Jenny Bender, our Executive Director, offers over 18 years nonprofit fundraising and organizational management experience. She has dedicated her professional career to improving the lives of vulnerable children, especially those who are victims of abuse and neglect. Ms. Bender is responsible for providing the organization with strategic vision and leadership at the state level, supporting the 18 independent local CASA volunteer child advocacy programs across the state of Colorado.
Prior to being appointed as the Executive Director for Colorado CASA, Ms. Bender served for two years as the Executive Director of CASA of the Pikes Peak Region, where she successfully grew the organization, increasing funding and program reach. In this capacity Ms. Bender worked extensively with the juvenile court, human service providers, and other nonprofit agencies to address the myriad of needs of children in her region.
Ms. Bender was also previously the Executive Director for Newborn Hope for three years where she was responsible for carrying out the overall mission of the statewide volunteer driven nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of premature babies and families.
Before joining Newborn Hope, Ms. Bender’s experience in nonprofit leadership and fundraising spans the sectors of university development and international nonprofits. Bender is deeply committed to the well being of vulnerable children and has adopted children from foster care. She is the 2016 recipient of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption "Angels in Adoption" Award, nominated by US Senator Cory Gardner.
Ms. Bender received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Communications and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a Human Service Concentration from California State University in 2000.
Tisa Kunkee, our Operations Manager, joined the Colorado CASA team in February 2018. Ms. Kunkee's key responsibilities include managing the State Organization’s day-to-day operations and accounting as well as providing support and coordination for various committee projects, events and meetings.
Ms. Kunkee found her passion for social justice early on in college at Colorado State University, participating in a variety of community services projects addressing social, cultural and environmental needs. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with an Environmental Concentration and Minor in Women’s Studies, she pursued an adventure abroad to make a grassroots-driven impact.
From July 2010 to May 2013, Ms. Kunkee served as a Health Volunteer in Peace Corps Madagascar. She lived and worked in a rural village, promoting maternal and child health, basic hygiene and water sanitation. She extended her service to partner with a marine conservation organization called Blue Ventures, where she supported the Education and Community Health programs.
From September 2014 to February 2018, Ms. Kunkee worked as a Volunteer Case Coordinator at CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties. She supported volunteers during their case assignments, assisted in various office projects and events and helped implement a peer coordinator program. She is happy to have stayed in the CASA family, working at the State Organization.
Kelsey Fife Duarte, MPH, CHES, our Data and Evaluation Manager, joined the Colorado CASA team in January 2022. Her key responsibilities include overseeing the data and measurement strategy for Colorado CASA by maintaining current data collection protocols and working closely with the CASA programs to increase staff capacity to use data, diversify data sources, and improve data quality and storage.
Ms. Fife Duarte enjoys applying her health promotions and data skills to help community partners understand data and make data-informed decisions. Her previous work experiences include: Professional Research Assistant for University of Colorado Department of Family Medicine, Adjunct Instructor at Colorado Mesa University, and Health Promotion Specialist on the Epidemiology team at Mesa County Public Health. Ms. Fife Duarte was involved in research projects related to the social determinants of health within primary care, treatment for opioid use disorder/dependence, and suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. She has worked on projects improving community health through tobacco prevention and cessation, substance use and suicide prevention, and promoting the use of active transportation.
Ms. Fife Duarte earned her MPH from the University of Arizona and her BA in Sociology from the University of Colorado Denver. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She currently lives in her hometown, Grand Junction, with her husband and two dogs.