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


    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 academic support 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 $1.2M. 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 an adjunct professor at the University of Denver and Regis University. Patrick is married with three wonderful daughters and enjoys tennis and reading, and is an avid Denver Broncos fan.

  • Susan Duncombe, MSW, LCSW


    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.

  • Kathryn Miller, MSW, LCSW

    Program Director

    Kathryn Miller has been with Denver Urban Scholars since 2014 and currently serves as Program Director. Within her role, Kathryn supervises staff in the Stepping Stones, Milestones, and Capstones programs, and additionally oversees school partnerships, enrollment, and the internship program. Kathryn earned her BA in Sociology from the College of the Holy Cross and an MSW from the University of Southern California. In 2013, Kathryn became licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in the state of Colorado. Throughout her diverse clinical and organizing experience, Kathryn has gained expertise in working with youth and families in the areas of domestic violence, homelessness, immigration, and school-based social work. Additionally, Kathryn has organized in both union and political settings, and has taught at the university level. Kathryn is passionate about social justice and empowering youth & families in the Denver community. When not on the job, Kathryn enjoys spending time with her family & their dog Peanut, running, sewing, and crafting.

  • Margo Archey

    Director of Corporate and Community Engagement

    Margo recently joined Denver Urban Scholars as the Director of Corporate and Community Engagement. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Puget Sound in 2010, majoring in the Business and Leadership Program. Margo brings over 7 years of experience in business development, relationship building, and recruitment from both the retail and oil and gas industries that she is excited to offer to Denver Urban Scholars. She is proud of her accolades throughout her career, including the Nordstrom Customer Service Book Award and a “Rookie of the Year” award during her time as a recruiter. Having lived in Denver for nearly 5 years, Margo has explored her passion for giving back to her community by volunteering at events and organizations including Children’s Hospital Colorado, Urban Nights, and Father Woody’s. Through these experiences, Margo has developed a deep understanding of the need to further engage the professional community so that Denver’s youth can be offered resources and opportunities to capitalize on their potential. In her free time, you can find Margo rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, or skiing with friends and family. She is passionate about the outdoors and enjoys sharing new experiences with others.

  • Kirsten Joranlien

    Development & Communications Associate

    As the Development & Communications Associate, Kirsten works with the Denver Urban Scholars development team, manages fundraising events, and leads the organization’s communication strategy. Kirsten received her Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies with a focus on international sustainable development, also earning Minors in Spanish and Anthropology and a certificate in Cultures & Communities. During her undergraduate program, she spent a semester in Spain to study language and culture and lived in rural Nicaragua for a summer interning with a small-scale community development foundation. She worked in nonprofit association management for three years, developing skills in administration, development, communications and event planning before moving to Denver in 2015. She worked with an organization specializing in rural infrastructure development, providing communities in remote areas of the world with safe access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. This role gave her a unique lens to see how access to quality education can empower individuals and communities toward greater opportunities and a more prosperous future. She is excited to be working with Denver Urban Scholars, focusing her skills toward a vitally important mission with local community impact. In her spare time, Kirsten enjoys practicing yoga and AcroYoga, cooking healthy meals, adventuring in the outdoors and various types of art and crafting.

  • Meghan Costello

    Office & Accounting Assistant

    Meghan recently joined the Denver Urban Scholars team as the Office Manager and Accounting Assistant. She received her degree in psychology and is currently working on her Masters in Non-Profit Management. After graduating with her B.A., she began working for a nonprofit organization where much of her work was focused on implementing a supplementary women and children’s program which provided baby items for families with newborns before their state benefits became active. Meghan developed skills in administration, program development, budgeting, and analysis. Meghan recently moved to Denver and enjoys being outside as much as possible, traveling, camping, hiking, and of course spending time with her dogs, Sasha and Sampson.

  • Esmeralda Rodriguez, BSW

    Program Manager, Capstones

    Esmeralda (Esme) is a full time bilingual Capstone Program Manager and is dedicated to working with youth and families to achieve post-secondary goals. Esme was born and raised in northeast Denver and graduated from Montbello High School. 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. Esme currently runs our Peer Mentoring program at the Auraria campus and has presented at the annual Colorado Mentoring Summit. In her free time, Esmeralda is exploring new opportunities to grow both personally and professionally, enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking, going to the beach, traveling, and watching the Rockies and Broncos play.

