Our faculty are exceptional educators who specialize in student success. They uphold the mission and values of the College and keep up to date on advancements and trends in their fields so that your curriculum is relevant and of the highest quality. You’ll see for yourself how we take extra time to help dedicated students achieve their goals. Below are just a few of our amazing faculty, but you can hear from them directly on our blog and see them on video in our faculty profiles.
One of the longest-standing members of CCA’s community, Achziger joined the college as an adjunct in 1995 and became full-time faculty a dozen years later. Achziger teaches literature, creative writing, composition and AcE courses. She is also the head of the textbook committee. Prior to joining CCA, she taught at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton; in junior high and high schools in three Utah cities – Centerville, American Fork and Bear River; and at Utah Valley Community College in Orem. Achziger also teaches workshops as part of the National Writing Project, helping today’s educators become better writing instructors. She earned her bachelor of science degree in physical education/English from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and has a master’s of education in writing from Utah State University.
Asma Alayeb is a full-time math faculty at CCA. She joined CCA in Fall 2018. Prior to joining CCA, Asma taught a variety of math courses, ranging from elementary mathematics to Calculus III at Misurata University, Denver Public Schools, Community College of Denver, Red Rocks Community College, and as an independent tutor. Currently, Asma teaches college Algebra and statistics. Asma earned a Bachelor of Science and Education degree majoring in mathematics from Misurata University in Misurata - Libya and has a Master’s of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Denver.
Nikolai Alvarado holds an M.A. in geography from the University of Denver and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the California State University, Fullerton. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Denver. Nikolai’s dissertation research examines the everyday political strategies of Nicaraguan migrants to secure housing, infrastructure, and basic services in informal settlements in urban Costa Rica. Nikolai tries to spend as much time as possible in La Carpio, the largest migrant settlement in Central America, in San José, Costa Rica, learning from migrants who manage to improve their immediate worlds and claim a Right to the City largely from a position of unwanted outsiders. At CCA Nikolai teaches courses in both human and physical geography, as well as in Latin American History.
Aragon started working at CCA in 2015 as an adjunct instructor, teaching courses in English and later Advanced Academic Achievement. She also worked as a Writing Studio tutor in the Academic Learning Center, and as an Instructional Specialist in the Department of Instructional Intervention and Support. She transitioned to full-time in the English Department in fall of 2018, and teaches developmental English, composition, and literature courses. Aragon currently serves on the leadership team for the Latinx Faculty and Staff Association, and chairs the Inclusive Excellence Marketing Committee. Before joining the CCA community, she taught ESL at Linn-Benton Community College and at the English Language and Culture Institute in Albany, Oregon. She earned her master’s degree in English Literature and Culture from Oregon State University and her bachelor’s degree in English from Colorado State University.
Greg has worked at CCA since 2012 , teaching 16 classes in the Diesel Power Mechanics area related to introductory diesel service and repair, which eventually can lead to a ten-month associate’s degree. Atencio has been Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified since 1977. He spent three decades working in various automotive shops, including 25 for Midas. Atencio also is a General Motors School of Product Service Certified Technician and has been a dealership mechanic.
Chuda joined CCA in 2015 as an adjunct instructor and became full-time faculty in 2018. Prior to joining CCA, he taught at Aurora Central High School; Community College of Denver; worked at Denver Public Schools; and taught at Bhanu Memorial Higher Secondary School in Nepal. Chuda has taught a wide range of classes ranging from Math for Liberal Arts through Calculus II. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with a minor in Math and Chemistry from Tribhuvan University in Nepal and a Master of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Colorado Denver. He also attended Metropolitan State University of Denver for Alternative Licensure Program.
