Topic: In the News

The Kempe Foundation Elects Six New Members to its Board of Directors

The Kempe Foundation is pleased to announce the election of six new members to our Board of Directors. Each of these individuals brings their own unique personal and professional experience that will enhance the board and strengthen our organization. Meet our new board members below!


Jason Castro MPAcc, CPA (below) is a Contract Professional at Robert Half. He is based out of Denver, Colorado. 


Jonah Cave (below) is the Managing Director at CH Investment Partners based out of Dallas, Texas.








Jill DeRaad (below) is the Senior Manager of Project Management at Compassion International based out of Denver, Colorado. 








Cristina DeVito (below) is the CFO and Chief Strategy Officer at Heavenly interior design services in Denver, Colorado.








Jennifer Matuschek (below) is the President of the Eagle Group. She is based out of Denver, Colorado. 








Michelle Azurzada, JD, CPL (below) is a partner at Tyson, Gurney and Hovey, LLC  in Denver, Colorado.


Please join us in welcoming these six individuals to the Kempe Foundation board of directors. We look forward to working together to advance our mission of keeping all children safe and healthy.

Kempe’s Response to the ‘State of Emergency’ for Youth Mental Health

On May 25th, for the first time in its 117-year history, Children’s Hospital Colorado declared a “State of Emergency” for youth mental health. This declaration comes following the release of staggering statistics revealing a 90% increase in youth mental health emergency visits between April 2019 and April 2021.

These statistics give us a glimpse into the pandemic’s frightening impact on young people’s mental health. For the past two years, a persistent level of uncertainty and stress has impacted children and families across Colorado. The ability to feel productive and connected to the community has a significant impact on our emotional health. During the pandemic, these key components of mental health were taken away from us.

The pandemic exacerbated frustrations and anxieties in homes where these emotions were already high. Stressful conditions in conjunction with a marked increase in substance use has put Colorado’s children at risk. During times like these, the work of the Kempe Center is particularly salient.

The experts at the Kempe Center are uniquely positioned to address the urgent needs of this moment. The Kempe Center sits at the intersection of in-the-moment crisis response and building systems to intervene and prevent child abuse and neglect from happening. The traumatic effects of the pandemic are only starting to become evident. In order to support children and families across the state, medical providers, childcare facilities and schools must be prepared to respond to the signs and symptoms of trauma.

Long before we learned of COVID-19, the Kempe Foundation focused on funding work that interrupts the risks surrounding a child linked to childhood trauma. Our Kempe Center experts continue to develop and implement programs that prioritize a more holistic approach to supporting the health and wellbeing of children and families.

Here are some of the ways Kempe Center programs are responding to the State of Emergency for youth mental health:

Serving as an online and in-person resource center

Kempe works to connect youth, teens, families, medical and child welfare professionals, schools, and community partners to resources, tools, and best practices to prevent and treat child abuse, neglect, and trauma.  In addition to services provided by Kempe programs, the Center also provides information on how to access a variety of available community resources when abuse or neglect is suspected:

Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice Program (TRIP)

Led by Dr. Evelin Gomez, TRIP’s trauma-informed practice team provides training, coaching and consultation for educators and childcare professionals. These trainings are designed to increase capacity for childcare professionals in schools and care facilities to identify signs and symptoms of trauma and promote healing for children. As children return to school after a difficult year, equipping teachers and educators with this information is an important step to ensure student safety and success.

Stress, Trauma, Adversity Research, and Treatment (START) Center

The START Center is dedicated to providing optimal treatment for people of all ages suffering from the effects of loss, trauma, chronic stress and adversity. Kempe’s partnership with the START Center has played a key role in bringing mental health services to children and families who participate in Kempe Center programs. Throughout the pandemic, the START Center has seen a substantial increase in the number of practitioners and therapists needed to meet the needs of children experiencing multiple traumas – including COVID.

