WHO WE ARE
ACC was founded in 2008 to address a gap in services for low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrant families in North Aurora.
We aim to increase access to health and access to education for all local families.
Develop the capacities of underserved families, increase access to resources and promote social equity!
Foster healthy, interdependent communities by recognizing and engaging people’s capacities
Griselda Peña-Jackson, Executive Director
Ingrid Wicker, Director of Operations
Ingrid Wicker joined the ACC in August of 2020 as the Director of Operations. She has a strong background in operations and technology management across the business and nonprofit sectors, focused on health and education. Ingrid was attracted to Aurora Community Connection because it allowed her to bring all her expertise and community interests to the organization.
Ingrid emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 2008 to join her family. She has a master’s in Information Technology Management from the Universidad TecMilenio and a bachelor’s degree in Administrative Information Systems from the Technologico de Monterrey.
Around the time she immigrated to the U.S. she started her nonprofit career working for the Dominican Home Health Agency, Colorado Latino Leadership and Research Organization, and the John Corcoran Foundation in operations and program management.
Ingrid takes great pride in ensuring that ACC’s systems and programs are efficiently serving the community and her work contributes to helping make people’s lives better. It warms her heart every day when she sees young people come for tutoring, families enrolling in health insurance for the first time and young mothers learning to be their children’s first teachers.
Outside of work, Ingrid is a cycling enthusiast and advocate for safety and access. For Ingrid, cycling promotes not only physical health, but also the health of the community and our environment. She advocates for cycling as a means of transportation, not only for recreation.
Anabel Castillo, Administrative Assistant
Anabel started working for ACC in October 2020 thanks to Dr. Robin Waterman, who invited her to be part of this beautiful team. She is Salvadoran and has 12 years living in this country. She graduated from high school in 2008 and came to this country in 2010. Upon arriving here, she studied ESL classes for two years, and worked for a time at the Denver airport. Something she loves to do in her free time is walking, she is a nature lover.
Aime Soto, Receptionist
Aime joined ACC during November of 2022. She has 8 years of customer service experience from being a manager at a cellular service store. She is passionate about helping families and making them feel welcomed. Aime is married and is a mother to 2 kids. She enjoys reading and spending time with her kids during her free time.
Luisa Candelaria, Education Programs Manager
Luisa Candelaria joined ACC in August of 2022. Luisa is ACC’s Education Programs Manager. Luisa manages ACC’s Parents as Teachers Program, Early Childhood Program, Tutoring Program along with ACC’s Citizenship Program. She received her undergraduate degree in Modern Languages and Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She worked approximately nineteen years in the Denver Public Schools in various capacities. Her last position was working at the District level for the Office of Parent Engagement. This role allowed Luisa to work directly with parents to help bridge the academic achievement gap by helping families to navigate systems, engage in educational initiatives, and learn ways to help their children to be academically successful. Luisa also has experience working in non-profit. Luisa is passionate about parent involvement and knowledge about human development across domains, youth empowerment and helping families to receive services that promote stability and family preservation.
Jenny Luevanos, Parent Educator & Program Facilitator
Jenny joined ACC at the end of 2020. She is a parent educator and program facilitator with years of facilitating experience focusing on human potential and emotional intelligence. Jenny is a certified life coach with different modalities. Jenny is passionate to work with women especially moms since she is a mom herself and has experienced the challenges one faces. She wants to inspire others to overcome obstacles and thrive. Jenny is originally from Zacatecas, Mexico and came to the USA when she was 15 years old by her parents. Jenny has always worked with immigrant communities.
Marina Delgado, Parent Educator
Marina joined ACC summer 2021 as an intern for her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work supporting the tutoring program, and co-facilitating the Girls on The Run program. Marina transitioned into her current role as a parent educator for Parents as Teacher at ACC, in November of 2021. She carries four years of experience working with children and families as a preschool teacher, and is passionate about working with the underserved communties. Being first-generation, and coming from a Mexican background, Marina values equity and inclusion.
Israel Aguirre, Tutoring Program Coordinator
Israel Aguirre is the Tutor Specialist and Tutoring Program Coordinator here at Aurora Community Connection. He is a proud north Aurora native and has a passion for serving his community. Israel understands the importance and necessity of education for all children regardless of background. As a child of immigrants he wishes to help those who go through similar academic, linguistic, and cultural struggles and to build bridges between the established American lifestyle and incoming worldviews. Israel Aguirre is a current college student at the University of Colorado Denver; with an interest in linguistics, his major is Spanish. Israel has the aspiration to enter seminary, he is working on his bachelors so that, in the future, he can study for his Masters of Divinity.
Health Access Team
Monserrat Mendoza, Health Programs Manager
Monserrat Mendoza Rojas dedicated her life to education as a parent and teacher for more than ten years. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Administration; earned Masters’ in Education. Family, Education and supporting the community means everything to Monserrat.
She grew up in Mexico and lived there for 31 years, then in August 2018 immigrated to the United States and has lived in Denver, Colorado for more than three years. She is married and has a child who is 10 years old. Monserrat has been a teacher for about 10 years at Childhood, Elementary, University and High school. She loves teaching Spanish to others. Also, she has volunteered and worked in different non profit organizations located in Denver, Colorado. She understands the importance of communication and connectedness in families and education.During her free time, Monserrat enjoys spending time with family, cooking Mexican food and exploring nature.
