Staff & Board

Jessie Pocock

Executive Director she/her

Jessie (she/her) is a queer activist, poet, and community organizer committed to the liberation of LGBTIA2+ young people. She is charged with mobilizing resources, people, community, policy, and strategy to build access, equity, and power with LGBTQIA2+ young people. She is also responsible for making sure there are ample opportunities to dance. 

Joy Armstrong

Program Director she/they

Joy (she/they) oversees internal programs and services at Inside Out, supporting our incredible staff to meet the needs of young people with excellence and in compliance with grant specifications. She also facilitates implementation of our strategic plan, builds collaborative relationships with community partners, and actively participates in cross-departmental initiatives to increase financial stability, individual and agency  performance, and sustained impact for young people and adults alike. Dr. Armstrong’s personal and professional background includes nearly 30 years in the visual and performing arts, with special interest in creative practice as a vehicle for building access, equity, and power. In her free time, she loves hiking with her husband Mike and their two rescue dogs almost as much as curling up in front of the fireplace with good food and two rescue cats. 

Goddess Tyescha

Amplifier of Health Advocacy she/her/they/them/goddess

Goddess Tyescha is a community influencer who strives toward justice, in order to empower people that have been historically disenfranchised by the current structures in society. She has over 15 years of experience in local communities with youth and young adults. Her last position was a formal teacher was at Liberty High School (D20) where she instructed Social Studies and Psychology. She is a proud parent, partner and friend.

Originally from Harlem, New York, Tyescha has worked in Harlem and the South Bronx on campaigns with local youth focusing on Education Reform ( School to Prison Pipeline and Social Justice GED), Environmental Justice ( water quality and food access) and Immigration (the original Dream Act). During this time, she decided to become a formal teacher in social studies with a huge belief that “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” (Marcus Garvey). In addition that an educated public can make better decisions for the future. Graduating in 2013 from Fordham University with a dual Masters in Education ( Social Studies 7-12 and Special Education K-12) she proceeded to build groups in High Schools to empower young people.
 
Goddess is working for Inside Out to create safe space for LGBTQ+ youth and building capacity with compassion and grace to eradicate racism, homophobia and the oppression of people.
 
Goddess Tyescha has worked with NAACP, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, The Black Women’s Alliance, and multiple organizations in New York combating homelessness. Currently she is board President of The Empowerment Solidarity Network, member of the NAACP and associated with many community and arts groups ( Hotcomb Poet) here in Colorado Springs.
Nico Wilkinson

Development Director they/them

Nico Wilkinson (they/them) is the Development Director at Inside Out Youth Services. They work one-on-one with donors who want to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQIA2+ young people. They also plan events for and with the team and young people to bring in necessary resources for IOYS. Nico started as an award-winning community organizer and spoken word poet in Colorado Springs who founded the Keep Colorado Springs Queer open mic in 2016. They live on a small farm with their goats, chickens, cats, and dog. 

Susan Peiffer

Program Manager they/she

Susan Peiffer (they/she) is the Programs Manager at Inside Out Youth Services, which means she is responsible for our drop-in center, programs staff, and all the activities, evenings, and programs we facilitate to benefit our young people. Their goal is to provide enriching, safe, and fun opportunities for education, friendship, and growth among our youth and adult volunteers! Susan is a poet, musician, and educator with a passion for queer youth. They happily share a life with their partner of 20-some years, a few animals, and plenty of books and friends. 

Liss Smith

Communications Manager they/them/she/her

Liss Smith (they/she) is the Communications Manager at Inside Out Youth Services. As such, they oversee social media, press relations, public relations, communication strategy, and IOYS branding. Their goal is to ensure every young person in the Pikes Peak region knows Inside Out is here for them. Liss is a former journalist and longtime resident of Colorado Springs, with a passion for the queer community. They are a sci-fi writer, a proud nerd, and a married parent of three beautiful cats.

Priscilla Morales-Mitchell

Motivator of Center Engagement she/her

Priscilla (she/her) is the Motivator of Center Engagement at Inside Out Youth Services. She is responsible for onboarding volunteers, empowering them while in the space and out in the community, and ensuring they have all the tools necessary to engage with the young people we serve. She is a parent of two beautiful beings and the wife to a supportive  partner. She enjoys reading, hiking, and learning new ways to take care of herself as she shows up for others.

