Meet the Staff

Lisa Weil

Lisa Weil

Executive Director

A product of Greeley District 6 schools and the proud mother of two DPS graduates, Lisa Weil is the Executive Director of Great Education Colorado, which she co-founded with four fellow preschool moms in 2003. Before diving into public education advocacy, Lisa was a public interest attorney and a political consultant, and served on the staffs of a number of elected officials, including Colorado Senator Tim Wirth and Governor Roy Romer. She is driven by a belief that a vital, equitable public education system is the foundation for individual success, family well-being, thriving communities, a strong democracy, a just society, and a vibrant economy.

Cody Otenson

Cody Ostenson

Director of Organizing

Cody’s passion for organizing and advocacy began as a middle school literacy teacher in Denver Public Schools. He has witnessed first hand the impacts of inadequate and inequitable school funding during his time in the classroom, working in community engagement, and through receiving his Masters in Public Administration at the University of Colorado - Denver. Students, families, and educators must be central architects of policy in the fight for more equitable and adequate funding, and this commitment shapes his organizing philosophy. As the Director of Organizing, Cody is responsible for recruiting and organizing advocates statewide and ensuring that a clear pathway to state-level advocacy is accessible to public education supporters across the state. Cody splits his time between organizing and training advocates for advocacy at the Capitol and during ballot measure campaigns, as well as always looking for ways to deepen and broaden support for racial and economic justice. Let’s grab a (virtual) coffee and connect!

Analise Harris

Analise Harris

Director of Communications and Digital Media

Analise has been in Denver since 2011 starting as an After school Programming Coordinator with City Year at North High School in Denver Public Schools. After obtaining a MA Ed. from Metropolitan State University, she continued teaching as a special education and concurrent enrollment teacher for 6 years. Analise also taught at Community College of Denver as an adjunct professor. As the Director of Communications and Digital Media, Analise will continue to grow Great Education Colorado social media presence and streamline content delivery.

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator

Ben’s passion for advocacy began in high school, when he traveled with his AP Government class to Washington, DC. But issues closer to home, like chronic educational inequity, have kept him rooted in Colorado. Since graduating college, he’s spent his young career organizing, working in communications, and advocating for policy to improve the lives of Colorado’s students and teachers. As Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator, Ben drafts outgoing emails, writes Great Ed’s weekly legislative recap, works closely with our policy coalition, and lobbies for relevant legislation. Growing up, Ben struggled with learning difficulties, and his experiences in school motivate him to fight for those most affected by Colorado’s unique education funding challenges. Outside of work he enjoys medium roast coffee, brisk fall days, and frequent mountain adventures.

Lea Steed

Lea Steed

Director of Equity Matters

Lea grew up in the Denver/Aurora area and was educated in the DPS and APS school system. She continued her education at the Community College of Denver and received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from University of Northern Colorado. Working with Great Education Colorado since 2015, Lea has been building relationships, knowledge, and feedback loops in communities of color to ensure the organization is increasingly responsive to their needs, ideas, and input. Lea has two beautiful teenage daughters who attend DPS schools. Her work at Great Education Colorado has taught her to never underestimate the power of grassroots organizing or the power of voice!

Zacary J Tardiff

Zacary J. Tardiff

Director of Development

Zacary has a diverse array of professional experiences including nearly 8 years as an administrator and professor at West Virginia University. He has also been involved with nonprofit organizations for more than 10 years, including serving as the President of Empty Bowls Monongalia in West Virginia. Zacary and his wife, Abby (a native Coloradan), relocated to Colorado in mid-2016. Originally from New Jersey, Zacary is a two-time graduate of West Virginia University, most recently attaining an MBA from the John Chambers College of Business & Economics at WVU. Zacary is dedicated to building genuine, lasting relationships that will help Great Education Colorado continue to grow. He is passionate about ensuring that students throughout the state have access to high quality public education. In his free time, Zacary enjoys cooking, golfing, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and dogs.

Nicole Niebler

Nicole Shea Niebler

Director of Operations

While studying Dietetics and Global Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Nicole chose to dedicate her career to increasing equity by empowering and educating communities. She then worked in the non-profit sector in Madison, Wisconsin increasing access to healthy, local foods and educating communities about the connections between food, health, and the environment. Great Education Colorado’s vision for all Coloradan children to have equal access to adequate and equitable education fulfills her goal of increasing equity. Outside of work she is frequently found playing ukulele, traveling, and caring for her plants.

Mary McNeil Cheever

Mary McNeil Cheever

Community Liaison

A California native, Mary moved to Colorado in 1987. She has been involved with Great Education Colorado in a variety of capacities since its inception. Mary has two daughters who are proud graduates of Denver public schools. She spent many years as a fundraiser, organizer, school and community volunteer. She passionately believes in the value of public education as a cornerstone of our Democracy and is devoted to making an equitable and adequately funded public education a reality for ALL Colorado children. Mary also serves on the board of Partners in Literacy and holds a degree in History from Stanford University. She enjoys hiking in Colorado’s beautiful mountains and singing in a community choir.

