Meet the Team
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Mara Mintzer helped found Growing Up Boulder (GUB) in 2009. A passionate advocate for child-friendly cities, Mara presents and writes internationally on the topic of engaging young people in inclusive community planning and development. Her expertise in engaging children and youth in meaningful ways to shape their own cities is requested by government and community organizations around the world. In 2017, Mara delivered one of the most successful TedX Talks on the importance of urban planning with kids, accumulating almost 2 million views. She continues to be inspired by seeing the positive impact that planning equitable communities has on everyone. Mara also loves creating innovative community resources, like the nation’s first child and teen friendly city map. Prior to GUB, Mara was Director of Belle Haven Community School in California, where she oversaw child and family support services families on an underresourced school campus. She has designed and implemented a wide variety of programs for underrepresented children, families and neighborhoods in New York and California. Mara received her B.A. in Psychology from Brown University and her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. In her free time, Mara loves to cook, spend time with her family, and to immerse herself and learn about other cultures while traveling the globe (she speaks Spanish and French).
As Growing Up Boulder's Education Coordinator, Cathy works closely with city partners and educators to design and facilitate community engagements that are personally relevant and impactful. Cathy is the creative mastermind behind GUB’s proven methodology for meaningful classroom engagements that empower children and youth of all backgrounds through project-based learning opportunities. Cathy is also highly invested in making cities more equitable by including all voices in decision-making processes. While engaged in according projects, Cathy enjoys mentoring children, youth, and interns, where she is constantly inspired by their ideas and ambitions. In 2015, Cathy retired from teaching after 32 years of service, 22 of which were at Whittier International School in Boulder. Cathy also serves as a board member of Passage Works Institute, a local non-profit that provides teachers a practical approach to teaching and learning that improves social, emotional, and academic outcomes. Cathy received her B.S. in Human Development & Family Studies at Colorado State University and her M.Ed in Elementary Education at Lesley College. In her free time, Cathy loves to travel, backpack, spend summers on Lake Michigan and snowboard in deep powder.
Maya Sol Dansie
A key Growing Up Boulder partner in “Healing” work from the Table Mesa tragedy and the “Reimagine Policing” project, Maya Sol Dansie runs Mayamotion Healing, a multilingual, woman-owned practice that promotes a holistic health model and takes into account the social and political contexts that impact our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. She utilizes responsive modalities of healing, rooted in culture, spirituality, and community. Unlike most western psychology and therapy, MAYAMOTION Healing integrates an interactive – culturally grounded approach through mental health psychotherapy, consulting, somatic therapy, art, dance, and practices that result in self transformation, wellness and liberation. As a Xicana/Mestiza mujer & founder of MAYAMOTION Healing, Maya Sol is an activist, dancer, educator, and licensed clinical social worker dedicated towards raising awareness and political consciousness and empowering our community.
Development and Operations Coordinator
Maddie is an educator with a diverse background, ranging from outdoor education to traditional science teaching. Maddie is a passionate advocate for equitable opportunities for youth. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from University of Redlands and a Master of Arts in Teaching with a specialization in culturally responsive science classrooms from Relay Graduate School of Education. Beginning her career as an outdoor educator, Maddie discovered the profound impact of experiential learning in the great outdoors. This experience laid the foundation for a transition into the traditional classroom setting, where she continued to ignite curiosity and innovation for students. She firmly believes that every young mind holds incredible potential, and she is dedicated to ensuring that quality education and the wonders of the natural world are accessible to all. In Maddie's free time, she finds joy making pottery, traveling, and backpacking.
Dr. Nicole Sager, PhD
As a Growing Up Boulder Educational Consultant, Nicole engages in community participatory research and listening events, collaborates with city partners, analyzes data and writes reports. In her 30 years in education, she has taught everything from preschool to university students both in the U.S. and abroad. She believes childhood is sacred and that everyone can do their part to uphold the human rights of all children. Nicole works with local Early Childhood Councils and Spanish-speaking providers to establish in-home childcare businesses in addition to teaching Early Childhood Education courses at CU Denver on multicultural family partnerships, bilingualism, and dual language learners. Her service includes board membership of CIRCLE, a youth leadership and social justice nonprofit and she is board president of the Boulder Library Foundation. Nicole holds a B.S. in Latin American Studies/Bilingual Education from UC Santa Cruz, an MA in Teaching Spanish and ESL from SIT, and a PhD from CU Boulder in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity. She enjoys time with her family, gardening, being in nature, yoga, swimming, traveling and learning languages.
