Board of Directors
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.
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."
Janette L. Ferguson
Janette is an experienced litigator with over 25 years of experience handling complex commercial disputes. She has experience with breach of contract claims, fraud and misrepresentation cases, breach of fiduciary duty, business torts, Consumer Protection Act claims, employment disputes, class action litigation, construction defect claims, product liability cases, insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, and state and federal bid protests. Janette also has experience challenging Federal natural resource agency decisions, NEPA compliance and litigation, consulting on the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and the Oil Pollution Control Act. Janette is resolution focused. She works closely with her clients to determine their ultimate business goals and objectives and tailors her dispute resolution approach to efficiently and effectively meet those goals and objectives.
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.
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.
John Griffith has served on Firefly Autism's Board for over 10 years. 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.
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.
Deborah (“Deb”) Howitt is a partner in the Denver office of Dorsey & Whitney, where she focuses on data privacy, cybersecurity, digital marketing, digital media, and intellectual property transactions. Deb counsels’ clients in various industries on compliance with U.S. and international data privacy and security laws and has guided clients through complex data security breaches. Her privacy-related work includes drafting privacy policies for websites and mobile applications, international data transfers, data breach notifications/preparedness, vendor privacy/security programs, training programs for clients, as well as compliance with state and federal laws, FTC guidance, TCPA, COPPA, CAN-SPAM, international privacy laws, and more. She enjoys following the rapid new developments in privacy and Internet law, as well as helping clients manage their data risks and bringing them into compliance. Deb has advised on hundreds of transactions involving technology, personal data, and content, and has represented service providers and content or technology creators, as well as their enterprise clients. She also has extensive experience in copyright protection and enforcement, user-generated content matters, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), e-commerce agreements, sweepstakes, contests, and other promotions.
John C. Morgridge
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.
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.”
Jesse Ogas, former CEO of Firefly Autism, now leads community engagement, manages station partnerships, and champions inclusivity at 9NEWS. Ogas is a key part of the station’s executive leadership team. Ogas has more than thirty years of nonprofit leadership experience and under Ogas’ leadership, Firefly Autism has grown to serve families and children with autism across Colorado and is considered one the leading agencies in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy nationally and internationally.
Ogas is a proud member of one of the nation’s prominent Latino Theater companies, Su Teatro. He is a community advocate that serves on a variety of nonprofit Boards, including Colorado Aids Project, Tepeyac Community Health Center, Kemp Foundation, Latina Safehouse, Newsed, Adams Camp and the MSU President’s Cabinet. He is a recipient of the Eric J. Duran Community Service Award, which honors a person of Latino descent who has made a positive impact in the Denver community.
Ogas was the 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year, which is presented by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. The award is peer nominated and selected and honors leaders in the community who have made significant contributions to the well-being and development of Colorado. Ogas also recently participated in 9NEWS’ Voices of Change initiative during Hispanic Heritage month. Voices of Change is an ongoing conversation that amplifies voices of community members who are provoking change toward building an equitable, inclusive, and flourishing Colorado.
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.
Mark Richtermeyer has over 25 years of experience leading professional and technical organizations. His background as an entrepreneur influences his approach to market strategies, and his experience building high-performing teams drives his executional style. Mark is the VP of Professional Services for Nexustek and manages 7 operational practice areas and the Program Management Office (PMO) within the organization. Previously, Mark founded The Spitfire Group and served as its CEO for 12 years. The company successfully sold to David Consulting in 2016. He was the Denver Office Managing Partner for Hitachi consulting (a roll-up of BDO Seidman, Grant Thornton, Tactica Technology and other consulting organizations). He was the Western Region VP for iXL, managing over 800 consultants in the Western US and Asia Pacific. Mark has deep experience leading teams that deliver complex technology and management consulting solutions. Mark has an MBA from the University of Colorado, a BS in accounting from the University of Wyoming, was previously licensed as a CPA in Colorado and Wyoming. Mark is a veteran who served as an officer in the US Air Force and Air National Guard.
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.
Javier Alberto Soto
Javier Alberto Soto is President and CEO of The Denver Foundation. Before joining The Denver Foundation in October 2019, Javier spent 10 years as President and CEO of The Miami Foundation. Javier has strong personal ties to Colorado. In his first month with The Denver Foundation Javier cycled more than 60 miles through dozens of neighborhoods, meeting with residents and leaders along the way. Javier graduated from Florida State University with a B.A. in History and Political Science and earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Leigh Sullivan is the Development Director for Pepper's Senior Dog Sanctuary (PSDS) in Denver, Colorado. The third-generation Coloradoan is passionate about animal welfare, management, and philanthropy. As a life-long animal lover, she was always bringing home stray dogs and wanting to help those in need.
Prior to her work at PSDS, Leigh, a restaurateur, founded the culinary supergroup, FIVE, and spent three decades in the hospitality industry. She is a widely-respected marketing and communications strategist and is innovative in her efforts to support both the Colorado culinary world and charitable causes. In recent years, Leigh has been recognized for her invaluable service and support to the LGBTQ+ community. She also serves on the board of directors for Firefly Autism, a charity that is near and dear to her heart.
In 2021, Leigh and her family moved outside of Denver’s city limits so they could exceed the three-dog per household maximum and focus on their work with PSDS. She now lives in Littleton with her husband, three children, and seven dogs, and a Russian tortoise named Charlie.
To learn more about working with Leigh at PSDS or to get in touch with her about about donating or volunteering to support the organization’s mission, please reach out via email:
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.
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 Officer for Panorama Eyecare. She has served the Firefly Board for 8 years and continues to do so because of the great mission and team that makes REAL impact to the community and the families we serve. 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.
Jim C. Tolliver
Jim’s insurance career spans 25 years of providing highly successful individuals, family offices and mid-sized commercial businesses with specialized risk advisory services. He oversees the personal lines practice nationally, which offers custom insurance solutions for over 1,000 individual clients across all 14 offices in the Western US, New England and Hawaii.
In addition to serving on Firefly's Board of Directors, Jim served on the Steering Committee of the Private Client Practice Group of Assurex Global from 2015-2018. He is a two-year term appointed Executive Sponsor of the Woodruff Sawyer DEI movement – Women’s Employee Resource Group.
Jim graduated from University of Louisville, with a bachelor’s Degrees in Communications.
In his spare time, he is frequently found attending kids’ sports programs with his wonderful wife, playing pickleball, traveling, floating rivers and casting flies to wild trout.