Scholar Profiles

Boettcher Foundation Press Release

04 Apr Scholarship launches businessman into diverse career in Denver

Jack Pottle, a 1973 Boettcher Scholar, has helped shape some of Colorado’s top industries—from working in cable to providing homes for some of Denver’s trendiest new restaurants. And though Jack has called Colorado home for his entire life, he likely would not still be here without the Boettcher Scholarship. A Denver native, Jack Pottle attended Kennedy High school. Like many Boettcher Scholars, he originally planned to attend college out of state, setting his sights on a liberal arts college in California. “I hadn’t even applied to Colorado College, but after receiving the scholarship, it turned out that CC was an extraordinary place to go to school,” Jack said. Being a liberal arts major, Jack jokes that he could not decide what to do, which has led him to have five distinct careers. After graduating from CC, Jack began his career in the research and consulting business. Soon after, he began a career in cable, at the time when the growing industry made Denver the “cable capital of the world”, by joining Rifkin Communications as vice president of operations. He continued his tenure in cable as the president and chief operating officer of Fanch Communications. After selling the company in 1999, Jack joined the competitive telephone business, an industry he considers both very challenging and very rewarding. After selling that company in 2006, Jack became a managing partner at Viridian Investment Partners, a firm specializing in private equity. Currently, in his fifth career, Jack works to redevelop and repurpose old, historic buildings in North Denver. Recently, he helped to transform one of Denver’s historic brothels into Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox restaurant in the LoDo neighborhood, as well as redeveloping Cobbler’s Corner in the Sunnyside neighborhood. And still, Jack prioritizes community service and the spirit of giving back. “I think the fact that I am still in Colorado now is because of receiving the scholarship, and I think it also instilled in me a desire to give back.” His community involvement has primarily focused on education. He has served on the boards of the Young Americans National Bank, Colorado College and now Escuela de Guadalupe—a dual language school in Denver, whose mission is to develop its students into compassionate leaders. “I came from a family of educators, which taught me the importance of education and that there is no “magic ticket” in life, but that receiving an education is as close to one as it gets,” Jack said. It is that idea that fueled him during his own education, and has inspired him to help shape education in Colorado....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

01 Feb Scholars help Iraqi youth “fail better”

A group of students from Iraq got a unique lesson in entrepreneurship and risk-taking when they visited Denver, thanks to a connection forged by a pair of Boettcher Scholars. Gergana Kostadinova and Kara Penn got to know one another through their involvement in the Boettcher Alumni Steering Committee and subsequent membership on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. Gergana, a 2009 Boettcher Scholar and graduate of the University of Denver, coordinates exchange programs for WorldDenver, a nonprofit community organization dedicated to advancing a deep understanding of global affairs and cultures. One of her duties included preparing a program for participants in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, which is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and administered by World Learning in partnership with WorldDenver. The group consisted of 11 students ages 15-17 and one adult Iraqi mentor, along with a World Learning staff member. A specific goal of the visit was to help the students learn about entrepreneurship, so Gergana and her colleagues thought it was important for the youth to learn about how to make smart mistakes and take educated risks. Fortunately, Kara literally wrote the book on the subject. Kara, a 1994 Boettcher Scholar and graduate of Colorado College, and her co-author Anjali Sastry, focused on smart mistakes in their book Fail Better, which examines how people and organizations can innovate, take risks and learn from their mistakes. Although Kara has frequently presented on the topic, she had never done so for the age group Gergana was working with. But Kara adapted her program, and the result was a workshop that positively engaged students with a difficult topic. “The thing that stood out to me was how open the students were,” Kara said. “They could talk in a nuanced way about the restrictions they felt in their culture around failure.” The students carried Kara’s lessons with them throughout their visit, which also included a civic engagement workshop, volunteer project and other lectures. Gergana noticed many of them using phrases like “fail better” and “make smart mistakes” in subsequent discussions throughout the week. The collaboration was a great reminder for both Kara and Gergana of the power of the Boettcher community. “It was great to know there is a Boettcher network of very successful individuals who are willing to work together,” Gergana said. “Knowing that I could reach out to Kara and be confident that she would open my email and not hesitate to ask questions or voice concerns and be willing to help me run with an idea is an incredible thing.” Kara added that knowing a person is a member of the Boettcher community can function like a stamp of approval. “Working with another Boettcher, you know that more often than not, things are going to go really well and that it will be an incredible opportunity,” she said.    ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

