Our Mission

Discover Pathwaze values the individual and the differences they can contribute to the world.

We provide students with a personalized roadmap to discover their unique strengths which helps them navigate degrees, education and ultimately a fulfilling career.

Helping your student discover their differences IS the Discover Pathwaze Difference.

Mary Kolbenschlag

I absolutely love working with people and helping them get from here to there. I can’t think of a better thing to do than support our youth on this journey. I truly believe that everyone is uniquely gifted with strengths that when nurtured can lead to a fulfilling career and purposeful life.

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Research shows that if we start early on the right path in discovering our strengths and best fit careers while developing pathways to achieve them, our probability for success and satisfaction dramatically increases. 

As a mom, I frequently discussed with friends our struggle to guide and launch our high schoolers as their anxiety about colleges and jobs grew. Now I love coming alongside families in the process of mapping out the options for college (or alternative pathways) and supporting their student’s individual needs and goals. I want to make the process fun and engaging while ensuring the student feels understood and empowered to make the best choices.

Before co-founding Discover Pathwaze, I spent more than two decades leading people in a global technology company and had the privilege of working with outstanding colleagues who thrived and excelled in their jobs. I often analyzed what made their careers fit them so well because I wanted to understand which roles and educational paths were best suited for an individual. I am also a huge proponent of STEM and led several initiatives to foster the mentoring of females in technology.

I have a degree in Psychology (Human Computer Interaction) and have a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA. I am an active member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the National Career Development Association (NCDA). 

Lastly, I love to hike. When I’m not working, I take every opportunity to explore with my family and Willow, our energetic pup.

Merrie Perry

I value the differences in individuals.  It is exciting to help students discover their differences and then see how to navigate those differences so they can have a fulfilling life and make a positive impact. In 2011, I had the opportunity to move with my family to Zurich, Switzerland, which was both exciting and scary.

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My oldest son was 16 and about to start the college process. As with most students, he had no idea what he wanted to study or where he wanted to go to college.  Fortunately, Zurich International School had just started a program for their sophomores called Career Forum. Excited to get involved in the school and to meet new families, I eagerly volunteered.  Little did I know that this decision would change my life.

During Career Forum, I watched as students who had identified potential majors through a career assessment at the school light up when they were able to connect in a small group setting with professionals who shared their interests.  The students had the benefit of a discussion with the Head of Social Impact/CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation, a Vice-President of Emerging Markets for a large medical device company, and even a designer for Figurine Concepts for Swarovski Crystals.  Needless to say these students were engaged!

What made the difference?  Students understanding their strengths and how those strengths relate to real careers–and then actually speaking to someone in the industry.  I realized this was the most impactful experience a student could have to make decisions about their future. 

Armed with this knowledge, I moved back to the States in 2014 and started to support local students at the Mary Power Post Graduate Center at Monarch High School.  This is when I had another life changing conversation with my good friend Mary Kolbenschlag.  Mary explained that she was using a career assessment tool to help adults understand their strengths and devise a plan to reenter the workforce.  Our paths converged, and Discover Pathwaze was born!

What makes me qualified to work with your student?  Besides more than ten years of experience working with high school students and an undergraduate business degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison, I have a UCLA College Counseling Certificate and am an active member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and College Consultants of Colorado (CCC).

Which PATH is best for your student?  Let's DISCOVER together!

Heather Barber

I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with young adults embarking on their next chapter in life. They have so many opportunities to consider, and it brings me joy to walk with them during this time. Because this transition can sometimes be overwhelming for both students and parents, I have found my true calling in

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mentoring families through this process. 

I’ve served in a number of roles working with high school and college students within my community. However, it wasn’t until I started substitute teaching at my local high school that I truly understood the needs students have for support with post-graduate decisions. 

After graduating from Texas Tech University with a degree in Management Information Systems, I worked in the business community for the next 20 years. I spent time in both contributor and leadership roles pertaining to marketing, management, and technology. Currently, I am working to complete my college counseling certification from UCLA. I feel these experiences have provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge to share with my students.

