Author: Boettcher Foundation

Arnold Chacon leads an agency responsible for such high-stakes, far-reaching work as negotiations with Iran to reach a nuclear agreement, opening a new chapter in the United States’ relationship with the Cuban people, combating terrorists linked to ISIS and forging international alliances to mitigate the effects of climate change. He admits that his early experiences did not necessarily make him a natural for a career in diplomacy, but a love of public service and a desire to give back propelled him to his current role as Director General of the United States Foreign Service. A 1974 Boettcher Scholar, Arnold Chacon has led a life of service ever since he was in college, free to explore his passion for diplomacy without the burden of paying college tuition. A Denver native, Arnold attended North High School and later University of Colorado Boulder, where he was part of the President’s Leadership Class and majored in international studies. “Initially, I believed that the best way to help my community was to become a doctor, hence my seven summers doing volunteer work in Central America providing children with vaccinations and other public health services,” said Arnold. While based in Central America, he worked closely with U.S. development workers and diplomats, which inspired him to consider a new field of study. “I was smitten by the possibility of service abroad, switched my major to international affairs, joined the Foreign Service and found my calling in public service,” said Arnold. As a diplomat, he was posted in Honduras, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Italy and Spain, as well as in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. His domestic assignments in Washington D.C. included service as Deputy Executive Secretary for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. As part of her team, Arnold traveled extensively to the Middle East, Europe and Asia. He also served as the American Ambassador to Guatemala prior to becoming Director General. “Those of us in Foreign Service work to help shape a peaceful, prosperous, just and democratic world. The painstaking work of a diplomat, especially in the current international environment of fear and daunting challenges, is a privilege and high honor,” said Arnold. Though Arnold has a deep-seated service ethic, he would not have predicted his extensive career in government. “My family was among the first Spanish and Mexican settlers in Colorado and New Mexico. For generations very few people in my family traveled far from home. Nothing in my background and working class upbringing would have suggested that a diplomatic career was in my future,” said Arnold. His roots are what motivated him to work hard in school, give back to his community and apply for the Boettcher Scholarship. “The Boettcher scholarship allowed me to indulge my passion for international travel and take advantage of volunteer internship opportunities, which would have been difficult if not impossible had I needed to finance my education. The prestige and support inherent in a Boettcher scholarship opened many doors to me as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, giving me the confidence, mentorship support and leadership skills I needed to succeed academically and professionally,” Arnold said. In his free time, Arnold enjoys gardening, hiking and spending time and traveling with his wife and three children. His wife, originally from Honduras, is also a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. His oldest daughter is an attorney in Silicon Valley, and his younger daughter is helping to develop a new museum at the State Department called the U.S. Diplomacy Center. His son is an economics and philosophy major at the University of Chicago, and plans to go into public service as well. Arnold has been serving his country for nearly four decades, and is still fueled by the same passion that inspired him to join the Foreign Service. “I’m passionate about educating students, especially students from historically underrepresented communities, about the different opportunities in the State Department and at our embassies overseas,” he said. When asked what advice he would give to current Boettcher Scholars, Arnold said “follow your dreams and ‘go long.’ Whether you are overcoming ordinary life challenges or extraordinary hurdles and circumstances, if you dream big—and complement that dream with grit and perseverance—big things will happen. You will certainly lose nothing, and possibly gain an extraordinary life.”        ...

Boettcher Foundation Staff recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit Boettcher Scholar alumni whose diverse careers and passions took them to the East Coast. While there, we had the chance to reconnect with the impressive alumni who live in the D.C. area at a reception hosted by the U.S. State Department and by the Director General of the Foreign Service Arnold Chacon (who also happens to be a Boettcher Scholar). In an increasingly globalized world, we’ve been focused on reconnecting with scholar alumni, wherever they may live, because we believe we can all serve our communities more effectively if we’re linked to one another. Many of the alumni who live in the D.C. area have careers in public service, nonprofit and government. Alumni attendees ranged from 1965 Boettcher Scholars to recent college graduates. Among them were Tracy Wahl, executive producer for editorial franchises at NPR and Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board member; Phillip Juengst, federal financial manager for the U.S. Department of Education; and several members of the Foreign Service. The alumni reception was hosted at what will soon be the U.S. Diplomacy Museum, and we were joined by Foreign Service fellows and directors from the U.S. Bureau of Human Resources. “What makes this event very special is that both the alumni and the State Department employees share the value of giving back and making a difference in our communities, whether that’s Colorado, the United States or the world,” said Tim Schultz, president and executive director of the Boettcher Foundation during his remarks at the reception. Not only did we have a chance to catch up with our D.C. alumni, we also talked about ways for them to stay connected with the Boettcher community, even from afar. We also discussed opportunities with Director General Chacon’s team, including possible internships and fellowships for Boettcher Scholars. During the reception, Director General Chacon mentioned the profound connection he has felt to the Boettcher community since receiving his scholarship in 1974, and that he is glad to share that bond with 2,400 other alumni. These regional receptions offer a way for us to gather scholar alumni, share great conversations and continue to build our community. “I was grateful to connect with scholar alumni in the D.C. area as well as state department staff and fellows and learn more about the great work happening in all of our communities,” said 2004 scholar Mackenzie Parker. We host these receptions several times a year, in cities across the country. If you’re an alum outside of the Denver-metro area, make sure your contact information is updated so we know where to find you and watch our Boettcher Scholars Facebook page for updates on where we’ll be travelling next! ...

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....

 Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation  DENVER—University of Denver senior Neda Kikhia was named Colorado Leadership Alliance (CLA) 2016 Student Leader of the Year at the CLA Summit on Saturday at University of Colorado Denver. The award is given by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation annually. Get to know the Student Leader of the Year, Neda Kikhia:  Kikhia is majoring in communications and religious studies and minoring in leadership studies  Member of Pioneer Leadership Program, one of 13 leadership training programs that’s part of CLA  Committed to social justice, Kikhia has served as a team lead for Public Achievement, a University of Denver program that connects its university students with students in Denver Public Schools, aiming to create a positive school culture and encourage academic achievement.   ...

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.  ...