Our Team

Board of Directors

Chin Weerappuli

A Sri Lankan – American first-generation Immigrant, Chin was born in Baltimore and grew up just outside Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2011, Chin accepted a job as a management consultant at Epic Systems, which took him to Madison, Austin, and Chicago before finally settling down in Denver. In 2022, while still working at Epic and serving as President for TUF, Chin completed his Executive MBA at The University of Michigan – graduating with honors and even delivering the commencement address! In his free time Chin enjoys hiking and skiing in the mountains, attending concerts at Red Rocks, heading back to Ann Arbor for Michigan Football games, and adding to his tally of 42 countries visited across the globe.

Derrick Knudsen

A German-American second-generation immigrant, and the youngest of six, Derrick was born and raised in New York. After graduating with a dual degree from Syracuse University and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, Derrick entered the non-profit world as a Community Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension. Since leaving in 2016, he has found entrepreneurship as his calling. Now, he’s looking to give back to the community he cares so much about! In his free time, you can find him playing team sports, hiking, snowboarding and taking as many road trips as possible!

Darian Nocera

Darian is a website operations manager and web designer that was born and raised outside of Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State University. She moved to Denver, Colorado in 2018 to be more connected to nature. She has always taken an interest in technology and is passionate about using it creatively and effectively to help others grow and succeed. In her free time, she enjoys coding, camping, mountain biking, reading, writing, and traveling.

Paige Millburg

Originally from central Illinois, Paige traveled her way across the country (and the world) before finding her fit in Denver. Paige graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Spanish and has worked across a spectrum of projects in healthcare IT. Her professional goal has always been to help others and she loves the creative ways TUF supports the Denver community. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, knitting, exploring breweries and cideries, attending more weddings than she can count, and hiking across Colorado with her pup Despereaux.
Professional headshot of Dan Connell smiling, wearing a suit.

Dan Connell

A Mexican-American and a second generation immigrant, Dan was the first in his family to obtain his college degree. After graduating with a degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Business Management from Colorado State University, Dan moved to Denver and began his career in banking. He currently serves as a Vice President of FirstBank’s internal Loan Review department and in his free time enjoys skiing, walking his English Bulldog, and discovering new local restaurants.
Professional headshot of Kwon Atlas smiling wearing a sport coat.

Kwon Atlas

Kwon Atlas is a resident, business owner, and father in the Five Points Neighborhood. He is a community leader who has worked at all three levels of government, serving with State Senator James Coleman as a legislative aide and US Senator Michael Bennet as a community liaison. He most recently served as the Senior Advisor on Community-Based Initiatives and Special Projects in the Office of the Mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock, and is the Vice President of the Urban League Young Professionals of Metropolitan Denver Chapter. Atlas is also the Founder and Chief Editor of the Five Points Atlas (Newspaper) and an Urban and Public Affairs Master’s Degree Graduate from the University of San Francisco.  

Team Members

Alison Burnell

Alison Burnell

Alison was born and raised in Northern Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2018. She then relocated to Denver to begin her career as a multi-disciplinary designer. Alison is passionate about entrepreneurship, volunteer work, and is always searching for exciting new opportunities, so TUF is a natural fit! In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, exploring the culinary scene in Denver, everything true crime, and doing all of the above with a lemonade in hand.
Cassie Wallace

Cassie Wallace

Cassie was born in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a product leader working on software for environmental compliance, working toward a vision of how technology can work for good. When not in front of a computer, Cassie is usually running, skiing, biking, or learning something new!
Cassie Wanek

Cassie Wanek

While Cassie was born in Boulder, she spent the majority of her childhood and into her adult years living in Wisconsin and Florida and has only just made her way back to the Centennial state in 2018. In lieu of sporting the “native” bumper sticker, she jumped at the opportunity to join the TUF family in partnering with the local businesses she loves. As a Global Relationship Manager at the HSBC Bank corporate office in Denver, she applies a similar strategy to the community by helping partners and business owners get the most out of the suite of services TUF has to offer.
Charles Borowsky

Charles Borowsky

Originally from Atlanta, Charles calls Georgia home. Charles attended both Southern Illinois University, as well as, Georgia State University. He studied Business Administration and was also a student athlete for the football team. After college, Charles spent several years helping small businesses grow and expand by way of lending. Charles is passionate about using his professional background and experience to help iamtuf by way of his unique perspective regarding the pain points that all small businesses experience. Charles enjoys being outdoors(when it’s warm) with his husky, Jet. Outside of that, he can typically be found at his favorite crossfit gym.

Christen Aldridge

Christen loves to spend time with her children, go to brunch, make movies, write and hang out with family and friends. Christen is excited to join the TUF team. Her desire is to give back to the community that shaped her into the person she is today. Reach out to her for any videography or social media needs.
Claire Crookston

Claire Crookston

Claire graduated with a BA in Communications from Purdue University and began her professional career in New York City working in the contemporary fashion industry. She left buying and merchandising to expand her digital expertise as a Multimedia Creative Consultant, with a focus on UX/UI, graphic design, and brand strategy. One decade and a global pandemic later, Claire relocated from the concrete jungle of Manhattan to Denver, Colorado. When she’s not designing, you can find her practicing Katonah yoga, hunting down the best Greek food, snowboarding, or hiking in the mountains with her husband and dog, Bronx.