Child Abuse Response and Evaluation (CARE) Network

The Kempe Center was intentional about including behavioral health providers in the second group of trainees for the CARE Network. Accordingly, their training included the impact of the current COVID crisis. By having these conversations with our healthcare providers across the state, we are growing the community of healthcare professionals who can be a valuable resource when signs and symptoms of abuse, neglect and trauma are identified.

As we continue to witness the pandemic’s effects on youth mental health across the state, it is essential that we support the work of the Kempe Center. Experts at the Kempe Center are national leaders in research efforts to evaluate prevention and treatment programs that achieve measurable outcomes for the safety, health and well-being of children and their families. As is evident through Children’s Hospital Colorado’s state of emergency declaration, this work is particularly important today and needs immediate attention, as well as continued financial support.

When you donate to Kempe, you support our work to provide critical funding and support for doctors, social workers, researchers, trainers, policy teams and other professionals working every day to keep children safe and healthy. Click here to donate today.

To get in touch with the Foundation, contact Jon Kruljac, CEO at For more information about the Kempe Center, contact Mary Gangel, Marketing & Communications Manager at

For the past 49 years, Kempe has promoted understanding, knowledge and best practices to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect locally, nationally and internationally. In 2022, the Kempe Center will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Learn more about the history of the Kempe Center and Kempe Foundation here.

Updates from Under the Gold Dome: May 2021

As of May 20, 2021

The 2021 legislative session is making progress in the Colorado Capitol! Throughout this legislative session, the Kempe Foundation has been active in advancing child focused policies and advocating for funding for Kempe Center programs.

Below is an update on the status of our legislative priorities:


On May 18th, after approval from both chambers of the legislature, Governor Polis signed the FY 2021-2022 Budget into law. The Kempe team has been following this bill closely, and we are pleased to share some great news for Kempe Center programs!

Within the FY 2021-2022 Budget, the Governor has recommended restoring last year’s $300,000 cut for the CARE Network compensation. After deliberation, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) approved the full funding of the CARE Network, which means total funding for the CARE Network is $911,776 within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment budget. The Child Welfare Training System also received the full request of $6,797,102 within the Division of Child Welfare budget. In the Office of Early Childhood, the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Services received $8,182,206, of which SafeCare receives approximately $500,000.

As the Budget worked its way through the Senate and House, various amendments were added by legislators. The Kempe Foundation supported one amendment which added $1 million from the General Fund to the Tony Grampsas Youth Services program (TGYS). The Kempe Center’s Fostering Healthy Futures program received a significant grant from TGYS last year. During the JBC Conference Committee, this $1 million amendment for the TGYS funding was reduced to $250,000 because TGYS is going to receive an additional $800,000 from the tobacco master settlement program.

In addition to the TGYS amendment, the following amendments of interest were added in both the House and the Senate:

  • $5 million General Fund for the Domestic Abuse Program
  • $2 million General Fund for School Bullying Prevention and Education Cash Fund
  • $2 million General Fund for School-based Health Centers to provide mental health screenings for students
  • $1 million Marijuana Tax Cash Fund for the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment Training Program
  • $500,000 General Fund for the Suicide Prevention program

The Kempe Foundation appreciates the continued effort of the Colorado legislature and Governor to ensure the protection and well-being of Colorado’s children. In the final weeks of the legislative session, we remain committed to working with our partners at the Capitol to advance child-focused policies for Colorado’s children and families.

2021 is a critical year for us to build capacity in the state budget for programs that are demonstrated to work. We will continue to provide important policy updates throughout the 2021 Legislative Session. To receive Kempe Advocacy Updates via email, please sign up here.

The Kempe Foundation Announces New Chief Mission Officer, Jeremy Stern

 AURORA, CO (May 18, 2021) – The Kempe Foundation is pleased to announce Jeremy Stern as the organization’s Chief Mission Officer. Stern brings 18 years of experience in the nonprofit industry with expertise in corporate development, fundraising and community engagement to this new role. As Chief Mission Officer, Stern will play a pivotal role in turning the Foundation’s vision into action.

“Jeremy’s commitment to our vision and passion for the cause is palpable,” said Kempe Foundation CEO Jon Kruljac. “We are so excited to have his fresh perspective, energy and diverse skillset on our team.”