Participatory Planning Associate
Luciana is a passionate educator from Lima, Peru where she developed experience working in classrooms as a Reggio Emilia investigator teacher. Her background in science includes service and therapy dog training, which inspired her passion for working towards a community that is inclusive for all their citizens. Luciana’s received her MA in Learning Sciences and Human Development at the University of Colorado, Boulder where she focused on social design-based experiments to confront problems in traditional education within underrepresented communities. In her free time, Luciana loves to play with her friend’s kids and enjoy nice conversations with her friends while eating delicious food and drinks.
Bilingual Engagement Specialist
Jetzabel graduated with a BA in Sociology and Masters in Corporate Social Responsibility from Universidad Central de Venezuela. With more than 15 years of experience facilitating accelerated learning, Jetza is expert in developing life skills with children and youth as well as designing activities that are both educational and enjoyable. Jetza has worked with various vulnerable communities including, but not limited to, drug consumptiona and prevention. In Jetza’s own words, “I truly believe in people and in the opportunities that we can offer everyone equally.” Outside of work, Jetza’s loves to sew, care for plants, and most importantly, dance and laugh.
Nettie is an Urban Design and Planning graduate out of the Environmental Design program at CU-Boulder. She started with Growing Up Boulder as an intern, and has since pivoted to the role of Designer, working with the team to create GUB’s Impact Reports, brochures, educational materials, and more. Nettie loves to support an organization that amplifies unheard voices and pushes for needed systemic change, while operating in an incredibly thoughtful and caring manner. Outside of Growing Up Boulder, she is an instructor with the Environmental Design program, and does graphic design work for other passionate social justice organizations.
Communications and Development Intern
As Growing Up Boulder’s spring Communications and Development Intern, Abigail has joined us to help support our relations with community leaders and our lines of communication with our partners and supporters. Abigail is currently a senior at The University of Colorado Boulder where she is a Media Studies major with a minor in Leadership. Aside from her studies, she is the president of the Women’s Club Volleyball Team at CU Boulder. She is also passionate about making a difference in the lives of children within the community. Abigail chooses to spend her free time skiing, hiking, or trying a new, local coffee shop!
Urban Planning and Engagement Intern
Polly is Growing Up Boulder’s spring Urban Planning and Engagement Intern, in her third year at CU Boulder’s Environmental Design Program. At CU, she studies Urban Design and Sociology, bringing a socially-based design lens to the GUB team. Additionally, she works as a part-time digital technician, loves to ski the Colorado mountains, and graphic design. She is thrilled to work alongside the rest of the team and Boulder’s youth to improve the livelihood of tomorrow.
As Growing Up Boulder’s Program Director, Erin Saunders is passionate about equitable, community-scale nature connection through engaging youth’s voices in planning and development of programs and spaces. Erin has decades of experience leading teams through the visioning and development of programs that connect youth to nature, through her work at Thorne Nature Experience. One of her biggest accomplishments was founding Thorne Nature Preschool, Boulder’s first licensed nature-based preschool. Erin has also been foundational in starting the E Movement, a collective impact model that engages over 25 providers in providing community-scale environmental education programs to our community’s schools, and has led to the development of Nature Kids Jovenes de la Naturaleza. Erin’s career pathway has grown out of her own love of nature and a belief that if ALL children are given the opportunity to spend time playing in nature with a mentor, this will result in adult stewardship values. Erin holds a BS in Zoology and Botany from the University of Washington and the University of Melbourne in Australia. Erin enjoys live music, traveling, hiking, and spends most of her free time exploring and playing with her two young boys in nature.
Development and Communications Coordinator
Christine collaborates with community leaders to ignite community growth and balance communications between GUB and their relationships. She graduated with a BA in Business Management, BA in Music Performance, and MS in Information Systems from the University of Memphis. She is passionate about community development and solutioning ideas that solve problems. Driven to listen to the community’s needs and deliver impact, she has been involved with various youth development and outreach initiatives. When she is not at the office, Christine runs, bikes, swims and converses with friends and family.