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Our Staff

  • Lydia Ruter - Interim Executive Director Click to expand

    Lydia Ruter

    I joined mpowered in February 2013 as the Lead Personal Finance Coach in the new Living Cities Financial Empowerment Centers program.  My background is in social work and I am passionate about working in partnership with low-income families to meet their goals and achieve greater stability.  Previously, I worked at Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver in their family services department.  I worked with families to support them in reaching their goal of homeownership through Habitat, including improving their finances and paying down debt.   It sparked my interest in working primarily with families on financial education and financial goals. I am thrilled to be a part of this innovative partnership between community nonprofits, the city of Denver, and mpowered.

  • Katy Rogers - Human Resources Director Click to expand

    Katy Rogers

    I joined mpowered in 2009 as Program Director and later moved into the role of Human Resources Director. Prior to joining mpowered, I worked in the domestic and international microfinance industry for six years. My work with small business clients taught me the importance of unbiased financial coaching based on individual personal situations and goals. At mpowered we provide this trusted guidance to hundreds of individuals and families every month. I hold a BA in Business/Economics from Wheaton College in Illinois and an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver; I am also certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Outside of mpowered I am honored to serve on the regional advisory board of HOPE International, a Christian faith-based, nonprofit organization focused on alleviating physical and spiritual poverty through microenterprise development. I’m originally from Minnesota and I currently live in Evergreen, Colorado with my husband and children. 

     

  • Brian Palmeri, AFC® - Financial Education Program Manager Click to expand

    Brian Palmeri, AFC®

    I have served on the mpowered team since August, 2013 – initially as a Personal Finance Coach and since July, 2017 in my current capacity.  I came to mpowered after having worked in a number of professional capacities: as a volunteer manager; as a financial services representative (Prudential); at a shelter where people experiencing homelessness access services (St. Francis Center); at a transitional housing and early childhood center program (Warren Village); and with an education-focused youth development AmeriCorps program (City Year).  These experiences, as well as my personal service experience as a Youth Development Volunteer in the Peace Corps (St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean) and as an Urban Servant Corps volunteer (Denver), have provided me with a foundation for understanding how life-giving service can be.  Outside of my professional life, I enjoy cycling, hiking, cooking and ice hockey.  I am grateful to be a part of the mpowered staff as we work towards a promising future with our participants.

  • Melissa Duncan, AFC® - Debt Management Program Manager Click to expand

    Melissa Duncan, AFC®

    I joined mpowered in 2008 with a Master’s Degree in Counseling. As a personal finance coach, I provide an enriched and supportive environment for our clients as they move through their financial journey while facilitating them to become advocates for themselves. I work directly with the Debt Management Program client base as well as helping to support our Bankruptcy and Credit Wellness Programs. Outside of mpowered, I love to play sports, read, and most of all spend quality time with my husband, young daughter and our families.

  • Mariette Candelon - Bilingual Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Mariette Candelon

    I joined mpowered as a Personal Finance Coach in March 2017. I feel so fortunate to be able to be part of the organization’s mission, and help individuals and families on the path towards financial self-sufficiency. I look forward to providing them with knowledge and resources available so that they can write their own financial story. Besides living and working in France, I have had the chance to be an educator for 7 years in Vietnam. I have continued in the education field in the US with Denver Public Schools, before transitioning into the finance industry with Fidelity Investments. These combined experiences naturally led me to this current role, but being surrounded by team members who are so passionate about making a positive impact in the community and in people’s lives adds even more to my daily motivation. 

     

     

  • Carli Cisna, AFC® - Bilingual Personal Finance Coach, Team Lead Click to expand

    Carli Cisna, AFC®

    As one of the newest members of mpowered, I am so thankful to be a part of an organization that is at the forefront of personal finance education and coaching industries. I am originally from Thousand Oaks, CA but grew up in Boulder, CO. Since graduating from Seattle Pacific University in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies - Spanish, I've been inspired to use Spanish in any and all parts of my life. When I'm not at mpowered, I can be seen going to concerts, frequenting the mountains, traveling abroad, and spending time with friends and family. I look forward to growing and learning in this role, as well as empowering individuals and families to think, act, and feel differently about their money.

  • Anaïs González Castellano, AFC® - Bilingual Personal Finance Coach, Data Specialist Click to expand

    Anaïs González Castellano, AFC®

    I joined mpowered as a Personal Finance Coach because I believe in everyone's right to achieve financial self-sufficiency. I'm happy to be part of an organization that shares my values and strives to make a difference by providing tools and support that are accessible to all people.

    My professional background is in nonprofits, adult education, and cross-cultural communication. Before joining mpowered, I worked as manager of the adult education and immigration programs at Chinese Mutual Aid Association, a human services agency in Chicago. Prior to becoming a manager, I taught English as a Second Language to adults of various cultural and educational backgrounds, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. My experience helps me build a strong rapport with people of all walks of life, and identify what best fits their needs.

  • Rachel Levy-Culler, AFC® - Bilingual Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Rachel Levy-Culler, AFC®

    I joined mpowered as a Bilingual Personal Finance Coach in September 2017. As I pursued my Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it became clear that my passion and niche within social work was asset building and financial stability for individuals and families with low incomes. Fortunately, I was able to work as a financial coach in South Florida after receiving my MSW. I look forward to becoming a better, stronger coach. I have a Bachelor of Arts from Appalachian State University. After receiving my this degree, I served as a Small Business Development Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Peru, where I became fluent in Spanish. I have also worked at a Women, Infants, and Children clinic; as a migrant farmworker health outreach worker; and as a coordinator of a small business boot camp program. When I’m not at mpowered, I am working side jobs to pay of my student loan debt faster, running, hiking, and exploring Colorado.

