Staff bios

Ritu Chopra

photograph of Ritu Chopra
Executive Director
Phone 720-588-9681

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. Since 1996, Chopra has been responsible for grant administration, training, research, and fiscal management of grant projects (over $32 million) at the PAR2A Center. She has served as the Principal Investigator/Project Director on grant projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education (Offices of Special Education Programs, Elementary and Secondary Education, English Language Acquisition) and state agencies (Colorado Department of Education - CDE, Colorado Department of Higher Education - CDHE, Colorado Department of Human Services – CDHS). Dr. Chopra’s work has focused on improving personnel preparation for those serving children/youth from birth to 21 in a variety of settings; increasing access of non-traditional students to higher education; increasing teacher diversity, professional development and the supervision of paraprofessionals, collaborative practices among paraprofessionals, teachers, parents, and leadership in inclusive schools. 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. She has published a book, several articles, book chapters 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.

Nancy K. French

photograph of 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.