27 Jan Boettcher Teacher grateful to learn ropes from Boettcher Scholar

Sam Bowersox-Daly got a double-dose of Boettcher during one of his earliest assignments in the Boettcher Teacher Residency. Sam, a 2010 graduate of Colorado State University, was selected for the Boettcher Teacher Residency following five years with The Global Livingston Institute and Apple Inc. He is currently teaching social studies under the guidance of mentor teacher Cyndi Gentile at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood. Since mentorship and hands-on classroom learning are cornerstones of the Boettcher Teacher Residency, Sam was asked to observe other teachers in his department. That project took him into the classroom of Jose Martinez, a 2003 Boettcher Scholar and member of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. Sam’s observations offered powerful insight into what makes a great teacher. “Jose is a teacher that goes above and beyond to elevate his own teaching and to help others improve their practice,” Sam said. Jose, a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, isn’t just any teacher. He was recognized with a Milken Educator Award in 2013. The award honors the top educators throughout the country. In addition, Jose was a finalist for the 2015 Colorado Department of Education Teacher of the Year Award. When Sam observed Jose’s class, Jose was teaching a freshmen honors course. Students were in the midst of making Facebook profiles for well-known government philosophers. “I immediately noticed Jose's use of collective voice to bring the class together, discussing their work from days before and framing the agenda for the day,” Sam recalled. Jose is eager to guide new teachers and said he feels a special kinship with Boettcher Teachers. “The opportunity to guide and support a Boettcher Teacher was a very invigorating experience,” Jose said, adding that he is consistently impressed with the caliber of residents selected for the program. “My only hope as a veteran teacher is that I can contribute in a way that I can assist these Boettcher Teachers in changing the world for the better.” If Sam’s experience is any indication, Jose is well on his way to doing just that. “In my short time at Bear Creek, Jose has been an amazing resource and consistently available to help in any way possible,” he said. “As a department chair and fellow Boettcher connection, Jose is a great leader and invaluable resource.”...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

23 Jan Collaboration grants allow scholars to research alongside investigators

This past summer, the Boettcher Foundation launched a “collaboration grant” program that paired 12 Boettcher Scholars with Boettcher Investigators at Colorado institutions. The students had the opportunity to assist with research, while the Boettcher Investigators benefitted from having highly skilled and dedicated students in their labs. For 2011 scholar Lucas Suazo, a student at Colorado State University, it meant studying damaged lung cells and shadowing patient visits with Dr. Rachel Zemans at National Jewish Health. “In the lab, he would take lung cells and expose them to cigarette smoke. You put them in a chamber, light a cigarette, let them breathe and watch the damage,” Rachel said. “Then he did studies on the cells to see how they repaired themselves.” Lucas also joined Rachel on clinic visits and helped her review x-rays, CAT scans and breathing tests results.  Not only did he learn how to examine patients, but with Rachel’s help, he set up an entirely new technique for testing lung cells. For Rachel, the collaboration grant was a unique way to pass on her enthusiasm for the field of research. For Lucas, it was both an opportunity to transfer his classroom learnings into a real lab setting, as well as develop a relationship with a great mentor. “It was one of the most unique and remarkable experiences I’ve ever had,” said Lucas. “She took the extra time to explain every detail to me. It was incredible for my learning.” Meanwhile, 2014 scholar Maddie Walden collaborated with Boettcher Investigator and Boettcher Scholar alum Amy Dounay at Colorado College. Together, they worked on synthesizing new drug compounds that will hopefully treat African Sleeping Sickness. Because of her chemistry background, Amy was excited to invite CC chemistry major, Maddie, into her lab. “She’s very enthusiastic and skilled. Boettcher has already vetted these students as being ambitious, hardworking and having a lot of potential, and that was definitely reflected in Maddie,” Amy said. For Maddie, the collaboration grant experience was “fantastic. It was better than I ever expected.”...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