  • Kerry Entwisle, MSW, LCSW

    Program Manager, Milestones

    As a Milestones Program Manager, Kerry works closely with students, mentors, families, and schools to provide support for students as they navigate high school and formulate post-secondary plans. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Kerry attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where she received her BA in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. During the 2013-2014 school year, Kerry interned with Denver Urban Scholars while completing her MSW and Social Work with Latinos/as Certificate at the University of Denver. She then transitioned into her current full-time position. Since 2007, Kerry has worked professionally with children and youth in a variety of capacities, including substance abuse, residential treatment, advocacy, mentoring, case management, and program development. She is passionate about working with and advocating for youth as well as education, and loves that she gets to combine these two things in her work at Denver Urban Scholars. When Kerry is not working, she enjoys cooking, traveling, gardening, skiing, camping, and spending time with her family, friends, and dog.

  • Luz Navarrete, MSW

    Program Manager, Milestones

    Luz has worked with children and youth in various capacities including as a case manager at a residential treatment center, camp counselor for youth with disabilities, respite care provider, and school social worker for Denver Public Schools. Luz is passionate about mentoring and has been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2011. She has also worked in the international education sector, leading experiential and cross-cultural exchange programs for high school students in Spain and Argentina. Luz received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She grew up in Denver and is Mexican-American. In her free time she enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, and is a travel enthusiast. Luz advocates for social justice and believes in students’ social, emotional, and academic success.

  • Rebecca Rothkopf, MSW

    Program Manager, Milestones

    Rebecca has been working with youth and young adults in various educational settings since 2008. Before joining the Milestones team at Denver Urban Scholars, Rebecca advised students at Adams State University, tutored at an alternative high school in Seattle, taught art classes at the Boys & Girls Club, and did a school social work internship with Denver Public Schools. Rebecca also interned for the Capstone program at Denver Urban Scholars while completing her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver. Rebecca was born in Alaska and raised in the Denver metro area. She is thrilled to call Colorado her home. When she’s not working, Rebecca likes to hike (or more accurately, stumble) up 14ers, practice her nature photography skills, draw, bake and travel to new places.

  • Nikte Contreras

    Program Manager, Stepping Stones

    Nikte is a Stepping Stones Program Manager. She has worked with college and high school students from diverse backgrounds throughout her programming career. Nikte was born and raised in North Denver, and received her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in Ethnic Studies in 2013 from the University of Colorado Denver. Nikte dove right into her Masters of Social Science program with an emphasis in Social Justice at her alma mater. In her free time she enjoys traveling, museums, and baseball games.

  • Maddy Mitchell, MSW

    Program Manager, Stepping Stones

    Maddy started with Denver Urban Scholars as a mentor and was excited by the opportunity to get more involved as a full-time staff member in 2015, after graduating with her Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver. She has many years of experience working with youth in a variety of settings, including teaching, being a camp counselor, nannying, running an after-school program, and facilitating anti-bullying workshops for middle and high school students. Maddy holds a Social Work with Latinos Certificate from the University of Denver and is passionate about utilizing her Spanish skills to work with Latino families. Originally from Massachusetts, Maddy is a die-hard Boston sports fan, and is used to defending her teams here in Denver (Go Pats!!). In her spare time, she likes to be outdoors as much as possible, read good books, find the best food in Denver, and hang out with her very handsome husky mix, Bo.

  • Kylee Adolfson, MSW, LCSW Candidate

    Program Manager, Stepping Stones

    Kylee is the most recent addition to the Denver Urban Scholars Stepping Stones team, and is excited to be pursuing her dream of working with youth in the educational setting. Kylee is a graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science in 2014 and her Masters in Social Work in 2016. She grew up in a family where community service and volunteering were a weekend norm, and Kylee’s family and high school mentor greatly influenced her decision to pursue a career in the field of social work. She has a diverse background with nonprofits across the Denver Metro Area including Prax(us), The Tennyson Center for Children, Streets Hope, The Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, and Jefferson County C.A.S.A. During her free time she enjoys yoga, painting, camping, hiking, going to concerts, and spending time with her family.

  • Emma Barcenas

    Program Manager, Milestones

    Emma Barcenas is the most recent addition to Denver Urban Scholars as a Bilingual Program Manager for Milestones. Emma is originally from San Diego, California and attended University of California San Diego majoring in Political Science. Soon after, she was certified as a paralegal. However, during a mission trip to Nicaragua, Emma discovered her passion to work with youth and switched her career path to social work. She moved to Colorado in 2016 and fell in love with the mountains and the people. Here, she began work with Boys Hope Girls Hope as a Residential Counselor with the mission to support at-risk youth to reach their goals in life through education. She enjoys making youth laugh and supporting them through the high school process. Emma’s passion to help youth comes from the help she received as a first-generation college student and as an immigrant. She enjoys boxing and yoga, as well as going on adventures to the mountains!