Most recently, Stern served as the Director of Business Development & Public Relations for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare – metro Denver’s leading nonprofit provider of affordable, evidence-based behavioral health services. In this role, Stern led all development and marketing components, cultivated partnerships and organized fundraising and community events. Stern is most excited to bring his ability to form lifelong, impactful relationships to the Foundation.

As Chief Mission Officer, Stern will focus on building revenue to contribute to the financial stability of the Foundation. This includes communications, donor database management, events, corporate partnerships, community partnerships, annual giving campaigns and comprehensive digital and social media campaigns and products aimed at raising the Foundation’s profile. He believes collaboration is key to finding lasting solutions to complex issues.

“I feel so connected to the Kempe Foundation’s mission and I’m so honored I get to be a part of the team that builds it out and sees it through,” said Stern. “I look forward to implementing strategies to increase revenue, brand recognition and community support for the Foundation.”

In his free time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his family, which includes his wife Emily, sons Jack and James, and his furry son, Murray. He serves as the Board President of Denver North Business Association as well as the co-chair the Tips & Leads Group of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.


The CARE Network Expands its Impact Across Colorado

Since 2020, the Kempe Center’s Child Abuse Response and Evaluation (CARE) Network has undergone substantial growth. The CARE Network engages health care and behavioral health providers – pediatricians, family doctors, school nurses and more – with the best education and training on conducting medical exams and behavioral health assessments to identify signs and risks of child maltreatment or trauma. Established in 2019 to address a lack of access to expert evaluations in cities and towns across the state, the CARE Network continues to increase capacity and ensure quality care for Colorado’s children and families.

The inaugural group of providers, comprised of 30 medical professionals, received their first CARE Network training in May 2020. One of these providers is Dr. Mary Vader, DO, a pediatrician in Montrose, Colorado. Dr. Vader had a very strong relationship with the Kempe Center for many years before she was invited to join the CARE Network.

“I’m always interested in learning more about health and getting advice to bring back to my own practice,” said Dr. Vader. “I was excited to get involved.”

CARE Network providers meet annually to connect with the Kempe Center and participate in a training that incorporates the newest research on evaluating child abuse and neglect. The Kempe Center also regularly surveys CARE Network providers to understand their needs and adapt the training to provide the most relevant resources. In a survey distributed to the first cohort, many providers expressed an interest in increasing their behavioral health training.

“Behavioral health is definitely one of my weaker areas,” Dr. Vader said. “When I was studying years ago, pediatricians didn’t talk much about the social determinants of health.”

Though Dr. Vader has a behavioral health specialist at her practice, she was eager to broaden her knowledge. On April 29, 2021, the second annual CARE Network provider training focused on addressing this gap.

The second group of CARE Network providers received their first training May 2-3, 2021. Like the first cohort, this group of providers are located in cities and towns across the state. Unlike their predecessors, this group includes 17 behavioral health providers in additional to 20 medical providers. This cohort will join the Network with Dr. Vader and her colleagues this coming July for a follow up training.

Dr. Vader is thrilled to witness the expansion of the CARE Network’s expertise and resources. She is hopeful for the impact it will have in the state.

“One of the components of the CARE Network that I think new providers will find most useful is the mentorship that it provides. You feel like you are part of a community that’s doing the same thing you’re doing. It’s empowering,” said Dr. Vader.

As the CARE Network continues to grow, they are actively seeking to partner with community organizations and agencies across the state. These partnerships will allow the Kempe Center to create a broad field of health care and behavioral health professionals which will become an integral part of the safety net for children in Colorado.

“When we don’t have the resources, we go to the Kempe Center,” said Dr. Vader. “We can send over a report and get pretty instant expert feedback. We’re so far away from these accessing these resources in person, but the CARE Network makes it so much easier.”

By supporting The Kempe Foundation, you allow Kempe Professionals to continue forming partnerships and expanding their reach to benefit more children and families in Colorado. Click here to get involved today.