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Meet the Team


Meet the Outreach Team

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Twyla Esquibel, Director of Outreach 

Since October 2022, Twyla Esquibel has lead the Outreach Team to support and train school districts, workforce centers, correctional facilities, adults, students, families, foster youth and other stakeholders on college admissions, enrollment, scholarships, financial education, My Colorado Journey, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CASFA). She has been with the Department for 17 years in various roles, and most recently as program coordinator for My Colorado Journey and Outreach. Twyla was born and raised in Denver. She is a Manual High School graduate and attended the Community College of Denver. In her spare time, Twyla enjoys spending time with her family and friends. 


Martha Herrera

Martha Herrera, FAFSA Coordinator

Martha is a proud first-generation college graduate. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico but has called Colorado home since 2003. She earned her BA in Human Services and Criminal Justice from the University of Northern Colorado. Before joining the team, Martha worked as a Case Manager, Admission Counselor at UNC, and Post-secondary Advisor for District 6 . Through her work experience she has gained a specialty with connecting with others and helping students navigate the college process. When she is not working, Martha loves to spend time with her family and travel.


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Sophie Vogel, CASFA Coordinator

Sophie grew up in Wyoming and considers living in Colorado since 2017 her joyous return to the Mountain West. She earned a BA in Latin American and Latino Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Higher Education Leadership at University of San Diego. She hopes to complete her dissertation for her EdD in Leadership for Educational Justice from University of Redlands in the future. Sophie worked with Denver Scholarship Foundation, Red Rocks Community College and Colorado School of Mines before accepting this opportunity with CDHE to support equitable educational attainment by improving college affordability for marginalized communities. When she isn’t working, Sophie enjoys pajama dance parties with her family, snowboarding and biking.



Jennifer Lucero, Outreach Navigator

Jennifer Lucero is an outreach navigator for CDHE. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from the Metropolitan State University of Denver and has a master’s in higher education. With over 10 years of experience in higher education, Jennifer has dedicated her career to assisting students in achieving their academic goals. She’s passionate about providing support and guidance to those in need and strives to make a positive impact in the lives of students through her work.



Meet the Foster Care Student Navigators


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Teresa Fowler, Foster Care Student Navigator

Teresa is very excited to take on this new position and is deeply committed to improving the lives of students in foster care. Her most recent experience has been directly supporting middle and high school students who have child welfare involvement by providing trauma-informed case management, mentorship, advocacy, and counseling regarding postsecondary plans, including education and career goal setting—all to empower youth toward academic success.  

Teresa earned a bachelor’s degree in family and child sciences from Florida State University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina and is also a licensed clinical social worker in Colorado. Teresa is originally from Florida but is grateful to call Colorado home since 2016. In her free time, Teresa loves traveling and discovering new places, drinking coffee, trying new foods, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and sweet pup!


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Phyllis Gebre-Michael, Foster Care Student Navigator

Phyllis Gebre-Michael is thrilled to rejoin CDHE.  Originally from Wesel, Germany, Phyllis has lived in Colorado on and off for the past 20 years. Her father’s military career originally brought her to Colorado, and it allowed her the opportunity to live and travel abroad extensively.  Phyllis earned a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism from the Metropolitan State University of Denver and a master’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Linguistics from the City University of New York at Brooklyn College.   She loves working with students from all backgrounds and it brings her great joy to see them reaching their full potential.  Phyllis has many years of experience advising, mentoring, and teaching students locally and internationally, including Japan and Ethiopia.  In her most recent position, she worked at CDHE as a Pre-Collegiate Advisor with the Gear Up Program in Aurora Public Schools.  She also worked at the University of Colorado at Denver, Colorado State University-Global Campus, and Metropolitan State University of Denver helping students reach their post-secondary goals.  Phyllis currently resides in Centennial with her husband and twin daughters, Alem and Asmeret.  In her spare time, she loves traveling, trying new foods, baking cakes, and watching foreign movies.


Headshot of Katie Nittmann.

Katie Gutierrez NIttmann, Foster Care Student Navigator

Katie Gutierrez Nittmann (she/her/hers/ella) is originally from Ft. Collins, CO. She earned her B.A. in Sociology and Peace & Justice Studies from Tufts University and returned to Colorado to earn her M.A. in Higher Education from the University of Denver. Katie has worked at various higher education institutions around Colorado over the last 10 years, including CSU, DU, CCA, and MSU Denver. During this time Katie has supported students in the areas of transfer success, transitioning to college, residential learning communities, and academic advising. Katie has taught college and university success courses at both CCA and MSU Denver for incoming first-year students and has received training in the areas of social justice facilitation and inclusive pedagogy. Katie is passionate about serving underrepresented students through the creation of student-centered places, policies, and practices in every facet of higher education and is thrilled to bring her passion and skills to the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the FosterEd program! When not at work, she can be found trying out different restaurants around Denver with her partner or snuggling their chihuahua, Diablo.


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Shannon Walsh, Foster Care Student Navigator

Shannon is a former school social worker with experience in serving the diverse needs of students through trauma-informed practices, special education, and mental health advocacy. Her calling is to educate, engage and empower others by providing equitable access to the tools needed to effectively reach their goals. Like many Coloradans, Shannon enjoys spending time outside hiking, camping, or just basking in the sun. She also loves to cook and spend time with loved ones and is particularly happy when the two overlap. Shannon is thrilled to be part of the movement to bridge the educational gap for youth in the foster system!