Project Lumina Staff

Project Lumina staff members strive to empower girls to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Jennifer HEadshot.jpeg

Jennifer Maddox - Founder and CEO

Jennifer is the Co-founder and CEO of Project Lumina and an accomplished, psychotherapist, writer, adventurer and teacher on the subject of resiliency and prevention of trauma. Jennifer has been a dedicated advocate for resiliency and trauma prevention since the start of her career. Jennifer began her career working with Veterans at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs - Denver Vet Center. She went on to provide clinical care for families and individuals experiencing homelessness with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Jennifer provided therapy, assessment, counseling and support to men and women either going in to or coming out of Federal Prison as a Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Clinician with the U.S. Dept. of Justice Federal Prison Bureau, Independence House Outpatient Clinic. She assisted in ushering her clients through the final stages of HIV with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network. Jennifer also has experience with rapid trauma intervention as a crisis intervention clinician with Denver Metro Services. And as an Adjunct Professor at University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work Jennifer taught courses in Trauma Treatment and Interventions for Social Work Practice.

Now in private practice Jennifer draws on all of her experience to treat her clients and teach them how to use the power of their story and history to create a foundation of transformation for their lives that is resilient, strong and full of grace.

Project Lumina is a unique model in trauma prevention at its core. It is a leadership and empowerment movement for teen girls developed by Jennifer and her dear friend Jackie Wells. Project Lumina is a global community dedicated to creating a world were girls are allowed to live life on their own terms. This is done through international travel, personal connection and physical challenge. Jennifer is a specialist in transformative learning with a unique gift for designing and delivering dynamic, interactive travel and experiential programs that give participants access to life-altering experiences and that lead to embodied and lasting change. While the Project Lumina Adventure is officially only a 6-month process culminating in an awesome two-week adventure /surf/service program in Nicaragua, Luministas* are connected to a special group of girls, women and families in Denver and across the globe for a lifetime. Each Luminista has a deep knowing that “we keep our ‘light’ on for each other”. As alumni of the adventure program Luministas get the opportunity to give back to the younger girls by becoming Mentors, Counselors and youth board members. Together with the Luministas of Las Chicas de Arco Iris in Nicaragua, we are also in the process of developing an international scholarship fund to ensure that each and every one of our girls go to college, both here in Denver and Nicaragua. Because… once a Luminista always a Luminista. Jennifer holds two Masters degrees. A Masters of Social Work from University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work and a Masters of Specialized Ministry focused in Peace and Social Justice from Iliff School of Theology. Her undergrad is in psychology is from California State University, Fullerton. Professional Affiliations are with American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Work, and the International Association of Eating Disorder Prevention. Jennifer has worked with and advised many nonprofits and organizations to support and advocate raising up the voices of women and children. Jennifer’s own voice and presentation style has been defined as gritty, humorous and vulnerable and is regularly asked to write and present on the topic of resiliency, and trauma prevention. She currently sits on the advisory panel of Emerging Women and supports women in business as and activator for SheEO.

*Luminista /loo men eesta/ noun 1) A participant in Project Lumina. 2) A brave and courageous young woman who has learned how to live life on her own terms. Synonym: Badass, leader, advocate, friend.


Jackie Troy Wells - Co-founder

Bio coming soon!


Coleen Samuels - Administrative and Organizational Hero

Coleen is a Denver native with over 15 years nonprofit managerial and administrative experience. She holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and is a lifelong advocate for all youth. Before joining the Project Lumina team her most recent role was Executive Director of Back On The Block Youth Outreach, (BOTB). An organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth with a huge emphasis on juveniles in the justice system. She has also served on the board of directors for the Pirates Youth Organization. Coleen is excited about the “Luminista” movement which empowers young women by encouraging them to be their true, beautiful, fierce selves!


Thomas Faverty - Research and Administrative Support

Thomas Faverty is from the Western United States, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in French (Il parle Français). He attended Arapahoe Community College where he received his Associate of Arts degree in 2009.  At MSU Denver, he was an active member of the campus community and was involved in many clubs, groups, and ensembles.  He was a violist for the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Symphonic Orchestra, Sinfonietta, and the Early Music Ensemble.  In 2013 he was an Iraq delegate to the Model United Nations Far West Conference in San Francisco.  In 2014 he competed in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Taekwondo Tournament, Winning Gold in Forms and Silver in Sparring.  He is an avid skateboarder and has rebellious spirit that pushes him to challenge social norms and traditions.

He currently serves as the Clerical Assistant of the Red Rocks Community College Student Health Clinic where he provides clerical and administrative support to the clinics medical and behavioral staff.  His involvement there includes graphic design for the clinic and other student services, basic First aid and CPR care, student service and customer satisfaction, suicide prevention and intervention, and Public Health Education.


Brianna Cillessen - Media Volunteer

Brianna Cillessen is a Colorado native film producer and editor who also loves graphic and web design. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2016 from CU Denver with a BFA in Film and Television. Growing up in an environmentally concerned city, local issues and activism have always been important to Brianna. While in college, she naturally specialized in producing documentaries in order to powerfully express stories and topics in Colorado, and someday, the world. 

Past projects have included short films about food deserts in Denver, stigmatisms of living with Bipolar Disorder, and the displacement of the low income families during the 10th and Osage Denver housing project. This past year she has produced 2 documentaries projects: one about the historical Tivoli Brewery, and a 3 episode docu-series about the Wild Animal Sanctuary in northern Colorado. 

In the past, Brianna has worked for Milkhaus Productions, Open Media Foundation, Colorado’s Senate and House video broadcaster (The Colorado Channel), and the Student Affairs team at CU Denver.