find Miranda cooking up fun new recipes for family, or visiting restaurants with friends.

  • Sally Vizas, MSW

    Milestones Program Co-Lead

    A former intern, Sally recently returned to Denver Urban Scholars as a full time Case Manager with the Milestones program. During her internship at DUS Sally worked with middle school students in the Stepping Stones program. She has spent the last two years working at Colorado Youth at Risk, a mentoring organization in Denver, where she worked with students at Manual, East, and George Washington High Schools. Sally received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver in 2012. Prior to returning to school she spent 5 years working in development and fundraising for Denver area nonprofits. Sally is a transplant from California but has finally grown accustomed to calling Colorado home after 13 years living in the Denver metro area. In her spare time she enjoys cooking (but mostly eating), watching football, and traveling.

  • Susan Duncombe, MSW, LCSW

    Program Director

    Susan has over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, with a range of experience working with youth and families. Susan moved to Denver in 1999 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA in northeast Denver, where she started a school readiness program for Spanish-speaking toddlers and their parents. She left Denver in 2002 to travel throughout Mexico and Central America, then moved to New Mexico to work in a women’s shelter before returning to Denver in 2005. She earned her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver in 2007 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from DePauw University. After working in day treatment and residential treatment as a family therapist, she worked as Youth Development Coordinator with DUS (then Byrne Urban Scholars) from 2008 – 2011, supporting a caseload of students/mentors and managing the mentor recruitment program. She then transitioned to Office Manager from 2011-2012. After serving as Resident Services Director with an affordable housing organization, she returned to the organization in January 2014 as Program Director and is excited to again be part of a dedicated community – youth, families, mentors, staff, board members, and community partners – all working towards impacting the graduation rate and therefore overall life success of youth in Denver. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, walking around Sloan’s Lake, and just spending quality time with her husband, friends and family, and puppy.

  • Tessa Tuetken, MSW

    Milestones Program Co-Lead

    Tessa graduated from the University of Iowa with a BSW and the University of St. Thomas with an MSW.  She started working with children with developmental disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder after moving to Hawaii in 2007 and continued that work when moving to Minneapolis, MN to pursue a graduate degree.  After finishing her grad work she took the opportunity to teach English in Santiago, Chile for a year.  Currently, she is completing a yoga teacher training and plans on teaching yoga classes in her free time.

  • Kathryn Miller, MSW, LCSW

    Stepping Stones Program Lead

    Kathryn has 9 years of experience working in community and social service organizations. She earned her BA in sociology from the College of the Holy Cross in 2005 and her MSW from the University of Southern California in 2008.  In 2013, she became licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in Colorado. Throughout her diverse clinical and organizing experiences, Kathryn has worked as a program manager for Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, served as a clinical case manager in homelessness prevention and domestic violence programs, and organized in both union and political settings. Kathryn is passionate about social justice and empowering children and families in the Denver community. When she’s not working, Kathryn loves to run, bake, garden, and spend time with family, friends, and her Jack Russell Terrier, Peanut.

  • Kerry Entwisle, MSW

    Milestones Case Manager

    Kerry was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She completed her BA in Sociology and a minor in Spanish from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  She was an intern with Denver Urban Scholars while completing her MSW and Social Work with Latinos/as Certificate from the University of Denver, and is now a full time Milestones Case Manager. Kerry has more than 6 years of experience working with children and youth in a variety of capacities including substance abuse, residential treatment, advocacy, mentoring, and program development. She is very dedicated to working with youth, and is excited to incorporate her newly discovered passion for education.

  • Jennie Streit, MSW, LSW

    Stepping Stones Case Manager

    Jennie started her career working with children, youth, and families at the University of Northern Iowa in 2009.  After graduating with a BSW, she began working for a community action agency where much of her work focused on serving families with young children and prenatal women. Jennie moved to Colorado in 2011 to pursue her degree from the University of Denver.  She graduated with her MSW and a certificate in Interpersonal Trauma Studies in 2012.  Jennie has worked in a variety of settings, including child abuse prevention, early child care centers, and community mental health. In her free time, Jennie explores the mountains, finds ways to be creative, and spends time with her friends and family.

  • Candace Pruett

    Admin Support

    Candy brings more than 20 years of non-profit experience to her work with Denver Urban Scholars. Having recently retired from her first career in adoption, Candy is enjoying working part-time as admin support to Denver Urban Scholars case managers. Candy is mom to nine children, eight of whom were adopted internationally. She is an active volunteer with Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, another local non-profit organization. Her passions are books, kids, and world travel – she just cannot get enough of any of them!

  • Kelly Scott, MSW

    Marketing and Events Manager

    Kelly brings over seven years’ experience in Denver’s nonprofit sector. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2008 with a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science and from the University of Denver in 2011 with a M.S.W. Her experience includes residential treatment at Mount Saint Vincent Home for Children, clinical case management and group facilitation at SafeHouse Denver, and program development and evaluation for American Humane Society. She has worked in several different capacities for Denver Urban Scholars, including as Community Outreach Manager, Development Coordinator, and Marketing and Events Manager. She is passionate about education, social justice and the Denver community. In her free-time she enjoys hiking, gardening, and spending time with her family.

