Board of Directors

Highline Academy’s Board is comprised of parent/guardians and community members who share a commitment to policy governance and a specific commitment to Highline’s vision and mission.

To contact the Board, please send us an email.

Board Meeting Dates

Board meetings are held the third Monday of each month at 6:15pm, unless otherwise noted, and will alternate between the two schools. Parents and community members are encouraged to attend the monthly meetings.

  • August 20, 2018 HANE 6:15pm
  • September 28, 2018 HASE 6:15pm
  • October 15, 2018 HANE 6:15pm
  • December 3, 2018 HASE 6:15pm
  • January 28, HANE 6:15pm
  • February 9, HASE 8:30am
  • February 13, HASE 7:15pm (call-in info: 888.757.2790 / Passcode: 947689)
  • February 25, HASE 6:15pm
  • March 22, HANE 7:00am
  • April 15, HASE 6:15pm
  • May 20, HANE 6:15pm
  • June 10, HASE 6:15pm

Board of Directors

Jonathan Tee 
President (Parent)

Jonathan serves as Chief Operating Officer for ACE Scholarships, a non-profit that provides scholarships to children from low-income families to attend the K-12 private school of their choice in Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana and Montana. Jonathan is a graduate of Hillsdale College, where he earned his degree in History and State Certification as a Secondary Teacher. His core areas of expertise are in communications, fundraising, operations and finance.

Nathan Byford 
Vice President (Parent)

A native of Pueblo, Colorado, and a current parent, and a parent of Highline’s first class, Nate moved to Southeast Denver in 2000 after studying business and information systems at the University of Northern Colorado.  He proceeded to work in a fast-paced start-up environment shortly after and subsequently assisted in the public offering. Nate is a graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and has practiced oil & gas law, real estate law, and business law. Nate has worked with at-risk youth as a volunteer and later, as a leader in an online high school dedicated to developing skills for under-represented youth. Currently, Nate owns Hyperion Strategies, LLC where he helps minority and women-owned businesses realize their dreams by advising these organizations on myriad solutions to help them succeed.

Eric Neumann

Senior Accounting and Finance Executive who has held CFO and SVP positions in both private and public organizations spanning the media, technology and hospitality industries. He has co-led strategic initiatives with operating executives to find untapped value in organizations of all sizes. He has routinely presented accurate and reliable forecasts — as well as corporate strategy — to investors, research analysts, ratings agencies and boards. More recently, Eric was hired as CFO and tasked with the restructure of a company’s debt and equity positions.

James Coleman
Director (Parent)

James Coleman serves in the Colorado House of Representatives, representing House District 7. He is a native of Denver—having grown up in the Park Hill neighborhood and is currently living in Green Valley Ranch. His professional career has been dedicated to empowering families and engaging the community to improve the quality of life for Colorado residents. He has two children, both attending HANE, James Jr. and Naomi.

Sandra Grahame 
Co-Secretary (Parent)

Sandra is a founder and CEO of Smart Cookies, a media company that educates and inspires financial success. She is an author, producer and media expert and has been feature on Oprah, The Today Show and in The New York Times. Her core areas of expertise are media, communications, marketing and business development.

Sara Spanier 
Co-Secretary (Community Member)

Sara is a first-generation college graduate with a passion for serving high-need communities and low-income students, ensuring all students succeed regardless of their background or family income level. Sara is currently the Director of Education Pioneers, Denver where she works closely with partners and diverse leaders to support the critical work happening in Denver’s schools and education organizations. Prior to this role Sara spent over a decade focused on development work at STRIVE Preparatory Schools and College Summit – Colorado.

Kaya Taylor
Director (Community Member)

Kaya is a dedicated and compassionate people leader who can assist an organization with design and ongoing oversight of their compliance, risk management, and operations. Her skills, experience, natural warmth and charisma have equipped her to improve the regulatory risk and reputational profile and operational bottom line for any organization while building and maintaining strong relationships. Her areas of expertise include Community Banking, Operational Risk & Compliance, Board Level Policy and Training Development, Advisor in Federal and State Regulatory Compliance. She has been employed by SquareTwo, Capital One and at Nordstrom Bank FSB.