21 Jan Scholar scales new heights, becomes board volunteer

Paige Claassen, a 2008 Boettcher Scholar and University of Colorado Boulder graduate, transformed her passion for rock climbing into a profession, an opportunity to support local communities and a way to give back to a Colorado nonprofit. As an athlete sponsored by outdoor brands like Marmot and The North Face, Paige realized she could use professional climbing as a way to serve international communities. She pitched a world climbing tour called “Lead Now” to Marmot. As part of the tour, Paige traveled for nine months to countries like South Africa, Russia, India, Ecuador and Chile, generating attention for local nonprofits that support women and children in each of the countries she climbed. Though she is frequently traveling, Paige’s love for the State of Colorado keeps her coming back in between trips. She uses it as a home-base, a way to visit family and even a place to do laundry. Most recently, she returned to Colorado to serve on the board of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, a local nonprofit and Boettcher Foundation grant recipient, whose mission is to motivate and enable people to become active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. In light of their recent rebranding process and shifting focus to the younger residents of Colorado, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado was looking for a millennial voice on their board, as well as someone who shared their passion for protecting the state. They turned to Boettcher Foundation as a resource for finding the right candidate. Immediately, the foundation thought Paige Claassen seemed like an ideal choice. “When Boettcher originally asked, I was interested in joining the board because I thought, ‘this is me. This is what I do every day—I play outside in Colorado,’” Paige said. Paige is able to provide a millennial perspective, as well as utilize her background in marketing and her experience as a climber to play an important role in shaping Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado’s vision. “Colorado is one of the coolest places in the world—that’s why everyone wants to live here—but that’s also why we need to take care of it and protect it,” she said. During her term on the board, Paige hopes to work on outreach to Colorado high schools and to create some leadership opportunities for students to get involved with the nonprofit, and to begin giving back to the community. *To see Paige in the North Face commercial, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z-36uCr9XI  ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

02 Dec Boettcher Scholar brings artistic process to Denver’s 16th Street Mall

Adam Buehler had just added a splash of white paint to the canvas at his feet when a woman in a black coat paused just feet away from him.“What direction is the top?” she asked, considering the giant canvas. Rather than answering, Adam turned the question back on her, causing her to sheepishly explain that that she was an accountant and not very familiar with art. Conversations like this have become more frequent in downtown Denver as accountants and other office workers have been able to watch Adam, a 2002 Boettcher Scholar from Centaurus High School, produce a commissioned piece for the office building at 1515 Arapahoe Street. He has set up a temporary studio in the building’s lobby, just steps away from Denver's 16th Street Mall. The effort to bring what is usually a solitary process into a highly trafficked venue has been a learning experience for both artist and observer. “It’s interesting; it’s so different from working in a studio where nobody is around,” he said, noting that he is getting instant feedback and commentary from passersby, rather than finishing a piece and possibly hearing feedback many months later. The feedback – both positive and negative – was interesting enough that Adam put up a posterboard, and eventually a whiteboard to capture people’s reactions. Contributors have noted that the piece reminds them of everything from “the movie Robots” to a city street and even “a boring office painting.” “I feel that way about some art too. It’s a legitimate reaction” Adam said. A graduate of the University of Denver, Adam recently returned to school to study architecture at the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning. His proximity to the office helped turn what was originally a traditional commission through Denver-based Nine Dot Arts into a public process. Adam has been working on the piece between classes, painting on-site from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning in November, with plans to complete the project by December 7. He acknowledged that his desire to engage with passersby to talk about art has had an impact on the piece. “In order to make progress, I have to be a lot quicker,” he said. “I’ve had to jumpstart and not second guess myself so much.”    ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

