AdvanceEDU is an innovative, new kind of college experience in Colorado.
Our unique approach relies on partnerships with trusted, nonprofit universities. They provide our students affordable access to their degree programs, and we provide all the things that students need to be successful: a deeply supported onboarding process, personalized coaching and supports in our Denver campus, and a community of caring staff and peers that will be with them every step of the way.
This approach means students can pursue their degree and build their career at the same time, even while working or supporting family.
Our students thrive because we offer flexible, affordable degrees, with personalized support for students who work or have other commitments. Our students commit to earning a college degree and exploring career pathways. Our staff commit to helping students navigate a path forward by providing a personal Success Coach, academic support, and a unique co-learning location – all aimed at helping students succeed.
Founded in 2020, AdvanceEDU is reimagining college for Denver’s students.
Alejandra was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and grew up in South Florida. Her commitment to equity in education is rooted in her own experiences as a first-generation immigrant to the United States and in what she has learned through her work with high school and college students. Alejandra has had the opportunity to support student success in several roles, including as an AmeriCorps Student Engagement Advocate, College Advisor, and Graduate Assistant. Through her role at AdvanceEDU, Alejandra hopes to work alongside students as they circumvent the aspects of higher education that do not support their success to instead pursue a path that allows them to reach their goals feeling whole, empowered, and ready to enact positive change in their own lives, communities, and the world. Alejandra holds a BA in Earth and Environmental Science from Columbia University and an MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University.
Holly is passionate about helping students thrive in education, career, and life. She has held multiple roles dedicated to building high-quality programs that promote equity for all students and communities. Prior to AdvanceEDU, she led an academic support program as Coordinator of Supplemental Instruction at Metropolitan State University of Denver. As the Assistant Director of College Completion for PelotonU, she helped create innovative student support resources and programming for the emerging hybrid college sector. Before PelotonU, she worked in various PK-12 roles coaching district leaders and teachers, overseeing curriculum and instruction, and creating remedial reading programs. Holly, a native Texan, graduated from Austin College and received her Master’s in Teaching from Marian University and her Master’s in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She hopes to help shape the future of higher education through AdvanceEDU’s dynamic, flexible, and career-relevant approach to supporting students.
Lesley Del Rio
Lesley has a deep commitment to the Denver Community through her engagement, advocacy, and education work. Raised in the Westwood neighborhood of Denver, she graduated from Florence Crittenton High School and has served in various non-profit organizations in the Denver metro area in pursuit of advancing equity and access for underserved communities. Her other community leadership and advocacy includes serving as a Parent Advisor for the Aspen Institute, facilitating community collective action conversations, serving on the Denver Health Community Advisory Panel, and mentoring through Latinas Increasing Political Strength, At AdvanceEDU, Lesley remains committed to the Denver community by helping students access higher education and postsecondary opportunities. Lesley is a first generation student, a mother of a 10 year old who loves video games, and was the first AdvanceEDU Student to earn her associate’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University. Lesley is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree with AdvanceEDU.
Micah Lyles Robinson
Ronie is a current student and junior recruiter at AdvanceEDU. She is very passionate about her education and her family, but also enjoys her work because it allows her to meet new people. In her free time, Ronie loves to take long walks, play video games, and indulge in retail therapy!
Head of Outreach
Vanessa has dedicated her career to helping all students access higher education and postsecondary opportunities. She has over 10 years of experience in education where she has served in a variety of roles to promote higher education access to Colorado’s students. Prior to AdvanceEDU, Vanessa was the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Colorado Boulder where she led efforts to enroll the largest and most diverse first-year class in the university’s history, 7 years in a row. Raised in Pueblo, Colorado as the granddaughter of immigrants and daughter of educators, Vanessa developed her values early in life and believes in the power of education to lift up individuals and communities. Vanessa earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Educational Foundations, Practices and Policy from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is committed to working with students to help them find the right fit for their higher education path at AdvanceEDU.
Jandel Allen-Davis is the president and CEO of Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, which was recently named one of the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the country by the U.S. News & World Report. Previously, Dr. Allen-Davis was the vice president of government and external relations for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School, completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and is board certified. Dr. Allen-Davis is an active participant in the community and currently serves on the boards of Dartmouth Geisel Medical School; Denver Botanic Gardens; the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; National Jewish Health; Colorado Hospital Association; and, is a member of the Colorado State Economic Development Commission; and, is engaged with several community organizations.
Elizabeth Concordia serves as president and chief executive officer of UCHealth, a nationally recognized, nonprofit health care system with 12 hospitals, hundreds of clinic locations, and a workforce of 25,000 people. Under her leadership as CEO, UCHealth has grown to care for 1.9 million patients each year while focusing on strategic partnerships, developing new models of care, improving patient access and experience, and supporting research and education. Before joining UCHealth, Concordia served as executive vice president for UPMC and president of its Hospital and Community Services Division. Concordia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and German from Duke University and a Master of Administrative Science Management from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the Women’s Forum of Colorado and the Colorado Forum.
Founder and Board Member
Kent Thiry is the former executive chairman of DaVita’s board of directors. He served as chairman and CEO of DaVita from 1999 until June of 2019. DaVita has been the subject of leadership and culture case studies by Harvard and Stanford, and taught in many other schools and programs. Kent sits on the Harvard Business School’s advisory board and is regularly invited to speak on leadership and culture at top business schools, companies and not-for-profit leadership groups.
In 2016 he founded Let Colorado Vote, which passed four ballot initiatives in the last three years. One re-established the presidential primary in Colorado, a second opened primaries to independent voters and the most recent two reformed redistricting practices in the state.
In 2018, Kent founded a CEO Group, called Colorado Thrives, focused on advancing the quality of life for all Coloradans. He also co-founded The Aspen Group with Senators Bill Frist and Tom Daschle, and COIN (The Colorado Innovation Network) with Governor Hickenlooper and others. Kent is also on the Advisory Board of NatureVest, a unit of the Nature Conservancy. Prior to joining DaVita, Kent served in several roles, including chairman and CEO of Vivra Specialty Partners, a specialty health care company; CEO of Vivra, a NYSE health care service company; and partner at Bain & Company. Prior board seats include the Chairman of Oxford Health Plans and the Trust for Public Land.
Kent earned his B.A. in political science, with distinction, from Stanford University, where he also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, in 1978. He earned his M.B.A., with honors, from Harvard Business School in 1983, where he was also elected to the Century Club.
In 2013, Kent received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and in 2016 he received the International Bridge Builders Award from the University of Denver.
Meg Lafave is the Vice President Government Affairs at Envision Healthcare. Prior to that, Meg worked at DaVita in a variety of capacities, including as a Manager of Patient Education, Director of Revenue Strategy and most recently as Chief of Staff to Kent, working with Kent on projects in the community focused on healthcare, education, good government and conservation. Prior to DaVita, Meg started her career in education, first as a teacher in Denver Public Schools with Teach For America and then as Director of Human Capital at DSST Public Schools.
Susana Cordova is the deputy superintendent of Dallas Independent School District. Prior to that, she was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools, where she spent more than 30 years serving as a teacher or school leader at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Cordova is a DPS graduate who began her teaching career as a bilingual teacher at Horace Mann Middle School and rose through the ranks to become superintendent in 2019. Cordova received her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Denver, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction/education administration from the University of Colorado and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in education by the University of Denver.