Chief Executive Officer
I earned my undergraduate degree (BS) in Finance and Political Science from the University of Dayton and then, with two offer letters in hand, I had to choose between a Peace Corps assignment, and business school. Business school won out, and I earned my Master’s degree in International Business Studies from the University of South Carolina. My career evolution has included roles in sales, operations and management in the construction equipment and coffee retail industries. Finally figuring out how to marry my training and background with my life’s purpose, I became Executive Director at Education & Life Training Center in 2007. I have been shaking things up in the realm of poverty alleviation and workforce development ever since, and was fortunate to join Team Awesome at Project Self-Sufficiency in January 2015.The daughter of an amazing single mom, my beliefs and values are firmly rooted in the concept of selfpower. Today, I get to use my business leader’s brain and experience and my social worker’s heart to support Team Awesome in maximizing the full human potential of our families by realizing their own selfpower. It does not get much better!
I am a lifelong learner deeply committed to the transformative power of education. Although I paused my academic pursuits to raise my family, I recently pursued my dream of higher education and achieved my Bachelor of Science in Marketing three decades later, becoming a first-generation graduate. Growing up in a loving home, I was unaware of our financial struggles, instilling in me a strong appreciation for community and the importance of giving back. Throughout my career in various nonprofit settings, from church to community and healthcare foundations, my commitment to serving others has been unwavering. I am deeply motivated to secure essential funds for Project Self-Sufficiency, enabling single parents to attain economic independence and fostering the growth of resilient, thriving families. My journey is guided by the principle of selfpower, the belief that each individual possesses the innate ability to overcome obstacles and realize their full potential. Maya Angelou’s words resonate deeply with me: ‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.’ This quote beautifully captures the essence of selfpower– the inner strength and confidence that empowers individuals to thrive despite adversity.
I am a tenacious advocate for single moms and dads working to achieve their educational and career goals. I’ve worked for community colleges in Colorado for the past 11 years, helping students to identify their career goals and strategize the best ways to earn their degrees while managing work, classes, and family needs. I served as the Director of Arapahoe Community College’s Sturm Collaboration Campus, a satellite campus in Castle Rock, prior to accepting my position at Project Self-Sufficiency. My prior roles also include serving as an academic and career advisor, paralegal program coordinator and instructor, data analyst, career navigator for students pursuing advanced manufacturing careers, poverty law attorney, defense attorney, and U.S. Army JAG Corps officer. I earned my BA in International Relations from Michigan State University and JD from Drake Law School. My favorite quote is written by Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This is the paradigm shift that defines selfpower for me. It’s when you realize that you have a place in this world and that your talent, persistence, and belief in yourself will enable you to take advantage of every opportunity to get there.
Selfpower is something that each individual would define differently, and I want to help single parents figure out what their definition is and help them achieve the goal of building their selfpower. For me it is building up confidence, knowledge, experience, and a support system, so that individuals can start accomplishing goals on the path(s) they choose to take in life.
I interned with Project Self-Sufficiency from February 2023 to July 2023 and I learned how hard the staff works to accomplish goals with the Participants of this program. I want to be part of that as I am a single parent myself. Single parenting is hard and lonely and can leave you feeling like there are insurmountable obstacles at every turn, and I want to be part of this program that helps make those obstacles seem manageable. I am excited to become a more permanent member of the team working so hard with single parents in Northern Colorado!
Natasia Lovato Garcia
I earned my Undergrad Degree (BS) in Human Development & Family Studies with a concentration in Prevention & Intervention Sciences at CSU. I have worked in several different roles in the non-profit sector in Larimer County since 2013. My career began in admin positions with Prevention & Intervention services and eventually turned into implementing and facilitating evidence-based programs to educate youth and their families about substance abuse, resilience and mental health. While my previous roles were working with youth, my journey led me to this organization when I became a single parent who was ready to advance my career in previous years. The dedication and determination of Participants have led me to become passionate about motivating, pushing and helping single parents achieve and acknowledge their selfpower. I am happy to say I get to combine my passion, my roles in nonprofit organizations and my own selfpower to an advanced career with a wonderful team!
I am a Past Participant of Project Self-Sufficiency and I completed my AAS – Accounting from Front Range Community College in 2016. Soon after my graduation, I started a carrier at Larimer County Human Services, where I found my passion for helping others. I loved being able to make a difference in the community and building a foundation for others to thrive. I believe if you give each person the confidence and tools they need to live, it will create selfpower for them to achieve their dreams.
I was very excited to have found new place to call home here at Project Self Sufficiency. It’s so rewarding to know that I can directly impact the Participants and help them to achieve their education and carrier goals. I am grateful to be a part of an amazing team who continue to support the community through education and building economic stability for families.
I received my Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado in 2014 and I have been working in the career counseling and advisement field ever since. I absolutely love partnering with people as they work to achieve their goals and use their selfpower to reach their full potential! Every person has such amazing strengths and capabilities, so helping them to see those and utilize them in a way that changes their life is incredibly rewarding. In my free time, I love being outdoors with my little family and two dogs exploring our beautiful state and finding adventure! I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful organization and can’t wait to see what the future holds for our Participants.
