Sandra Gudat is the President and CEO of Customer Communications Group and Publisher of customer.com. For for 30+ years she has been helping C-suite executives and Boards at organizations like Nordstrom, Macy’s and GM articulate and implement a common vision and roadmap for customer centricity. In addition, in 2012, the company was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America. She is the publisher and Editor-in-Chief of customer.com, a website dedicated to helping Fortune 2000 companies improve their customer centricity initiatives. Sandra joined the Firefly Board of Directors in February of 2016. She was drawn to Firefly because her son, Alec is on the spectrum. Alec is the most unique, interesting and flabbergasting person she knows. Sandra states, “I am proud to serve on the Board of such an amazing, world-renowned organization like Firefly. FFA is leading the way in the treatment of kids and young adults on the spectrum.” Sandra is also a big fan of data, a core component of ABA therapy. She calls herself a “data-geek!” Sanda believes in the dignity and un-replicability of every human being; that her is driving force with everyone with whom she interacts.
Suzanne Murphy is a former kindergarten teacher who still enjoys to guest teach every chance she gets. She holds a Masters in Education from UNC Greeley and a Bachelor of Education from Metro State. In addition to giving her time to Firefly Autism, Suzanne volunteers at Crisis Center of Douglas County. Suzanne was led to Firefly after attending a silent auction for Firefly and was touched by the excitement, commitment and love displayed for these children. She felt she found a place where she could volunteer her services to help support such a great cause. She says, “I feel it is extremely important to gain support, knowledge and education to those in our community about autism. I would like to volunteer to support Firefly by involvement, attending events and participation.”
John Griffith has served on Firefly Autism's Board for over 10 years and is our immediate past Board President. Professionally he is the founder and former President of Alpine Waste & Recycling. Personally, John has personal attachments to Firefly Autism and has loved ones on the spectrum.
Diane Raba has been part of the Firefly Board since 2008. During that tenure she has served as Board President, Vice President, and Secretary.
Diane learned of Firefly at an informational seminar designed to help people become involved with local nonprofit organizations. She was immediately interested in helping the fledgling Firefly Autism Community because of her experience with Applied Behavior Analysis during her graduate work and career.
There have been so many amazing achievements because of the work that is done at Firefly every day. The initial dream of the founders was to provide all of the services to support individuals with autism in one location. That vision has come to fruition in this outstanding organization. The Firefly team is extremely talented and visionary.
Diane says, "KEEP MOVING FORWARD; one step, one day at a time. Stay on your path and trust your journey. Never give up, keep going, and keep growing."
Gary Moore's initial career was in industrial distribution of warehouse equipment, including purchasing and selling a Denver based distributor where he worked 30 years. After that sale, he launched a career in speaking, writing, consulting in that industry. This included publishing 3 books on sales and sales management; and the book "Navigating in Organizations; How to Impact Organizations and Get Things Done." His community commitments have included board presidents of Big Brothers of Metropolitan Denver; Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation; and Firefly Autism as well as major commitments to Mile High United Way. He joined the Firefly Autism board in 2011. He found Firefly through his commitment as a Big Brother to a young man on the autism spectrum. Gary helped develop Firefly's fund raising gala, Laugh Yourself Blue.
William Rooney is an experienced Tax Partner with a demonstrated history of working in the accounting industry. Skilled in Healthcare and High Net Worth Individuals consulting and planning, Nonprofit Organizations, Tax Preparation, Accounting, Partnership and S Corporation Taxation. Strong accounting professional with a BS, MA focused in Accounting from University of Denver.
Travis Plakke works with top restaurants all over the state as the Principal at Sullivan Group Real Estate Service. He came to the Board of Firefly Autism after having a chance meeting with a friend of the organization, Linda Appel Lipsius. Travis is on the autism spectrum and thought this would be a great way to give back and offer some valuable insight, with a very appropriate point of view.
