Middle School Staff
Liz Wolfson Director - GALS National
Liz Wolfson created the vision for the Girls Athletic Leadership Schools eight years ago, raised over half a million dollars in angel funding, developed the strategic plan and moved to Colorado to open the flagship schools here in Denver. Currently GALS has grown to 350 students in grades 6-11, with its first graduating class in 2018. Liz Wolfson is also leading the charge to open a Denver boys middle school in 2017. Due to Liz's leadership, GALS is the first Colorado home-grown educational network to expand beyond the state's border, as GALS Los Angeles is set to open this fall of 2016. Liz believes her passion for comprehensive health in schools stems from her upbringing in the world of competitive athletics where she competed in Division I Field Hockey.
Liz has spent the bulk of her career working for CEO’s and Philanthropists in manifesting their visions and starting up corporate and philanthropic projects locally, nationally and internationally. Former non-profit clients include the Institute for International Sport, The American Montessori Society, The Rose Institute (for homeless youth) and a former Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Former corporate work includes creating the first global communications division for Comverse, a world leader in voice activated systems, and raising seed-funding for TaskMail, the first Jordanian/Israeli high tech start-up company.
Liz received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and earned her Masters Degree at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Liz considers herself a force in organizational behavior and strives to model leadership based on relationships, not compliance. Liz is married and has two daughters aged 5 and 9.
Nina Safane Co-Founder, Head of School 6-8
Nina, the co-founder of the Girls Athletic Leadership School, has worked as the RTI Coordinator, Director of Special Education, Director of Health & Wellness, and Director of Student Life at GALS. This year, Nina is excited to lead the Middle School! Nina graduated with a BA in Education from Brown University and an MA in Education from Columbia University. Prior to the opening of GALS, Nina worked as the Chief of Staff for State Senator Mike Johnston. A former Division 1 rugby player, Nina enjoys running, Crossfit, coffee, and ice cream.
Carol Bowar Executive Director
Carol is thrilled to be at Girls Athletic Leadership Schools and The Boys School of Denver as Executive Director for GALS Denver (Colorado), after serving as a member of the founding board of GALS and a previous board member. Most recently Carol served as the COO of KIPP Colorado Schools, was the Director of Curriculum and Career Services at GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, and a consultant for the National Center for Women and Information Technology. Prior to living overseas with her family (Australia, 2012) she was President & CEO of Girls Inc. of Metro Denver. Additional past positions include Vice President, Program Services at Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, Director of Training, Education and Community Service Programs at Up with People, Policy Assistant for the Governor’s Office (Roy Romer, CO), Field Director at KaBoom!, and Program Officer for the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation.
Jen Derosby Dean of Students
Jen is so proud to be in her 16th year of teaching and learning. She spent her first ten years at an urban charter school here in Denver and this is her sixth year at GALS. She received her teaching license from Metropolitan College of Denver in Secondary Social Studies and received her BA in liberal arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. This marks her third year as a full time administrator in her role as Dean of Culture. She will be working hard to keep the culture of GALS a positive and supportive one for our girls and their families. She has a passion for teaching about issues of social justice and believes that creating a space where girls can be the leaders and exceptional learners they naturally are is so very important. She is a 2008-09 United States National Holocaust Memorial Museum teacher fellow, a member of the Facing History and Ourselves teacher advisory board and 2006 Denver Mile High Teacher.
Betsy Barrow Director of Enrollment
Dolores Schaack Director of Operations
Elissa Soden Director of Strategic Partnerships
Felicia Soifer Director of Academics
Jennifer Benningfield Athletic Director
Jessica Dauchy Director of Finance & Strategy
A former high-school math teacher and administrator, Jess left the classroom after 9 years of teaching to earn an MBA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She’s been part of GALS since she graduated in 2011. Her background in both academics and organizational strategy/operations has served her well in her GALS roles including Director of Operations, Director of Academics, and currently, Director of Finance and Strategy. Jessica is also a former Education Pioneer fellow in urban education reform as well as a former Get Smart Schools fellow. When not at school, Jess is often hiking with her dog Ada, skiing, or climbing. She also loves pop music and often sings and dances through the GALS hallways during passing period bell music. Jess also teaches AP Calculus in the GALS HS.
Ana Rangel Office Administrator & After School Art Coordinator
Ana grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to Denver after graduating from Indiana University in 2013. She has a BA in Spanish and Social Work and hopes to soon get her Masters in Social Work. Ana has been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters and hopes to continue that work out here. She enjoys anything outdoors, cooking, music, volunteering with youth organizations, and spending time with friends and family.