11 Nov Collaboration grants provide opportunity for Boettcher Scholars and Investigators

The Boettcher Foundation invests in Boettcher Investigators as a way to support the best minds in scientific innovation. Similarly, we support the best students in Colorado with the Boettcher Scholarship. So when Boettcher Investigators and Boettcher Scholars collaborate, it’s no surprise that they achieve amazing results. By applying to participate in a “collaboration grant,”12 Boettcher Scholars had the opportunity to conduct research alongside Boettcher Investigators this past summer. Whether researching cancer therapeutics and tissue regeneration at Colorado School of Mines, working on the African Sleeping Sickness drug-discovery project at Colorado College or studying lung disease while also examining emphysema patients at National Jewish Health, Boettcher Scholars left their research internships with much more than just technical skills. “Through the collaboration, I developed my personal and scientific skills, gained access to a network that will help me immensely and kindled lasting curiosity for science and discovery,” said Andrew Pham, a 2013 Boettcher Scholar at the University of Denver. He spent the summer in Dr. Chad Pearson’s lab at University of Colorado Anschutz Campus, studying how cell structure affects various bodily functions. Last fall, Boettcher Investigators applied to the Boettcher Foundation with a collaboration grant idea. If the idea furthered research and fostered collaboration with a Boettcher Scholar, the proposal was approved and the investigator was awarded a grant to use for research supplies or as a scholar stipend. Next, Boettcher Scholars were invited to the competitive application process, which required a letter of interest and an interview. Once selected, scholars had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a field they plan to pursue after college. “I was not just given simple tasks--which I honestly do not mind; instead, I was allowed to completely renovate a project and bring it a step closer to publication. It was experiencing this that assured me that I have chosen the correct path as a researcher,” 2012 scholar and DU student, McKenzie Ramirez said of her experience. For other scholars, it solidified an interest in going to medical school, and likely gave them a leg up in the process. Typically, undergraduate students are not offered hands-on lab internships. Collaboration grants allowed participating scholars the opportunity to take their knowledge from the classroom and directly apply it to experiments like cell culturing. But it was building relationships with investigators that the scholars valued most. “The best part of the collaboration was the mentorship I received. This was completely invaluable,” Andrew said. The investigators equally enjoyed the experience of having highly-skilled Boettcher Scholars working in their labs. “The best part of a [collaboration grant] was having a hard working, thoughtful and intelligent young scientist working in my lab. She was simply remarkable,” Dr. Keith Neeves at Colorado School of Mines said. Dr. Tingting Yao at CU Boulder agreed, citing the best part as “seeing the growth of the student during the three months and sharing the passion for laboratory research.” Together, the investigators and scholars achieved real results and made significant headway on important research. A few examples include: Scholar Lucas Suazo and Dr. Rachel Zemans designed and carried out an experiment examining which, if any, cellular proteins are involved in lung cells exposed to cigarette smoke at National Jewish Health. McKenzie Ramirez and Dr. Keith Neeves created a new protocol for growing endothelial cells at Colorado School of Mines. Scholar Maddie Walden and Dr. Amy Dounay, who is both a Boettcher Scholar alum and a Boettcher Investigator, designed and synthesized 21 compounds that will be tested against the parasite that causes African Sleeping Sickness. “The uniqueness of the collaboration grants is that it bridges the best students and best young investigators who are interested and able to closely mentor the students in their early career stages,” said Dr. Yao. *If you are a current scholar interested in applying to work with a Boettcher Investigator as part of a collaboration grant in 2016, email Marisa@boettcherfoundation.org to request an application and a list of proposed projects.  ...
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Hats 4 Hope

15 Mar Suzy Luff, University of Denver

The smallest things can make a big difference, and Boettcher Scholar Suzy Luff is proving that every day. Suzy, a junior at the University of Denver, is the founder of Hats 4 Hope—a Colorado nonprofit that provides hand-knit hats for premature newborns who are too small for standard hospital-issue hats. Not only do the hats provide warmth to tiny bodies that can’t regulate their temperatures; they also provide hope and connection for parents struggling with the overwhelming issues related to extremely premature births. A 2012 graduate of Colorado Springs Christian High School in Colorado Springs, Suzy started Hats 4 Hope after receiving a knitting loom in the eighth grade. She began knitting hats and donating them to her local neonatal intensive care unit. Not content to stop there, she visited classrooms at her school, recruited volunteers and hosted knitting parties to gather still more hats. Today, Hats 4 Hope has donated nearly 10,000 hats to neonatal intensive care units. The organization has grown to include five chapters outside Colorado, and it recently partnered with infant formula-maker Abbot Laboratories to lead a worldwide initiative to knit and donate hats in honor of World Prematurity Day. While she ultimately plans to be a middle school mathematics teacher, Suzy says there will always be room in her life for Hats 4 Hope. “I’m going to keep with it as long as there are volunteers to make them and hospitals to give them to,” she says....
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