Tim Barrette

I am a dedicated professional with over a decade of experience in shaping the educational and social journeys of students and young adults. My passion lies in creating an atmosphere of trust, care, and investment that not only inspires but also empowers individuals to surpass their goals and dream bigger.

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With a rich background spanning more than 10 years, I've served as a teacher, community college faculty member, and mentor in various educational settings. My commitment to fostering growth extends beyond the classroom, encompassing comprehensive assistance in college and trade school applications, guiding students in finding the right fit, honing their essay-writing skills, and establishing effective due dates.


I have a unique relationship with education because my path was marked by challenges. In particular, during the end of high school and the beginning of community college, I found little inspiration about my future and I found myself struggling with all aspects of education. Faced with obstacles I found guidance from mentors in my community who used their connection with me to inspire me to dig deeper and push myself to achieve. I overcame adversity and successfully earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton. I further enhanced my qualifications with a teacher's license from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.


Currently, I'm pursuing lab and graduate work at CU Boulder as a research assistant in the Social Cognitive Labs and with a focus on social perceptions of personality attributes and interpersonal views on empowerment and perceptions of the future. This dual role not only deepens my understanding of adolescent personality but also fuels my drive to pursue studies focused on late teen and early adult mental health outcomes.


I am genuinely enthusiastic about guiding young minds through their educational journeys and empowering them to overcome challenges, just as I have. Join me in the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth!
Gail Pyle

I support my students in their journey to uncover their interests, values, and aptitudes, and I hold space for them as they explore who they are and what they want.  They benefit from exploring their personality, strengths and skills so that they can integrate their internal and external awareness and apply what they learn about

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themselves into their unique path forward.  I ensure they have access to actionable steps to reach their goals, whether those include college, vocational education, or planning a gap experience to dig deeper into themselves.   Watching my students take ownership of their journey and helping them plan “next steps” is an incredible experience.
Prior to coming on board with Discover Pathwaze, I was the president of a small software and systems integrator in the west Denver metro area.  In my 17 years there I also developed software, sold and implemented custom and off-the-shelf software solutions, and ran a sales team.  Through this professional experience I learned how to listen, cooperate, and leverage people’s strengths in the best way possible.  It is these skills and a passion for young adults that I use daily in my interactions with students.  
I have a degree in Computer Science and am in the process of completing my certificate in College Counseling from UCLA. I am also working towards membership status in College Consultants of Colorado.
I love outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, and hope to someday catch some fish with my fly rod.  I play indoor and outdoor soccer when I am not busy cheering my kids on in their own rugby and soccer adventures.  I cannot wait to meet you and help you explore your own unique path, and cheer for you every step of the way!

Kirsten Otey
Essay Specialist

Of all the teaching, writing, and editing I have done over the past 30 years, nothing is more exciting or fulfilling than helping students express who they are, what they believe, and where they want to go in the future. I love supporting students as they write to achieve their goals.

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I have a B.A. in English literature from the University of Colorado, an M.A. in English literature with a specialization in film from Baylor University, and a Ph.D. in English literature with a specialization in medieval studies from the University of Colorado.  I have served as an adjunct professor at several colleges, primarily the University of Colorado, teaching both in-person and on-line courses on Chaucer and Shakespeare.  Most recently, I spent seven years teaching writing and literature in the English department of Peak to Peak Charter School.

Annamarie Valdez
Foundation Outreach Coordinator

I am a first-generation college graduate. I received a B.S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering with a minor in Computer Science from the Colorado School of Mines, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Regis University.

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While working as a project manager in a global technology company for more than 20 years, I found myself continually volunteering for a variety of community outreach programs, particularly those supporting underrepresented youth in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) related fields. With my passion for servant leadership, I have mentored many students and coordinated STEM-based workshops, leadership conferences, and career fairs. I currently serve as the Vice President of Finance for the Colorado Professional Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and also volunteer as NRC (Navy Reserve Center) Denver’s ombudsman, providing information and support to assist families with navigating navy life.

It is my passion to serve my community that drew me to join the Discover Pathwaze team. My role as Outreach Coordinator allows me to continue pursuing my passion to serve underrepresented youth while expanding the Discover Pathwaze Foundation’s reach.

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