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Our Team

Our Team2019-10-10T13:38:05-06:00

Dr. Danielle Varda

CEO & Founder

Danielle is a scientist turned start-up founder, leading the VNL team as CEO. Her combination of 20 years as a network scientist studying social connectedness and health, 10 years as a tenured professor, and her successful launch and scaling of the Center on Network Science came together in one big idea to start VNL. Danielle spends much of her time building partnerships, managing resources, finding opportunities, and staying on top of the latest science and findings that lead the company to new products and services. She is lead fundraiser, a regular keynote speaker, and the mother of three spirited girls.

Dr. Paige Backlund Jarquín

Chief Operating Officer

Paige’s passion for social connectedness is a thread through her 20-years of experience. She has led program implementation, training, evaluation and research activities on community-based and community-led initiatives with organizations such as the Peace Corps, Planned Parenthood, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, and the Regional Health Connector Program at the Colorado Health Institute. In her free time, you can find Paige training others on how to facilitate authentic community engagement, learning how to use her bead drill, and trying out a hiking trail with her partner and their kids.

Jason Cole

Chief Technology Officer

Jason Cole has spent the last 20 years helping software and technology startups bring their products to market and achieve rapid, sustainable growth while creating excellent work environments. He has a passion for building high-performing teams and great software products and for lifting up the next generation of entrepreneurs.  As the VP of Software Development at Reed Group, he built the software division from a small group of 15 “IT guys” into a 300-person organization spanning two continents, with a suite of 4 enterprise SaaS solutions.  He is also a lead mentor at Boomtown Startup Accelerator in Boulder, where he helped design and run the product/CTO track in their 12-week program.  He founded Da Primus Consulting in 2017 to help early-stage entrepreneurs get their products off the ground. 

Jonathan Mischke

Chief Marketing Officer

Jonathan has spent the last 20 years helping companies find innovative ways to connect with their customers and communicate about what they do. With a background in design and marketing, he's developed campaigns for brands including Nike, Apple, Google, Facebook and Kelloggs. Jonathan brings VNL’s brand to life through heart-centered messaging and design that champion authenticity and human connection as driving forces in our business culture. Based in Boulder, CO, he is a passionate cyclist, husband and father. To learn more about our team, click here.

Sara Sprong

Chief Product Owner

Sara is responsible for ensuring VNL’s suite of products run smoothly and meet the needs of users. She was a champion of the roll out and adoption of the PARTNER tool, successfully achieving a customer base in all 50 states and 13 countries. She provides amazing customer service and support while keeping tabs on all the moving parts of the product life cycle.  She has deep understanding of the communities who use the products and works tirelessly to coordinate ongoing requests from partners and customers. Sara is an organizational wizard with an expertise in building technology for social impact. Sara is a snowboarder, outdoor enthusiast, and mother to a young growing family.

Alex Derr

Communications Manager

Alex helps maintain and coordinate our online presence and SEO across numerous channels, aligning our marketing strategies with our company priorities and values. He leads our content creation process and provides graphic design experience to the team. He also supports our research and evaluation efforts through data analysis and visualization, while assisting with coordinating and promoting our training workshops and events. He is currently working on his MPA with a concentration in environmental policy & management. When not working or studying, Alex spends his time gardening, visiting breweries, and climbing 14ers.

Mike Cooper

Chief of Engineering

Mike has been with VNL for over 10 years, starting out as a student and moving easily into the role of chief engineer a decade later. As Director of Engineering, Mike has been the brain behind the development of the PARTNER Tool and PCN App, working tirelessly to ensure that our complex data environments all work together to provide high quality user tools, complex data analytics, and a constant desire to be sure our customers are never without immediate technical support.

Andrea Johnson

UX/UI Design

Natalie is part of VNL’s evaluation team. Her passion lies in bringing data to life and enabling learning environments with clients. Since 2008, she has worked internationally, and nationally on evaluations for nonprofits, institutions, and foundations. Natalie received her M.S.W. focused in Social Policy and Evaluation from the University of Michigan. She is currently the Program Co-Chair for the Evaluation Theories TIG at the American Evaluation Association, and is a member of the Canadian Evaluation Society. Natalie founded Rooted-Growth which specializes in embedding organizational learning principles in evaluations designs to support knowledge use and uptake. Based in Denver, she loves to hike with her dog Billy and try out new recipes.

Dr. Amanda Beacom

Senior Network Scientist

Amanda is a member of VNL’s evaluation team and a social scientist with expertise in network science. Her academic training includes a PhD in communication and a master’s degree in public policy, and prior to her graduate studies, she worked for nine years coordinating health education programs and publications. Before joining VNL, her network projects included evaluating the long-term growth and effectiveness of a community health coalition; mapping the diffusion of best practices across informal advice networks in the long term care sector; and testing methods for collecting the most reliable data about organizational networks.

Kyle Brees

Research Analyst

Kyle works as part of VNL's evaluation team with a focus on using data to help make informed decisions for partners. Kyle's academic career started with a teaching degree in high school math, but most recently includes a master's degree in Research Methods and Statistics from the University of Denver. Before joining VNL Kyle has worked for numerous non profits organizations including the Girl Scouts and Veterans Administration Hospital performing data reporting and statistical analyses to help everyone understand the data they are collecting.