Sue Renner, Merage Foundations Executive Director
Sue oversees the grant making and operations for the Merage Foundation, and is spearheading the development of the Foundation’s Early Learning Ventures initiative to increase the stability and productivity of Colorado’s ECE sector through market-based interventions. Prior to joining the Merage Foundation in 2006, Sue was the Executive Director of Early Childhood Connections, a nonprofit corporation providing early intervention supports and services to over 1,000 infants and toddlers and their families each year in the Denver-metro region. Sue also worked as a Senior Program Manager with the Colorado Office of Resource and Referral Agencies where she was responsible for launching Colorado’s T.E.A.C.H. program, a public-private venture to provide early care and education professionals with college scholarships.Sue’s experience includes volunteer leadership roles with several community development, family support and early care and education organizations. In her tenure as President of the Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council she established several new initiatives including the Developmental Surveillance Project, a successful venture to engage pediatricians and parents in the early identification of developmental delays. Ms. Renner received her BS in Human Development from California Polytechnic University, and her MS in Child and Family Development from Colorado State University.
Judy Williams, ELV Executive Director
Judy manages and leads the overall operations of the Early Learning Ventures Alliance Model in Colorado, as well as oversees the business development, growth expansion and replication of the ELV shared services model throughout the United States. Prior to joining ELV, she owned and operated successful private drop-in child care centers in the Denver metro area, providing high-quality early care and education to thousands of children and families. Judy is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and has a Master’s in Business Administration from Webster University. Judy also served as an Officer in the United States Army and has worked as a nursing instructor, staff supervisor, and consultant in a variety of settings in the health and early education industry.
Tim Garcia, Early Head Start Director
Tim leads ELV’s work related to its annual $2.9 million Early Head Start – Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership Grant. Tim joined ELV in March 2015 as Quality Improvement Coordinator where he oversaw a team working directly with licensed child care centers and family child care home programs, ensuring continuous improvement for the staff and steady progress on outcomes for the children, and has since been promoted to lead the entire division. Tim has 14 years of experience in the early childhood education sector, with more than 5 years of experience working directly for Head Start/Early Head Start Grantees in a leadership role. He has also served as program director at Qualistar Colorado, providing oversight of statewide quality assessments. Tim graduated from the University of New Mexico College of Education with a Master of Arts in Language, Literacy, and Socio-Cultural Studies and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.
Mandy Potts, Grants,Finance and Operations Director
Mandy manages the finance and operations of Early Learning Ventures as well as grant compliance. Prior to ELV, Mandy worked as the Assistant Budget Director at Colorado Community College System where she provided financial support to Colorado’s largest system of higher education which included a total of 13 colleges. Previously, she was the Finance Manager at Denver Public Schools, Colorado’s largest public school district where she managed the development and operations of annual general fund budgets as well as multi-year grant budgets for federal, state, local and private grants. Mandy has additional experience in Financial Services as a Credit Manager for commercial and manufacture lending as well as a Financial Analyst for mortgage backed security investing. Mandy earned her Bachelor of Science in Economics and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Wyoming. Mandy has a passion for leadership training, employee coaching, and supporting quality child care for families.
Mia Pritts, Implementation Director
Mia has worked with Early Learning Ventures since December 2009. In her current position, Mia works with ELV Alliances throughout the state of Colorado to implement the ELV Alliance model through sharing best practices and a standardized approach for recruitment, onboarding, training, and consultation. Mia also works closely with the ECE community, and government agencies to develop best practices, improve efficiencies, and build relationships. Mia was previously the Program Manager for Early Childhood Education Business Services at the Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council where she launched their ELV Alliance.. Mia has additional experience in the child care sector as a preschool teacher, center director, multi-site director, and consultant. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Family Community Services from Michigan State University, as well as a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver. She is also a Certified Program Administration Scale (PAS) Assessor.
Katie Lunde, Operations Specialist
Katie provides support in all grant making and operations for the Merage Foundations, in addition to oversight of programs. With a focus on fund development, she also supports the foundation’s nonprofit entities, Early Learning Ventures (ELV), Equitas, and Black Cube. Katie has more than 9 years in nonprofit and organizational development experience. Prior to joining the Merage Foundations, she completed year-long graduate practicums at both YouthRoots and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Before residing in Denver, Katie served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in Swaziland, Africa as a Youth Development Facilitator. Katie received her BA/BS in Psychology/Criminal Justice from Northern Arizona University and her MS in Social Work with a focus on Organizational Leadership from the University of Denver.
Sam Sinkhorn, Communications Specialist
Sam oversees all marketing, communications, press relations, website, and social media management for Merage Foundations to elevate the organization and its partners. She also provides marketing, public relations, and social media support for the foundation’s non-profit entities, Early Learning Ventures (ELV), Equitas, and Black Cube. Sam has nearly a decade’s worth of non-profit marketing and communications experience, ranging from writing, editing, and content management to social media development, management, and analysis. Prior to joining the Merage Foundations, Sam served as the Marketing and Communications Director for Sacred Heart Schools in Chicago, where she oversaw the school’s rebranding efforts, website redesign, and assisted with a multi-million-dollar fundraising campaign. Sam holds a BA degree in Writing from Millikin University and MA in Journalism from Ball State University.
In addition to the five associates who work directly for the Early Learning Ventures, Consolidated Investment Group, an investment company founded by David Merage, offers an extensive in-kind support network. Consolidated provides a vast range of professional services to the Foundation team including accounting, human resources, legal and marketing, among others. This partnership allows the Foundation’s operating expenses to be kept at a minimum; therefore concentrating Foundation resources on program development and activities.