Our Team

David Hicks, Chief Executive Officer

David Hicks has owned and operated successful design/build construction and development companies continuously for over thirty years.  For the past twenty years David has been perfecting his unique style of construction training and mentoring programs that have produced dozens of professional tradesmen and high quality builders. Combining this extensive personal experience in construction education with an equal passion for youth mentoring and the development of human potential has produced the National Construction Institute. 

With unyielding determination David has enrolled many other passionate and committed individuals and organizations into the vision that NCI represents.  The possibility of powerful personal transformation and profound community development is the expressed intent of that vision.  

Evolving from an adventurous inner city childhood as an “at risk youth” into an entrepreneur, world traveler and perpetual student of the human condition has given David a real life education that has prepared him to lead the NCI vision into the 21st century.

Michael Smith, Chief Operations Officer 

Michael Smith is proud to be a founding member of NCI where he can unite his passion for working with young people and his knowledge and experience in business operations and construction management.  He often says “How many people can say they love their job and feel good about what they accomplish every day while  making a positive change in a young person’s life…..I can”

In the 1990’s Michael was very successful running a multi-million dollar software development business that he co-founded while being a youth mentor and board member with Colorado Youth At Risk.  The first decade of the new century found Michael on a new challenge, managing mountain resorts in the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada’s.  In 2009 Michael decided it was time to refocus his attention on youth programs and also committed to enter the Green Technology market for his professional career.   The new decade brought formalizing the NCI concept with David Hicks and the rest of the team, returning to college to study Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technology and the formation of a new company, Energy Wise Professionals, LLC.  

Michael lives in Littleton with his wife Mychele and their two dogs.   During the summer you may find them camping in the mountains and riding their horses while enjoying the scenic beauty of Colorado.   Michael also enjoys sailing and has set a goal to earn his US Coastguard Captain license for a sailing vessel by 2025 and retire in the Caribbean sailing to destinations unknown. 

Christian Simms, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications     

Christian Simms holds a bachelors’ degree from Georgetown University and a Masters Degree (in Communications Science) from the Pratt Institute, in New York.

Christian made a name for himself as a team leader for a division of the legendary London-based branding firm, Pentagram. In addition to being responsible for the fiscal health of his team while at Pentagram, he headed up major projects for numerous international and Fortune 500 clients.

Christian left Pentagram in 1993 to begin working as an independent consultant, successfully building several well-respected branding and marketing firms both in New York City and in the Southwest.

During this phase of his career, Christian was responsible for brand development and strategic consulting for a variety of clients, including Sony Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Major League Baseball, the American Craft Museum and the Nation of Mexico, among many others.


In 2004, Simms was tapped by Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade to lead a major branding effort for the state. In this capacity, Mr. Simms was responsible for the development of dozens of branding teams disseminated across to state to assist localities with their own micro-marketing efforts.


Christian has served on several college faculties, including Fashion Institute of Technology, Santa Fe Community College and Pratt Institute, where he was promoted to Associate Adjunct Professor at the end of his years in Manhattan.

Patti Bennett, NCI Board Member

Patti has over sixteen years experience with Colorado Youth at Risk as a co-founder, program director, and currently Executive Director.  She has worked with over 1,000 youth in the Denver-based program in seven U.S. cities and the United Kingdom.  As an AmeriCorps member sponsored by the Denver Metro Gang Coalition she has received additional training in conflict resolution, anger management and working with youth at the Gilliam Youth Detention Center. 

Patti completed her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Denver in May 2005 and has completed 450 hours of fieldwork at the Denver Department of Human Services in child protection.


As the Executive Director for Colorado Youth at Risk, Patti is responsible for the day to day operation, management and fundraising of a small business with a $600,000 budget. She manages 6 full time and 4 part time employees and oversees the management of nearly 300 volunteers a year. In 2009 Colorado Youth at Risk will serve 250 youth in their one-to-one mentoring program.

Michael V. Brown, NCI Board Member

Michael Brown is a Certified Financial Planner with 17 years of experience in the financial services industry. He received a BA in Political Economy from Williams College in 1992 and his CFP from Boston University in 1998.  Prior to joining Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, he advised high net worth clients at Fidelity Investments and represented money managers for MainStay Investments and Banc of America Capital Management.  Recently, Mike was named a 2009 FIVE STAR Wealth Manager by 5280 magazine, an award given to the top Denver wealth managers for client satisfaction based on the results of an independent survey of high net worth investors.


Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of Colorado Youth at Risk, an intensive community-based mentoring program for high-risk teenagers.  He has also volunteered hundreds of hours at The Children’s Hospital Denver and continues to be involved through the blood donor center.  Mike is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Denver and was named as one of Denver’s 2009 “Forty Under 40” in recognition of his business leadership and community involvement.  An avid golfer and skier, Mike lives in Lowry with his wife, Suzannah; children, Molly and Zach; and dogs, Madison and Toblerone.

Tom Tillapaugh
,  NCI Board Member

Tom Tillapaugh is the founder and administrator of the Denver Street School System and President of the StreetSchool Network™. An educator with a heart for the inner-city, he has spent more than twenty years sharing the Street School Model.

During that time, he has not only offered hundreds of Denver ’s inner-city kids a second chance to earn their diplomas, but has helped to start Street Schools all over the nation. In the summer of 1996, Tillapaugh saw a decade long dream come true as the organization held its first annual conference in Seattle , WA .

Tom received his Master’s from Oral Roberts University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from American Pathways University in 2008.  He continues to pursue a doctoral degree in school administration from the University of Denver .

Tillapaugh has been a frequent speaker and guest at White House summits and policy briefings on the drop-out epidemic. In Colorado , he served on congressman Bob Bepreauz’s Education Committee,  has been nominated to Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who among American Teachers and received the Teacher Who Makes A Difference Award from Newscenter 4 and The Rocky Mountain News.

Additionally the Street School Movement has been featured in Education Week, Newsweek, Philanthropy Journal and the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Education Innovator

Tom is married to Yvonne Tillapaugh and they have four children: Cherie, Rebecca, Rick and Neil. They also have four beautiful grandchildren: Joseph, Savannah , Hayden, and Hailey.













Web Hosting Companies