The Denver Preschool Program (DPP) is the result of a voter approved initiative to provide tuition credits for parents and quality improvement resources to preschools. DPP is open and voluntary for all Denver children the year before they are eligible for kindergarten. A Denver family may use the tuition credit with any preschool provider who is licensed by the state and enrolled with the Denver Preschool Program, regardless of where that preschool is located.
Eileen Piper, previously the Denver Preschool Program's Director of Policy and Program Administration, is the Chief Executive Officer for the Denver Preschool Program. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in early childhood education, Eileen spent several years teaching in preschool classrooms before transitioning into the child care resource and referral arena. There she provided support to parents and corporations in her roles at a nonprofit agency and Work/Family Directions, a national work and family consulting firm, by developing programs and support materials that were unprecedented in the industry.
After receiving her MBA from Harvard University, she worked in partnership with senior management at McDonald's Corporation as a part of their Strategic Development group. Some of the projects she undertook included the evaluation, design and support of a restructuring of McDonald’s company-owned restaurants. She also analyzed brand identity and real estate ownership and identified unique opportunities to leverage these existing assets. As part of her responsibilities, she completed market analyses to identify optimal product distribution.
From McDonald’s, Eileen joined Parson Group, a professional consulting firm based in Chicago. She joined the company to open a new market for them in Denver, Colorado. As General Manager of the office, Eileen was directly responsible for all aspects of the Denver business, including Operations, Sales and Consulting Services. In three years, Piper grew the Denver business to more than sixty employees and $6 million in revenue.
At DPP, Eileen is charged with providing leadership to DPP, ensuring effective delivery of services to Denver’s children, families, and preschool providers, while building visibility in the community and relationships with key constituencies. She leads program design, implementation and evaluation initiatives to ensure that every child benefits from effective programming and to educate the community on the critical nature of quality education for our youngest children. Ms. Piper oversees all elements of DPP including operations, accounting and finance, contracts and marketing.
In addition to her work, Eileen has participated in volunteer activities at the Broadway Assistance Center, staffing its soup kitchen and clothing bank, as well as at her son’s school, leading fund development efforts and helping to redesign program curriculum. Eileen has served as an Adjunct Professor in Regis University’s Masters in Nonprofit Management program, and currently sits on her church’s Finance Council. Most importantly, Eileen is married to Matt and has two sons, Xavier (7) and Liam (4). She and her family reside in Denver, Colorado.
Dan Schaller, who first got his start with the Denver Preschool Program as an intern in 2008, currently serves as the organization’s Director of Outreach & Operations. In this role, Dan coordinates and assists with numerous facets of program operations, including but not limited to: company finances, policy initiatives, communications and outreach, & information management.
Dan landed with the Denver Preschool Program after a number of different ventures in the education sector. After graduating from St. Louis University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Dan relocated to Denver as part of a volunteer teaching program that placed him at the newly-opened Arrupe Jesuit High School in northwest Denver. At this innovative school designed to serve Denver’s low-income, inner-city youth, Dan served two years in a volunteer capacity before being hired on for three more as a full-time social studies teacher and as director of the school’s community service program. During this time, he also obtained his Masters of Education from Regis University.
Wishing to explore the broader forces shaping education policy, Dan enrolled in the University of Denver’s Masters of Public Policy program in the fall of 2008. While working to complete this degree, he pursued a number of different education policy opportunities in hopes of enhancing his experience in this arena: he spent seven months as an intern under Governor Ritter’s Senior Education Policy Advisor, he interned for three months with the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Education Program, and he spent the 2009-2010 school year at Montbello High School overseeing a Denver Scholarship Foundation grant that brought college-preparedness services to members of the ninth-grade class. It was also during this time that Dan was hired as an intern with the Denver Preschool Program – and that his eyes were first opened to early childhood education’s vast potential to reshape the education landscape, a cause he continues to advance in his current role as Director of Outreach & Operations.
Lionel Espinoza began at the Denver Preschool Program as the Program Director in May 2012. In this capacity, Lionel is responsible for cultivating and managing relationships with over 250 unique providers throughout the Denver Metro area. Additionally, Lionel oversees the Denver Preschool Program’s various initiatives, including but not limited to: leading working committees that leverage provider expertise into Denver Preschool Program systems; managing ongoing preschool ratings and quality improvement investments; overseeing the incorporation of the CLASS™ tool into the Denver Preschool Program’s quality rating and improvement system; and management of key contracts that deliver services to the preschool provider community.
He has spent the past 14 years as a leader in the early childhood education field in various positions such as Director of Operations, Head Start Director, and Education Director where he developed programs and systems to better prepare children and their families for school. Beginning his career in the same school he attended as a Head Start child, Lionel rapidly embraced the significance of early childhood education and began following his passion for educating children and families. He has earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and is pursuing a second master’s degree in organizational leadership. Initially aspiring to be a kindergarten teacher, Lionel is committed to the education of all children and families beyond a single classroom.
As an active member of the community, Lionel was selected to participate in committees such as the Denver Department of Human Services TANF & CCAP Modification Project and the CHATS Steering Committee. Additionally, Lionel served two terms on the Governors Commission for Community Service as an Executive Committee Member, was selected as a member of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, and served on the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program Selection Committee for three years.
When away from work and the community, Lionel proudly spends his time with his children and wife, Jeannine. They enjoy playing basketball, hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Ellen Baskerville began as an intern at the Denver Preschool Program in 2010. She has now taken on a role as the Business Manager to ensure the programs’ operations are smooth and efficient across all facets. Her role includes, but is not limited to, tuition processing, website restructuring and updating, meeting and event promotion and coordination, provider relations, early childhood research, and program initiative assistance.
Ellen graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s in both psychology and sociology. She also completed her Masters of Educational Psychology in Human Development in the Spring of 2012. Ellen recently received an Education Award from Americorps for her work with the Denver Preschool Program. Other community activities include membership in the Young Non-Profit Professional Network, lifetime member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology and partaking in various volunteering opportunities within the community.
She currently lives in LoDo and enjoys spending time with friends and being outdoors in the beautiful Colorado landscape. As a newcomer to the realm of education, she has found the Denver Preschool Program an enlightening and bustling atmosphere in which to be involved. Ellen looks forward to continuing her work in this pivotal sector, as DPP has brought on new challenges and enriched her knowledge of early education.