Meet the Alliance Staff, Contractors, and the Alliance Executive Committee
Alliance Colorado is administrated by a talented group of individuals, who are dedicated to representing the best interests of Community Centered Boards and provider agencies and the individuals they serve. Our professional and passionate staff and contractors are dedicated to serving all Alliance members year-round and are well-respected and well-known for providing timely and resourceful information on IDD matters. Learn more about Alliance staff below and get in touch!
Each June, the Alliance Board of Directors elects nine members to serve as the Alliance Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is comprised of representatives from four CCBs, four PASAs, and the past Alliance President. The Executive Committee conducts business of the Board and brings relevant recommendations to the Board for discussion and approval.
Josh Rael, JD, MPA
Work: 303.832.1618 Ext. 11
Josh Rael serves as the Executive Director for Alliance, a nonprofit statewide association of Community-Centered Boards (CCBs) and Program-Approved Service Agencies (PASAs) in Colorado. Alliance members serve over 10,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and employ over 3,800 direct support professionals and IDD case managers throughout Colorado. Alliance is well-respected for their efforts in the areas of public policy, state legislation, developmental disability initiatives, best practices and strengthening services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Josh is a Colorado native and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Colorado State University-Pueblo, a Juris Doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management at the University of Colorado-Denver.
In 2020, Josh received the prestigious “40 Under 40” Award from the Denver Business Journal. In 2011, Josh was selected to attend President Obama’s White House Hispanic Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. And in 2007, Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter appointed Josh to the Colorado Creative Industry Board (formerly the Council of the Arts) for two terms.
After law school, Josh worked as a lobbyist for the Capitol Success Group for almost 8 years. Josh also worked for the Colorado Public Defender’s Office, the Colorado Mental Health Institute’s legal access department, the Colorado General Assembly, the Walt Disney Company, Koncilja and Koncilja Law Firm and the Ritter for Governor Campaign. Josh is also a successful national recording artist and was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 in the “Best Pop Album” and “Best Male Pop Performance” categories.
Ellen Jensby, JD
Senior Director of Public Policy and Operations
Work: 303.832.1618 Ext. 13
Ellen Jensby serves as the Senior Director of Public Policy and Operations for Alliance. In this position, Ellen provides leadership and direction in implementing Alliance’s public policy priorities, as well as analysis and monitoring on a broad range of state and federal public policy issues.
Ellen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas. Prior to joining Alliance, Ellen was the Policy Analyst at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities in Silver Spring, MD, the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs). Her areas of focus included education, employment, civil rights, health care and long-term services and supports. During law school, Ellen worked as a law clerk at the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, the Protection and Advocacy Agency for the state. There, she assisted with cases related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.
Ellen is a member of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and a graduate of the National Leadership Institute on Developmental Disabilities. She has a unique background in law and policy that she contributes to the work of Alliance.
Kylie’s job as the Membership Coordinator and Office Manager involves many different responsibilities. She works to connect Alliance members, coordinates small meetings and large events, and manages Alliance’s office.
Kylie has been with Alliance for over ten years. She has over 13 years of volunteer experience working with nonprofit organizations, helping plan events and silent auctions in her free time. She remains eager to help Alliance and its members achieve their shared objectives.
Kylie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing from Colorado State University. Her hobbies include golfing, snowboarding, scuba diving, and spending time with her friends, family and 14 pound tabby cat named Howard.
Membership Coordinator and Office Manager
Work: 303.832.1618 Ext. 12
Public Policy and Communications Specialist
Work: 303.832.1618 Ext. 14
Maria Jasso serves as the Public Policy and Communications Specialist for Alliance. Her position provides leadership, analysis, monitoring, education and follow-up on public policy issues and assists in stakeholder outreach, social media content, administrative support, and management of Alliance committees.
While completing her undergraduate degree in Rehabilitation Psychology at UW-Madison, Maria began working as a direct support professional at a nonprofit that supports adults with I/DD. After moving to mountainous Colorado from frozen tundra Wisconsin, she still continued direct care work with children with physical disabilities and adults with I/DD, and also held administrative and research positions. She earned another undergraduate degree, a B.A. in Public Health from CU-Denver, in hopes of supporting the I/DD community at the macro-level.
