Staff & Board

Jessie Pocock

Executive Director she/her

Jessie Pocock is a queer activist committed to the empowerment of young people. Prior to her work at IOYS, she worked as a grassroots organizer with One Colorado, executive director of the LEAD foundation, and the Vice-Chair of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Pocock earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology at Colorado College and a Master’s of Public Administration at UCCS. She was given the 2014 Non-profit Entrepreneur Award of the Year by the Colorado Springs Independent and Pikes Peak Community Foundation, and the 2020 Diversity Equity and Inclusion Award by Pikes Peak Community College, and was named a 2020 Woman of Influence by the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Pocock is also a published poet and committed experimental lyrical essayist.

Joy Armstrong

Program Director she/her

Joy Armstrong joined the amazing staff of Inside Out Youth Services with 15 years of experience in the museum world, most recently after a decade as an award-winning curator of art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. In her professional life and beyond, she has dedicated herself to creative, community, and personal development, applying this passion to her work with artists as well as non-profit organizations. Since returning to Colorado Springs in 2008, she has spent her time nurturing and enabling new bodies of artwork, planning and facilitating community events, and breaking down barriers to active cultural participation with the fervent belief that we all belong and have the power make a difference.

Armstrong is honored to have been part of not only the FAC team, but also Imagination Celebration, Harley’s Hope Foundation, Art on the Streets, and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. She is enthusiastic about exploring authentic community engagement through Inside Out and to support this tremendous organization by increasing donor awareness, sustainable support, and build robust collaborations. Love and healing for all living beings is possible through unabashed self-expression and embrace of difference!

Armstrong holds a B.A. from the University of Denver, an M.A. from Kent State University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She lives in her hometown of Colorado Springs with her husband Mike, rescue dogs Mika and Ralph, and kitties Bert and Opal. In her free time, she loves to cook (and eat!), explore the world, play the piano, sing, practice yoga, dance, and spend time with her beloved family and friends.

This position is generously funded by capacity building support from CenterLink, the community of LGBT centers.
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 is a community leader, poet and artist who has been living in Colorado Springs since 2012. They are the founder of the Quaill Club, an intentional living community for queer artists and the organizer of Keep Colorado Springs Queer, an award-winning open mic by and for the queer community of Colorado Springs. They are also the co-founder of Prickly Pear Printing, which seeks to elevate and celebrate narratives of love, joy and growth by those who are often silenced. In January, 2017 they released Inauguration, winner of the Pikes Peak Arts Council 2017 award for Best Publication, a collaborative book of poetry with Idris Goodwin which celebrated resilience in the midst of the current political climate. Nico has competed both locally and nationally as a spoken word poet, and in summer of 2017 they competed and won Capturing Fire, the national queer slam tournament.

Nico graduated from Colorado College in 2016. Soon after, they began their role as the local organizer for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. This work further cemented their passion for activism and protecting spaces that empower communities and individuals in Colorado Springs. 

They are joining the Inside Out Youth Services team as Development Director. As a former queer youth whose life was saved and enriched by LGBTQ youth spaces, they are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an amazing team working to provide a similar space. They look forward to connecting donors with the opportunity to support the LGBTQ youth of Colorado Springs.

Susan Peiffer

Program Manager she/they

Susan Peiffer is an educator, poet, and youth advocate who comes to IOYS with twenty years experience in program direction and community engagement. Since relocating to Colorado Springs from Delaware in 2012, Susan has worked with Hear Here Poetry and served as 5th Poet Laureate of the Pikes Peak Region. Susan went to school in the Twin Cities and holds B.A.s in Creative Writing and Youth & Family Ministry from Augsburg University, and a M.A. in Youth & Family Ministry from Luther Seminary where she also completed her Th.D. research in Christian Gender Ethics. Having taught Theology in a Catholic high school, and worked as Program Director for a non-profit in Philadelphia serving youth with queer caregivers, Susan serves as a camp chaplain for the Unitarian Universalist Pacific West Region and designed much of the youth programming for the Philly Trans Health Conference. In 2016 Susan was recognized by Colorado Springs with an Indy Inclusion Award for excellence in programming with queer youth, and an award from the Pikes Peak Arts Council for activating and amplifying youth voices. Susan is fiercely passionate about providing young people with brave and inclusive spaces where they are encouraged and empowered to share themselves authentically and fully, and believes that queer youth are modern day prophets with the keys to improving our world.