Professionally, Travis recalls an event from his youth that still drives him today: When he proposed an idea for a fine restaurant we was working in his teens, he was promptly shut down by the Executive Chef. The lessons that have stuck with him have taught him to always learn and grow in any situation you might be in, but know who you are and who you want to be. With that vision, learn and grow until it's time to move on. He also believes that if one wants to affect change, it is done from the top. That is why it is his pleasure to serve on the Firefly Autism Board.
Personally, to Travis, being a husband and a father is the single most important thing he has ever done and ever will do. Being with family is incredibly fulfilling to Travis.
He says "People on the spectum don't have Autism...we are Autistic and with the right environment and resources (Firefly) their super power(s) will be revealed."
Krystal Than has a been in the HR field for over 20 years, supporting organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. She currently serves as Chief HR and Compliance Officer for Peak Dental. She joined the Firefly board over 5 years because of a "Great mission and great team making REAL impact." Her experience in building process, infrastructure and collaborative environments as the human resources leader is key to the impact she creates towards business mission. Krystal has also been involved in non-profit work for over 20 years. In addition to her professional life, Krystal is a proud wife to her husband Van and mother to their son, Tyler.
Nicole Taylor is an experienced professional with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Coaching, Conflict Resolution, Event Management, Inclusive Excellence Framework and Team Building. Nicole also serves on the Board of Directors for PlatteForum and Think360Arts as well as being a Mayoral Appointee to the Denver Latino Commission.
Meyer Saltzman is a retired CPA. He joined the Firefly Board of Directors in 2019 after meeting Jesse Ogas while volunteering on another Board in Denver. Meyer appreciates the words of William James, who said, “I will act as if I make a difference.”
Jessen Gregory is licensed to practice law in CA, CO and TX. Ms. Gregory focuses on corporate and commercial real estate transactional work with Ruddy Gregory. Her practice involves complex mergers and acquisitions business transactions.
In 2009, Ms. Gregory was recognized for her Pro Bono work in the Denver Bar Association’s publication, “The Docket.” Ms. Gregory earned her Juris Doctor from San Diego School of Law in 2005. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado.
Donna Goldin-Evans comes to Firefly Autism’s Board as an executive-level Healthcare Consultant. A proven leader and visionary, Donna has made a career out of solving difficult problems with innovative solutions. In addition to Firefly’s Board of Directors, Donna also serves the community through the Women’s Bean Project, Clinica Tepeyac, Denver Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, SafeHouse Denver and Project Angel Heart. Donna is passionate about the mission of Firefly Autism and is committed to growing the organization through increased efficiencies and creative problem solving.
Brent Hinkston has been part of the Firefly Board of Directors since 2018. Brent comes to Firefly with a long career at IBM having held multiple and increasingly challenging roles in sales, sales management, sales enablement and sales strategy and execution positions. Brent is a creative and innovative thinker who exceeds at execution. In addition to Firefly Autism, Brent serves on the Colorado Technical Association and the Colorado Bioscience Association committees. Brent came to Firefly to give back and learn more about the Autism spectrum. He wants to use his experiences in business leadership and strategy to help drive a bigger agenda and leave Firefly Autism better than when he started. Brent has a family member on the Autism spectrum and through that experience has a unique perspective on what needs to be done to better the system of supports and resources for individuals on the spectrum.
John C. Morgridge is a Senior Investment Advisor with the Morgridge Family Foundation where he evaluates potential investments and manages investment allocation of the Foundation's endowment, among other growth and development tasks. John has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver and a MBA for DU as well.
In addition to serving with Firefly Autism, John volunteers with the Morgridge Family Foundation, Eide Baily, Impact 100, and the United Way.
John is very excited about the work that Firefly Autism is doing and believes that he will bring a valuable perspective with his service to the organization.