Dr. Bita Behforooz
A member of the full-time CCA faculty since 2014, Behforooz teaches Human Growth and Development, Child Development, and General Psychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and obtained her New York State provisional teaching certification in Elementary Education in 2002. She continued her education with a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Methodology from University at Albany-SUNY. She has experience teaching at elementary schools and has taught both psychology and education courses at the University at Albany and other colleges across New York State. Behforooz’s teaching interests includes foundation courses in developmental psychology, educational psychology, learning and motivation. Trained in elementary education, educational psychology, and developmental psychology, Behforooz’s research has focused on understanding student learning processes and factors that can hinder academic success.
Blue played an instrumental role in the redesign and implementation of Developmental English and teaches a variety of classes, including Composition and Studio, as well as Intro to Literature, American Literature, and Ethnic Literature. Outside of the classroom, Blue created and implemented CCA's Safe Zone program, and serves as co-faculty advisor for the LGBT student alliance, Faculty Senate Vice President and is part of the advisory committee for Aurora's Poet Laureate. Prior to joining the college, she earned a MFA in Poetry and worked as an adjunct at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. She spent the next six years at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, Va., as an assistant professor of English.
Assistant Faculty, Colorado Film School
Not only the current Head of Acting for the Screen, Boulgakova has created and developed the acting program at the Colorado Film School since joining the staff in 2003. Boulgakova has taught all the core acting courses necessary for both a CCA certificate and Associate of Applied Science in Film Media Video and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video Production with Regis University. Those courses include: Understanding the Actor’s Process, Acting for the Screen, Screen Actor Improvisation, and Screen Performance Workshop. Additionally, Boulgakova has created an actors' database both at CCA and through Facebook; hosts biannual open auditions for use in college and community productions; and teaches private community acting classes for children and adults. Boulgakova’s credits also include acting in student films; directing two shorts; serving as casting director in numerous film projects; and directing a play and running director’s workshop courses at CU-Denver as part of the CFS program. Boulgakova earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting for Theater and Film from -- and worked as an actor at -- the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre. She also did commercials, television, feature films and modeling in her native Russia before coming to the United States.
Faculty, Computers and Digital Technologies
Burkhart teaches software applications in the Computer Information Systems and Multimedia Graphic Design areas. A CCA employee since January 2010, Burkhart was hired as the director of online learning, which included instructional technology. Her role included system administration of the learning management system, as well as supervising instructional design staff. Burkhart regularly contributes to the instructional technology community by presenting at conferences and participation in professional groups. Prior to joining the college, Burkhart spent nine years as a professor of Business Technology and Graphic Design and a Faculty Development Specialist at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College. She spent nearly three years as manager of information systems at a corporation that owns numerous Midwest car dealerships and for many years was a small business owner. Her educational background includes three degrees from Fort Hays State in Hays, Kan. – bachelor’s and masters degrees in Business Administration and a second masters in Instructional Technology.
Director, Police Academy and Criminal Justice Program
Michael Carter, Director of the CCA Police Academy and Chair for the Criminal Justice program, came to CCA in 1996 from his home state of Hawaii. A former decorated law enforcement officer (full-time SWAT Operator, and patrol) and corporate security manager (1St Interstate Bank’s Security Manager for Hawaii), he started at CCA as a full-time criminal justice professor and added the Director’s role for the police academy in 2001. He has a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Chaminade University in Honolulu.
Film/Video Media Faculty
Chadwick is faculty of Film/Video Media Production/Post Production for CCA and The Colorado Film School. He teaches Production One, Post-Production One, Production Two, Post-Production Two, and Screenwriting. Originally from Denver, and a graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Chadwick has worked professionally in a wide variety of jobs on the set and in the film industry and augments his CFS role as a freelance producer and editor in Denver and Los Angeles. He is the writer, director and/or editor of over 80 documentary videos distributed nationally and broadcast around the world and has also produced and directed a number of Independent short films, exhibited in many film festivals across North America and Europe. He holds an M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of Southern California School of Cinema Television and a B.A. in English from Colorado College.
