Juan Pérez Sáez (he/him/él)
Executive DirectorHablo Español Juan has dedicated his personal and professional life to conservation, advocacy, environmental education, and stewardship. While building community and creating opportunities for many others to connect with the outdoors. With more than 15 years of experience in this field, Juan was most recently working for The Wilderness Society (TWS) as the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships. Juan has worked for several nonprofit organizations in Latin America and the United States, as well as the U.S. Federal Government. He was also a Fulbright Scholar between 2012-2014. Before moving to Colorado, Juan was the National Coordinator for the Million Hectares Alliance in Panama. Juan led a multimillion-dollar public-private partnership. He also led the first ever National Reforestation Day in his home country; this event mobilized in its first year more than 15,000 people on a single day. Juan has a Bachelor of Engineering in Environmental Management from the University of Panama, and a Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources from The Ohio State University. Juan is actively engaged with his community by playing a leading role as a National Board Member for the Next 100 Coalition, a board Vice-Chair for the Cottonwood Institute and in his role as a Commissioner for The Governor’s Commission for Community Service in Colorado.
Kim Weiss (she/her)
Kim received her Master of Arts in environmental education and conservation from Rowan University, in Glassboro, NJ in May 2004. Kim has worked at Environmental Learning for Kids since 2005, gaining experience in all aspects of the organization from leading camping trips to writing grants. She is passionate about advancing youth and nature-based learning. Her current philosophy is to foster a community of young people that grow and challenge each other to become better teachers, community members, and humans in general. Outside of the office, Kim enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, running them from activity to activity, live music, and being with friends.
Sean Cortes (he/him)
Sean was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and earned a Bachelors of Music and Family Business from Stetson University. Growing up Sean visited Colorado every winter and summer and fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. Sean comes to ELK with 10 years of non-profit management experience. He’s been the Tour Manager of international non-profit Up with People, and most recently the Community Engagement Director at Aspen Ridge Preparatory School. Throughout his career he has executed dozens of fundraisers and has helped raised over 1 million dollars for charities across the country. When he’s not busy working he enjoys being a member of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus and spending time with his Denver family and working on his Masters of Business Administration.
Kristina Gray (she/her)
Marketing & Communications Director
Kristina received her Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from MSU Denver in 2011. She has been a part of the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. She is an alumnus of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Hispanic Chamber Foundation’s Aspiring Leaders Program, Class of 2017. Kristina spends her free time advocating for justice and equity for all of Colorado’s youth & families, and going on adventures with her husband and young daughter.
Amy Wright (she/her)
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Amy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Northern Arizona University. While pursuing her science degree, she began student teaching chemistry courses, and found her true passion—Science Education! Over the past decade, she has dedicated her career to informal education and has a passion for working with youth and families in the outdoors. She has proudly worked with ELK since 2013 and has led countless camping, hiking, fishing trips, and more. She continually strives to be a good steward of our environment and attributes her love for nature to her early experiences in the outdoors. She firmly believes that every person should have the opportunity to connect and experience the great outdoors! When not teaching, she can often be found in the mountains with her three dogs, Zoe, Otis, and Rocky.
Sam Gilmore (she/her)
Born in Denver, Sam is a Montbello resident and ELK alumni. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History with minors in Environmental Science and Leadership Studies from the University of Denver where her areas of focus were environmental history and outdoor recreation and interpretation. Sam is an active member of the Montbello and Denver communities and works in community planning and organizing. Since 2016 she has worked for Environmental Learning for Kids in the Urban Ranger program helping connect youth and families to nature and outdoor recreation. Sam is an avid reader, hiker, angler, and houseplant enthusiast.
Jeremy Sifuentes (he/him)
Raised in Los Fresnos, TX, Jeremy received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UT San Antonio. While pursuing his degree, Jeremy found passion in inspiring youth, community advocacy, and connecting with the outdoors. After school, his work ranged from volunteer coordination, organizing grassroots campaigns to strengthening access to parks with the National Park Service. He then moved to Denver and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 2020. Throughout that time, he discovered the beauty of Colorado and its relationship to a happier/healthier life. During his free time, Jeremy likes to play basketball, cook meals, run trails, sing karaoke, play board games, watch anime, and attend concerts!
Dennis Troutman (he/him)
Dennis received his Bachelor of Science in Sports, Outdoor, Recreation, and Tourism Management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2019. He has worked with the Arizona Conservation Corps, the Arizona State Parks, and Yellowstone National Park. He has also worked at Skyline Regional Park, in Buckeye, Arizona, as the recreation programmer, leading interactive classrooms, interpretive hikes, and special events in the park. Dennis found his passion for the outdoors after working at Booker T. Washington State park in Tennessee, which was the first state park open to African Americans in the state. His goal is to expose at-risk and under-privileged youth and their families to the numerous benefits and opportunities in the outdoors while creating more equity and equality in natural spaces. In his free time you can find Dennis out biking, hiking, cooking, exploring Denver, or hanging out with his family and dogs Kaluha and Roxie.
Jake Preston (he/him)
Jake grew up in a small, close-knit Ohio town, spending most of his free time running through the woods or playing in the creek; the outdoors was where kids learned about friendship, community, and navigating decisions while growing up. After he completed volunteering as a steward in Americorps and obtaining his M.S. in Recreation from Ohio University, he embarked West in the hopes to be on the frontline of environmental education. Ever a lifelong learner, Jake has been certified in Wilderness First Responding, Backcountry Search and Rescue, and Wildland Firefighting, and has spent years responsible for the care, handling, and presentation of birds of prey and herps. During his career, he has served as a Director of Outdoor Education for a national non-profit, led multi-week backcountry trips with teens both domestically and internationally, and designed and launched various environmental curricula and stewardship principles in conjunction with direct input from local schools and the community at large. Jake’s passions lie in creating opportunities for the next generation to fall in love with the environment and increasing accessibility to the outdoors to as many members of the community as possible. When you can’t find him leading groups in environmental education, you can find him exploring new trails, road tripping to hole-in-the-wall destinations, or relaxing at home with the family.
Daija Cortez (she/her)
Daija Cortez was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She spent her formative years in the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood. Daija is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications at the University of Colorado Denver. Throughout college, she has gained experience through volunteer work and a Capitol internship. She is passionate about giving back to the community that served her as a child. Daija spends her weekends enjoying Colorado’s nature with her family and friends. She believes Colorado’s nature is a tool to provide experience for systemically oppressed groups to gain confidence in rebuilding not only a connection with nature, but a possible career in outdoor career services.
Ronika Kone (she/her)
Ronika Kone is a Sophomore at Community College of Aurora on a full ride scholarship. She has been a part of Environmental Learning for Kids since 2016. She worked with ELK as an Urban Ranger for three years, and she was recently promoted to a Student Coordinator. Ronika thrives in educating urban youth in natural resources and outdoor recreation. The outdoors is special to her because it has been a place where she can breathe, learn, and find home where it is. Ronika has been part of the Montbello community for 18 years.
Xitlaly Avitia (she/they)
Nadia Brooks (she/her)
Evelyn Alvarez (she/her)
Christian Ngalame (he/him)
Paris Davis (she/her)
Juan Huizar (he/him)
Brandon Irons (he/him)
Daisy Medera (she/her)
Israel Ngalame (he/him)
Verenice Rodriguez (she/her)
Gloria Terrazaz (she/her)