Clara Balestrieri

Clara spent her childhood in Arlington, Virginia and Brussels, Belgium, when she was younger. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations with a focus on Communication Studies and relocated to Denver in November 2018. Clara’s passion for events was ignited when she volunteered for amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS gala at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, she has worked with Group Nine Media’s family of brands to help bring their experiential extensions to life for media advertisers. In her free time you can find Clara skiing in the mountains, creating candles, spending time in Alaska, and discovering all the new and exciting things that Denver has to offer.
Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson

Daniel was born and raised in the suburbs outside of Seattle, WA. He graduated from Stanford University in 2016, then worked as a high school English teacher, a technical writer at a healthcare analytics company, and, most recently, an analyst at a renewable energy investment firm. Aside from the traditional Colorado hobbies of hiking and skiing, Daniel enjoys playing music, learning new things about math and science, and writing about philosophy, art, and modern society.

Ez Gadson

Ez is a Colorado native, born and raised in the heart of the city. He attended Howard University, where he graduated with a degree in Business Management. Ez would later earn his MBA at San Diego State University. He has spent the past 5 years working for Denver Public Schools and specializing in Career and College programing. Ez is currently an Operations Manager and works on initiatives ranging from Building Improvement projects to Diversity and Equity projects. Ez enjoys sports, gaming, film, and spending time with his children. Ez leads TUF’s community engagement efforts with a focus on our youth and future leaders in the city.
Headshot of Heather Beck.

Heather Beck

Heather grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She attended Michigan State University and graduated in 2017 with a Bachelors of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design. After living in Terre Haute, Indiana for a year post college and a five-week cross country road trip she found her place here in Denver. Heather’s passions include restoring anything and everything, graphic design and entrepreneurship. In addition to the typical Colorado activities such as hiking, skiing, and climbing, you can find Heather beekeeping, playing ultimate frisbee, enjoying a nice glass of wine and exploring our national parks with her husband and dog.
Jas

Jas Kitterman

Jas grew up in Orlando, Florida where her family owned a small business for 9 years. She worked there day in and out, but when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020, they were forced to shut down permanently. Jas took the unexpected opportunity to pursue her dreams of becoming an independent, full time photographer while simultaneously moving across the country to Denver, Colorado. Her connection to the small business industry and passion for social justice is what brought her to The Underdog Family.
JT

Justin “JT” Tomlinson

JT grew up in East Tennessee and studied Environmental Science at the Univ. of Tennessee. Throughout his life, he has volunteered countless hours at hospitals, park cleanups, & the USDA. After college, he spent time teaching English in Thailand and gaining cultural experience traveling and living throughout parts of SouthEast Asia. JT now runs a digital marketing firm, Aggregate Digital, based out of Denver and was brought on the team to help The Underdog Foundation and our partners gain exposure through social media & growing our online presence.
Justin

Justin Nedell

Originally from Ohio, Justin graduated with a degree in International Business from Ohio University and left his home state to discover the world. His curiosity was piqued by volunteering, teaching English, learning new languages, and exploring ~30 countries before he finally settled in Denver to focus on a career in Product Marketing. Traveling, hiking, camping, writing, learning French, and minimalism are just a few of the things he enjoys outside of supporting TUF’s mission & brand!
Lindsay Puckett

Lindsay Puckett

Lindsay is a Colorado native, born and raised in Boulder. She attended the University of Kansas, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, with a focus in Marketing and Strategic Communications. Post-college, Lindsay worked in the fashion industry in Chicago and Los Angeles, before returning to Colorado after a 10 year hiatus. In her free time she can be found eating and drinking her way through Denver’s culinary scene, searching for live music and enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Matt Casey

Born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Dallas, Matt traveled “abroad” to study Fine Art at Pratt Art Institute and SVA in New York City. He is passionate about supporting his local community and using his knowledge and experience to help others. After graduation, he started learning to build websites for local artists and businesses. Matt also loves camping, hiking, biking, and live music.
Headshot of Sarah Leistico.

Sarah Leistico

Originally from Minnesota, Sarah moved to Denver for the sunshine and mountain trails. Her love for community building has always been a constant. She studied community organizing and development in college and has extensive experience advancing collaborative partnerships and programs. Motivated by initiatives that make an impact, engaging and empowering others to make a difference is what drives her. This passion is also what brought her to TUF. During her free time you can find Sarah exploring new eateries, dancing to live music, or painting trailside at one of Colorado’s many beautiful summits.
Volunteers of the Underdog Family

Volunteer Network – 421 and counting!

TUF would not be TUF without our amazing network of dedicated volunteers and donors that make all of our events and initiatives possible.

Interested in Joining?