Iris Macias Patient Navigator, Bilingual Health Access Specialist
Iris joined ACC during August of 2022. She comes to us from a medical setting, working as a Patient Navigator. Iris has 20 years of experience in the medical field. She worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado for 8 years and Saint Joseph Hospital for 5 years, helping families navigate through their medical care and understanding their medical insurance coverage. Iris enjoys helping families with English as their second language. She studied in Mexico City at UAM Azcapoltzalco as an exchange student, teaching English as a second language. She believes that educating our community and families is a big step in keeping them healthy and continuing to use resources as they are available for them, in our community. She enjoys helping families achieve their goals and understanding the medical insurance world. To Iris, it is important for families to be comfortable and understand so they may be empowered to do something for their health.
Armando B Hammond, Bilingual Health Access Specialist
Melanie Hommes, LCSW, Clinical Therapist
Melanie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Colorado, with both a Masters and Bachelors in Social Work. She has been working in the field for over 20 years, 6 of which were in Central America. Melanie is passionate about helping people find healing within themselves in order to live their best life. She has received formal training in trauma-informed, strengths-based, client-centered practices, and in therapeutic modalities such as: Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), as well as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). When not at ACC Melanie enjoys spending time with her family out in nature and traveling.
Marjaneh Gross-Tiger- LPCC, Youth Therapist
Marjaneh Gross-Tiger holds a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Marjaneh has worked in the education system, and with non-profit agencies for over twenty years. While working, she has spent a tremendous amount of time with students and families who experience significant trauma and severe emotional behaviors. She believes certain situations or circumstances may never change, but how we perceive the experience, and or respond to it can.
Marjaneh is passionate about creating a safe environment for a community to grow and become the best version of themselves. She understands it’s vital for people to heal their mind, body, and spirit in order to become whole. This in return will create change.
Sophia Oliveira, Director of Development
Sophia joined ACC at the end of 2021! She brings years of nonprofit fundraising experience to the organization, having worked primarily with education, wellness, and mental health-driven organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies. While her educational background is in the life sciences, she is passionate about expanding social services through education and health equity. Sophia comes from a Brazilian and Argentinean family, bringing Portuguese language to the ACC! She lives in South Thornton with her husband, two dogs, cat, and small snake. She visits South America to spend time with her extended family whenever possible. email@example.com
Robert Natiello, Data & Evaluation Specialist
Robert joined ACC in February of 2021. They graduated from Colorado College with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. Robert is passionate about using data to improve lives. They are very grateful to have the opportunity to learn from the community ACC serves.
Andrea Hernandez, Community Outreach & Engagement Specialist
Andrea joined ACC in September of 2021! She graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Spanish language, literature and culture in May of 2021. At ACC, Andrea coordinates outreach events for our center to attend and engage with the community, manages ACC’s social media pages and coordinates monthly Community Advisory Board meetings. She has always been passionate about working with the Latinx community, as she comes from a Mexican family and background. In her spare time, Andrea enjoys listening to live music and attending poetry slams! Andrea believes in the power of community, and that everyone should do their part in empowering marginalized communities and communities of color.
Maryan Issack, Social Work Intern
Maryan Issack holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Metropolitan State University of Denver and is currently working towards getting her master’s degree in Social Work. Maryan works at the UCHealth Emergency Care – Anschutz Medical Campus as a healthcare navigator, where she helps patients get established with a primary care doctor. She provides patients resources such as housing, Colorado medicaid, mental health, transportation, food resources, while also working very closely with ED clinical social workers to help meet patient needs. Maryan plans on becoming a licensed clinical social worker to specialize in treatment for patients who struggle with substance misuse, behavioral health, etc. Maryan hopes to deliver to medically underserved children, transition-age youth, adolescents, and their families in Colorado. Maryan values the development of diversity policy, growth, and healing, and implementing that into her day-to-day work and personal life. When not at ACC, Maryan enjoys spending time with her family and friends and traveling.
Esperanza Torres, Social Work Intern
Esperanza Torres holds an Associates degree in Social Work from Community College Of Denver and is currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Esperanza is a first- generation college student and comes from a Hispanic background. She has a passion for helping people and giving back to the community. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives and help connect them to resources and programs that can better their lives and future. Upon completion of her Bachelor’s degree Esperanza hopes to work with families, teens, and youth. When not at ACC, Esperanza enjoys playing soccer, going on road trips, spending time with her family, and hiking.
Dr. Robin Waterman, Founding Executive Director
Dr. Robin Waterman stepped down from her Executive Director role in 2021 after over fourteen years of agency stewardship. Under her leadership the ACC grew exponentially, earning the trust of the community andn funders alike. Wh earned her bachelor’s degree from Bates College, with an interdisciplinary focus including anthropology and English. She later earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Harvard University, specializing in administration, policy and social policy, after spending more than 20 years in the field of non-profit administration and community-based education. Dr. Waterman has founded and developed community-based education programs for low-income, culturally and linguistically diverse families in Denver, Aurora and Commerce City, also working in this area for three years in rural El Salvador and Mexico. Since 1999, she has worked in Aurora, promoting leadership, self-sufficiency and parent involvement in schools and communities. Dr. Waterman is bilingual and bicultural, and has demonstrated expertise in recognizing the strengths of Latino immigrant families and guiding low-income individuals to simultaneously access services and volunteer time toward program implementation. For these reasons, Dr. Waterman was hired by the Family Resource Center Association in 2007 to create the ACC, and was hired by the ACC Board in 2008 to serve as Executive Director.
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors meets monthly to ensure that Aurora Community Connection is effective, viable and sustainable. In 2019, the Board is focusing on expanding ACC’s marketing and outreach efforts, planning fundraising activities and revising the organization’s strategic plan.
Community Advisory Board
The Community Advisory Board is a group of local representatives who meet monthly to discuss emerging community interests and needs. The insight and expertise of Community Advisory Board members informs ACC’s program development and strategic planning.