Dr. Dan Clarke
Dan has a passion for equity, education, and entrepreneurship. With more than 10 years previous industry experience, Dan has taught at CCA for the past 6 years. A lifelong learner, Dan holds undergraduate degrees in marketing, and history, with a masters degree in Marketing as well. In 2017 Dan finished up his doctorate, receiving his EdD in education from CU Denver, with a focus on equity and technology. Dan loves the diversity and students of CCA, and is always looking at ways to make his classes as educational, practical and engaging as possible. Dan has previously owned his own custom cabinetry business and currently co-owns a business dedicated to recording family history through interviewing your loved ones on camera. Dan has always also loved film and videography, and has also previously taught film and business at the high school level.
Dr. Tanya Cook
Cook began full-time teaching duties at CCA in Fall 2014 after spending a year as an adjunct. She has taught Introduction to Sociology I and II, Family Dynamics, Environmental Sociology and, beginning in 2015, Sociology of Diversity. Prior to joining the college, Cook spent time as a research assistant, teaching assistant and student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis. She holds a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in Sociology from Wisconsin.
Theatre Director / Coordinator, Performing Arts
The college’s Theatre Director, D’Angelo has been director, creator and producer of seven plays since joining CCA in 2008, including Glimpses, Portraits of the Soul, Romeo and Juliet, and Anonymous. D’Angelo also has served as instructor for numerous courses, ranging from Voice and Articulation and Styles of Acting, to Acting I and II, Musical Theatre, and Theatre Appreciation. In 2011, she was named Faculty of the Year by CCA and Outstanding Faculty by the Colorado Community College System. Prior to joining the college, D’Angelo taught K-through-8 drama at a Denver charter school; served as a guest artist at Ithaca (N.Y.) College; and ran her own local business teaching children’s theatre. Her educational background includes a bachelor of fine arts in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College and a Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University in Boulder.
Dr. Jennifer Dale
Department Chair, Behavioral Sciences
As department chair for Psychology and Sociology, Dale is responsible for hiring and training, degree with designation coordination, and organization of the annual "Take Back the Night" event. She teaches general psychology, human sexuality, psychology of gender, child development, human growth and development, and social psychology. Dale worked as a child and family therapist for a community mental health center and a non-profit and as a crisis counselor for the Denver Police Department prior to joining CCA in 2007. She was hired full-time the following year. Dale earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in women’s studies from Colorado State University in Fort Collins and a master’s in psychology from Regis University in Denver.
Department Chair, Business
Entering her seventh year at CCA, Dent offers 13 years of higher education experience at both the undergraduate and graduate level. With CCA, Dent currently serves as the Department Chair for Business and previously served three years as a full-time faculty member in the department. This year, she's teaching Introduction to Business, Business Communications, and Organizational Behavior. Prior to joining CCA, Dent led the Master of Business Administration and Master of Accountancy programs at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., where she also taught undergraduate business courses. Her professional strengths include teaching, academic program development, strategic planning, professional student development, and curriculum development at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Economics from Radford University in Virginia and an MBA from Webster University in Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Affiliated with the college since August 2006, Dillon became a full-time instructor two years later. He’s regularly taught Microbiology, General Biology I and Medical Terminology, and has also previously fronted several classes in Anatomy and Physiology. Dillon is in charge of the college’s Biotechnology area. He serves as co-chair of the Health and Wellness Committee and is an advisor with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. Prior to joining CCA, he did research at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, working on the early stages of a breast-cancer drug, and at Northwestern University in Chicago, working in Endocrinology. Dillon earned a master’s degree from Loyola (Chicago) University in Biology and a bachelor’s in Pre-Medicine from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
Department Chair, English
A full-time CCA instructor since Fall 2009, Feres teaches a full slate of English, Reading and Composition courses in the pre-college preparatory area. He spent more than five years prior to joining the college as an adjunct teaching pre-college curriculum at Suffolk County (N.Y.) Community College. His educational background includes both a Masters and a Bachelor’s in English from Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, with an additional Secondary English certification.
