The Board of Directors is comprised of active leaders in their respective communities who provide great insight, direction, and leadership for our organization.
Ken Dwenger, President, Director
Ken has over 25 years of experience working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as an advocate for adults and as an advisor for a statewide self-advocacy group.
Ken served in the United States Army for two years as a Medical Corpsman/Technician and Operations/Protocol NCO. He received his B.S. in Computer Technology from Purdue University. For 25 years, Ken worked in the telecommunications industry for very notable corporations. During that time, he was transferred to Colorado where he eventually retired after 25 years of service in the industry.
Ken then started his work as an advocate at the Arc of Denver/Advocacy Denver, where he worked for 14 years. During his time there, he assisted adults with I/DD in finding and receiving quality residential placements, employment, community and medical services, and assisted in court proceedings, among many other responsibilities. Ken received the Advocacy Denver’s Shenkein Distinguished Service Award in 2015, the same year he retired.
Ken continues to work in the community as an advocate for individuals with I/DD. He has worked with various programs such as the Colorado Special Olympics, Parent Advocates for Visually Impaired Children, Cerebral Palsy Center, and Winter Park’s Blind Skier Program.
Ken has a loving wife and three step children, one of which has profound intellectual and physical disabilities as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Ken and his wife have two grandchildren, who he enjoys caring for regularly. Ken also enjoys getting out in the garden, as he is a Denver Urban Gardens Master Composter and Denver Master Gardener through the CSU Extension.
Brook Phifer, Vice President, Director
After growing up in Wyoming, then living in the large metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Houston, and San Francisco, Brook finds Denver to be a great place for his family to grow. “I have an autistic, middle aged son at home and I just love to coach Special Olympics basketball and soccer, as I have for the past two decades. With its urban culture and close proximity to Colorado’s mountains and Wyoming’s wide-open spaces, Denver gives me a great opportunity to maintain my rural roots.”
Brook comes to CLA with a wealth of business management and entrepreneurial experience. With a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Stanford University, he has over 40 years’ experience in the oil and gas drilling and production industry, starting at Exxon Co. USA, and working his way up to the rank of VP Production & Engineering of Axem Resources. He founded his current company, NiCo Resources LLC, an independent oil and gas producer in 1994.
Brook has a passion for building and renovating custom homes and also brings to CLA a solid understanding of board-level leadership principles. As a former board member of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, an onshore and ultra-deepwater research organization; past chairman of their Small Producer Program and former chairman and board member of a national education program: Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, he understands the intricacies of strategic planning and organizational development.
“I love the mission of improving the lives of adults with developmental disabilities. I joined the board 2005 because CLA has a solid history of financial security, with conservative financial judgment, good governance, and a caring staff and director. “
Ray Furman, Director
Ray was born and raised in Twin Lake, Michigan. After graduating from high school, he spent 11 years on active duty in the Air Force and 3 years in the Air National Guard where he received the rank of Technical Sargent. Ray then worked as the Supervisor of the Medical Records Room for the VA Hospital for a year and a half and as Inventory Systems Control at Martin Marietta for ten years. He served as the Sports Director for Colorado Special Olympics for ten years and worked for Developmental Pathways for a year and a half. In his last job before retirement, he worked for 14 years at Denver Options as manager of the residential and day program, and then as a Service Coordinator with additional duties of the SIS Level assessments and investigations.
In his spare time, Ray has traveled throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe. While he retired in September of 2014, Ray continues to do volunteer work for Special Olympics, his church council, the Rocky Mountain Soccer Board as well as serving as the Commissioner for Denver Commission for People with Disabilities. Needless to say, he knows how to keep busy in retirement!
During his work at Denver Options, Ray had the opportunity to work with CLA and found the organization to have high standards of professionalism while demonstrating that their customers were their priority. With the amount of experience from his years in the field, Ray is a great attribute to our Board and Fundraising Committee. Ray joined the CLA Board of Directors in April of 2016.
Shari Janata, Director
Shari has been a leader in environment, health, and safety management for the Oil & gas industry for over 30 years. As a Health & Safety Specialist, she brings a unique focus to our organizational development, ensuring that CLA remains at the forefront of risk assessment and management.
Throughout her life, Shari has been an active participant and proponent in charitable causes and non-profit missions with a focus on the intellectual/developmental disability community. As a young person, she started helping people with I/D disabilities as a member of 4H and she has continued that leadership role throughout her life. As a regular volunteer for Special Olympics, she has organized groups of over 30 volunteers to help organize their annual track and field event, along with participating in many other events throughout the year.
With her deep connection to the disabilities community, a directorship with the CLA board is a perfect fit for her interests, experience and expertise. Shari is excited to be a member of the CLA team stating: “The integrity and focus this organization has on the I/DD community is very impressive.” Besides enjoying the intrinsic rewards of helping others, Shari loves to sew, play softball, and most of all, play with her puppy. “Being a Denver native has always been a plus, I can’t find a better place to live!”
Linda Watkins, Director
Linda received a BSBA and MS from Kansas State University. She has worked in a variety of capacities but mostly performing marketing, program development and training in educational facilities, healthcare and nonprofits. She was first introduced to working with individuals with special needs in graduate school where her class ran the local Special Olympics. She then worked with an NGO in New Zealand, where she created a mentorship program for adults with developmental disabilities. She worked for CLA as their Employment Specialist before retiring and becoming a Board Member.
Janet Burgess, Director
Jerry Furman, Secretary, Director
Margaret Dominguez, Director
Buffy Fox, Director
We’re always looking for key individuals with the expertise to grow CLA in a positive and sustainable direction. If you identify with our mission and have board-level experience in fundraising, legal, or program development, please send us your resume!