Amber Brydon Psychologist
Julie Dolin MA, LPC, BC-DMT Director of Counseling
Yolanda Dandridge Lead Counselor
She has facilitated therapeutic and empowerment groups for over 6 years, which includes individual therapeutic work, specifically in the areas of women groups addressing relationship building (attachment), traumas (including historical influences and intergenerational), teen moms support, women groups, moderate to chronic illnesses to community health.
Yolanda, was a professional dancer for over 15 years under the direction of Melvin Deal and Director of African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, in Washington, DC. Studied and trained in African Dance, Modern, Ballet and Tap; owner, director and choreographer of Nayakata Youth Dance Company in Washington, D.C.; choreographer for several stage productions and the television series “Dynamotion”, which addressed healthy nutrition and total well-being. Yolanda, worked closely with youths/adolescents who are identified as behavioral, learning and/or physically challenged. Yolanda’s passion is in developing and applying movement to employ motivation for mobilization, to influence programs and curriculums and the use of movement as a form of advocacy.
Yolanda’s master paper “Unveiling the Embodied Riddle - The Role of Dance/ Movement Therapy in the Black Body’s Developmental Experience” has started the conversation addressing the black body, and intergenerational trauma and how dance/movement therapy application can support the awakening, healing and re-educating the black body from the state of paralyzation to mobilization through the lens of somatic and developmental psychology. Currently, Yolanda is the lead counselor at Girls Athletic Leadership School, and sit as a sub-committee member for New Legacy Teen Parent Charter School in Aurora as well as the Founder of The Movement Institute-Mind and Body Total Expressions where she offers many community health groups which includes the Women Empowerment Seminar “BODYFULLNESS” and a weekly Awakening Community Movement Group!
A creative arts exploration towards discovering, developing, and navigating our personal inner power through the use of African movement. This program goal is to integrate social/emotional skills with movement from African traditional initiation dances, to help develop, empower and nurture students to be individually aware and community conscious!
Laura Fajardo-Arbelaez Counseling Intern
Leanne Stull Counseling Intern
LeEllen Condry Counseling Intern
Melanie Warning Counseling Intern
Ilana Fishman SPED
Karen Davidson SPED
Michelle Shea SPED
Sydney Johnston SPED
Sydney is a Colorado native, growing up in Winter Park. She holds a BA in Sociology from University of Colorado-Denver, and is currently earning her Masters of Education in Special Education from Metro State University. She has over 8 years of experience working with youth at Excelsior Youth Center and Tennyson Center for Children.
Lori Riley Paraprofessional
Jenn Green GALS Series Teacher
Lynnsey Molinaro Gwaltney GALS Series Teacher
Maggie Dickman GALS Series Teacher
Maggie Dickman is so incredibly excited to be in her second year at GALS as the 6th grade GALS Series teacher. Having attended a women's college, Maggie is thrilled at the opportunity to work to empower the young women of the Denver community. Maggie graduated from Scripps College with a B.A. in Hispanic Studies and then went on to the University of Colorado Denver for a Masters degree in Curriculum and Pedagogy. Before coming to GALS, Maggie taught 2nd and 3rd grade at AXL Academy in Aurora, CO. Born and raised in Colorado, Maggie is grateful to be able to work in this community. Outside of school, Maggie loves to travel, camp, hike, snowboard, play in the water and generally be in the great outdoors. Ideally with a dog, of course!
Carissa Solomon 8th Grade Social Studies
Carissa grew up in Pennsylvania and Maine, where she spent lots of time hiking in the Appalachian Mountains with her family. After earning her BA in Philosophy & History from George Washington University and an MA in Political Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, she decided it was time to conquer new challenges in life. In 2009, she moved out to Colorado to begin her teaching career and try her hand hiking in the Rockies. She is also a certified yoga instructor who enjoys sharing her love of yoga with the students at GALS.
Courtney Dauwalter 8th Grade Science
Courtney Jensen 8th Grade Language Arts
Eric Messerli 8th Grade Math
Lynne Spear 8th Grade Geometry (PT)
Amanda Nichols 7th Grade Language Arts
Jake Bury 7th Grade Social Studies
John Stanley 7th Grade Math
Neelah Ali 7th Grade Science
Neelah Ali is a native to Denver. She graduated from South High School and than attended University of Colorado - Boulder where she received a bachelor in Evolutionary and Ecology Biology and Ethnic Studies. Neelah is in her 3rd year of teaching and is a Teach for America Alum.