DEAN is a unique collective impact entity governed by its Leadership Team and operated by professional staff. DEAN’s Leadership Team includes members from a wide variety of sectors – higher education, K-12, non-profit, government, and philanthropy.

Therese Ivancovich

Therese Ivancovich

Executive Director


With over 20 years of non-profit, strategy, marketing and education experience, Therese Ivancovich is the Executive Director for the Denver Education Attainment Network (DEAN).  Therese works with a community-wide network of non-profit, business, government and education partners to improve college outcomes for Denver students.

Formerly the principal of a strategy and marketing consulting practice, Therese worked with senior executives to deliver on their organizational goals.  In previous roles, Therese served as the Senior Western Regional Manager for the National Association of Manufacturers and spent several years working in Silicon Valley, where she focused on marketing, communications and partnership development for companies including Compaq Computer Corporation and Technology Network (TechNet). She began her career working on statewide and congressional campaigns in the State of Indiana.

Therese serves on the Board of Directors of Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation and is a member of the Santa Clara University Board of Regents.  Therese is also a member of the Leadership Denver Class of 2011.

Therese holds a B.S. in Economics from Santa Clara University and an M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Therese lives in Denver with her husband, Greg Sissel, her daughter, Clara, and Pippin, the family dog.

Jennifer Superka

Jennifer Superka

Partnership Director


As Partnership Director for DEAN, Jennifer convenes, supports and engages implementation teams to drive DEAN strategy. 

Jennifer joined DEAN after eight years as the Associate Director of the Strategic Issues Program at the University of Denver, where she helped organize year-long panels which examined a single public policy issue on a non-partisan basis.  Jennifer helped research and write about topics such as Immigration, State Government, Legislative Accountability and Higher Education during her tenure.

Prior to SIP, Jennifer practiced as an attorney for five years.  She worked full time in the University of Denver’s Office of Financial Aid as she earned her law degree, moving from Student Financial Services Advisor to Work-Study Coordinator to Assistant Director of Financial Aid.

In addition to her J.D., Jennifer holds a B.A. in history with a minor in Southwest Studies from Colorado College.  She lives in Northwest Denver with her husband, Brian, where she serves as a board member of her Registered Neighborhood Organization, Sunnyside United Neighbors, Inc.

Rana Tarkenton

Rana Tarkenton

Director of Innovation


Rana’s professional experience spans more than 20 years of operations, policy, program and systems development in the education and nonprofit sectors. Rana has spent her career in education leading high-performing teams to increase postsecondary access and success for low-income, first-generation students and students of color. She brings a commitment to equity and a strong belief in the impact of strategic collaboration and student-centered design to her work at DEAN. 

Prior to joining DEAN, Rana was the founding Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Impact at the University of Colorado Denver. There she partnered with leaders and teams to drive results and transformational change through the application of strategic decision making and continuous improvement principles. Rana also held the position of Chief Operating Officer at the Denver Scholarship Foundation and oversaw statewide college access and outreach programs for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. She began her professional career in Boston in the community arts world before following her heart into the field of educational opportunity programs here in Colorado. 

Rana earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Theatre from Trinity University and her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Harvard University.


Nate Cadena
Chief Operating Officer
Denver Scholarship Foundation

Charles Dukes
Education Policy Director
Office of Children’s Affairs, City and County of Denver

Genia Herndon
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student & Community Engagement
University of Colorado Denver

Melinda Higgs (Ex-Officio)
Colorado Nonprofit Development Center

Tisha Lee
Vice President of Student Services
Emily Griffith Technical College

Dr. Bernard McCune
Senior Executive Director, Career and College Success
Denver Public Schools

Ruthanne Orihuela
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs
Community College of Denver

Dr. Kim Poast
Chief Student Success & Academic Officer
Colorado Department of Higher Education

Dr. Shaun T. Schafer
Associate Vice President
Curriculum and Policy Development
Metropolitan State University of Denver



City and County of Denver

Community College of Denver

Denver Public Schools

Denver Scholarship Foundation

ECMC Foundation

Emily Griffith Technical College

IMA Financial Services

Lumina Foundation

Mile High United Way

Metropolitan State University of Denver

University of Colorado Denver