Cathy Gillis

Executive Assistant she/her

In her role as Executive Assistant, Cathy (she/her) supports the Executive Director with scheduling, administrative duties, and other tasks. She earned her degree in English from The Colorado College, studied accounting and early childhood Montessori education, and prior to her role at IOYS, worked at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. Raised in Alaska, she and her family relocated to Colorado in 2019, where she enjoys the blue sky, temperate climate, and natural beauty in the Rocky Mountain West. Cathy is a mother, fiber artist, and advocate. She brings to IOYS her passion for LGBTQIA2+ equity, personal experience with transgender/transitioning families, a creative outlook on problem solving informed by her artistic endeavors, and her experience in administrative and accounting support.

Chris Beasley

Youth Services Coordinator he/him/they/them

Chris Beasley (he/they) is the youth coordinator. In addition to managing weekly programs like Qmmunity Resilience and DJ lessons, Chris has a passion for bringing poetry and expression into the space. They are a super cool poet that loves seeing the Inside Out youth be their favorite selves.

Noelle Strait

School Advocate she/her

Noelle Strait (she/her) is the School Advocate at Inside Out Youth Services. In this role, she oversees the Pikes Peak Safe @ Schools Coalition and the coordination of all school-based partnerships. Her goal is to help create safer school environments for the youth of Colorado Springs. Noelle’s background is in the social work and gender-based violence fields, and she has lived in the Colorado Springs area for more than 20 years. She can often be found enjoying the creative arts or snuggling with her two kitties. 

Nic Vargas

Recovery Coach they/them

Nic Vargas is a Colorado Springs local, nature lover, and cat parent. They have always had a heart for justice, care, and equity for everyone. Since they were little, Nic’s empathy has driven them to find ways to help the community through volunteering and mutual aid. Nic is also a “gentle parenting” inspired swim teacher and works hard to ensure there is a safe space for everyone. They are a self described nerd and will geek out over anything and especially; D&D, Avatar, She-Ra, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, woodwork, crochet, mermaids, dirt, tree-hugging, tarot, and animals. Nic has wanted to work for Inside Out since they were in high school and is looking forward to doing good work with good people.

Skylar Kimble

Peer Program Assistant they/he

Born in California, Skylar Kimble is a local queer adult cartoonist who advocates for youth and adults alike. He is an empathetic soul who loves life, no matter how small or big it is, and loves to hear the many stories that come in through our doors. He makes an active effort to make youth feel not only engaged, but at home and safe. The youth have the running joke of calling Skylar the “Inside Out Dad” because of the amount of security, acceptance, and love he brings to the space.  Skylar is an animal person, his favorite being spiders. He has changed many peoples’ opinions of spiders and other arachnids for the better, and it’s likely he might change yours too if you take a moment to listen to them. He has two beautiful girl cats, Mewleigh, who is a black void, and Tali, who is perfectly fluffy with a little derp in her, a pet Arizona Blonde tarantula named Cordie, and a pet Cat-Eyed mantis named Horus. He likes to believe he has witty humor, but they are also the one writing this description, so it’s up for debate. He lives with his girlfriend here in the Springs and has a boyfriend living in Quebec, CA, and he loves them both very dearly. Skylar is a veteran youth turned staff member of Inside Out Youth Services. After being frequently involved with Inside Out over the course of at least 5 years, changing from someone with incapacitating anxiety and complex trauma into a fellow mentor and leader amongst our staff,  they are a stunning example of the positive influence and growth provided by our services. He wants to give youth what past staff members have given him: a place to call home and a community to call family.

Dani Vascones

Program Assistant they/them

Dani Vascones (they/them) is the Program Assistant at Inside Out Youth Services. They facilitate some of the youth programs, upkeep the physical space, organize files to maintain easy and efficient access to beneficial resources for the community. Their goal is to encourage an inclusive environment for the youth to express themselves authentically. Dani also loves to move their body and challenge their acrobatic skills through the aerial arts. When they are not in the aerial studio, they are probably watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, snacking on Takis and snuggling with their cats.

