Jennifer Shook, Advocate

Jennifer is a graduate of Mesa State College with a B.S.. Early in her career she ran a recreation program for people of all abilities in accessing life skills and experiences within the community.  Since then she has worked as a group home supervisor providing services for individuals with I/DD, Foster Parent, Grant Writer and Advocate. Prior to joining The Arc Mesa County Advocacy team in September 2015, she worked as an Advocate with Disability Law Colorado for nearly 10 years. Being a part of positive change for inclusion and equality is the passion and vision Jennifer brings to The Arc Mesa County.  













Photos provided by Lacey Borba Photography. 
              

Candace Diaz, Advocate

Candace is a long-time resident of Grand Junction.  She received a Bachelor’s degree in Language Arts and Elementary Education from Mesa State College. Candace received her Master’s Generalist Special Education degree and Education Specialist Degree (Principal and Special Education Director License) from University of Northern Colorado. She worked as a Significant Support Needs (SSN) teacher for eleven years in an elementary school prior to joining The Arc Mesa County Advocacy Team early in 2017.  Candace brings her enthusiasm and love for her job to The Arc Mesa County.   

Melissa Gallagher, Executive Director

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree from Mesa State College with a double major in Adaptive Physical Education, a master’s degree in Special Education from University of Northern Colorado, and an additional endorsement in Educational Leadership from Colorado Mesa University.
Melissa spent 18 years working for Mesa County Valley School District 51 (MCVSD51), before transitioning to The Arc Mesa County in 2018 as an advocate. Within MCVSD51 her professional experiences included- physical education, adaptive physical education, special education, Behavior and Autism district specialist, special education coordinator for elementary and secondary schools. Additional experiences include special education adjunct professor at the graduate level for Colorado Mesa University and treasurer for the Colorado Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCCBD).Melissa has more than 21 years of experience working with and advocating for people with disabilities, focusing on special education law, and understanding the educational and human rights of children and adults with disabilities. 

These professional experiences have paved the way for Melissa to continue to collaborate with community partners and influence public policy through public awareness. She is excited that her new role as Executive Director will continue to keep her involved.
“The Arc Mesa County is built on a tradition of advocating for the people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families in order to ensure their opportunity to pursue personal goals, be educated, and live, work, and recreate with other community members. I am thrilled for this opportunity to lead and continue the success of The Arc Mesa County and its Board of Directors. I look forward to our continued support and collaboration with Western Slope disability community and its community providers.”
– Melissa Gallagher, Executive Director


Our Staff