Dr. Barbara Francis
Lead teacher for both anatomy and physiology, Francis also has supervisory duties in that capacity in addition to her coursework in those subjects. She joined CCA as an adjunct in 2010 and was hired full-time two years later. Prior to joining the college, Francis served as a visiting professor at Metro State College in Denver, teaching dynamics of health, medical terminology and pathophysiology. She also spent time as director of clinical services at a Denver cancer rehabilitation facility and as clinical director at Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute in Greeley. Francis has earned three degrees from the University of Northern Colorado, including a master’s and doctorate in exercise science with an emphasis in cancer rehabilitation and a bachelor’s in special education.
Alice C. Gilbert
A former CCA student and graduate of Aurora’s Gateway High School, Gilbert earned her AA at the college on her way to a Math/Computer Science and Women’s Studies degree at the University of Denver, She later was hired full-time at CCA in December 2009 after five years as an adjunct to coordinate the Math section of the ACE Department. Gilbert is the first full-time developmental education Math instructor in the college’s history and now teaches an array of pre-college classes in that subject. Prior to joining CCA, Gilbert worked several years in the corporate world managing a Tech Support department for a computer company in Boulder and tried several home businesses before deciding to change her career trajectory towards teaching.
Dr. Andrew D.L. Goff
Faculty, Early Childhood Education
A new full-time faculty member beginning in Fall 2015, Goff brings significant experience not only in the area of Early Childhood Education (ECE), but Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE). Goff served as an adjunct in those disciplines for six years at Red Rocks Community College and Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., before joining CCA. He previously taught ECE and ECSE for nine years in Denver and Tucson public urban elementary schools. Goff began his work in ECE 12 years ago as a para/teaching assistant in a traditional inner city child care program. His educational background includes a bachelor’s in Child Psychology and a masters in Education from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Goff currently is working on his doctorate in Leadership for Education Equity, with an emphasis on ECSE/Early Intervention, at the University of Colorado Denver. He teaches Introduction to Early Childhood Education and Guidance Strategies at CCA.
A 24-year veteran instructor at both two- and four-year institutions, Graham is teaching, or will teach, Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication and Intercultural Communication at CCA within the Department of Performing Arts. She joined the college in August following a dozen years as adjunct Communication faculty at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., and Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif. Graham also spent a decade coaching intercollegiate speech, debate and theatre. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif., and a master’s degree in Speech Communication from California State University-Fullerton.
Clinical Faculty and Resource Manager
Graves began his career at the Community College of Aurora as a paramedic student in 2006 and graduated in 2008 with his Associates of Applied Science in paramedicine. Before this, he earned his Emergency Medical Technician-Basic in 1996 from Aims Community College. He taught EMS for several colleges including Aims Community College, Front Range Community College, and Community College of Aurora as an adjunct before becoming Clinical Faculty for the Allied Health Department. In his 20 years of field medicine and firefighting, he has experience in urban, rural, occupational and wilderness/mountain medicine and has been a Field Training Officer. Graves will be teaching the clinical internship for the EMT, paramedic, and firefighter classes.
Dr. Jennifer Harrell
An adjunct for about six years, Harrell joined the full-time staff in Fall 2012. She currently teaches General Biology and is the lead instructor for Biology for non-majors, the latter both online and on campus. Harrell previously taught Microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology courses at the college. Prior to joining CCA, Harrell earned a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn.
Starting as an adjunct in spring 2008, Hattar joined the college full-time just over three years later. She teaches General College Biology I and II and serves as lead instructor for those courses. You may also find her feeding pill bugs, collecting duckweed from Westerly Creek, or watering bean plants for ecology labs. She earned her M.S in Cell Biology at the University of Colorado, where she researched the role of the microenvironment in breast cancer. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biological chemistry from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Film/Video Media Faculty
CCA’s 2011-12 Faculty of the Year, Hicks’ main area of emphasis is in the writing/producing arena and his teaching calendar reflects that screenwriting and producing emphasis. Hicks also has been active out of the classroom since joining the college in Fall 2010. He began CCA’s screenwriting club, Fade In, and serves as a faculty advisor. He started an event called “Shorts Bash” as a venue for film-school students that he hopes will become an annual tradition and created the Colorado Film School screenwriting award. Hicks and Dr. Peggy Norwood were the first two CCA faculty members to introduce the use of iPads into the curriculum to gauge the educational effectiveness of integrating the technology into courses. The two faculty presented their findings as featured speaks at two conferences: Conference Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) and WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET). Hicks has over 100 professional credits in motion picture, television and commercial production, including the development of projects with the former head of 20th Century Fox and president of William Morris Agency, and has worked alongside numerous Academy Award winning producers, directors, actors and cinematographers. He served in 2012 as director of the Vail Film Festival screenwriting competition.