Alissa Smith

Communications Manager they/them/she/her

Alissa Smith is a longtime resident of Colorado Springs with a passion for the LGBTQ+ community. A graduate of the University of Montana, Alissa has been advocating for equality and equity throughout their life, volunteering with political campaigns and social justice organizations until shifting gears into news media in 2015. Alissa was most recently associate editor at the Colorado Springs Independent, where she founded, edited and contributed to the paper’s bi-monthly LGBTQ+ news and perspectives column, Queer & There. A married parent of three cats (Pearl, Miss Kitty and Lord Byron Fitzwhiskers) and an unrepentant nerd, Alissa enjoys writing, reading, playing video games, and talking to anyone who will listen about Star Trek.

Chris Beasley

Youth Services Coordinator he/him/they/them

Chris “Beas J” Beasley has lived in Colorado Springs since 1999. They are a nationally recognized poet, community organizer, and workshop facilitator. Chris is the Co-Director of Poetry 719, a local poetry group that aims to uplift the voices of marginalized communities and people of color. In 2018 they received awards from the Pikes Peak Art Council for best recurring event for Colorado Black Voices Matter and Literary Arts Leadership.

Chris was instrumental in building the foundation of Hear Here Poetry. Once they shifted to a non-profit, he became a board member and community liaison for 3 years. Chris has helped coach multiple youth teams in gearing up for national poetry competitions and has also provided various workshops ranging from middle school to high school students. They believe “The Youth in Colorado Springs have something to say and deserve to be heard.” The spoken word community has been a passion dear to their heart for over 10 years. Their poetry speaks on social injustice, systemic issues, joy, the questioning of masculinity and self-love. They are a lover of pizza, Mountain Dew, Sprite, Dr.Pepper, snickerdoodles, brownies, cherry and vanilla ice cream, as well as their dog Brooklyn.

Celia Palmer

Young Adult Services Coordinator she/her/they/them

Celia joins the Inside Out staff after serving as a volunteer for a year, helping to facilitate sexuality and relationship education programs. She earned BA in Sociology from Colorado College and has worked in multiple capacities to educate young people around mental health, sexuality, communication and creativity.

Priscilla Morales-Mitchell

Motivator of Center Engagement she/her

Priscilla has been involved with Inside Out Youth Services since July 2017. She recently re-joined the IOYS team as the Administrative Assistance. Priscilla has worked with young people for over 5 years and is utilizing her background in administration and organization to venture in a new direction with Inside Out Youth Services.

She enjoys the mountain views, spending time with family, and being a part of the LGBTIQA community. “I have learned so much about the nonprofit sector but have gained so much more knowledge and respect for the group of individuals we serve.” I am delighted to once again have found my place at Inside Out Youth services.

Marve Aguinaga

Program Assistant they/them

Marve was born and raised in San Diego, California. They recently graduated Colorado College with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy with a minor in Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies. Outside of classes and Inside Out they are an avid fan of American animation, romantic comedies, and stand-up comedy. They plan on pursuing a Master’s in Social Work with  a focus on serving LGBTQ+ and POC communities.

Ryan O'Meara

Development Associate he/him

Ryan joined the Inside Out team Summer 2020 from the Public Interest Fellowship Program at Colorado College. Ryan received his degree there in Tourism and Development Studies, and independently designed major designed to research the tourism industry. He is passionate about social and sustainable business and enjoys working with nonprofits in the Pikes Peak Region.

With IOYS, Ryan is focusing on marketing, communications, and development. He is interested in growing Inside Out’s mission in El Paso county, enabling youth to feel safe, empowered, and proud in their city. In his free time, Ryan enjoys ceramics, oil painting, and public art.

Nic Vargas

Vaccine Outreach Coordinator 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.

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

Geri Johnson

Treasurer she/her

Jeffrey Jensen

Board Member he/him

Dr. Tre Wentling

Alumni and Board Member he/him

Tonya Alonzo

Ex-Officio Board Chair she/her

Katherine Edwards

Vice Chair and Secretary she/her

Marius Nielsen

Board Member they/them/ella

Chelsea Gondeck

Board Member she/her

MacKenzie Campbell

Board Member she/her

Joanna Nelson Rendón

Board Member she/her

Marco Antillon

Board Member he/him/el

Contact our board

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