WHO WE ARE

HISTORY

Founded in 2017, we exist to build a loving society in which hope is restored, every life is honored and economic opportunity is a right, not a privilege. Utilizing entrepreneurship as a tool for connection and transformation, we provide the best opportunity for people to embrace their inner entrepreneur and leverage their strengths in a whole new light. Initially developed as a state chapter under Defy Ventures, a national organization, Defy Colorado has since become an independent 501(c)(3) organization that operates independently from Defy Ventures Inc.

Defy Colorado believes in legitimate first chances, no matter how late in life that chance arrives. We believe in partnership, not pity. From the very beginning of our program, we refer to every person who participates as an Entrepreneur-in-Training (EIT), helping these individuals shatter perceptions by providing an opportunity for enhanced self-efficacy. And when people believe they can be better, they do better.

In the state of Colorado, it costs roughly $39,000/year to incarcerate just one individual…

…our eight (8)-month, in-prison program, CEO of Your New Life, costs $1,300 per EIT.

Defy Colorado launched at AVCF and CSP in November 2017, serving just the male population. In April 2019, we were thrilled to begin serving women at LVCF as we continue to grow, do better and inspire legitimate first chances for more people with criminal histories across the state of Colorado.

STAFF

Bob Omer

Executive Director

As Defy Colorado’s executive director, Bob advances Defy’s mission and impact in Colorado, including managing donor relations, program implementation and the local team. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a J.D. from Washburn University as well as an MBA in global finance and management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. For more than 18 years, Bob has led various businesses, working closely with senior executives and boards of directors to implement strategies that build long-term value in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Prior to joining Defy Colorado, Bob served as co-founder of Omer Legal Group, LLC in Frankfurt, Germany, a full-service consulting firm that provided legal and advisory services to individual and corporate clients with a specialty in capital development and corporate transactions.

Stacey Putka

Program Director

Stacey believes fiercely in challenging perceptions and in the power of transformation. Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, with a father who took full advantage of his second chance in life after recovering from addiction, Stacey has always been inspired to facilitate transformation in the lives of others. Stacey received a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Colorado State University and a master’s in social work from the University of Denver. Prior to joining Defy Colorado, Stacey provided mental health and substance abuse treatment to men on parole and probation. She oversees Defy Colorado’s programs, including weekly classes with EITs (Entrepreneurs in Training) at Colorado State Penitentiary, Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility and LaVista Correctional Facility.

Izzy Heep

Post-Release
Program Manager

Izzy holds the belief that we were not meant to do life alone. This creed propels her to create connections with like-minded individuals and organizations to better serve her community. Izzy received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Colorado State University and a master’s in youth and family studies from Denver Seminary. Prior to working for Defy Colorado, Izzy was an operations director for a small software development company. At Defy Colorado, Izzy has filled the role of post-release program manager, creating community connections and assistance for Defy EITs (Entrepreneurs in Training) upon their release.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jacki Cooper Melmed

Chief Legal Counsel for Governor Jared Polis

Tyrone Glover

Partner at Haddon, Morgan, and Foreman, P.C.

Tom Wyman

Partner at Building Ventures

Kevin Klau

President at Hach

Jenn Mendelson

Principal at Leap Interior Design, LLC

Jenna Walker

Co-Founder and CEO of Material Change

ADVISORY BOARD

Jason Mendelson

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Foundry Group

Dave Naus

Founder, Equity West Investment Partners; Partner, First Capital Ventures

Tim Wolf

President of Wolf Interests, Inc.

Jeff Wasden

President of the Colorado Business Roundtable

OUR APPROACH

We think that after people serve their time, they’ve repaid their debt to society and should be given the chance to start fresh. However, the reality is far different because more often than not in the U.S., recidivism rates are far higher than anywhere else in the world, creating a vicious cycle of incarceration. Defy Colorado is committed to breaking this cycle.
Defy is committed to doing better.
Our programs harness the innate entrepreneurial talents of people with criminal histories and redirect them toward the creation of legal businesses and careers. Defy Colorado has demonstrated the effectiveness of an “inside-out” solution to the problems of recidivism and mass incarceration, allowing Defy EITs to journey from their time in prison to economic independence. Providing rigorous employment readiness, character development and entrepreneurship training inside prisons as well as robust post-release services, including job placement, executive mentorship, startup incubation and pitch competitions, Defy Colorado offers a welcome back to society that eases the re-entry process and provides individuals they need with the tools to succeed.
Leveraging a blended learning model, Defy combines the scalability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of video-based training with life-transforming opportunities for growth through in-person coaching and mentoring.

TO HEAR MORE FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCES FROM DEFY VOLUNTEERS, VISIT OUR BLOG