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Our Officers

Jasmine Cook


My name is Jasmine Cook. I am a math education major at Colorado Mesa University. I founded Starfish International to make education accessible to the children and community of Mathare, Kenya. 

The first time I traveled to Mathare, Kenya, I was in high school. For most people, high school is where you decide which opportunity you want to pursue after graduating. I couldn’t help contrasting my limitless future with the lack of opportunities available for the children of Mathare, primarily due to the absence of accessible education. In Mathare, thousands of kids want to learn but do not have the resources to do so. 

Starfish International was created to build and fund a K-8 school for those children, a safe place where they can pursue their goals and advance their community’s future.

Mark Schmalz
Vice Chairman

Mark Schmalz is an instructor for Colorado Mesa University in the Center for Teacher Education. Mark has spent 40 years in education, including many years as an elementary teacher, middle school teacher, and principal. “When Jasmine first approached me about working on the mission of Starfish International, I was hooked. I have spent my life working with students and teachers, attempting to make the world more equitable and sustainable. The mission of Starfish takes this view to a whole new level. Jasmine’s story is a powerful reminder we can all make a difference.”

Darren Cook
Vice Chairman

Darren Cook has taught in middle schools for over twenty years as well as owning and managing a commercial property leasing business. He has served as the local teacher’s union president and as a director on the board of the Colorado Education Association.  In his free time, he enjoys watching shows with his daughter, reading, and riding his bike. 

Vanessa Moore

I have been in education for 20 years, as a classroom teacher and an instructional coach. I've helped develop curriculum and assessments, provide professional development in best practices and social-emotional supports, and am currently receiving training in equity approaches in education and coaching.


I am an avid mountain biker, trail runner and hiker, I enjoy spending time on the river, and am in the process of receiving my 200 Hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher).


I believe in working towards and with causes that are bigger than myself. Starfish International is just that: it's bigger than all of us. Providing opportunities for education empowers our young people with hope and prosperity.

Anneliese Schmalz
Social Media Director

Anneliese Schmalz has been working in business and marketing for the past 8 years. She has a passion for creative problem-solving. After hearing about the goal for Starfish International, she was excited to be helping children get a chance at education and to be able to have a chance to change the environment that they are currently in. This team has already done some amazing things and will continue to make the world a better place.

Terry Schmalz
Communications Director

Terry Schmalz is the principal and founder of New Emerson School in District 51. Terry has spent 40 years in education, including many years as an elementary teacher and principal. Terry believes education is the best way to improve lives. As a second grader, her dream was to be a teacher and start her own school.  Starfish International’s mission “in providing a safe, caring environment conducive to learning for all our children” is one of the main reasons Terry is passionate about being a board member.

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