Brent Baribeau 
Director (Parent)

Brent is an Account Supervisor at the Denver office of Saatchi & Saatchi. He is involved in all aspects of marketing for the Denver Toyota Dealers Association, including managing their partnerships with Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum, The Colorado Rockies, The Denver Nuggets, The Colorado Avalanche and The Colorado Rapids. Brent is a graduate and die-hard fan of The University Of Michigan, where he earned his Business Administration degree with a focus in marketing and advertising. He enjoys playing wheelchair tennis and going on Colorado adventures with his wife and two boys. Brent’s core areas of expertise are in sponsorships, marketing and strategic planning.

Joe Whitfield 
Director, Parent

Joseph Whitfield is an attorney, community servant and dedicated family man who brings experience in law and a passion for helping others to the Highline Academy Board. A proud native of California’s Bay Area, Whitfield is a Deputy District Attorney for Colorado’s 18thJudicial District and he currently serves as President of the Sam Cary Bar Association, Colorado’s official black bar organization. A former executive board member for the National Black Prosecutors Association, Whitfield also heads the nominating and legal redress committees for the Aurora Branch of the NAACP. A proud husband and father to two jubilant and charismatic HANE students, Whitfield says his board service is inspired by his passion for Highline’s mission of equity in education, along with a deep-seeded desire to “give back” to the community. He currently serves on Highline’s Reach Up committee.

Drew Kent
Director (Parent)

Drew has been in personnel management for 20 years, specializing in Transportation and Logistics, and has a degree in Computer Technology. He has also worked, and chaired volunteer boards through employers which focused on community involvement, as well as volunteer opportunities to help those in need through organizations such as Denver Rescue Mission, Food Bank of the Rockies, Urban Gardens, and many others. As a board member, he serves as a parent representative from the Northeast Campus, and believes in our mission to provide the highest standard of education to our students, as well as creating respected young members of our communities.

Faye Ganley 
Director (Community Member)

Faye is a founder of Highline Academy and worked as Director of Enrollment and Communications at Highline SE for 10 years. She is now a realtor in the Denver area.

Christine Ferris 
Executive Director Highline Academy, Ex Officio

Christine Ferris M.S.ed. is a veteran educator who has worked in public, private, and charter schools since 1989. She founded and led Our Community School, a K-8 charter school in Los Angeles CA from 2005 to 2013. In 2009 the school was recognized as the charter school of the year in CA for their progress toward narrowing the achievement gap. Since moving to Denver in 2013, Ms. Ferris has worked as a consultant for several charter schools both locally and  nationally.  

Sarah Verni-Lau 
Principal Highline Academy Southeast, Ex Officio

Sarah Verni-Lau is the principal at Highline Academy Southeast. She has been with Highline for 11 years; serving the school first as an 8th grade language arts teacher for 7 years and more recently as an instructional coach and assistant principal. Sarah attended Loyola Marymount University where she received her undergraduate degree in English and Secondary Education and recently completed the ALPS cohort program, a joint Education Leadership Masters and Principal Licensure program, through the University of Colorado at Denver. 

Guerin Gray 
Principal Highline Academy Northeast, Ex Officio

Mr. Gray has been the principal of Highline Academy Northeast since June 2017. He earned his principal license and worked as an assistant principal in two DPS schools before joining Highline’s leadership team. Mr. Gray has 16 years of experience as an educator serving in many roles. Mr. Gray started his educational work at the Red Cloud Indian School as a fine arts teacher. He was also a Language Arts, Social Studies and Math teacher at Montclair Academy and a Language Arts teacher at Highline Academy Southeast, after which he went into the principal licensure program. Mr. Gray received his BA in English from the University of Notre Dame and is currently working on his Doctorate of Education from the University of Denver.

Board Policies & Procedures

For more information about Highline Academy Board policies and procedures, or for an application for Board service, click the links below.

Board Minutes