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DPS Leadership

Susana Cordova, Superintendent

Susana Cordova brings more than 20 years of experience to DPS, serving as a teacher or school leader at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She is a lifelong Denver resident who believes in the power of our schools to transform our city: “Schools are the great equalizer in our society. We must help create opportunities for all children by meeting them where they are and helping them grow and achieve at high levels.”

Susana is a DPS graduate who began her teaching career as a bilingual teacher at Horace Mann Middle School, teaching English and Spanish in a dual language program. From there, she moved to West High School, where she was taught both English and English as a Second Language, and was recruited for the DPS Leadership Academy. She served as assistant principal at Bryant-Webster Elementary for a year before becoming principal of Remington Elementary, a school with a 95% poverty rate.

While at Remington, Susana helped the school develop a comprehensive school-wide Title I plan and lead the school to implement a visionary program of integrated literacy instruction. While she was the principal, Remington experienced a gain of over 33 percent over four years on the state reading assessment. In 2002, she was recruited to the district level to broaden her impact.

Susana received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Denver, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction/education administration from the University of Colorado, and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in education by the University of Denver. She is the mother of one DPS graduate and one current DPS high school student.

Contact the Superintendent:

Emily Griffith Campus
1860 Lincoln St., 12th Floor
Denver, CO 80203

Lauren Dunn, Chief of Staff

Lauren Dunn is the Chief of Staff for Denver Public Schools. In this role, she serves as a principal aide in the Office of the Superintendent, supports policy development in the District and works closely with the Denver Board of Education. Lauren is an experienced public & non-profit leader with a passion for economic equity and developing strong public institutions that deliver results for citizens.

Previously she played a lead role in managing DPS’ 2016 Mill Levy initiative to provide much needed resources to support Denver’s students. Prior to joining DPS, Lauren gained extensive experience working on domestic economic equity issues and federal policy development, serving for three years as an aide in President Obama’s White House Domestic Policy Council. She has consulted for federal, state and local government agencies including the U.S. National Park Service, the State of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, and New York City’s Department of Small Business Services.

Lauren holds a bachelor of arts in comparative religion from Tufts University, a bachelor of fine arts in studio art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a master in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a master in educational leadership from the Broad Center for the Management of Urban Education Systems.

Debbie Hearty, Chief of Human Resources

debbie-heartyDebbie Hearty is committed to making Denver Public Schools the best place in the nation to contribute if you want to work in urban education because we are known to respect, grow and develop our people and we provide opportunities to maximize impact. An important part of this vision is to make DPS a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace with comprehensive and innovative leadership pathways.

Debbie formerly served as the Chief of the Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT) in DPS. In this role, she designed and implemented values-based leadership development efforts, led initiatives to make DPS a more equitable and inclusive organization, and developed mechanisms to help drive the transformation of the district’s culture. This includes creating a culture based on our Shared Core Values and in the service of the DPS vision – Every Child Succeeds.

During her tenure at DPS, Debbie has served as a math teacher, instructional coach, professional development leader and an assistant principal. Outside of DPS, she and her husband are busy with their two elementary school-aged boys and pets. She and her family love to be out and about exploring Colorado and beyond.

Anna Alejo, Chief Communications Officer

Anna Alejo joined DPS in April 2018 and has a long career in covering and supporting education. She spent 16 years as a broadcast journalist reporting on NBC- and CBS-owned stations in Denver, as well as CBS News, CNN and Univision. Previously, Anna was Director of Corporate Communications for Western Union, where she led global communications initiatives.

In addition to heading a firm providing communication strategy for technology companies, Anna has served as the Spanish-language spokesperson for the Denver Preschool Program and co-chair of A+ Colorado.

Mark Ferrandino, Chief Financial Officer

mark-ferrandinoMark Ferrandino was appointed as the DPS chief financial officer in July 2014. He attended the University of Rochester, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics in 1999, and a master’s degree in public policy analysis in 2000. Mark worked as a policy analyst for the White House Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C.

