AJ Atencio

Independent Living Specialist

Connections is honored to introduce our newest team member, AJ Atencio. AJ graduated from Greeley Central High School in 2017. He worked as a certified nursing assistant from his junior year of high school up until May of 2021. Aj recently completed his internship with Connections for his Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a full-time Independent Living Specialist. AJ helps consumers create independent living plans through identifying areas of need. He assists the consumer with completing their goals by offering information, referrals and resources. In his free time AJ enjoys spending time outdoors fishing and playing sports. He is a huge fan of all Colorado sports teams and has a hobby of collecting sports trading cards. When asked what he likes most about working at Connections, AJ said, “Hands down, the people. I enjoy working with both consumers and staff.”

Alexis Chavez

Office & Housing Assistant

Alexis was born and raised in Greeley. He graduated from Greeley Central High School. He feels Connections will be a great fit for him because of the efforts towards the disabled community. Alexis is the voice you hear when you call and the first face you see when you walk into Connections. He conducts all pre-intakes for potential consumers. Alexis also helps assist the Housing Coordinator with the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8). 

Amber Svitak

Amber Svitak

Independent Living Specialist

Amber holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from University of Northern Colorado. Amber has training in employment benefits specific to serving people with disabilities.

Hannah Nielsen portrait

Hannah Neilsen

Outreach Independent Living Specialist

Hannah has an Associates Degree in General Studies and is in the process of earning her Bachelors in Psychology. Prior to Connections, she worked in community mental health as an IPS supported Employment Specialist for individuals with mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders.  Hannah enjoys assisting underserved populations gain independence in their communities. 
Hannah is native to rural Colorado. She grew up in the Logan and Morgan County areas and has lived there her whole life. 

Dianna Campbell

Dianna Shmidl

Housing Coordinator

Dianna holds an associate’s degree in Computer Information Systems and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Colorado State University. Dianna manages Connections’  Housing Choice  Voucher Program (Section 8), which includes the State Housing Vouchers and Emergency Vouchers that assist disabled individuals in Weld County, oversees new voucher eligibility and briefings, housing admissions, annual reexaminations and conducts annual quality inspections of housing units. Dianna is certified by Colorado’s Division of Housing. 

Heather Barnes

Outreach Independent Living & VIP Program Specialist

Heather is a proud mother of 3 children and has three grandchildren. She worked for the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) for over 14 years.  Heather introduced and coordinated the Special Olympics Colorado for inmates within the CDOC and served as Secretary for the Employee Council. She coordinated special events and raised funds for these non-profit groups. She remains active in the Denver community by volunteering for Brent’s Place and the Ronald McDonald House. She also has been advocating for her 17 year old daughter who also lives with a disability. 

Hodan Ahmed

Hodan Ahmed

Independent Living Specialist, Intern & Volunteer Coordinator

Hodan has three years of experience in the nonprofit sector supporting youth, and two years teaching English to immigrant populations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human services from UNC. She coordinates interns and volunteers with Connections.

Jessica Standiferd

Communications & Independent Living Community Coordinator

Jessica is a “Jill of all trades” who has served Connections in numerous capacities. As Connections’ Community Coordinator, she manages many projects for the organization. She also represents Connections at public functions in Northeastern Colorado communities.

Joshua Fulenwider Portrait

Joshua Fulenwider

Chief Operating Officer / Director of Independent Living Services

Joshua is an entrepreneur and author who is devoted to his wife and daughter. At age 24, after graduating from college with a degree in Business Management, he began investing in real estate. Investing in real estate led him to eventually becoming a commercial loan officer and to helping businesses of all sizes. He and his wife love traveling, volunteering, and getting muddy in obstacle course races.

Kevin Thompson

Kevin Thompson

Outreach Director

Kevin provides critical services and support to northeastern Colorado residents who live with disabilities. Kevin has degrees from Aims Community College and Colorado State University, and has experience working in mental health, and with people with developmental disabilities. Kevin leads Connection’s  Brain Injury Group of Greeley.

Maria Gonzales

Maria Gonzales

Independent Living Specialist

Maria earned a bachelor’s degree in human services and was a participant in University of Northern Colorado’s Stryker Institute for Leadership and Development. Maria was previously employed by the Department of Human Services for both Weld and Adams counties and served in the Wound Care Services department at Northern Colorado Medical Center.

Peggy Garcia

Peggy Garcia

Transition Supervisor

As Transition Coordinator, Peggy supports seniors and people with disabilities as they transition from nursing facilities to living independently. As the Connect with Friends Program Specialist, she directs this important program. Peggy loves helping people and has volunteered for over two decades in her home school district. Peggy holds a bachelor’s degree in system management from Colorado State University.

Rochelle Mitchell

Chief Executive Officer

Rochelle is a 17-year veteran of the nonprofit sector, having held leadership positions with the Douglas County Community Foundation, High Plains Library District, Weld Community Foundation, Right to Read, and Larimer Humane Society. She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia and CSU, and holds advanced certificates in project management and nonprofit administration.

Ryan Isaacs

Independent Living Specialist

Ryan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology through the University of Northern Colorado. He is an experienced advocate for people with disabilities. He has worked with special education, adaptive recreation, case management and direct care services. 

Stephanie Shmidl-Munoz

Stephanie Shmidl-Munoz

Finance Assistant & I&R Specialist

Stephanie graduated from Thompson Valley High School and came to Connections with three years of customer service experience. Stephanie is also the first point of contact for information and referrals. She completes all pre-intakes for Connections and has an exceptional level of hospitality to all. Stephanie has also taken on accounts payables and receivables for the organization. 

Info Coming soon

UNC Intern