  • Edith Reed, AFC® - Personal Finance Coach, Team Lead Click to expand

    Edith Reed, AFC®

    I joined mpowered as a Certified Financial Counselor (AFC®) in 2013. I’m passionate about helping individuals realize their strengths, self-worth and build confidence to reach their personal and financial goals. I enjoy working with diverse populations and I believe in meeting people where they are, providing a safe, nonjudgmental space where individuals can explore their values & identify their own definition of financial success. I enjoy inspiring them to push beyond barriers, limitations and even mindsets to enjoy their own sense of financial wellbeing at each stage of their journey. I’m also excited to be serving in the community alongside other organizations through integrated partnerships helping individuals and families to become self-sufficient. When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with family & friends, hiking, exploring Colorado, listening to music and reading.

     

  • Kate Sanks - Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Kate Sanks

    I am delighted to be part of mpowered’s dedicated team, where I offer my passion to make a positive difference in people’s lives and where I have the opportunity to encourage financial self-sufficiency.  I believe that the values mpowered has facilitates a highly effective, sincere and heart-centered service for our clients, in which I’m quite in alignment with.

     

  • Yannek Smith - Bilingual Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Yannek Smith

    I joined mpowered as a Personal Finance Coach in March 2017. It is an honor to be a part of an organization that has demonstrated excellence in the field of financial education.  My background is in education and the non-profit sector and includes experience in the areas of microfinance, Human Rights, and English and French language teaching. I have lived, worked and studied in South America—mainly in Chile—for nearly four years. In 2014, I completed a dual Master Degree in Public Administration and International Relations. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, cycling, and running as well as just about every sport under the sun. I am an avid fan of all types of music, both as a listener and player. I am thrilled to be in a position to assist a diverse client base in defining and accomplishing their financial goals.

     

  • Oscar Torres - FEC Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Oscar Torres

    Being part of a positive environment that puts people at the helm of their financial lives is tremendously rewarding. That's why I joined the mpowered team during the summer of 2015 as a bilingual receptionist. Having that first contact with clients and knowing they're one step closer to achieving their goals is a powerful feeling. With a background in customer service, communications and a passion for languages, I feel right at home. As a recent Denver transplant, most of my free time is spent walking around the various city parks or visiting all the incredible sites this place has to offer. I equally enjoy reading about political economy, learning new languages, and personal finances.

  • Athena Vigil - Bilingual Office Coordinator Click to expand

    Athena Vigil

    I came to mpowered in October 2017. I am excited to be part of a team who is passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals. I am a driven individual who enjoys helping others and excited to be part of mpowered! A team who is eager to help the community.  “Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours!” (Les Brown)  I come with my knowledge from CSU-Pueblo, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and from Pueblo Community College Associate of Applied Science in Computer Systems.  I am fluent in Spanish being raised by my mother, who is originally from Casas Grandes, MX and my Father, who is a retired Military Veteran. My hobbies include working on my health goals, listening to positive and inspiring pod casts.  My spare time I spend time with my family, learning new languages and cultures. I like to spend additional time learning about endangered species and look for opportunities, I can help. I enjoy learning about new technology geared towards renewable energy! 

  • Enrique Aviles - Bilingual Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Enrique Aviles

    As a new transplant from Southern Arizona and, as a new member of the mpowered team, it is a great honor to join an organization that has accomplished so much to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities in the greater Denver area and I look forward to being part of that process in my role as a Bilingual Financial Coach.

     

    Working in the field of human services for the greater part of my professional career, I have had the privilege of engaging with children, youth, families, and communities in varying capacities including program coordination, program management, prevention, education, community development as well as a facilitator, instructor, and trainer and have had the opportunity to work with some great organizations such as United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, The Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center, Tucson Unified School District, and American Red Cross.

     

    Having attended the University of Arizona and having been raised in Southern Arizona where an eclectic blend of heritage, traditions, and cultures mix to create a rich social tapestry, I have a deep appreciation for diversity in all its forms and I am excited and eager to learn more about the people, places, and culture that make Denver a vibrant, thriving city and to contribute to it as best I can. The Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona has a beauty all its own and I am looking forward to exploring and appreciating the natural beauty that Colorado has to offer.

  • Michael Burnett - Personal Finance Coach Click to expand

    Michael Burnett

    I joined mpowered early this year as a Personal Finance Coach. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work closely with the community on a vulnerable yet, achievable topic. I look forward to exploring what success looks like in each individuals lives. I hope to impact people by shifting their paradigm about money beliefs, and celebrate their successes throughout our journey together. A few fun facts about me are, I am a Colorado native (you don’t find to many of us nowadays), Graduated from Colorado State University - Fort Collins in 2015 with a Communication major, Ethnic Studies minor. I am an ex-collegiate division 1 basketball player, I still play regularly as well as, coaching youth basketball. I have more nieces and nephews than I can count on two hands, and I am very family orientated with no children of my own yet. My nieces and nephews give me and my wife a lot of practice on parenting. I am very optimistic about the future, and ready to create long lasting relationships with my clients and partners organizations. My motto for 2019 is “let’s make it happen captain!”