A full-time staff member since 2008, Hirsh joined CCA four years earlier as an adjunct and has since taught most of the courses within the anthropology discipline. That course load includes cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, forensics, archaeology and Indians of North America. She spent time teaching field studies abroad in Costa Rica in Mexico from ’08-’10, helping students explore the relationship between culture and environment in joint exercises with members of the biology field. Hirsh herself has studied in Kenya in addition to her educational background at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., where she earned a master’s in anthropology, and the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., where she was a double major in psychology and anthropology.
Faculty, Computer and Digital Technologies
A year as an adjunct in both the Business and Computer Science departments has evolved into a full-time faculty position for Howard, beginning in Fall 2015. He has taught Business Communications, Introduction to Computers and Windows Operating System classes previously, and augmented his classroom work during his time as an adjunct by introducing technology to young people as a specialist at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. His full-time position will concentrate on computer programming courses such as C#, Visual Basic and Python. Prior to joining CCA, Howard spent eight years as the Chief Operating Officer at DC Brands International, based in Wheat Ridge. There, he oversaw all company operations, including manufacturing, as well as information technology. His educational background includes a bachelor’s from the University of Colorado Denver in Information Systems Management and a MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Department Chair, Arts and Communications
Lynette Jachowicz, Ph.D. joined CCA in August after finishing her work as division chair of a department at Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri. Lynette has more than 14 years of teaching experience at community colleges and recently defended her dissertation for her Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Kansas (her dissertation is titled “Trust, Leadership, and Communication Satisfaction in Higher Education”). Similar to her new position at CCA, she has experience leading a department that represents the multiple disciplines of art, communication, music, theater, English, graphic design, and criminal justice. Finally, she has Colorado connections: local extended family and her bachelor’s in Speech Communication from the University of Northern Colorado.
Department Chair, Science
Affiliated with CCA for about two decades, Jackson-Carter is one of the longest-tenured staff at the college. As the Science Department Chair she oversees about 20 full-time and adjunct instructors. She’s taught all five of CCA’s Chemistry courses, including current classes in General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. Jackson-Carter also has been a longtime member of the state’s faculty curriculum committee as CCA’s general-education representative. Jackson-Carter has previously helped secure two major initiatives in concert with late CCA faculty Dr. Todd Bergren: the creation of the Science Resource Center on the Lowry campus and acquisition of $430,000 in grand funding to infuse molecular biology curriculum into Colorado high schools. Prior to joining CCA, Jackson-Carter was manager of a geochemistry lab in Lakewood and a chemist for a pharmaceutical company. Her graduate work was in Mechanistic Organic Chemistry at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., and has a BA in Chemistry from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
A faculty member at CCA in part and full-time roles since 2008, Jović teaches two calculus courses, pre-calculus, introduction to statistics, and math for liberal arts. He’s also the concurrent enrollment coordinator for the math and science departments. Prior to joining the college, Jović taught a range of math courses at three local high schools - Aurora Central, Northglenn and Bishop Machebeuf, and at Front Range Community College in Westminster. He has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in geology from the University of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. He also earned a master of science and completed all his class work towards his doctorate in environmental engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
Paul joined CCA in Fall 2018 and has been an instructor for the past eleven years. He teaches World history, American history, Africa American history, and many other histories. He is also the director of CCA’s Confluence Conference. His educational background includes a PhD from the University of Colorado, a Masters of Arts from the University of North Texas, and a bachelor’s in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University. His area of concentration is colonial and early U.S. history and his dissertation examined the legal and constitutional ramifications of Pennsylvania’s state government implementing wartime powers during the United States Revolution.