  • Esmeralda Rodriguez

    Milestones Case Manager

    Esmeralda was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She started her career working with youth and families at Colorado State University. After graduating with a BSW, she began working for a non-profit organization where much of her work focused on serving youth and families who were involved in the juvenile justice system in Colorado. Esmeralda has worked in a variety of settings, including student affairs and higher education, teaching English as a Second Language abroad, advocacy, and program development. She is now a full time bilingual Milestones Case Manager and is dedicated in working with youth and families to achieve post-secondary goals. In her free time, Esmeralda is exploring new opportunities to grow both personally and professionally, spending time with her family and friends, and traveling.

  • Madeline Mitchell

    Interim Stepping Stones Lead and Case Manager

    Maddy is a native New Englander and Boston sports fan (with all that implies). She spent her junior year of high school living in Spain where she cultivated a passion for the Spanish language and travel. After graduating with a BA in International Development and Social change from Clark University in Worcester, MA, Maddy worked in various education, childcare and nonprofit settings in New Orleans and Massachusetts. She moved to Colorado in 2013 to pursue her MSW at the University of Denver. She completed her degree this June with a Social Work with Latinos Certificate. In her free time Maddy likes to find the best food in Denver, dominate in board games, be outdoors, and spend time with her friends, family, and her wolf dog, Bo.

  • Hayleigh Dicianna


    Hayleigh is a second year student in The University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work program. She is extremely passionate about education and working with youth. Her experience with youth ranges from tutoring to swim lessons and many settings in between. San Antonio, Texas, is her home, but she thoroughly enjoys exploring the mountains in Colorado. In her free time, she enjoys running half marathons, golfing, and yoga.

  • Marissa Fox


    Marissa is an Advanced Standing student in Denver University’s Graduate School of Social Work program. Her passion is working with at-risk youth, which she has done for the past eight years. She has worked in multiple schools, nonprofits including The Boys and Girls Club, and daycare settings. Although she’s lived in Denver for the past couple years, she calls Nashville, TN, home. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with friends and family, crafting for her Etsy store, and watching Netflix.

  • Antonia Garza


    Antonia Garza has a passion for working with the youth in her community and supporting them to reach their fullest potential. Antonia received her BS in Criminal justice and Human Services at Metropolitan State University and is now enrolled in the Masters of Social Work program there. Antonia worked with adolescent girls at Excelsior Youth Center. Antonia is excited to be working with the students in Denver Urban Scholars. In her free time Antonia loves to spend time with her daughter Nayeli and go to places such as the zoo, children’s museums, and the movies.

  • Jessica Holt


    My name is Jessie Holt and I am from Idaho Falls, Idaho. I received my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in Human Development. When I first went to college I was planning to study Speech Pathology but eventually learned that I didn’t want to work on the mechanics of speech, I was more interested in what the person wanted to communicate! Around the time that I made this decision I took a volunteer opportunity through my church organization and spent a year and a half in Hungary teaching about God, families, and service. When I got back to the U.S. I decided to change my major to Human Development, found a job at a juvenile detention center, and loved working with the youth there. I also had the opportunity to intern with the Division of Child and Family Services and mentor foster kids with Alpine School District. In 2014, I moved to Colorado and married my wonderful husband. Being new here left me with a lot of time to explore and volunteer in the community. One of these volunteer opportunities was at Central Visitation Program, which led to a job opportunity as a site coordinator at our Denver location. Recently, I started my MSW at Metropolitan State University in Denver which led me to an internship at Denver Urban Scholars! I’ve been loving my experience here, the hilarious staff, and working with such a passionate and committed nonprofit organization. I am so lucky to be here!

  • Tiernen McConaughy


    Tiernen graduated with a BA in Communication from the University of Colorado in 2009 and is currently working towards her MSW at Metropolitan State University. For the past five years she has been working for the University of Colorado. Tiernen volunteered for the CU Restorative Justice Program for several years as a group facilitator. Her passion is working with students. Although originally from Iowa, Tiernen enjoys all things Colorado including hiking, skiing, camping, and running.

  • Rebecca Rothkopf


    Hello! My name is Rebecca Rothkopf. I’m currently a graduate student at the University of Denver, and am very excited to be starting an internship with Denver Urban Scholars this fall! I have spent the past few years running arts programs at the Boys & Girls Club, tutoring at the high school level, and supervising student staff members in the Campus Activities office at Adams State University. In my free time I like to hike, take photographs, and explore new places. I can’t wait to be a part of the Capstone Program at Denver Urban Scholars, and am looking forward to meeting new students and seeing this program grow over the coming school year.