I am a third generation Fort Collins native and the first in my family to graduate from a university. I am an alumna of Colorado State University, where I received my B.A. degree in Speech Communication and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Performance and Change.
I worked for the Educational Opportunity Center at CSU for several years planning and organizing educational events with local agencies and educational institutions to encourage adults to pursue a secondary education. In addition to that, I also assisted adults with services such as admission preparation, career exploration, financial literacy, and academic and career goal setting in the higher education system.
Being raised by a single mom and knowing firsthand some of the struggles of a single-parent family, I am grateful to be part of Project Self-Sufficiency, which empowers single parents to implement their selfpower to accomplish their dreams in becoming self-sufficient. One of my passions is helping others in their quest in higher education. Having the opportunity to receive a college education is life changing and changes one’s destiny for generations to come.
I was a first-generation Latinx student. I have a B.A in Sociology and in 2021 I graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Colorado State University. I am currently working on my LCSW hours and I have a behavioral health certificate. I grew up very low-income from Mexican immigrant parents. I am from Pomona, California but have lived in Colorado for many years now. My first language was Spanish.
I became a single mom during my first year of undergrad and I had dropped out when my partner discouraged me. I was a young mom trying to balance working and all the other stressors at that time. Eventually, I left the unhealthy relationship, then decided to finish school. I found WomenGive and Project Self-Sufficiency this time to help me navigate college and childcare. As a graduate student, I was working as a case manager providing resources and support to Larimer and Weld County families. I am excited to be working here at Project Self-Sufficiency because I believe in our mission and values. I believe in the power of education to help transform your life through your resiliency! You own your story and you can find your selfpower!
I am a Discover Advisor with Project Self Sufficiency! Supporting people with diverse backgrounds in my community has been my passion for the past 12 years. I have worked as a case manager in treatment facilities for drug and alcohol addiction, as a corrections officer, and as a civil rights advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I love to advocate and empower people to navigate complex systems to execute their goals. I have experienced and overcome homelessness, domestic abuse, and being a single mom myself. Because of this I have empathy and understanding for people I work with. Supporting people to overcome life’s obstacles and reach their selfpower potential is a dream come true! You are the author of your story. Your trauma, past, or current circumstances do not define your potential. You have the ability to choose a different outcome! Let’s do it together!
Nicole Gawronski, BSW
I was raised by a low-income, single mother and am a proud first-generation college graduate. I have experienced first-hand the power of education to completely transform possibility!
As a student, I worked in crisis centers, homeless shelters and residential treatment programs and witnessed thousands of small miracles in human resiliency and courage that I carry with me. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1990 with my BSW, resolve to remember where I came from & battle poverty, one person at a time. I began my career at The Women’s Center of Larimer County. At Alternatives To Violence, I provided emergency assistance/advocacy for victims, and created a sexual assault awareness program serving adolescents. I landed my dream job in 1992 when I joined Project Self-Sufficiency.
Chrissa Percival, MBA, RPCV
I earned my B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz before embarking on my first career in restaurant management. After many wonderful years, I found my heart calling to help others & joined the Peace Corps. Serving in Ghana, West Africa, I was a Small Enterprise Development Project Manager gravitating towards assignments that specifically served women & children. After returning stateside, I earned an Impact M.B.A. from Colorado State University, which perfectly blended my business mind with my heart to serve others. After graduation, I became the Program Director at Family Housing Network, formalizing their programs & increasing positive outcomes.
Throughout my life I have felt the pull towards work assisting people to make big changes in their lives for the better. My mother was never afforded the opportunity of higher education and firmly instilled in me how precious my privilege of receiving one was to ensure I had the freedom to direct my own life. I am blessed to now have the opportunity to pass that on to others as a Project Self-Sufficiency Program Advisor.
Mistie Trefry, MHEd, BS, AA, GED
I am the first in my immediate family to attend college and the first in four generations to graduate. My degree path started with a G.E.D. I later received my A.A. at Aims Community College. After Aims, I transferred to U.N.C. (GO BEARS!) to pursue my undergraduate degree, a B.S. in Business Administration, and my master’s degree in Higher Education Student Affairs Leadership.
My enjoyment of connecting with others assisted in jobs that were focused on customer service, sales, and marketing. As a student, I worked in our school’s recruiting office and later transitioned into the admissions department. During this time, I started a student organization focused on helping women achieve in their academic endeavors. My own journey introduced me to the nonprofit sector which has allowed me opportunities to grow in other areas; leadership, program development, outreach, fundraising, team building, and more. I am grateful to be here at Project Self-Sufficiency and to assist individuals as they navigate their academic and career pathways.
Selfpower is a belief in oneself. It is confidence, courage in the presence of fear, resilience, and self-advocacy; it can be calm or in can ROAR. Selfpower is like a muscle; as we discover it and use it, our selfpower grows.