Mary Seawell (Founding Chair) - Senior Vice President, Gates Family Foundation

Jim Balfanz (Vice Chair) - President, City Year, Inc.

Ana C. Soler (Secretary) - Senior Program Officer, Gates Family Foundation

Jessica L. Roberts (Treasurer) - Executive Director, Luminary Learning Network (LLN), Denver, CO

Dr. Robert Balfanz, Senior Research Scientist at Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University and Co­Director of Everyone Graduates Center and Talent Development Secondary

Natalie De Sole - Founder, Rooted Growth

Dexter Korto -Denver Public Schools Middle School Teacher And City Year Alumnus

Christine Morin -Chief Growth & External Affairs Officer, City Year, Inc.

Pami Perea - Manager Of Donor And Community Relations, Colorado Uplift

Morris W. Price, Jr - Vice President and Executive Director, City Year Denver

Jerry C. Torrez - President/CEO, Action Youth


Mary Seawell - Chair, Board of Directors

Mary Seawell leads work on education initiatives, particularly in the areas of innovations in governance and delivery of public education services, rural school innovation, public policy and strategies for expanding the pipeline of excellent school leaders and teachers.

Mary has served previously as the Executive Director of the Sturm Family Foundation and the Judith Ann Griese Foundation. She has also served as a Director and member of the Grantmaking Committee for the Charles T. Beaird Foundation, and a board member and Chair of the Grantmaking Committee for the Chinook Fund. From 1993 to 2003 she worked in various capacities at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Mary also worked for Get Smart Schools developing an MBA program at the University of Denver for autonomous school leaders.

Mary has served on numerous community boards including the Odyssey School, the Denver Language School, The Lab at Belmar, Bluff Lake Nature Center and Rape Assistance and Awareness Program.

Mary was elected to the Denver Public Schools Board of Education in 2009 and served as its President from 2011-2013. She is a graduate of American University (Print Journalism and Philosophy) and has a law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. She also studied Literature at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England.


Jim Balfanz has served as President of City Year since 2010, steering its continued evolution as a performance-driven organization. Balfanz led City Year’s strategic shift towards leveraging national service to focus on improving student achievement in America’s high-need urban schools and co-authored a 2012 City Year report, “Closing the Implementation Gap.” In partnership with Johns Hopkins Talent Development and Communities In Schools, Balfanz has also played a leadership role in the development of Diplomas Now, which was awarded a $36 million Investing in Innovation award by the Department of Education.

 Prior to his role as President, Balfanz served as City Year’s Chief Operating Officer for 5 years and guided the organization through a sustained period of growth that enabled it to scale from 15 to 21 U.S. locations and launch its second international affiliate in London. Balfanz began his work with City Year as a corps member at a Head Start Program in Boston in 1993, after which he joined City Year’s staff. He has since assumed various roles in City Year’s National Headquarters, including Deputy Director of National Affairs, and Director of New Site Development, followed by being named the Founding Executive Director of City Year Greater Philadelphia in 1997.

 Balfanz received his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University, is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business Executive Management Program and was a Fellow in the fourth class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship. He currently serves on the Mass Insight Education board of directors, the Eye to Eye governing board and the City Year London board of trustees. In 2016, he was appointed to the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development as a Distinguished Educator.

Ana C. Soler - Secretary, Board of Directors

Ana joined Gates Family Foundation in June 2017. Her primary focus is to engage with communities in Colorado’s rural and urban areas to increase equity and achievement for low-income students. Ana brings more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and government arenas, including work with Denver Partners, Urban Peak, and the Denver District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Diversion program. She has held director-level roles at The Civic Canopy and the Denver District Attorney’s Office-Victim Services Network, and brings experience working with complex projects in education, health and community building in a variety of cultures and contexts. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.

Jessica L. Roberts - Treasurer, Board of Directors

Jessica Roberts is the Managing Director of Finance and Administration at Instruction Partners, a national education non-profit  that works shoulder to shoulder with educators to support great teaching and accelerate student learning.  Jessica graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 with a BBA in Finance.  In 2005 Jessica decided corporate finance life was not for her and became a certified teacher in order to pursue her passion for educational equity while deeply investing in her community and the lives of kids. Jessica taught 7th and 8th grade math for the Houston and Spring Branch Independent School Districts in Houston, TX for five years while also helping to establish a community nonprofit, FamilyPoint Resources.  While teaching, Jessica continued her education at the University of Houston, graduating with her MBA in 2010.  After graduation, Jessica went on to become the Director of Business Operations and ultimately the Vice President of Finance and Administration for the University of Houston Alumni Association.   Continually pursuing her passion for education, Jessica left the University of Houston and took a new role as the Controller of YES Prep Public Schools, a large open enrollment charter school organization, in Houston, TX.  At YES Prep Jessica found her niche in business operations for education, eventually becoming the Managing Director of Finance and Accounting and serving in the Interim CFO role.  Jessica left YES Prep in 2016 to serve as the founding Executive Director of the Luminary Learning Network, the first Innovation Zone within Denver Public Schools, which she led until joining Instruction Partners in 2019.