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Cabinet Leadership Team

Among the superintendent's advisors is a team of district leaders relied on to discuss and determine action on critical issues facing the district. Every area of the district is represented in Cabinet.

DAVID BELL, CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

David BellDavid was selected as the Chief Human Resources Officer in July 2018. He has held multiple human resources positions within Jeffco, most recently as the Director of Employment Services. David has more than 23 years of experience working in all facets of HR, 11 of those in Jeffco.

The Jeffco Public Schools HR department is responsible for the development and implementation of comprehensive systems, programs, processes, and procedures in the areas of employment, personnel record maintenance and record retention, job classifications and compensation, performance management and evaluation, benefits administration, recruitment onboarding, leave programs, substitute teacher programs, unemployment, and employee assistance programs. David also works with the district’s unions and serves as the lead negotiator with union officials. The department is currently working to implement strategies outlined in the Jeffco Generations Vision, including on-going work to recruit, hire, and retain talented, effective employees in all positions across our school district.

HR Organizational Chart
Human Resources

STEVE BELL, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Steve BellSteve joined Jeffco Public Schools in May 2010. He previously worked in the investment banking industry. His job responsibilities included the oversight and management for the origination of municipal accounts. Steve is a 50-year resident of Jefferson County, attended Jeffco Public Schools, and is an Arvada High School graduate. He has been active in the Jeffco community, serving on civic organizations including St. Anthony Hospital Foundation, Jeffco Economic Development Corporation, the Arvada Chamber, and the Jefferson Education Foundation, where he served as president for two terms and then as a foundation trustee.

The Chief Operating Officer develops, directs and implements the district’s support services and provides general management of day-to-day operation of service divisions including Athletics & Activities, Food & Nutrition Services, Custodial Services, Environmental Services, Facilities Management, Planning Construction, Security & Emergency Management, and Student Transportation & Fleet Maintenance.

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Operations

DAN COHAN, CHIEF OF SCHOOLS - SECONDARY

Dan CohanDan has worked in education for over 30 years. During his tenure he has served as community superintendent, executive director, principal, assistant principal and math teacher at the middle and high school levels. As principal of Pomona High School, Dan led his staff in implementing a highly effective Professional Learning Community and Response to Intervention model. He believes deeply in Graduation with Choices for every student and works to develop strong principal and teacher leaders committed to this purpose.  Dan earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and teacher certification from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He earned a master's in administration, supervision, and curriculum development from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Dan oversees all district middle, senior high, alternative and option schools through community superintendents to increase student achievement, ensure quality school leadership, improve school effectiveness, inspire innovation, develop healthy school culture, budget strategically and maintain a safe school environment.

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School Leadership

 

BRENNA COPELAND, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Brenna CopelandBrenna brings exceptional skills in program management, financial management, and operational leadership in a time of great opportunity for the district. She has experience in education strategic initiatives, financial programming and grant management, and in public education as Director of Portfolio Management & Instructional Superintendent with Denver Public Schools.

Brenna’s blend of strategic skills and abilities in the financial and education areas will allow her serve as CFO and lead our financial services team in a manner that aligns with needs identified by our superintendent: the just right balance of coherence and autonomy, positive climate and culture, efficient and effective use of resources, pandemic recovery, and effective district organization to support schools and student achievement.

Brenna has twenty years' experience in education and finance and holds an MBA from Duke University and a BA from Rice University.

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Financial Services

MATT PALAORO, CHIEF STUDENT SUCCESS OFFICER

Matt PalaoroJeffco Public Schools has named Matt Palaoro as Chief Student Success Officer (CSSO), effective May 9. An experienced special education leader and educator, Matt will provide guidance in support of the district’s mission to prepare all Jeffco students for a bright and successful future.

Matt started in Jeffco as the Assistant Director of Special Education in 2018, following a decade in the field as a special education paraprofessional, teacher, and coordinator. Matt has served as a special education leader in Jeffco for the past four years, most recently as the Executive Director of Special Education. In the past few months as interim CSSO, Matt provided exemplary leadership in the Student Success division and for the Cabinet team. He is someone who exemplifies and amplifies Jeffco’s values, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to leverage his knowledge of student support.

Matt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Indiana University and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Special Education Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

The Chief Student Success Officer position is responsible for developing, directing and rolling out systems and programs to serve students and families who require educational, physical, and emotional support beyond standard programming. Matt provides leadership and management for the following departments: special education, gifted and talented, health services, homebound instruction, student services, healthy schools, and student engagement.

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Student Success

JILL IBECK, CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER

Jill IbeckJill joined Jeffco Public Schools in July 2021 as Chief Information Officer. Jill has 21 years of professional experience in information technology (IT) with 17 years in the education industry. Prior to joining the Jeffco Public Schools cabinet team, Jill served in numerous technical and techno-functional roles in K-12, community college, and for the University of Colorado serving all four campuses totaling 66,000 students, 37,000 faculty and staff, and the vast enterprise constituent base of over 390,000 individuals. In addition, she has held numerous technical and product advisory roles and enjoys volunteering with the Arvada Festivals Commission and the Ralston House. Originally from Illinois, Jill and her spouse have lived in in Colorado for 16 years and are proud Jefferson County residents.

As Chief Information Officer, she will oversee technology related strategy and initiatives for the district and lead the IT department while assuming responsibility for designing and recommending appropriate technology solutions to support the district’s goals and objectives.

