Staff bios

Michael Gallegos

Recruitment, Networking and Community Outreach Specialist
Phone 303-315-6362

Mike Gallegos oversees the rural recruitment, networking and community outreach efforts for the grant projects and services of the PAR²A Center and the SEHD in general. Mike has been an educator in Colorado for 31 years and has spent the majority of his career in Southern Colorado as a teacher, coach and administrator. He has a Master of Arts degree in Secondary Education and currently holds a K- 12 Principal License in the state of Colorado. He has been a National, Regional and State Conference presenter on Drop-out Prevention programs. Mike is the former Executive Director of Equity and Minority Student Success for the Mesa County Valley School District #51 in Grand Junction, Colorado. Mike has also worked as an educational consultant implementing an intervention program for at-risk Latino students called the Latino Education Achievement to Graduation (LEAG) Program in various districts and states. It is currently being utilized in five Colorado school districts.

Nancy K. French

Founder of the PAR²A Center

Dr. Nancy French, Ph.D. founded the PAR²A Center in 1994. She retired from her position as the Executive Director of the center and Research Professor at the School of Education and Human Development of the University of Colorado Denver in December 2006. After her retirement, Dr. French has continued to maintain ties and remain involved in many activities of the center. Dr. French has had more than 35 years of experience in education. She studied the employment and supervision of paraprofessionals in education for many years. She also researched the roles and responsibilities of paraprofessionals and has used her research findings to develop a statewide training system for paraeducators in Colorado. Dr. French has published over 50 articles and chapters – many of which are about paraprofessionals.

Ritu Chopra

Executive Director
Phone 303-315-6361

Dr. Ritu Chopra, Ph. D. is the Executive Director of The PAR²A Center at the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) of the University of Colorado Denver. She also serves as the Project Director on the NxtGEN Teacher Preparation grant funded by The Teacher Quality Partnership program of the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the US Department of Education. Chopra has been responsible for grant administration, training, research, and fiscal management of over 18 grant projects for the last 20 years. She is currently the Principal Investigator (PI) on a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Office of Special Education Programs). She has also been the PI on several projects funded by the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Transition to Teaching project. Prior to moving to the US in 1990, Dr. Chopra had worked for over 10 years in the capacity of a teacher, trainer, researcher and administrator in various educational institutions in her native country, India. Dr. Chopra’s work has focused on increasing access of non-traditional students to higher education and the teacher professional; the roles of teachers and paraeducators, professional development and the supervision of paraeducators and collaboration among paraeducators, teachers, parents, and leadership in inclusive schools. She has published a book, several articles and instructional materials in the U.S. as well as in India. In 2007, Dr. Chopra received the Sue Stuska Award for her service to the profession of paraprofessionals from the School ParaEducator Association of Colorado (SPEAC). She is also the recipient of the prestigious 2012 Excellence in Teacher Educator Award of the Teacher Education Division, Colorado Council for Exceptional Children.