Staff Team

Gillian Wood
MPH, CADC candidate

Founding Director, Mentor


Gillian Wood has a bachelor's degree in psychology and women's studies with a minor in African-American studies from Middlebury College and a master's degree in international public health from New York University. Her undergraduate thesis explored how pornography influences hegemonic masculinity and correlates with violence against women and children. For her graduate internship with ECPAT-USA, Gillian helped write and ratify Safe Harbor legislation, advocating for states to recognize sexually exploited youth as victims instead of criminals. Bringing a survivor lens to her leadership, she completed a two-year program in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) under the supervision of Marsha Linehan. She is pursuing her alcohol and drug counseling certification through the University of California San Diego.

Gillian has taught bilingual special education summer school in the South Bronx, NY, worked as a youth coordinator in a domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn, NY, as residential staff in a group home for adolescent girls in Seattle, WA, and a recreational aide for children and youth with developmental disabilities in New York City. Gillian spent eight years working for Child Protective Services in Seattle, WA and Denver, CO as a visitation supervisor and an intake caseworker investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. On the overnight crisis team, she worked closely with law enforcement. She has many years of experience testifying in court on behalf of women and children. With her extensive knowledge, experience, and passion, Gillian has been invited to speak at charitable and educational engagements.

A lifelong athlete and coach, Gillian was a semi-professional ballerina, a competitive and show figure skater, a collegiate competitive cheerleader, a collegiate soccer forward, and a collegiate track sprinter and jumper. She currently trains as an adult figure skater, snowboards and surfs recreationally, and performs in a flying trapeze circus show. Gillian is an active participant in charity events such as the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America's MG Walk and Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure. She is an avid activist at rallies to support Black Lives Matter, the Women's March, Pride, indigenous and immigrant rights, and the environment.

Angela 'Angie' Meadows has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Azusa Pacific University. During her undergraduate program, Angie studied abroad in South Africa where she collaborated with local leaders through an agricultural community development program. Her work history includes time at Maryvale in California, a residential treatment program for children, where she was a residential staff for girls ages 11 through 14. Angie is currently pursuing a master's degree in social work from the University of Denver where she has interned with Denver Public Schools and Denver Human Services in child welfare. Angie was drawn to Resilience Rising because of its emphasis on the intersections of power, privilege, and oppression with experiences of trauma and its call to action for social justice. A competitive swimmer and soccer player throughout her childhood, Angie is drawn to the outdoors and enjoys engaging youth in water and wilderness activities. 


Caroline Orr, MSW

Adjunct Staff, Mentor

Caroline Orr has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Auburn University in Alabama and a master's degree in social work from the University of Denver where she also holds a certificate in animal assisted social work. She interned as an outpatient therapist at the Aurora Mental Health Center. Her work history includes time as an activities coordinator at Haddie's Home for girls in crisis, a residential program in Alabama serving ages 6 through 18. She currently works as a residential staff at Tennyson Center for Children. As a devout and progressive Christian, Caroline is constantly bringing into focus for the faith community the ways in which Christianity both contributes to and has the power to help dismantle systems of oppression. She maintains sharp focus on shared humanity, social justice, and trauma healing. Caroline always ensures that the voices of those most vulnerable are centered, heard, and amplified. Caroline is drawn to Resilience Rising's focus on youth empowerment and its commitment to providing opportunities for youth to speak out against oppressive systems and advocate for social justice.

Lead Residential Supervisor, Elyssa Lewis, MA, is a poet, musician, and artist from Colorado. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Metro State University and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary humanities and social thought from New York University. Driven by a passion for human rights and social justice, Elyssa has volunteered alongside Habitat for Humanity in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, worked as a Girl Scouts counselor in the Yup'ik villages of rural Alaska, and worked as a caregiver for hospice and palliative care clients in her hometown. She has published literary pieces in various academic journals and poetry magazines, and her current artistic endeavors include a community poetry project for children in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Having always been drawn to the particular challenges facing women and girls in contemporary society, Elyssa's employment with Resilience Rising results from years of intuition-led preparation.


Esther Hernandez

Lead Residential Supervisor, Esther Hernandez, has been a consistent force on the RR team. Her ability to connect art to healing is an asset. Esther is currently a resident artist at Redline, a nonprofit contemporary art center that fosters education and engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change. She is also teaching high school students at the Center for Visual Art at Metropolitan State University; this summer internship engages the next generation in the evolving cultural capitol of Denver. Esther's artistic soul makes her real and accessible to the youth at Resilience Rising. And because of her consistency and commitment, the youth are able to recognize her as a genuine, stable presence in their lives.

Carolyn van der Vorst

Education Coordinator, Carolyn van der Vorst, MSW candidate, is pursuing a master’s degree in social work from Metro State University. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from Calvin College and a second bachelor’s degree in religious education. A native of Canada and a bilingual Spanish speaker, Carolyn has lived, learned, worked, and served in the following countries: Belize, Nigeria, the Philippines, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. She has two adopted children from Haiti in addition to two biological now-adult children. Carolyn worked with teenage girls in a court-mandated locked youth facility. She also worked as a special education paraprofessional for elementary children with needs ranging from mild learning disabilities to severe autism. Carolyn’s passion for anti-sex trafficking work began thirty years ago after watching a film that “left a mark on my heart and soul that has never left me.” 

PO Box 492, Denver, CO 80201             (206) 913-3361   


To report concerns or seek help for a potential trafficking situation,

call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.