Department Chair, Emergency Medical Services
A former clinical coordinator at the college, Lattone joined CCA full time in 2008. She teaches a variety of paramedic coursework, including cardiology, medical and trauma emergencies and pharmacology. She also has editing responsibilities for a major medical publication relating to simulation studies. Lattone is a former field supervisor for Rural Metro in Aurora with varied responsibilities related to the running of 15-person shifts. She also served as a field paramedic from 1999-2007 in Aurora and Tacoma, Wash. Her educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in biology from Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., and paramedic certification from Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, N.Y.
A Writing and Literature instructor for 15 years, McClelland-Fieler served as an adjunct instructor for five years at CCA before becoming full-time faculty. She teaches four sections of English 090 for the Academic Enrichment Department and one of Introduction to Literature. Prior to joining the college, McClelland-Fieler taught English at the Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy in Denver and Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Wash. She also was previously an ESL instructor at the Berlitz Language School in Denver and Cincinnati and taught Composition at Miami (Ohio) University, where she earned her master’s degree in English / Creative Writing. McClelland-Fieler has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Cincinnati.
Noon-Ulvila joined CCA in Fall 2014 and primary teaches the Advanced Academic ESL classes. She has taught all levels of ESL from pre-literate students to college-level students. She also has a specialty in designing and teaching ESL Healthcare programs and has taught in several co-teaching models including I-BEST. Prior to teaching at CCA, she taught as both an adjunct and full time instructor at Highline College, just outside of Seattle, for 10 years. She also worked for the Refugee Women’s Alliance, a Seattle non-profit that provides ESL, counseling, case management, and resource services as well as vocational training. Her educational background includes a master’s from Seattle University in Adult Education, specializing in Teaching English Students of Other Languages (TESOL), and a BFA in Film Studies from the University of Colorado.
An adjunct for 3 1/2 years, O’Dell was hired to the full-time staff for the 2013 spring semester. She teaches General Psychology I and II and Abnormal Psychology after previously leading courses on Human Sexuality, Human Growth and Development, and Child Development. O’Dell has a masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado-Denver, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and associate degrees in Liberal Arts and Psychology from Casper (Wyo.) College.
Faculty, Art and Communication
A full-time faculty member beginning in Fall 2015, O’Donnell is no stranger to CCA, having spent two years as an adjunct. She teaches, or has taught, 2D Design, Art Appreciation, Drawing I and II, and Life Drawing at the college. Overall, she possesses nearly a decade of teaching experience, primarily in drawing foundation and printmaking, and her work has been shown to major collectors nationally and internationally. Prior to joining CCA, O’Donnell taught for five years as an adjunct in the Painting and Drawing department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her professional experience extends to the Virginia and Washington D.C. areas, as well, with jobs at Corcoran College of Art and Design, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University. O’Donnell earned her bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Mich., and a M.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, Va.
Music and Entertainment Entrepreneurship Program Director / Director of Music
Michael Pickering serves as Music and Entertainment Entrepreneurship Program Director and Director of Music at the Community College of Aurora. With over three decades of music and entertainment industry experience plus a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Interdisciplinary Music Studies and Master of Arts in Music Business from the Berklee College of Music, Michael is passionate about the industry. Over the past decade, Michael has served as President and Chief Creative Officer of Lionsong Entertainment, Inc., an arts and entertainment company providing headline music and clean comedy entertainment, education, and consulting services to corporate, theatrical, educational, outreach, cruise, and private clients worldwide. Michael remains very active in the local and national music and entertainment scenes. He and his wife, Amy continue to tour their music and comedy show worldwide at venues ranging from cruise ships to Carnegie Hall. Michael is also an award-winning composer, conductor, musician, director, speaker, writer, and actor.