Jessica Ostoyich was born and raised in a small farming community on the eastern plains of Colorado, Jessica ventured off to the big city of Golden, Co where she studied Engineering with a Civil Specialty at the Colorado School of Mines. Jessica graduated in 2006 and began her career with Mortenson out at the Stapleton Redevelopment project as a field engineer. Since her stint at Stapleton, she has spent time on the Vestas Blade Manufacturing facility, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Integrated Bio-Refinery Research Facility, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Charles Schwab Lone Tree Campus, Woodward Lincoln Campus, HUB RiNo, Facebook Data Center, Fitzsimons Redevelopment and is currently working on a building a pipeline of business for the Mortenson Denver Operating Group. While not working, Jessica loves spending time with her husband Ryan, traveling, and volunteering at several local non-profit organizations, including Firefly Autism. If there were 36 hours in a day, Jessica could find activities to fill 38 of those 36 hours. She also has a really cool nephew who she can’t get enough of and enjoys spending time with him showing off her rusty basketball skills, helping him with homework, and just hanging out.
As Vice President of Sales for Cigna Mountain States, Brett leads the Sales and Service Teams for both new and existing business for Employer sponsored health plans. Cigna is a national Health Services Company whose mission is to improve the health, well-being and sense of security of those they serve. He also leads various local market initiatives focused on community engagement and improving affordability and personalization of healthcare services.
Prior to joining Cigna in 2017, Brett spent 13 years with BenefitMall, overseeing Sales & Operations for their Western Region. BenefitMall serves as a General Agency in the Employee Benefits arena and proudly serves over 1,000 Colorado Insurance brokers, representing more than 15,000 Colorado Employers. Brett joined BenefitMall through the sale of his Colorado-based Family General Agency business, which he ran from 2000-2003. He has held leadership roles in Sales Management, Operations, and Distribution working in diverse markets such as Colorado, California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming cultivating relationships and driving business results.
Brett enjoys travel, reading, outdoor activities such as golf and biking, and can frequently be found supporting one of his four children at any number of sporting event or school activity throughout the year with his wife of 24 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado Denver campus.
For 8 years, Jesse Ogas led Firefly as Executive Director and CEO. Now Jesse serves as the Development Committee Chair as well as on the steering committee for Laugh Yourself Blue.
Prior to his time at Firefly, Jesse attended college at Western New Mexico University with an emphasis in Business. He held various store and regional management positions with The May Co., Foley’s, Mervyn’s, Sears and Kohls. After 17 years he felt drawn to utilize his skill sets in the non-profit world. His first employment in the non-profit sector was for an organization that supported Developmentally Disabled Adults and their families. In 2013 he joined the team at Firefly Autism and in 2014 became the Executive Director.
For over 30 years Jesse has served on the boards of nonprofit organizations that have significant impact on the underserved communities. These boards include the Colorado Aids Project and then on boards of Clinica Tepeyac, Kemp Foundation, Latina Safehouse, Newsed, Adams Camp, MSU Presidents Cabinet, and others. “It’s all about relationships”.
Jesse is an Actor/Singer and a member of one the nation’s prominent Latino Theatre companies, Su Teatro.
He is always ready to share his talents for the greater good of all people.
Tanner Simpson Psy.D., NCSP, LP
Dr. Tanner Simpson is a Licensed Psychologist (PSY.0005582), and the Director of Diagnostics and Behavioral Health Services at Firefly Autism. Dr. Simpson earned his BA in Psychology from the University of Wyoming and went on to receive his MA and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in School Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver, one of only 14 School Psychology Psy.D. programs in the country to receive accreditation by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Simpson is a Licensed School Psychologist in the state of Colorado and is recognized as a Nationally Board-Certified School Psychologist. Throughout Dr. Simpson’s graduate education, he received specialized training in the developmental and neuropsychological assessment of toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults; specifically related to the evaluation of autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, intellectual and executive functioning, developmental challenges, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and behavioral difficulties. For more on Dr Simpson visit the Diagnostics page.