Payton DeVencenty

Young Adult Specialist he/him

Payton DeVencenty (he/him) is the Young Adult Specialist at Inside Out Youth Services! He has extensive experience working with youth of all ages, and he is passionate about equipping youth with the resources and support they need to thrive. Payton’s efforts at IOYS are contributing to growing access, power, and equity among young adults to impact the world around them! In his free time Payton enjoys eating all the food his partner prepares for him, taking and developing film photos, haunting the local coffee shop scene, playing cribbage and climbing big rocks.

Chris Wade

Clinician he/they

Chris (he/they) is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Through a collaboration between YouthSeen and Inside Out Youth Services, Chris provides mental health counseling services to LGBTQ+ youth. They offer individual, family, and group sessions as well as crisis-based services. Chris is passionate about social justice. When he’s not working, he enjoys playing video games, practicing foreign languages, and spending time with their 3 kids and spouse of 11 years.

Ryan O'Meara

Development Associate he/him

Ry O’Meara (he/him) joined IOYS in 2020 as a PIFP Summer Fellow, and has continued on as the Development Associate. He supports the development and fundraising strategies, event planning, admin work, and hiring processes. Ryan is passionate about building resilient ecosystems and communities, to include those supporting LGBTQIA2+ youth, startups, tourism, and the arts. He enjoys long walks in the sand, especially in the desert or by the beach.

Misbah Lakhani

Creating Protective Environments Intern they/them/she/her

My name is Misbah Lakhani. I am a sophomore at Colorado College and a Feminist and Gender Studies major. I’m from Houston, Texas, but born, raised, and indigenous to Pakistan. Even during my time in Pakistan, my parents knew I had a special passion for medicine, taking care of my family members when they were sick, and looking up home remedies at the age of six. After moving, in high school, I was introduced to medicine in a very hands-on way. I have done everything from being certified in managing emergencies, drawing people’s blood, shadowing at the Memorial Herman Hospital in the Texas Medical Center for two years, and even created a partnership between Shriners Hospital for Children and my high school. 

With all the knowledge I gained during my experiences, I was able to be a teen advisory board member for the University of Texas’ Teen Clinic in the Texas Medical Center and with Unity, a consortium advocating for vaccines in the US. Personally, healthcare and medicine are basic human rights, and throughout my high school career, I’ve tried to use my position in order to make healthcare more accessible to the greater Houston community, especially teens, and hope to continue to do so during college through creating safe environments and resources for young people, especially queer and/or people of color. 

Outside of IOYS, I am working as a co-founder of two local mutual aids, as Vice President of student government, and a Bonner Fellow and Health and Accessibility Co-op intern with the Collaborative for Community Engagement at CC. For fun, I love curling up with a book, some tea, and a comfy blanket to spend the hours in peace with some background music. Hopefully I get to also go outside to concerts soon, as I miss them a ton.

Tracey Porter

Volunteer Acclimation Specialist she/her

Tracey started her journey with Inside Out in 2008. She is part of this organization because she is a lesbian and she believes that we all need a safe place. Her mother doesn’t fully accept her due to her mothers fundamentalist beliefs and she knows that she is not the only person experiencing rejection therefore a safe place is needed. Tracey started her journey with Inside Out in 2008. She is part of this organization because she is a lesbian and she believes that we all need a safe place. Her mother doesn’t fully accept her due to her mothers fundamentalist beliefs and she knows that she is not the only person experiencing rejection therefore a safe place is needed.

Board of Directors

Joe Foecking

Board Chair he/him

MacKenzie Campbell

Treasurer she/her

Geri Johnson

Board Member she/her

Katherine Edwards

Vice Chair she/her

Marius Nielsen

Board Member they/them/ella

Jeffrey Jensen

Board Member he/him

Dr. Tre Wentling

Alumni and Board Member he/him

Chelsea Gondeck

Secretary she/her

Joanna Nelson Rendón

Board Member she/her

Marco Antillon

Board Member he/him/el

Contact our board

Get Connected

To get connected with the Safe @ Schools Coalition, please contact us. We look forward to collaborating with you.

Join the movement

Help us build access, equity and power for LGBTQ+ youth.

Sign up for our Qmmunity newsletter

OR