Third Way Center Supervisory & Administrative Staff

David Eisner, MEd

David Eisner, MEdExecutive Director

Dave Eisner has worked in the field of child welfare his entire adult life, starting his career as a drug and alcohol counselor.  In 1977, he was hired as Third Way Center’s first Masters level therapist and became the Executive Director in 1980.  David earned both his Bachelor’s degree and Master of Education in Rehab Counseling degree at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a current board member of the Jewish Community Center in Denver, and Board Chair of the Colorado Association of Family & Children’s Agencies.  For years he served as a youth coach in basketball, baseball and softball with all different ages and abilities.

Hildegard Messenbaugh, MD

Hildegard Messenbaugh, MDFounder and Medical Director

Hildegard Messenbaugh, M.D. received her medical degree at the University of Rochester (New York) and completed her residency in adolescent psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  In the late 1960’s, she joined a group of community volunteers to assist in the establishment of an after care program for children who were being released from institutions.  Without community resources and support, they had few options, and were faced with homelessness or incarceration. 

Prior to joining Third Way Center as full-time medical director, Hildegard served as the Medical Director at Mt. Airy and Lutheran West Pines Psychiatric Centers, and developed a thriving private practice in Denver.  She has held positions with the Colorado Advisory Council on Mental Health and was previously a commissioner on the Governor’s Special Task Force on the welfare of Children.  In 2003, Hildegard received the Exemplary Service Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Colorado Child and Adolescent Mental Health Coalition. She was recognized on National Public Radio as a winner of the “E-chievement” award on E-Town Radio and was featured in Colorado View magazine as one of Denver’s most influential women.

Hildegard has recently completed a training manual on the unique treatment methodology she and her staff have developed over the past four decades resulting in a 71% success rate for Third Way Center teens.

Renee Johnson, LCSW, CAC III

Renee Johnson, LCSW, CAC IIICAC III, SOMB listed Juvenile Treatment Provider, Assistant Program Director

Renee Johnson, LCSW, CACIII, has been with Third Way Center for almost 30 years. She began her career with Third Way Center as a relief overnight worker, while in school. Upon graduation she was hired as a primary therapist for the York program. Within two years she was promoted to treatment leader of the new Pontiac program, and then started the Lincoln program in 1991. She has served many positions at Third Way Center, including Clinical Director and now is the Assistant Program Director. She has been instrumental in Third Way Center’s growth and development over the years. She runs our Offense Specific program for Juveniles with sexual acting out behaviors, co-facilitates staff training with the founder and medical director, and supervises a staff of over 80 licensed/and provisionally licensed therapists, special education teachers and mental health workers.

Mira Eklund, MD

Mira Eklund, MDAssistant Medical Director

Mira Eklund is a firm believer in Third Way Center’s important work! She received her undergraduate degree from Davidson College where she graduated with honors and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  She then completed both her medical school and residency training at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Psychiatry Residency Program, graduating in 1999 and finishing her residency training in 2004.

Kristi Edmonds, LPC

Kristi Edmonds, LPCClinical Director

Kristi Edmonds started working  at Third Way Center in 1989 as an intern.  She accepted a full time position as a therapist in March 1992.  She has been a Treatment Leader in several of the programs and served for 13 years as the Assistant Clinical Director.  Kristi has a Bachelor’s degree in Development Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver. 

David KoehlerChief Financial Officer

Dave Koehler comes to Third Way with over 20 years of experience in Finance and Accounting. David has held several leadership positions including CFO/Controller at Synaptive, a health education company and Director of Finance & Contracts at Colorado Foundation for Medical Care, a health quality improvement organization. David graduated from Colorado State University and holds a BA in Agriculture Business. He also earned his Master in Finance and Accounting form Regis University. Dave is a highly accomplished and a well-rounded business professional with a solid background in budgeting, forecasting, and accounting processes with past responsibility of managing revenues and expenses in excess of 100 million. He has worked for both public and private companies relating to healthcare, banking, mutual funds, credit cards, mortgages, Sports, Non Profit, and Construction.

Sue CardenasHuman Resources Director

Sue Cardenas is a Colorado native who has worked in the business arena for over 30 years.  Her experience includes nonprofit work as well as work in large and small for profit companies.  Most recently she worked in the legal department at Vail Resorts.  Her interest in helping kids work through problems and become self-sufficient is what brought her to Third Way Center.

Michael Connors, MA

Michael Connors, MACo-Director of Compliance

Michael Connors has been with Third Way Center for eight years and has decades of experience working with kids! Michael, a former member of the the US Navy, worked in Denver Public School system for three years and the Colorado Department of Education as the Supervisor of the GED and Adult Education Programs for three years. He’s a retired principal at Jefferson County Public Schools with thirty-six years experience. He received his BA from Regis University and Master degree from the University of Denver.  Michael has been married fifty years, has two children and two grandchildren.

Heidi Coughlin, BA

Heidi Coughlin, BACo-Director of Operations

Heidi Coughlin, Co-Director of Operations, developed her passion for supporting charitable work while serving in the Peace Corps helping to rebuild the social sector in Bulgaria.  She brought these skills home to work for a cause near and dear to her heart in honor of her adopted brother, who lived many of the challenges that face the youth at Third Way Center.  Fifteen years later, this Colorado native continues to bring her skills in technology, project management, administration, and quality assurance to the team at Third Way Center.  Heidi holds a BA, with honors, from the University of Colorado.   For the past 7 years Heidi and Erin have job shared this position to allow each of them to cherish the fleeting time with growing kids.

James Gault, MA

James Gault, MACo-Director of Compliance

Jim Gault retired from the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections in 2009 after 34 years of service. While with DYC, Jim worked for two years in detention then spent nine years in secure residential treatment. When DYC introduced a regional structure in 1986, he was one of the first group of Client Managers hired and worked in the Southern Region. After eight years he moved to the Northeast Region and was promoted to Program Manager/Client Manager Supervisor. During his last four and a half years with DYC, Jim was the Director of the Central Region. After taking a year off, he joined TWC and has been with us for the past four years.

Jody GrovesOperations Coordinator

Jody Groves has been with Third Way Center a total of 23 years! She started at Third Way Center in June of 1991, working out of Pontiac until 1995 when Third Way Center moved the entire staff, clients and her office to York so that Pontiac could be renovated.  She stayed at York (13 yrs) until the administrative office was purchased.

Amber Lacy, MA, LPC

Amber Lacy, MA, LPCAssistant Clinical Director

Amber Lacy moved to Colorado in 2001 and began working at Third Way Center.  She earned a BA in Art and Psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan and her Masters Degree from Doane College, all the while working within the mental health system.  She began her career at Third Way Center as a therapist at the York House, where she later become the Treatment Leader. She eventually joined the team at the Lincoln Street Supervised Apartments taking on the role of Treatment Leade . Currently, Amber works as Third Way Center’s Assistant Clinical Director.

Erin Martin, BA

Erin Martin, BACo-Director of Operations

Erin Martin started at Third Way Center soon after college and has stayed due to her passion for the mission. 11 years later she has transformed, growing professionally and personally alongside this organization.  Erin began in fundraising but has accepted new and challenging opportunities in Operations with Heidi.  Heidi and Erin have job shared for the past 7 years to spend time with growing kids. Erin’s experience with sports makes her a team player and dedicated individual.  Erin holds a BA, with honors, from Regis University. 

Accreditations & Affiliations