Lisa Weil

Lisa Weil

Executive Director

A product of Greeley District 6 schools and the proud mother of two DPS graduates, Lisa Weil is the Executive Director of Great Education Colorado, which she co-founded with four fellow preschool moms in 2003. Before diving into public education advocacy, Lisa was a public interest attorney and a political consultant, and served on the staffs of a number of elected officials, including Colorado Senator Tim Wirth and Governor Roy Romer. She is driven by a belief that a vital, equitable public education system is the foundation for individual success, family well-being, thriving communities, a strong democracy, a just society, and a vibrant economy.

Cody Otenson

Cody Ostenson

Director of Organizing

Cody’s passion for organizing and advocacy began as a middle school literacy teacher in Denver Public Schools. He has witnessed first hand the impacts of inadequate and inequitable school funding during his time in the classroom, working in community engagement, and through receiving his Masters in Public Administration at the University of Colorado - Denver. Students, families, and educators must be central architects of policy in the fight for more equitable and adequate funding, and this commitment shapes his organizing philosophy. As the Director of Organizing, Cody is responsible for recruiting and organizing advocates statewide and ensuring that a clear pathway to state-level advocacy is accessible to public education supporters across the state. Cody splits his time between organizing and training advocates for advocacy at the Capitol and during ballot measure campaigns, as well as always looking for ways to deepen and broaden support for racial and economic justice. Let’s grab a (virtual) coffee and connect!

Analise Harris

Analise Harris

Director of Communications and Digital Media

Analise has been in Denver since 2011 starting as an After school Programming Coordinator with City Year at North High School in Denver Public Schools. After obtaining a MA Ed. from Metropolitan State University, she continued teaching as a special education and concurrent enrollment teacher for 6 years. Analise also taught at Community College of Denver as an adjunct professor. As the Director of Communications and Digital Media, Analise will continue to grow Great Education Colorado social media presence and streamline content delivery.

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator

Ben’s passion for advocacy began in high school, when he traveled with his AP Government class to Washington, DC. But issues closer to home, like chronic educational inequity, have kept him rooted in Colorado. Since graduating college, he’s spent his young career organizing, working in communications, and advocating for policy to improve the lives of Colorado’s students and teachers. As Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator, Ben drafts outgoing emails, writes Great Ed’s weekly legislative recap, works closely with our policy coalition, and lobbies for relevant legislation. Growing up, Ben struggled with learning difficulties, and his experiences in school motivate him to fight for those most affected by Colorado’s unique education funding challenges. Outside of work he enjoys medium roast coffee, brisk fall days, and frequent mountain adventures.

Lea Steed

Lea Steed

Director of Equity Matters

Lea grew up in the Denver/Aurora area and was educated in the DPS and APS school system. She continued her education at the Community College of Denver and received a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from University of Northern Colorado. Working with Great Education Colorado since 2015, Lea has been building relationships, knowledge, and feedback loops in communities of color to ensure the organization is increasingly responsive to their needs, ideas, and input. Lea has two beautiful teenage daughters who attend DPS schools. Her work at Great Education Colorado has taught her to never underestimate the power of grassroots organizing or the power of voice!

Zacary J Tardiff

Zacary J. Tardiff

Director of Development

Zacary has a diverse array of professional experiences including nearly 8 years as an administrator and professor at West Virginia University. He has also been involved with nonprofit organizations for more than 10 years, including serving as the President of Empty Bowls Monongalia in West Virginia. Zacary and his wife, Abby (a native Coloradan), relocated to Colorado in mid-2016. Originally from New Jersey, Zacary is a two-time graduate of West Virginia University, most recently attaining an MBA from the John Chambers College of Business & Economics at WVU. Zacary is dedicated to building genuine, lasting relationships that will help Great Education Colorado continue to grow. He is passionate about ensuring that students throughout the state have access to high quality public education. In his free time, Zacary enjoys cooking, golfing, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and dogs.

Nicole Niebler

Nicole Shea Niebler

Director of Operations

While studying Dietetics and Global Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Nicole chose to dedicate her career to increasing equity by empowering and educating communities. She then worked in the non-profit sector in Madison, Wisconsin increasing access to healthy, local foods and educating communities about the connections between food, health, and the environment. Great Education Colorado’s vision for all Coloradan children to have equal access to adequate and equitable education fulfills her goal of increasing equity. Outside of work she is frequently found playing ukulele, traveling, and caring for her plants.

Mary McNeil Cheever

Mary McNeil Cheever

Community Liaison

A California native, Mary moved to Colorado in 1987. She has been involved with Great Education Colorado in a variety of capacities since its inception. Mary has two daughters who are proud graduates of Denver public schools. She spent many years as a fundraiser, organizer, school and community volunteer. She passionately believes in the value of public education as a cornerstone of our Democracy and is devoted to making an equitable and adequately funded public education a reality for ALL Colorado children. Mary also serves on the board of Partners in Literacy and holds a degree in History from Stanford University. She enjoys hiking in Colorado’s beautiful mountains and singing in a community choir.