Polly Mendoza is the founder of HILLS and was the executive director from its inception in 2008 until August of 2015 when she moved back to Boston to be closer to her family. After transitioning off as the Executive Director, Polly now remains involved on the board of directors for HILLS in an advisory position. Polly has 23 years of experience leading national and international trips and programs for adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury. She was the executive director of the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center, a non-profit education center in Costa Rica whose mission is to link communities and conservation through education and ecotourism. She has a brother with Down syndrome who inspired her to start HILLS and she was a host home provider for 8 different individuals with developmental disabilities that resided in her home from 2009-2015 during which time she received the Direct Service Professional Appreciation Award given by Alliance.
Board of Directors
Jodi Merrill-Brandt, Board Chair, holds her BA from Iowa State University and is a certified Home Care Administrator through the National Board for Home Care and Hospice Certification and the former Director of Life Skills & Support at Rocky Mountain Human Services. In her expansive career, she oversaw Home and Community Based Services for Supported Living, Children’s Extensive Wavier and Comprehensive Services. Jodi was the administrator of the Home Care Agency, Child Placement Agency, Housing and Urban Development Section 8 and Social Security Representative Payee program. Jodi has over 27 years of non-profit management and is an exceptional strategic and tactical leader with proven accomplishments in strategic planning, performance outcomes, program development, implementation and management, project management, and interagency coordination skills, resourcefully orchestrating human and fiscal resources to optimize service delivery. Jodi was responsible for budget development and oversight of multiple programs with an annual budget of $8 million dollars. Jodi understands the complex state systems for Intellectual Disabilities, Child Welfare and Colorado Department of Health.
Lori Schult, Secretary of the Board, has a degree in Habilitative Services from Clarion University in Pennsylvania, and 35 plus years of experience in the field of developmental disabilities. She is currently employed at Laradon, a Service Agency that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as their Quality Assurance Specialist, monitoring the programmatic and environmental pieces of their customers’ lives. Previously, in the 25 years at Rocky Mountain Human Services/Denver Options, she worked as a Case Manager for Adults, Team Leader, liaison with Denver Public Schools and Denver Department of Human Services, Outreach Coordinator to families of school-age children, and Quality Assurance. In past years she has also worked in the field, in both Pennsylvania and California, in direct care and manager positions, as a Behavior Specialist and with dually-diagnosed transition programs.
Jeni Kenyon-King, Board Member, has a Bachelors of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Northwest Missouri State University. She is employed at Dungarvin Colorado as a Program Director. Her work experience includes direct care, managing residential caseloads, managing Day Program services, and currently does New Development and intakes. She has nearly 20 years experience volunteering & working with individuals with developmental disabilities. She enjoys crafting and spending time with her 2 kids.
Lauren Kelly, board member, has lived in Denver Colorado all her life. She resides with her parents and has worked at Super Target for almost five years. She has an older sister who has two kids and an older brother who lives in a group home. She became involved with HILLS after hearing about it from her case manager. After taking a trip, she loved it very much. Lauren went to California with HILLS in March 2016. She graduated from George Washington High School in 2003. In her spare time, she participates in Special Olympics of Colorado. The sports she does are Track and Field, Bocce Ball and Bowling. The days she doesn’t work, she goes to a day program.
Todd Benjamin, board member, has thirty years of business experience, having held leadership positions in startup to Fortune 100 companies. He has practical experience in the areas of sales, marketing, business development, finance, engineering, legal, and administration. Todd is a co-founder and former board member and officer of Rocky Mountain Rett Association, a 501(c)3 corporation formed to support families suffering from the debilitating effects of Rett Syndrome, a devastating developmental disease. Todd has Juris Doctor and Masters of Business Administration degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. He is a licensed attorney in Colorado and California, and is a husband and father of four living in the Denver area.
Dan Linn, board member, was raised on a farm, graduated from UNL-Lincoln with a double major in history and political science. While working for Golden Arrow Dairy right out of college, where he delivered milk door to door, Dan became interested in the art of persuasion. After leaving Golden Arrow Dairy, he worked for various print firms, both in the Los Angeles area and Metro Denver helping clients craft marketing messages using direct mail for the next 30 plus years. In 2001, Dan and his wife, Debbe, bought into a print firm, and in 2015, they re-branded as Solution Link IMS where they worked mostly with nonprofit organizations. While they still use direct mail in some aspects of marketing strategies for nonprofits, their primary focus now is online marketing. Dan enjoys helping nonprofits as he feels they are the real change makers in our society. He likes working with those who are committed to a cause where the goal is to impact the future in a positive way for those who are ill-equipped to do so on their own.