When she was 15 years old, Heather lost her mom due to heavy cigarette use and co-occurring mental health problems. At 16, her counselor told her about a youth movement that was working against the tobacco industry, and Heather started a local youth coalition at her school. She learned the power of her voice. For 20 years, Heather has worked to ensure youth voices are a part of decision-making in their schools and communities. She even earned her Doctorate so that she could be a better advocate for youth voice. As the Program Manager for UpRISE, Heather manages the budget and supervises staff. She has started over fifteen different youth leadership boards in communities across Colorado. She is forever an advocate for youth, particularly those who have felt that their voice has been silenced.
Amy Ryan, MPH Assistant Program manager
Before working on social justice as it applies to tobacco control Amy was yelling at strangers for smoking less than 15 feet from building entrances and wondering why things got so heated. Since supplementing her public health background with knowledge of power, privilege, and oppression, she has more of an understanding for the root causes of tobacco use and how it is designed to be hard to quit. Working with young people has enabled Amy to explore why she used tobacco as a teen and how she can empower others using her skills and experiences. As the UpRISE Assistant Program Manager, Amy takes care of logistics and evaluation.
As a new mom, she often finds herself advocating for children who have the right to grow up nourished and loved and with a feeling of safety.
Danny Martinez, MSW Senior Youth programs Specialist
As an intern Daniel worked in youth spaces. During his second year internship he worked at Rainbow Alley, a drop-in center for LGBTQ+ youth. Every month they would host a drag/talent show put on by the youth with youth performances. To show his appreciation for the young people he worked with, Daniel put together a surprise drag show performance. He performed to a medley of songs and had an outfit change in the middle of the performance. He has been working with young people for five years and is excited to continue working with, and learning from, young people. As the Youth Programs Senior Specialist for UpRISE, Daniel provides technical assistance to several coalitions across the state and oversees the Youth Action Board with Daiszha.
Daniel advocates for young people's voices to be heard and listened to by adults. He encourages young people to take part in organizing and pushing for change.
Daiszha cooley Youth specialist
One of Daiszha’s earliest acts of resistance was sneaking into her grandmother’s room to break her cigarettes when she was younger. Thankfully, Daiszha has found more effective and supportive methods to encourage informed decision making and healthy lifestyles. Working for UpRISE allowed Daiszha to see health behaviors and nicotine use in a new light through understanding the tobacco industry’s abuse of power and root causes of nicotine use. Although Daiszha is new to tobacco control, she has worked alongside youth as a peer mentor in various programs and continues to connect with youth across the state through the SYN-United (Statewide Youth Network United). As the Youth Specialist, Daiszha oversees the Youth Action Board with Daniel, provides technical assistance to local coalitions, and coordinates planning efforts for the Statewide Activity. Daiszha advocates for youth and young adults to use their voices to create the changes they want to see in their communities.