Jordan SteffenDeputy Ombudsman
Jordan Steffen joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in July 2016. Jordan has extensive experience researching and analyzing public policy, laws and rules concerning child protection in Colorado. Prior to joining the office, Jordan held an award-winning career in synthesizing data and stories from within the child protection system to inform the public.
Since joining the CPO, Jordan has worked extensively on the agency’s public policy initiatives. This work includes in-depth research regarding systemic issues impacting the child protection system – such as adoption assistance programs and Colorado’s processes for reviewing child fatalities – and helping to draft correlating reports, briefs and legislation. She has also works to promote education and understanding of ombudsmen principles and theory nationally. Currently, Jordan serves on the United States Ombudsman Association’s Board of Directors.
Prior to joining the CPO, Jordan worked as a journalist at Colorado’s largest newspaper, The Denver Post. During her five years at The Post, Jordan covered stories in every part of the state, writing about everything from high-profile criminal cases to local farmer’s markets. Jordan was part of the team awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Aurora movie theater shooting. She was also part of the team named as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for coverage of the Waldo Canyon wildfire in Colorado Springs. Jordan was recognized as the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2015 Colorado Palmer Hoyt Journalist of the Year for her innovative work covering both practice and policy within the legal field.
But some of Jordan’s most significant work centered on investigations into the policies, practices and inadequacies in Colorado’s child protection system. Through years of reporting, Jordan researched long-standing state policies and practices for preventing child abuse. Her reporting gave the citizens of Colorado insight into shortcomings that repeatedly led to the abuse of children and explained systemic issues within the state system. Jordan was part of a team that produced an eight-part investigative series by compiling data and information on 72 children who died of abuse and neglect after entering the child welfare system. That series was recognized both locally and nationally.
Jordan earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado in 2010 and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver in 2022.
Karen Nielsen Director of Administrative Services
Karen Nielsen has been involved in public health and child welfare since 1994. Karen held positions as Outpatient Senior Counselor, Support Staff Supervisor, and Administrative Coordinator over an 18 year period at Jefferson County Public Health. She was further the on-site Drug and Alcohol Liaison for eight years at Jefferson County Division of Children Youth and Families. Karen also served as member of the Jefferson County Division of Children, Youth and Families Utilization Review Team for eleven years, served as a Design and Implementation Subcommittee member for the HB1451 Jefferson County Collaborative Management Interagency Oversight Group for two years. Karen also served as a Member of the State of Colorado Specialized Women’s Substance Abuse Program Collaborative Interagency Group for twenty one years, and as a member of the Adult Diversion Council, Office of the District Attorney 1st Judicial District for seven years.
Additionally, Karen is a Certified Addiction Counselor III (CAC III) since 1990 as required by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Most recently, Karen worked for Specialized Out-patient Treatment Services, LLC as an Admissions and Administrative Coordinator where she assisted with completing intakes and evaluations, identifying, consulting, collaborating, and educating a wide variety of community agencies and attorneys on agency DUI and substance abuse treatment services. Karen has twenty four years of experience in treating individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues in outpatient and residential settings, and has a vast knowledge within the field of substance abuse and mental health treatment. Her expertise is in the areas of community collaboration, substance abuse, women’s issues, parenting, cultural issues, and in the child welfare system.
Amanda Pennington Director of Client Services
Amanda Pennington joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in May of 2019. She has spent the past decade working with children, youth and families who are engaged with the child protection system. As a child welfare caseworker, Amanda managed complex cases which involved multiple system. She also supervised an evidence-based child maltreatment prevention program within public health.
Amanda oversees the CPO’s Client Services Team. This dynamic team of professionals work to resolve citizens’ questions and concerns related to the child protection system. Additionally, Amanda serves on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Child Fatality Prevention Review Team Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Juvenile Justice Reform Committee. She also works to implement new programming for critical incident reviews and unaccompanied immigrant children.
Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Administration. She is certified in mediation, child welfare social casework/supervision, solution-focused and reflective supervision and motivational interviewing.
Jennifer Superka Director of Legislative Affairs & Policy
Jennifer Superka joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in November of 2022 as the Director of Legislative Affairs and Policy. In addition to managing the CPO’s legislative work, Jennifer will help develop the agency’s Policy Collaborative for Children & Families, a unique model that convenes diverse stakeholders to examine complex policy issues in the child protection system and makes recommendations to change policy, practices and systems.