Ray has been with CCA since 2016 as an adjunct instructor in the evenings as well as teaching concurrent enrollment through CCA and the University of Colorado at Denver to high school students. He was hired to the full-time faculty position beginning in Fall 2017. Ray has taught a wide range of classes ranging from Quantitative Literacy through Calculus II. A native of Colorado and a product of the Denver educational institutions, Ray attained a double major bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He also earned a Master of Integrated Science from the University of Colorado at Denver with an emphasis in mathematics. A long-time educator, Ray taught within Denver Public Schools at Collegiate Prep Academy located in Montbello. Ray served students at the Academy for six years as the Math Department Chair and concurrent enrollment instructor.
Faculty, English as a Second Language
An adjunct at CCA since Jan. 2010 and a full-time faculty starting in Fall 2015, Schweissing brings nearly 25 years of teaching experience in ESL, GED instruction and Theology/Religious Studies. Schweissing began tutoring ESL students as an undergraduate student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and continued as a conversational English instructor for Japanese students after graduation. He spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a volunteer ESL instructor, and 31/2 years teaching the subject in Puerto Rico while working on his master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language at InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico at San Germán, He then periodicially taught ESL during a nine-year stay in the Bahamas. In 2009, he returned to the United States and began supervising a tutoring/homework program for Karen refugees in Northwest Aurora. Schweissing is higher-ed special interest group chair for the state’s TESOL organization. He has a master’s in Urban and Intercultural Ministries from Denver Seminary.
Dr. Ashley Simpson
Department Chair, Early Childhood Teacher Education Program
Hired in July 2015, Simpson is charged with oversight of 12 adjunct instructors and a full-time faculty member. She also teaches two courses: Curriculum Development and Adult Learning and Teaching. Simpson spent five years prior to joining CCA as a reading skills facilitator – preparing students for college-level curriculum – at Hinds Community College in Utica, Miss. Her educational background is vast, and includes a doctorate (Early Childhood Education with a focus on Reading and Global Development) master's (Reading Education) and bachelor's (Elementary Education) from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. She also earned a specialist's degree in Academic Leadership/Higher Learning and Teaching from Walden University in Minneapolis.
Andrew Singer has worked for CCA since 2016. He has worked as a diesel mechanic for the U.S. Army and Union Pacific Railroad. In the Army, he advanced to become a shop foreman and earned his A.A.S. degree in automotive technology while in the armed forces. After his third deployment in the military, he had to retire due to injury. He then worked for Union Pacific as a diesel mechanic on locomotives for two years before joining CCA.
A longstanding faculty member since 1998, Spiegel serves as the lead in the area of Philosophy. He also teaches courses such as Ethics, Logic, Philosophy of Religion, Introduction to Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics. Spiegel’s first priority is to design his Philosophy courses so that they are interesting, informative and well organized. This priority has been recognized previously with the Bowman faculty endowment award, which recognizes CCA faculty making a significant difference for their students. Prior to joining CCA, Spiegel worked at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a chapter coordinator of Campus Ambassadors, with a stint hosting a radio show devoted to philosophy and current events. Then, he moved to Denver, and started a house painting business in the metro area. He holds a bachelor’s in Geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and two master’s degrees from Denver Seminary, the latest in Philosophy of Religion, with honors.
CRJ Program Coordinator, Paralegal
Oversight of the Paralegal and Criminal Justice departments, including its curriculum, scheduling, hiring and supervision, fall under Uchner’s auspices. She teaches a variety of classes spanning the spectrum of both disciplines, including constitutional law, criminology, judicial functions, methods of criminal justice research, introduction to law, and legal research and writing. She began her CCA career in 2005 after nearly 15 years as a prosecutor in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District and the Attorney General’s Office. Uchner also served as a lawyer in private practice. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s of science degree from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Wyoming.
