A smiling woman with long black hair sits in her brightly lit office. She is wearing a black shirt and pink cardigan.

Ashlee Lewis

(She, Her, Hers)

Executive Director


(303) 839-551o ext. 101

Ashlee Lewis began her work at The Initiative in 2011 as a part-time victim advocate/statistician. She then became the Program Director and was appointed as the Executive Director in October 2015 after the passing of Sharon Hickman, the Co-founder, and Director of 30 years. As the Executive Director, Ashlee provides strategic leadership and vision to The Initiative and ensures its goals.

Outside of her role at The Initiative, Ashlee is passionate about non-profit culture. She sits on several Board of Directors for organizations that she feels passionate about their mission. Ashlee sits on the board for Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (Civil rights for persons with disabilities), Guided by Humanity (accessible yoga and wellness for persons with disabilities and other marginalized communities), and she is the Co-Founder and the Board Co-Chair for Compassionate Colorado (COVID response to help the Navajo community with food and water).

Ashlee was born in South Korea. She was adopted at age 11 with two younger brothers by a lovely couple Boulder, Colorado. Ashlee understood that being adopted by a family from the United States afforded the many opportunities and privileges that she would not have had remained in Korea. Ashlee attributes her passion for advocacy for international gender-based violence and human rights issues due to her past experiences. 

 Ashlee lives happily in Aurora, CO, with her teenagers, Ethan and Hanna, and two little dogs, Lukee and Charlie.


Amber Dower

(She, Her, Hers)

Chief Program Officer


(303) 839-5510 ext. 108

Amber Dower serves as the Chief Program Officer at The Initiative, a critical member of the executive management team. In collaboration with the Executive Director, she articulates and implements the strategic vision and leadership of the agency; oversees a significant portfolio of agency programs and related services; and evaluates the effectiveness of programs to provide ongoing feedback. Ms. Dower has over twenty years’ experience as a licensed massage therapist and has spent the majority of her time in practice working with people who face a variety of severe stressors such as illnesses, disease, recovering from accidents/injuries, and coping with loss/grief. Amber is also an experienced Victim Advocate and was formerly the Program Director for the Initiative. She has her bachelors in Psychology and Biology with an emphasis in Human Physiology, Anatomy, and Neuroanatomy. She was a teacher’s assistant and studied extensively on behavioral neuroscience, focusing on the effects of PTSD and chronic stress on the body and mind.

Isaura Headshot

Isaura Cardenas

(She, Her, Hers)

Program Director

isaura@theinitiativeco.org *Hablo Español*

(303) 839-5510 ext. 105, Text: (720) 431-6766

Isaura Cardenas serves as the Program Director at The Initiative. In her role, she works to provide high quality, culturally relevant advocacy to The Initiative's clients, and oversees the Direct Services Programs; including the Internship, Bilingual, Rural, and LGBTQ+ programs. Ms. Cardenas is fluent in Spanish and Mexican culture, as she is a first generation Mexican-American and the first to have graduated from college in her family. She is proud of her heritage installed by her parents. Ms. Cardenas’ parents came to America and have struggled and overcome barriers as immigrants to provide for her and her three siblings a better life. Ms. Cardenas graduated from University of Colorado at Denver, where she received a Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice with minors in Sociology, Human Development, and Family Relations. Ms. Cardenas began her work at The Initiative as a Victim Advocate Intern. Through her criminal justice lens, and previous volunteer experiences at Iskashita Refugee Network, Habitat for Humanity, and Humane Borders in Tucson, she realized the specific barriers and challenges faced by immigrants and/or undocumented immigrants and other marginalized groups, and discovered her passion for advocacy that fills these gaps.


Zoe Collins serves as the Director of Communications and Outreach at The Initiative. In this role, Ms. Collins works to establish and maintain partnerships with other agencies, provides community education, maintains the public image of the agency, trains staff and interns, and coordinates events. She also has a small caseload of active clients. Ms. Collins was previously the Rural Advocacy Program Manager at The Initiative, where she built up the program, worked with The Initiative's rural population, and discovered her love of community education. Upon graduating from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Comparative Literature, she began her work with The Initiative as a Victim Advocate Intern in 2018. Her previous advocacy experiences include Legal Advocacy at The House of Ruth Maryland, a domestic violence center in Baltimore, where she assisted survivors with attaining Protective Orders and opening Divorce/Custody cases. While in college, she worked closely with the administration as a Resident Assistant and student activist to update the school’s Title IX policies and campus culture. It was in this position that Ms. Collins discovered her passion for advocacy while guiding students through the difficult process of reporting campus sexual assaults. Ms. Collins has personal experiences as a survivor, with chronic illness, and other invisible disabilities, and as a proud member of the queer and autistic communities. These identities have all greatly informed her approach to advocacy and activism.


Kashundra Smith

(She, Her, Hers)

          Direct Services Manager            


(303) 839-5510 ext. 109

Kashundra Smith serves as the Special Programs Direct Services Manager at The Initiative. In this role, she provides and coordinates advocacy-based victim services and ensures that The Initiative is providing high quality, culturally appropriate services for all survivors, specializing in Bicultural, Rural, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. With her knowledge from the Human Service perspective, she is able to provide active listening and support to clients with a strong sense of compassion and empathy. Ms. Smith graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Human Services from the University of Phoenix. She discovered her passion for Victim Advocacy while providing social and emotional support to a friend who fell victim to domestic violence and a sibling who was a victim of gun violence. Ms. Smith began her work at The Initiative as a Victim Advocate Intern. She was born and raised here in Denver, Colorado.


Nayeli Flores 

(She, Her, Hers)

Bilingual Victim Advocate

nayeli@theinitiativeco.org *Hablo Español*

(303) 839-5510, Text: (720) 431-2815

Nayeli Flores is a Bilingual Victim Advocate at The Initiative. Ms. Flores is able to help victims of abuse from both Spanish and English-speaking communities. She began her work with The Initiative as a COVA intern and is thrilled to take on the opportunity to work full-time assisting victims of abuse. Ms. Flores was born in Juarez, Mexico and moved to the United States at a young age. Although her parents went through many hardships, they raised her to know about her culture and background. She was able to continue learning about the Spanish language and her heritage while going to an all English school. Ms. Flores holds a Spanish interpreter certification in Education, Health, and Human Services from The International Community Interpreter Program. She will be the first person in her family to graduate from college this upcoming December with a double degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology, a minor in Psychology and a certificate in Criminology. She has always wanted to help individuals, especially those who feel like the criminal justice system has failed them.

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