After relocating to Colorado, he worked as program analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice, then served as the senior budget analyst for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing until 2007 before being appointed to the Colorado House of Representatives. While in the legislature, he was elected Speaker of the House by his peers and served in that role from 2013-14. As CFO at DPS, Mark has general oversight of general accounting, accounts payable, budgeting, disbursement, cash management, financial planning, debt management and risk management.

David Suppes, Chief Operating Officer

david-suppesDavid Suppes has been the chief operating officer at DPS since 2009. In his role, David leads several of the district’s largest departments including finance, information technology, safety, school choice and enrollment, planning and strategy, food services, transportation and facilities management. He also led the implementation of the district’s 2008 and 2012 bond programs.

Suppes and his team have led many innovative programs and services, with the goals of helping to fuel major enrollment growth in DPS, improve service offerings and customer satisfaction, and maximize funding available for use directly in school classrooms. Some key initiatives have included:

  • Alternative transportation services, such as shuttle buses, in multiple regions in the city enabling many more students to easily access desired schools throughout the region.
  • Scratch cooking in all school cafeterias, achieving a 50 percent increase in breakfast participation and increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables across all schools.
  • Improvements to choice and enrollment services, allowing families to apply to any school in the district through a single process and timeline, and providing equitable access to all students.
  • Shared campuses across more than 30 schools, supporting enrollment growth by offering quality programs for families in their neighborhoods, providing charter schools with cost-effective classroom facilities, better utilization of existing facilities and collection of cost-based facility use fees from charter schools to help provide additional funding to DPS each year.

Prior to joining DPS, David held senior financial and business leadership positions at Level 3 Communications and Staples. He has volunteered as a tutor in DPS for several years and served in a number of non-profit roles, including board treasurer for Metro CareRing and member of the Governor’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Arizona State University.

Allen Smith, Chief of the Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT)

allen-smithAllen Smith returned to Team DPS in 2016 in a new position designed to elevate and expand our equity, culture and leadership work. He is nationally recognized for his work improving chronically low-performing schools and has a track record of successfully mentoring instructional leaders.

Allen is a Denver native, graduate of George Washington High School and former DPS principal (Skyland, Barrett and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College), with his last assignment in DPS serving for three years as executive director of the Denver Summit Schools Network in Far Northeast Denver. He then joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina as a community superintendent before heading to California to serve as Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Schools to Oakland Superintendent Antwan Wilson, also a former DPS principal and district leader. Allen is a graduate of Harvard’s Urban Principal Institute, Public Education Leadership Program and Urban Superintendent Program.

Eldridge Greer, Associate Chief of Student Equity and Opportunity

Eldridge Greer joined DPS in 2007-08 as manager of the department of psychological services and was selected for his current role in 2016. He had served five years as a school psychologist in Adams 14 before joining DPS. Eldridge earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell and his master’s degree in developmental psychology and doctorate in child clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Iowa.

Eldridge has focused on systemic change for our most vulnerable students, including:

  • Accelerating discipline reform efforts, resulting in 64% fewer out-of-school suspensions and 78% fewer expulsions in the past 10 years.
  • Providing direct support and subject matter expertise for a $12 million Whole Child mill-levy override request that was approved by Denver voters in November 2016. This approval is resulting in a significant funding increase allowing all schools to boost social-emotional support for their students.
  • Securing a $4.5 million grant for increased mental health supports for students, directly assisting 44 of the district’s most challenged schools in more deeply addressing students’ mental health needs.

Jennifer Holladay, Associate Chief of Portfolio Management

jennifer-holladayJennifer Holladay is responsible for strategy development and implementation across the different schools that make up the DPS family of schools, including charter, district-managed and innovation. She is tasked with ensuring our schools provide high-quality opportunities and equitable access for all students, especially students of color, those experiencing poverty, language learners and students with special needs. 

Holladay has been a member of Team DPS since 2013, serving as director of school development and support and leading authorizing practices for new charter and district-managed schools. Prior to DPS, she spent nearly 15 years at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, where she was director of the award-winning multicultural education program, Teaching Tolerance.

Holladay has one daughter, Zoe, who has been served successfully by a DPS charter school and a DPS innovation school, and who is now being served successfully by a district-managed DPS school. In 2013, she gave a Ted Talk on multiculturalism that describes her focus on educational equity.