Department Chair, Computer and Digital Technologies
A new hire beginning in Summer 2015, Vahling is the lead instructor for CCA’s Networking and IT Technician courses and teaches multiple classes: Intro to Computer Information Systems, Operating Systems, Linux, Networking Fundamentals, Networking I, and Network Security. Vahling taught previously at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan., in the area of Computer Support. He holds a Master of Science degree in IT Security from the University of Westminster in London, England, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Vahling has a broad background in computers, ranging from security and networking to programming and web design.
Art Vaughn, Jr.
Lead Faculty, Business
Vaughn supports the department chair by monitoring courses and creating syllabi while also recruiting and training faculty. He spent a year as an adjunct before joining CCA’s full-time staff in January 2014 and currently teaches Introduction to Business, Business Law, Business Communications, Organizational Behavior, and Management. His previous career experience included eight years as an adjunct at University of Phoenix, Argosy University, Colorado Technical University, and DeVry University. Vaughn’s corporate career included 12 years at CitiGroup in its Finance department. His last position at CitiGroup was as a Financial Analyst for Diners Club. Vaughn received both his bachelor’s degree (in Business Administration Management) and master’s (Finance) from Regis University. He’s currently completing his doctorate in Higher Education at University of Denver.
Hired in May 2015, Villegas begins in the fall and will teach College Composition and Reading (CCR), English Composition I, and a Studio course. She has taught Composition since 2007 and Literature since 2008. She joins CCA after five years as an adjunct and full-time faculty member at Century College in St. Paul, Minn. There, she led classes that included Developmental Writing, Composition I and II, American Indian Literature, Comics as Literature, and also worked in the college’s writing center. Villegas also has worked at South Piedmont College in Monroe, N.C. and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., where she earned a master’s in English with an emphasis in Literature. She completed her undergraduate studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif.
James Wallace has more than 45 years of diversified tax and accounting experience in corporate and public accounting. He has held positions of Senior Vice President of Tax in large publicly traded companies headquartered in Colorado and Oklahoma for more than 33 years and has practiced public accounting for more than seven years. He has taught Accounting and Taxation at the Community College of Aurora for five years. He received his B.S.B.A. in Accounting from Oklahoma State University and has an MBA from REGIS University. He is a Certified Public Accountant in Colorado and Oklahoma.
Affiliated with CCA since 2006, Welliver joined the college full-time in 2011. She regularly teaches composition and literature and also has led a graphic literature course. She joined the staff after spending time as a graduate student and teaching assistant at East Carolina Universtiy in Greenville, N.C., where she earned her master’s degree in literature. Welliver has a BA in writing, rhetoric and culture from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.
An adjunct instructor at CCA since Spring 2013, Whited joined the college full-time for the Fall 2015 semester. He will teach English Composition and Basic Composition and Reading for English at the college. Whited’s background includes teaching and matriculating at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. (bachelor’s) and California State University Fresno (master’s). He also taught at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Ind. Subjects in which he’s served as instructor include Composition, Creative Writing, Technical Writing and Literature. Whited led the Young Writer’s Conference at Cal State-Fresno, worked as a writing tutor in Purdue’s well-known Writing Lab, and served as president of the San Joaquin Literary Association. He is the recipient of the California State University Fresno Fiction Prize, has been a finalist for the Emerging Writers for the Short Story and the Steinbeck Fellowship for Creative Writing, and was a Contributor at the 2010 Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont.
Chair, Social Sciences
Hired to teach full-time beginning with the Fall 2015 semester, Williams leads classes covering 20th century world history and early American history. He comes to CCA after teaching for one year at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. Williams also had nearly five years of classroom experience as part of the doctoral program at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V., with 20th century social and labor history in the United States, 19th century U.S. history, world history, and education comprising his advanced degree. He holds a master’s in American History from James Madison, as well as a bachelor’s in History and Adolescent Education at the State University of New York-Cortland. Williams’ experience includes time as an AP History instructor at Culpepper County (Va.) High School.