In her free time, Maria and her husband, Geoff, enjoy all things Colorado has to offer, playing with their dog, Andy, traveling, playing soccer, and watching mockumentaries.
Alliance Expert Consultants
Lobbying and Government Relations Consultant
EMMA HUDSON, MPH MPA, is the Owner and Principal of Emma Hudson Consulting LLC, a bipartisan communications and public affairs firm. Emma has nearly a decade of experience lobbying at the state level. Emma’s background spans work on behalf of nonprofit and government entities as an advocate and a government relations strategist with specialization in health care and social justice policy arenas.
Prior to opening her business, Emma served as Alliance's Director of Government and Community Relations. Emma provides unique insight into the policy-making process for Alliance members. She serves as a voice for members to express critical IDD issues to legislators and as a translator for members to learn about important legislative developments.
After earning a two masters degrees in public health and policy policy, Emma went on to hold roles at the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the Wisconsin Population Health Institute. In these positions, Emma worked on a variety of state and federal policies with an emphasis on women's health policy and low-income health insurance policy. Emma worked on legislation ranging from sex education in schools to the nuances of the Affordable Care Act and employer-sponsored health insurance. Emma also has an extensive background working on state budget analysis and advocacy in Wisconsin and Colorado, where she fought to mitigate the negative impact of budget cuts on low-income women and girls and increase investments in disability services.
Health Management Associates (HMA) is a leading independent national research and consulting firm in the healthcare industry. Founded in 1985, today we are more than 200 consultants strong and still growing. We help clients stay ahead of the curve in publicly funded healthcare by providing technical assistance, resources, decision support and expertise.
HMA's expertise spans the healthcare industry and stretches across the nation. No one knows publicly funded healthcare like we do. Our team members have spent years as senior officials in Medicaid and Medicare, top-level advisors, C-level executives at hospitals, health systems and health plans and senior-level physicians.
National IDD Policy Consultant
Health Management Associates
Alliance Executive Committee & Officers
Alliance Board President & Executive Director/CEO of Developmental Pathways (CCB)
Matt brings more than 20 years of executive leadership and management experience to Developmental Pathways. Matt joined Developmental Pathways, a nonprofit serving more than 8,500 people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities annually, in 2011, and has the honor of serving as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. He is currently serving as the 2020-21 Alliance Board President and participates on the Executive Committee. Matt has served several state and local capacities to advance services for people with I/DD in Colorado, most recently as a Governor-appointed member and President of the Colorado State Board of Health from 2018-2019, and as a senate-appointed member of the Healthcare Policy and Financing’s Medicaid Provider Rates and Review Advisory Committee. Matt also serves as the President of the Colorado Coalition of Developmental Disabilities and is an active participant in the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR).
Matt is a former chairperson for the El Paso County Human Services Advisory Committee, and former Board member for the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Previously, he worked as the Director for Children, Youth, and Families for Jefferson County Human Services after transitioning from a career in the restaurant industry where he was Vice President of Operations for Hard Rock Café and Vice President of Operations for Olive Garden. He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management from Western Governors’ University. Matt lives in Colorado Springs with his amazing wife and two beautiful children.
Jodi Walters started at PPCH in May of 2015, and was appointed as the Executive Director January 1, 2017. Jodi has been working with children and adults with developmental disabilities since 1993. She began her career in 1993 with teaching blind and disabled school children in Taiwan. She worked with Imagine! for nearly 20 years before joining PPCH. Her last 7 years with Imagine! she was the Director of that Board’s residential program and child placement agency. Jodi has served on several commissions and boards including the executive board of Fostering Colorado, the President of the Board of the former local Part C entity for Boulder and Broomfield counties, and the Human Services Advisory Council for the City and County of Broomfield. Jodi met and fell in love with her husband early in her career working at a group home for medically fragile individuals. In her free time Jodi enjoys hiking with her family and spending time at the pool watching her kids compete.
