Damion LeeNatali Named Executive Director of Teach For America–Colorado as Region Welcomes 90 Teachers to Local Classrooms This Fall

Teach For America Partners With Schools in Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs to Recruit, Train, and Support Emerging Leaders Committed to Ensuring Students in Colorado Have Access to an Excellent Education

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Denver, August 19, 2015—Damion LeeNatali has been named executive director of Teach For America–Colorado. LeeNatali, who brings years of experience in education and community engagement to the role, succeeds executive director Sean Vanberschot.

As executive director, LeeNatali is responsible for building partnerships across the community and overseeing the daily regional operations of training and supporting a diverse group of teachers and alumni to work in high-needs communities in Colorado. LeeNatali, a Teach For America alumnus himself, will also partner with and support the nearly 1,200 Teach For America alumni living and working in Colorado who have become lifelong advocates and leaders in the movement to expand educational opportunity.

Teach For America will also welcome 90 new teachers to Colorado this fall as part of its national 25th-anniversary corps of 4,100. They will join 110 second-year teachers for a total corps of 200 members who will teach in local schools in Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs. As Teach For America marks nine years of partnering with the community to expand educational opportunity in Colorado, the organization’s national leadership force now tops 50,000 corps members and alumni.

“We are very excited to welcome Damion and incoming corps members to Teach For America–Colorado,” said Teach For AmericaColorado regional advisory board chair Donna Lynne, DrPH, group president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Northwest and Hawaii. “Damion possesses the entrepreneurial and strategic background and expertise, as well as the passion and drive, for this work. Throughout our executive director search, Damion’s strengths as an advocate for the Colorado community, students, and teachers; as a thoughtful and results-driven leader; and as a visionary stood out as essential attributes that would be critical for the progress of the region and the impact our teachers and alumni have in local classrooms.”

LeeNatali, a graduate of Denver Public Schools and a former teacher in Colorado, most recently served as the chief of staff in the office of Colorado Senator Mike Johnston. Within this role, LeeNatali recruited and led a legislative team recognized by Westword as the “Best Political Staff in Denver,” and co-authored and secured the passage of legislation relating to educator effectiveness, school finance, criminal justice, and energy financing. He also co-founded Traverse LLC, a policy and strategy consulting group, and Education Century, a nation-leading political donation technology platform, supporting 80 candidates in 32 states.

“I am looking forward to being a part of the work to help ensure students in Colorado receive an excellent education and have the opportunity to thrive,” LeeNatali said. “Teach For America will continue to partner with community leaders and organizations, teachers, parents, and school districts to eliminate educational inequity in our state. This fall, we are welcoming and excited to help support a diverse, talented, and inspiring corps of new teachers and alumni who are committed to helping their students achieve and become college- and career-ready.”

The incoming national Teach For America corps is as accomplished as ever, and among the most diverse in the organization’s history. By maximizing the diversity of its teaching corps, Teach For America ensures that it is enlisting the country’s top talent, whether they share the backgrounds of students affected by educational inequity or come from backgrounds of privilege. Known for its high admissions standards, Teach For America admitted 15 percent of applicants this year. The incoming corps has an average GPA of 3.4. Several local universities, including the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Denver, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, are contributing nearly 40 graduates to Teach For Ameica’s incoming corps and are among the nearly 830 college and university providers of corps members nationally.

Among incoming Colorado corps members, nearly 30 percent identify as people of color; more than 40 percent come from low-income backgrounds; nearly 30 percent are the first in their family to graduate from college; 35 percent applied as professionals or graduate students; more than 20 percent have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, or math; and 5 percent grew up in Colorado.

Kevin Berstler knew he wanted to teach and impact the lives of students, but without a degree in education, he wasn’t sure if he could make this dream a reality. Berstler made the decision to apply to Teach For America, and through the organization he will be teaching seventh grade English language arts at Noel Community Arts School in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.

“Through Teach For America, I can help shape the lives of students in Denver and help to provide them with the knowledge and tools to succeed,” Berstler explained. “I’m excited to build stronger relationships with my colleagues, students, and their parents as we work in partnership to ensure my students receive an excellent education.”

Teach For America remains one of the country’s most studied educational-leadership-development organizations, with a growing body of research indicating the positive impact of corps members and alumni in classrooms, schools, and communities. As it welcomes a new regional executive director and the new Colorado corps, Teach For America is poised to enter its ninth year of impact in the state with an evolving, increasingly localized program to help ensure that all students have access to a great education.

About Teach For America
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. This fall, 8,800 corps members will be teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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