Ann Whalen, Associate Chief of Academics

Ann Whalen joined DPS in May 2017, bringing extensive experience leading large-scale initiatives for Chicago Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education.

Ann served in the Obama Administration as senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2015-17, delegating the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. As Delegated Assistant Secretary, she directed, coordinated and recommended policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies with improving the achievement of elementary and secondary school students. In this capacity, she oversaw a portfolio of over $22.3 billion, with more than 80 grant programs designed to ensure equal access to a high-quality education for all preschool, elementary and secondary children, particularly children who are economically disadvantaged.

Before joining the Obama administration, Ann served for six years with Chicago Public Schools, as deputy to the chief education officer and as deputy director of special initiatives for the chief executive officer. She also worked as a project administrator at the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

Michelle Berge, General Counsel

Michelle Berge, a DPS parent and longtime member of Team DPS, leads our legal team. In this capacity, she helps advise the elected school board, superintendent and senior leaders of the state’s largest school district on all legal matters

Michelle was a law clerk for former DPS General Counsel and Colorado Supreme Court Justice Alex Martinez, as well as law clerk for former Gov. Bill Ritter. For the past seven years Michelle, who is bilingual, has led a pro bono legal clinic for Spanish-speaking families in Greeley to connect them with legal services.

Verónica Figoli, President and CEO, DPS Foundation

Verónica Figoli leads the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the strategic fundraising partner to DPS that activates philanthropic support, invests in proven and promising programs, and connects the community to our classrooms.

Verónica joined the DPS Foundation from DPS’ Family and Community Engagement Office (FACE), where she served as the Chief Officer. Prior to her time at FACE, Verónica served as a Program Officer at the Piton Foundation, where she worked with the foundation’s grantees, other foundations and community stakeholders to help advance key initiatives supporting student achievement and adult self-sufficiency.

Originally from Venezuela, Verónica graduated from Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, and obtained her master’s degree in business administration from Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Verónica has been selected by the Aspen Institute for its inaugural class of Colorado Children & Families Health and Human Services Fellows, which invests in visionary leaders committed to making Colorado the best place to have a child and sustain a thriving family.

Verónica is a proud parent of two DPS students.

Brette Scott, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education

brette-scottBrette Scott has served in most instructional roles in Denver Public Schools, including teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, principal, director of principal effectiveness, instructional superintendent and chief of staff to her current role, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education. In this position, she supports the work of nearly 100 DPS elementary schools, their principals and their instructional superintendents.

Brette earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations from the University of Southern California and her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction/elementary education from the University of Colorado.

Nicole T. Veltzé, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education

nicole_veltzeNicole Veltzé has 24 years of experience in education, beginning as a Teach for America corps member in Oakland, CA in 1993 and continuing to teach in Lima, Peru where she grew up. She started her leadership career with Denver Public Schools and has previously served in multiple roles: principal at Cole Middle School, Northeast Area assistant superintendent, principal of Skinner Middle School and principal of Denver North High School.

Under Nicole’s leadership, Skinner and North outpaced all expectations for school turnaround, implementing structures and systems that made an impact in changing school culture and increasing academic achievement. As a result, Nicole was named the recipient of the 2013 Game Changer Award by A+ Denver. Under her tenure at North High School, the school achieved High Growth for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 outpacing all other state turnaround schools. In 2014 and 2015, North was recognized for having the largest increase in graduation for Denver Public Schools. In 2016, North received the Colorado Center for Excellence Award for having demonstrated the highest rates of student longitudinal growth, as measured by the Colorado Growth Model under the leadership of Nicole and her team.

Nicole was part of the founding cohort of both the National Principals Academy Fellowship in 2013-14 and the Leverage Leadership Institute in 2014-16 with the Relay Graduate School of Education. After her success as a school and district leader, she then served as the associate dean of leadership programs with Relay GSE. In 2017, Nicole returned back to Denver Public Schools as the assistant superintendent of secondary education.

Nicole earned her bachelor of arts degree from Occidental College in Latin American Studies and her master’s of education degree in instructional technology from the University of Washington in Seattle. At UW, she also received her principal and administrator certifications from the Danforth Educational Leadership Program.