Cindy Opheim is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cottonwood Community Alternatives, Inc. Cottonwood was established in 1991. Cindy started with the organization in 1992 and was appointed CEO in 1997. Cottonwood is a private, non-profit agency established to provide a broad spectrum of supports and services to individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Cindy is a Colorado native and has lived in many areas of the state, but lied in the Parker area for the longest stretch of her life. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and has been working with children and adults with developmental disabilities since 1987. Cindy has been an advocate for empowering individuals with choice, independence, and quality of life. Throughout her career she has served on many county, state, and legislative workgroups. Cindy currently resides in Elbert county with her husband and teenage daughter. She and her family frequently enjoys camping, fishing, boating, and traveling.
Tara Kiene started at Community Connections in 2001, shortly after moving to Durango to live in her great-grandmother’s home. She served in the case management department and as the Director of Case Management before becoming the President/CEO in 2016. In the meantime, she got evicted from her home (or her parents retired into the ancestral home, depending on your perspective), joined a belly dance troupe, learned to play the ukulele (sort of) and became a leadership training addict. She has a background in early childhood education and a Master of Theological Studies because…why not? Her goals in life are to publish a truly awful novel that no one reads during her lifetime but become a posthumous cult classic and to create a world where people with disabilities fully belong, contribute and thrive.
Celeste Ewert is the Executive Director for Envision, the Community Centered Board serving Weld County. She has been with Envision since 1992 in a variety of roles and has been the Executive Director since 2017. Celeste has an Associate of Arts Degree in Paraprofessional Counseling from Aims Community College, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Community Health and Human Rehabilitation from University of Northern Colorado (Go Bears!). She is a graduate of the University of Delaware Leadership Institute, as well as the Weld County Leadership class of 2013. Celeste has been an active member of Alliance participating with many committees including Government Relations, Annual Summit Committee, Family Support Services Program Workgroup, Person-Centered Thinking Committee, and Executive Committee. On a personal note, she was born and raised in Weld County. She is married to Jonathan and they have a daughter and three sons all in their early twenties. When she’s not working, Celeste enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, volunteering/serving and participating in church activities.
Debbie Spencer earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah and achieved a Masters in Social Work from Arizona State University. Her career has been dedicated to serving in the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities fields, with a background in youth-focused programs and eating disorder treatment. For the past 16 years, Debbie championed the development of existing Overture programs and the expansion of services in order to ensure the people Overture serve have choice. Overture has been a member of Alliance for many years. Debbie has been an active member of the Executive Committee off and on for approximately 11 years and working on the system issues facing IDD community through multiple Alliance Committees. Currently, Debbie works daily to strategically evolve and grow the Overture brand, mission, and services, with an eye to the possibilities of an even brighter future for the people they serve.
CEO of Laradon Doug McNeill joined the organization in 2015 with his extensive experience in executive leadership and healthcare. Founded in 1948 by the parents of two developmentally disabled sons, Laradon was the very first charitable organization in the Rocky Mountain region to offer support, education, and training to children with developmental disabilities. It is now the largest and most diverse service provider of its kind in Colorado, serving nearly 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities each year.
Randy Brodersen started at NMCS in July of 1995 as the Assistant Executive Director. Appointed as the Executive Director in March of 2013. Bachelor’s Degree from Hastings College, Hastings, Nebraska, 1982 and Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Colorado School of Law, 1985. Prior to working at North Metro Randy spent 10 years with Adams County, Colorado including three years as the County Administrator. A resident of Brighton Colorado Randy is an avid bicyclist and also enjoys canoeing. Randy is married to Shari (Swinton) Brodersen who retired after nearly 30 years in the IDD field.
Cheryl Wicks grew up in Kentucky and graduated from Georgetown College with a Bachelors in Psychology in 2002. Cheryl began working in the I/DD field in 2001. After two years of working for an agency in Kentucky, Cheryl followed her heart (and future husband) to Colorado. Once in Colorado, Cheryl started working with Mosaic as a direct support professional in 2003. She quickly advanced into various roles within the local agency and in 2013, moved to Colorado Springs to become the Executive Director. Cheryl is active within Alliance serving as Secretary (2017-2018), President for 2 terms (2018-2019 & 2019-2020) and involved in government relations priorities. Cheryl stays active by reading, traveling, hiking, biking and raising her three children alongside her husband, Mike.