President & CEO
Mindy Watrous has led Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) as President/CEO for eleven years and has helped SOCO grow from 8,500 athletes to 21,118 athletes. Under Mindy’s direction, SOCO implemented the Young Athlete Program which is a fully inclusive program that develops gross motor and socialization skills in children ages 2 to 7 both with and without intellectual disabilities. Mindy has also led the Unified Champion Schools initiative that builds inclusive and welcoming schools from preschool through college and is in 265 Colorado schools. Unified Champion Schools (formerly known as Project UNIFY) provides unified sports where students with and without disabilities play on the same team, using sports as the platform to gain understanding of differences, develop friendships and decrease bullying. Through the Unified Champion School strategy, Mindy has championed youth leadership and advocacy for acceptance and inclusion for all students in schools and communities. Mindy is currently leading a 3-year strategic initiative to help Special Olympics Colorado Athletes live longer, healthier lives through health and wellness programs, such as the Healthy LEAP curriculum which brings inclusive health, fitness, and wellness programs into Colorado schools.
Prior to joining SOCO, Mindy served as the Executive Director of Walden Family Services, a treatment foster care agency that trains and supports foster families who care for severely abused and neglected children with significant behavioral and emotional problems, intellectual disabilities, special healthcare needs and LGBTQ youth so they could remain with families in their own communities rather than in residential facilities. Mindy was responsible for the overall administration of an agency caring for over 500 foster children with special needs in five district offices throughout Southern California.
Senior Vice President of Programs
Chaka Sutton has worked for Special Olympics Colorado for 19 years and served as the Coaches Education and Outreach Coordinator (3 years) and Foothills Area Manager (8 years), before being named VP of Programs in 2007. Chaka oversees the program department and ensures quality delivery of the SOCO mission. Under his leadership, Chaka has directed Project UNIFY implementation, area realignment and program restructure, two National Games Teams, the SOCO Rapids Team, introduction of flag football and the addition of the Summer Classic. Chaka is also the direct liaison to Special Olympics International, Special Olympics North America and Team USA for sports. He has coached three World Games teams for Special Olympics Team USA (snowshoeing in 2005 and powerlifting in 2007 & 2011). Prior to joining SOCO, Chaka was a preschool teacher at the Denver Child Opportunity Program – Lowry Campus and was an assistant football coach at East Tennessee State. Chaka earned his Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Psychology, with a minor in Sport Management, in 1995 from East Tennessee State, where he played football.
Senior Director, Law Enforcement Torch Run
Jan Gordon is the Senior Director for the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) and has been with Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) since 2011. In her role, Jan oversees a cadre of more than 1,650 Law Enforcement officials throughout the state who advocate, raise awareness and fundraise for SOCO’s programs and athletes. Her responsibilities include strategic planning, law enforcement agency recruitment, retention and renewal, sponsorship, special events, and supporting all of the law enforcement involved in the LETR movement. Under her direction, the Colorado Law Enforcement Torch Run has had a 238% increase over the past five years. Prior to working at Special Olympics Colorado, Jan owned an Event Management Company working in the nonprofit sector and received her degree in Business and Marketing from the University of the Pacific. She received the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, where she sits on their Women in Business Committee. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters while being active in the beautiful state of Colorado.
Chief Financial Officer
Becky Kennedy joined Special Olympics Colorado in July 2015 as the VP of Administration/CFO. Becky manages all financial activities of SOCO to ensure integrity and fiduciary responsibility. Becky’s career as a non-profit finance professional spans more than 20 years including 4 years with Children’s Hopechest and 16 years with Christian Booksellers Association, both in Colorado Springs, CO. She has a BS in Accounting and Finance from Adams State, and a MBA with an emphasis in IT from CU, Colorado Springs. Becky grew up in Southeastern Colorado and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Senior Vice President of Competition and Regional Services
Most recently, Linda Lappe served as the Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of San Francisco. She also served as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 2010 to 2016.
During Lappe’s time in Boulder, the Buffaloes compiled a (105-92) overall record, made one NCAA Tournament appearance (2013) and three Postseason WNIT showings (2011-12; ’14) from 2010-16. Colorado held a spot in the Associated Press’ national rankings for 25 consecutive weeks from Dec. 12, 2012 to Jan. 13, 2014 and climbed as high as No. 11 in the nation during the 2013-14 season. Her 2015 recruiting class was ranked as the 23rd best in the nation according to ProspectsNation.com while the 2013 class was rated 27th nationally by ESPN’s HoopGurlz.
Among her 105 victories in Boulder were four wins over ranked opponents, including two against top-10 foes. In 2014-15, the Buffaloes pulled off the biggest upset in Pac-12 Tournament history when they knocked off top-seeded and eighth-ranked Oregon State in a quarterfinal matchup.
Lappe also mentored a pair of first team all-conference players, including Brittany Spears, who closed her career as Colorado’s all-time leading scorer and was a second round draft pick (No. 19) overall in the 2011 WNBA Draft and Arielle Roberson, who was named the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year in 2012-13.
Lappe’s first head coaching position came at Metropolitan State College in Denver, where she guided the Roadrunners to top-three finishes and winning records in the Eastern Division of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in each of her three seasons from 2007-10. She also served as an assistant coach at Drake (2003-06) and Colorado State (2006-07) before landing her first head coaching job at Metro State.
Lappe helped Colorado reach national prominence as a standout guard for the Buffaloes from 1998-2003. A two-year captain and All-Big 12 honorable mention selection, Lappe averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 115 career games. She helped the Buffaloes to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 2001-03, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2002 and a spot in the Sweet 16 as a senior in 2003. She was also a three-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 honoree.
A native of Morning Sun, Iowa, Lappe graduated from Winfield-Mount Union High School holding school records for career points (1,987), steals (402) and assists (652). She led the team to a combined 110-3 (.974) record and two Class A state championships during her varsity career
Vice President of Development
Megan Toohey is responsible for the planning, development and execution of SOCO’s overall development efforts, including prospect education, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of the individual, foundation and corporate donors; gift planning; special events; and leadership of the development team. Megan served as the Director of Events for just over a year prior appointment as Director of Development in February 2015, and in January 2016 she was promoted to Senior Director of Development.
Prior to joining the team at Special Olympics Colorado, Megan served as the Senior Events Manager at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the Events Manager for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, where she ran large scale events, and was responsible for a 10,000-person volunteer force. The New York native earned her Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Strategic Communications from the University of Kentucky and went on to receive her Masters of Science in Tourism and Non-profit Management from Arizona State University. Megan enjoys hiking, traveling and spending time with her husband, Marc, and dog, Riggs.
Vice President of Marketing and Communications
Lexie Vean is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Special Olympics Colorado. Lexie started her career at Westerra Credit Union, the 3rd largest not-for-profit credit union in Colorado, and spent 18 years in various Marketing positions ending with her favorite role in electronic marketing and social media strategy. As a tech savvy marketer, Lexie was able to increase Westerra’s brand awareness through digital advertising, content marketing, social media engagement and search engine optimization. With Westerra being a major sponsor of Special Olympics Colorado, Lexie partnered with Special Olympics Colorado’s branding strategies and led the initiative to create Special Olympics Colorado branded debit and credit cards and an account opening fundraising campaign. Lexie joined the Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) team in August, 2016. Lexie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and a Master’s Degree in Organization Leadership both from Regis University where she also played on the Women’s Basketball Team. Lexie truly enjoys sharing the stories of Special Olympics Colorado Athletes and raising awareness for SOCO’s inclusive programs.