Previously, Jennifer was Partnership Director of the Denver Education Attainment Network (now The Attainment Network), helping to establish and expand a start-up collective impact initiative into a statewide policy and strategy leader focused on driving collaboration to transform systems and improve education and career outcomes for vulnerable students.
As someone born and raised in this state, issues affecting the quality of life of Colorado residents are of special interest. In a prior role, Jennifer helped lead an innovative public engagement program at the University of Denver that examined public policy issues on a non-partisan basis, offering recommendations to policymakers. Jennifer also practiced as an attorney with a small general practice firm.
Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Southwest Studies from Colorado College and earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver.
Michael W. Teague Communications Coordinator
Michael W. Teague joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in August 2022 following a decade of work in numerous non-profit and government roles. Growing up in four different states and experiencing life in urban, suburban and rural America, he excels at developing strategies and messaging that unite diverse audiences through shared values that transcend geography, culture, identity and ideology.
Following an internship with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in 2011, Michael was promoted to Assistant Director of Media Relations. Inspired by his experiences while volunteering in the community, Michael made a shift in 2017 by joining Violence Free Colorado – formerly the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence – to coordinate the Stand Up Colorado statewide relationship violence prevention campaign. His efforts included the first-ever collaborative campaign featuring every major professional sports team in Denver.
In 2019, Michael became the Director of Communications for the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council (CDAC) where he developed non-partisan, values-based messaging and advocacy campaigns. These efforts led to near-unanimous passage of bills to ban gay and trans panic defenses, criminalize the extortion of immigrant victims of abuse, modernize Colorado’s child pornography laws, reform the juvenile sex offender registry, close a loophole enabling the state’s most egregious sex offenders to be transferred into the community without meeting treatment standards and adopt new accountability measures for law enforcement.
Appointed as the Director of Public Affairs for the Colorado First Judicial District Attorney’s Office in 2021, Michael gained valuable experience in crisis communications and constituent engagement during two historically controversial cases that garnered national attention. In 2022, he left the office and started his own communications consulting firm.
Receiving his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, Michael spent three years writing for the student newspaper where he was named 2009 Sports Reporter of the Year and featured as a guest commentator on espnW.com. While working full-time for the NJCAA and Violence Free Colorado, Michael earned his master’s degree in organizational leadership from Colorado State University – Global Campus in 2018.
Claire Hooker Senior Client Services Analyst
Claire Hooker joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman as a Client Services Analyst in October of 2019. Previously, Claire worked at a county department of child welfare for more than 10 years. During that time, Claire was an ongoing child protection caseworker, a Family Team Meeting facilitator and program administrator.
In ongoing child protection, Claire specialized in cases in which families were involved with the Family Integrated Drug Court. She worked with families struggling with substance abuse, mental health and domestic violence concerns.
As a Family Team Meeting facilitator, Claire worked with families involved at all levels of the child protection system, including children and youth involved with delinquency court. During this time, Claire worked closely with a range of professionals, including attorneys, therapists and educational professionals to address issues of child abuse and neglect with the family at the center of the process.
Claire has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and holds a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. Claire is currently certified as a child welfare caseworker supervisor through Colorado’s Child Welfare Training System.
Brittany Cornelius Client Services Analyst
Brittany Cornelius joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in September 2022. Previously, Brittany worked in child welfare for Teller County for more than 10 years. During that time, Brittany was an ongoing child protection caseworker, intake child protection caseworker, adoption child protection caseworker, a Family Engagement and Permanency Roundtable facilitator and a SAFE Home Study writer for kinship, adoption and foster home families.
In intake and ongoing child protection, Brittany worked with families who had non-court and court-involved case. She worked with families who encountered situations with substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, sexual abuse and neglect.
As a Family Engagement and Permanency Roundtable facilitator, Brittany worked with families at all levels of the child protection system, including children and youth involved with the delinquency court. As a facilitator, Brittany would engage with children, youth, parents, relatives, family supports, attorneys, therapists and educational professionals with the hope of engaging in conversations surrounding the safety and well-being of children and supporting parents. Brittany had a specific interest in helping families understand the court process and frequently completed orientation meetings with families.
