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 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 28, 2017 HASE

September 18, 2017 HANE

October 30, 2017 HASE

November 27, 2017 HANE

December 11, 2017 Holiday Celebration ( Location TBD)

January 22 HASE

February 26 HANE

March 19 HASE

April 16 HANE

May 21 HASE

June 18 HANE

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.
Tom Bulger Vice President (Alumni Parent)
Tom is an Attorney at Law with Silvern & Bulger, P.C. He holds a B.A. in History (with honors) and International Affairs from Canisus College and is a graduate of Rutgers University Law School.
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 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 is Vice President of Community Engagement at ACE Scholarships, a local nonprofit providing educational scholarships to low-income families. James’s wife, Shayna, works as a reading literacy interventionist and restorative justice advocate. They have two children, both attending HANE, James Jr. and Naomi.

James earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with a minor in Business Administration, from Oral Roberts University.

Zach Backes Treasurer (Community Member)
Zach is a Founding Member and CTO for, a startup that aims to connect people with home improvement professionals while simultaneously raising money for charities across the country. He has also been a part of launching a number of other startups including Hassle-Free Car, a car sharing management company for Turo, and BirthGrants, a not-for-profit organization on a mission to provide financial assistance for out-of-hospital care and birth support services. Zach has previously served other primary education institutions and not-for-profits in a Vice President capacity. He holds a B.A. in Business Management with an emphasis in Marketing from Colorado Christian University. Zach’s core areas of expertise are in technology, marketing, business development, and finance.
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.
Barb 2009 Wallet Sized photo-single
Barb Sample Director (Community Member)
Barb currently serves as Director of Educational Services as well as the Secretary of the Board of Directors at the Spring Institute, primarily leading the design of programs and development of curriculum and materials. She has over 30 years experience as a teacher trainer for a variety of programs around the world. Barb has also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Colorado, the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Phoenix. She has contributed to numerous materials for the Colorado Department of Education among others. Barb holds a B.A. on Sociology and a minor in English Literature from Carleton College as well as a M.A. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the Teachers College, Columbia University.
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.
Nathan Byford (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.
Drew Kent (Parent) Professionally, 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.
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. Ms. Ferris has a husband and two teenage children, one entering college in Seattle and the other starting high school at GALS charter school in Denver. She is honored and excited to be the new Executive Director of Highline Academy.
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. When Sarah is not at Highline she is learning to be a mom to her daughter, Eleanor, who was born in November 2016.
Tim Taylor
Tim Taylor Chair of the Policy and Advisory Board, Ex Officio
Tim Taylor is the co-founder and Executive Director of America Succeeds, bringing a unique background of executive, non-profit and public policy experience to the organization. Prior to launching America Succeeds, he served as the founding President of Colorado Succeeds. In 2011, Highline Academy’s Board of Directors appointed Tim as chair of its new Policy and Advisory Board, which was created to strengthen connections between Highline and the philanthropic and governmental communities in Denver and beyond.



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












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