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HELEN NEAL, CHIEF OF STAFF

Helen NealHelen has worked with five superintendents and many board members of Jeffco Public Schools since her hire in 1998. Prior to coming to Jeffco, she worked at executive levels of state and municipal government and fundraised for local non-profits. She was Public Information Officer for the City of Aurora city manager, mayor, and council, opened and managed the Access Aurora Office. Helen has worked for the Colorado Lt. Governor’s Office and Department of Local Affairs on special projects, the Economic Development Commission and the Colorado Film Commission. She and her spouse have two children who are Jeffco graduates.

The Chief of Staff manages actions and decisions impacting the Board of Education, Superintendent, and Cabinet, and advises and counsels district leadership to help the district provide clear, complete and accurate communication to external and internal audiences. Helen coordinates the Superintendent’s schedule, all content on Board and Superintendent webpages and in Board Docs — the platform for sharing public meeting documents. She also manages the board’s meetings, schedule, and agendas while serving as main staff support during their meetings.

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Board of Education/Superintendent

RENEE NICOTHODES, CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER 

Renee NicothodesOver the course of her 26-year career in education, Renee has served as elementary director of curriculum and instruction, principal supervisor, principal, instructional coach, and classroom teacher. Renee holds a Master of Arts in Education and a reading specialist credential from San Diego State University. Renee has a passion for working with at-risk student populations and advocating for equity and excellence in educational systems.

Renee previously served as Jeffco's Chief of Schools - Elementary. Now, in her role as Chief Academic Officer, Renee works with instructional partners and teams to design and direct the planning, implementation, and evaluation of district wide instructional programs. 

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Academics

Tara C. Peña, Chief of Community Engagement and Partnerships 

Tara C. Peña

Effective July 6, 2022, Tara will begin her position as the inaugural Chief of Community Engagement and Partnerships. This new position will bring cohesion to Jeffco’s important efforts to prioritize family and community partnerships at the district level.

Tara will help shape and oversee the community engagement and partnership vision, strategy, and operations to cultivate a thriving and supportive experience for Jeffco students. Jeffco Thrives 2025 (the District’s strategic plan launching in August 2022) includes a section called Our Communities: Our Legacy. It recognizes that, in a thriving school, Jeffco’s families and partners embrace a shared vision for education and collaborate to support student learning.

Tara, a Jeffco graduate, parent, and former principal, personally knows the impact mentorship and community engagement has on students. Most recently with Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Tara served as Executive Director of Middle Schools where she provided coaching, support, and supervision to 11 principals and their administration teams, focusing on instructional leadership, school culture, data-driven decision making, and community and family engagement. Tara previously served Jeffco Public Schools as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, and principal. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a secondary education/ESL endorsement from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling from the University of Phoenix and she holds a professional principal license from the State of Colorado. Additionally, Tara serves on the executive board of the Colorado Association of Latino/a Administrators and Superintendents (CO-ALAS).

LISA RELOU, CHIEF OF STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATIONS

Lisa RelouLisa Relou’s work in the field of education started 22 years ago when she worked on a successful school bond campaign. She then went on to lead her own consulting company working directly with school superintendents and their administrations across Colorado to battle declining enrollments and public perception issues and to improve customer service.

In 2006, she was hired by Denver Public Schools (DPS) to create a marketing office for the district. During this time, Lisa worked with schools to create marking and communications tools that targeted enrollment, student retainment, stakeholder engagement, and investment in the district’s strategic vision and initiatives. In 2010, Lisa left DPS to join TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) in order to support the organization’s work toward ending the injustice of educational inequality through national, state, and local efforts related to teacher effectiveness. Lisa also has experience working on the philanthropic side of education, working at Grantmakers for Education as their Director of Strategies. 

Most Recently, Lisa operated her own strategic consulting business - Lisa Relou Consulting. Focusing on the field of education, both in Colorado and around the country. In her role at Jeffco, Lisa will manage the district’s strategic initiatives as well as lead our communications team.

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Communication Services

DAVE WEISS, CHIEF OF SCHOOLS 

Dave WeissDave Weiss brings more than 20 years of experience in public education to his role as Chief of Schools. He previously served eight years as a middle school math and science teacher followed by four years as a high school assistant principal. Dave Joined Jeffco in 2014 as the principal of Westgate Elementary school where he served for 5 years.

In 2019 Dave joined the Jeffco School Leadership team as a Community Superintendent. He holds a Master of Business Administration and an Education Leadership Specialist credential from the University of Denver. A self-described “lifelong learner”, Dave is passionate about innovation, equity and opportunity for all students who walk our hallways.  

 

 

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School Leadership

Julie C. Tolleson, CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER

Julie C. Tolleson Julie C. Tolleson was named as Chief Legal Officer in May 2022. An experienced leader and expert in educational law, Julie provides guidance and counsel in support of the district’s mission to provide a world-class education for all students.

Most recently with the Colorado Department of Law as the First Assistant Attorney General for K-12 Education, Julie led a five-lawyer team in representing and advising the Colorado Department of Education, Charter School Institute, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, and the Colorado State Board of Education. Her previous roles of service have included General Counsel for the Tucson Unified School District (Ariz.), Deputy Public Defender for Washington County (Ark.) and as Partner for Kennedy & Christopher, P.C. (Colo.), among others.

Julie is licensed to practice law in Arizona, Colorado and Arkansas. She serves as the Chair of the National Council of State Education Attorneys, and is a board member for the following professional organizations: the National Association of State Boards of Education and the Range of Motion Project. She has formerly served on the boards of the ACLU of Colorado; and the Colorado Bar Association. She has been published in several peer-reviewed law journals and earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University.

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