Brittany is a certified SAFE Home Study writer and guided many families through the licensing progress. She emphasized the importance of providing a safe home environment for children while parents worked on their court ordered treatments with the goal of reunification.
Brittany completed her Colorado Bar Association medication training in January 2017. The training teaches tools and techniques as neutral third party who facilitates a discussion for the purpose of resolving conflicts. She strives to create atmosphere of civility, honesty, cooperation, respect and fairness. Brittany enjoys bringing parties to the table to discuss difficult subjects and facilitating conversations to a mutual understanding, compromise, and/or resolution.
Brittany received her bachelor’s degree of science with an emphasis in social work from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She completed her one-year internship during her senior year with Douglas County Department of Human Services. She has maintained more than 40 hours of training per year and is currently certified as a SAFE Home Study writer through Colorado’s Child Welfare Training Academy.
Prior to child welfare, Brittany obtained her associate’s degree and paralegal certificate through the Community College of Aurora. She worked as a paralegal in law firms in the Denver area and was a trained CASA volunteer. It was through volunteering and working with families as a CASA in the child welfare system, Brittany decided to obtain her bachelor’s degree and work as a caseworker.
Abbey Koch Client Services Analyst
Abbey Koch joined the Office of the Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in September 2022, bringing with her more than five years of experience working with children and families from both social services and within the criminal justice system. Abbey served as a deputy probation officer and probation officer from 2018 to 2022, working alongside youth involved with delinquency and truancy court as well as adults. During this time, Abbey found her passion to advocate and support self-growth for her clients, as well as protecting the community she served.
Furthering her devotion to children and family protection and advocacy, Abbey has served as a member of her county’s Child Protection Team. Furthermore, she has been appointed to the Board of Directors for SHARE Inc., a non-profit domestic violence agency in 2021. Abbey has also been an active volunteer with the Morgan County Golden Stars, a local non-profit providing support and resources to children and families in need during the holiday season.
Abbey earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Northern Colorado. She is looking forward to serving Colorado’s children and families and advocating for systematic changes within child protection.
Tiffany Lewis Client Services Analyst
Tiffany Lewis joined the Office of the Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in September of 2022. With her she brought more than 10 years of experience working directly with children and families involved in the delinquency and children welfare systems.
Most recently, she spent eight years working in Weld County as a child welfare intake caseworker at a senior level. Tiffany investigated all types of allegations of abuse and neglect, trained many new caseworkers, and led or participated in various workgroups. Prior to child welfare, Tiffany worked closely with youth and their families involved in the delinquency system through SB94 within the 18th Judicial District as a pre-trial case manager in Douglas County and detention bed case manager at the Marvin W. Foote Youth Services Center. During her work in child welfare and with Senate SB94, Tiffany worked collaboratively with court systems, service providers, education providers and with various professionals. She enjoys advocating and supporting families in finding avenues to prevent or remove systems from their lives.
Tiffany has been an active board member helping build a non-profit agency, The Makarios Project.
The Makarios Project provides services to organizations and communities with the end goal of supporting young people in developing and maintaining overall health and well-being.
Tiffany earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Colorado State University. She has maintained more than 40 hours of training per year and is currently certified at a supervisor status in Colorado’s Child Welfare Training Academy.
Wendy Oldenbrook Client Services Analyst
Wendy Oldenbrook joined the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman in July of 2021. Wendy has been an ongoing child welfare caseworker at Denver Human Services for the past five years.
Prior to child welfare, Wendy worked in Denver’s homeless service provider community as the Program Director of the Catholic Charities, Father Ed Judy House, a homeless shelter for single women with children. The Father Ed Judy House provided semi-transitional housing and an open-ended alumni program to help families find housing and rebuild their lives. The program provided services and support to help women address a variety of barriers to housing including domestic violence, substance use, criminal histories, mental health issues, and involvement with child welfare.
Wendy has also been involved in the larger nonprofit community, focusing on the intersection of homelessness and domestic violence. She volunteered with the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, Housing Colorado and the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Wendy received the Purple Ribbon Award for Outstanding Executive Director presented by the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 2011. Recently, Wendy was temporarily re-deployed to supervise a COVID motel for people who were both COVID positive and experiencing homelessness as part of Denver’s pandemic response.
With a bachelor’s in social work, Wendy brings tenacity and compassion to her role at the CPO. She looks forward to serving Colorado families and improving the systems that keep our children safe.