Administrative Staff


Meghan Klassen: Executive Director


Meghan earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Marketing from Creighton University. She spent one year as a Jesuit Volunteer in San Antonio, as the Lead Teacher of a Mothers' Day Out program for low-income families of children with special needs. She earned her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Texas-Austin in 2005.

She taught one year of bilingual first grade at a Title I school, and completed her practicum at The Rise School of Austin, where she taught for three years, before starting a family. She came to the Rise School of Denver in 2011 and taught the Pre-K class before becoming the Executive Director in 2012. A Denver native, Meghan enjoys spending time with her family, running, cooking, reading, doing yoga, and traveling.


Megan Cartwright: Assistant Executive Director


Megan graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education in 2011 from the University of Northern Colorado. After working as a substitute and After Care teacher at Rise she quickly discovered what an amazing school she had found and enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver, in the Early Childhood Education Master's program, with the Special Education Licensure.

While she was attended classes, Megan also became the Lead Teacher in the Ladybug classroom until 2016 when she took a year off to be with her son. Megan helped with educational coaching during her time off and rejoined the Rise team in 2017 as the Assistant Director. She loves hiking, cooking, camping, tennis and anything outdoors, but mostly she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and son.



Laura Ganguli - Music Therapist

Laura completed her Bachelors in Music from Kutztown University and her Masters in Creative Arts in Therapy/Music Therapy from Drexel University. She is a current member of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Colorado Association of Music Therapy (CAMT). Laura is a client-centered therapist who believes each individual has a unique relationship to music, and through that relationship there is the potential for self-expression, creativity, and personal growth. When Laura isn’t creating or playing music, she loves the outdoors, travel and spending quality time with her family.


Lisa Swenson - PT, C/NDT Physical Therapist

Lisa has worked with young children for 30 + years. She is currently senior instructor faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine/ JFK Partners. She is certified in neurodevelopment treatment and believes that incorporating developmentally appropriate activities into motivating gross motor skills will lead to a child’s interest and participation in athletic endeavors. She partners with Special Olympics Colorado in directing the Young Athletes Program at Rise. Lisa joined the Rise team in August 2008.

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Kendra VanderWal: Occupational Therapist

Kendra earned her Master's degree in occupational therapy with a minor in special education from the University of Mary in North Dakota. She has worked in a variety of settings including early intervention, private practice, and elementary and middle school environments. Kendra is a licensed Occupational Therapist in the state of Colorado and holds a National Board of Occupational Therapy certification. She enjoys working with children of all abilities and shows a special interest in the areas of developmental delay and sensory processing. Kendra hopes to continue to take an active role in Down syndrome community in the Denver Metro area. sThis is her first year at Rise.


Julie Demes, MS, CCC-SLP - Speech and Language Pathologist

Julie completed her Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northern Arizona University. Since then, she has worked in a variety of settings, including early intervention, private practice, therapeutic school, and home health. She gained extensive understanding of augmentative and alternative communication and early speech and language development, while working as the head of the speech department and director of the therapeutic preschool program at a private practice in Chicago, Il.

Julie believes in relationship-based intervention and is committed to working closely with parents, teachers, and other therapy providers to maximize her students’ success. Julie holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency from ASHA and is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in the state of Colorado. She has specialized training and certification in DIRFloortime, PROMPT, SOS Approaching to Feeding, and Lee Silverman Voice Treatment. In her spare time, Julie enjoys reading, biking, and playing outdoors with her husband and two daughters.