Author: Boettcher Foundation

Boettcher Scholar Year: 1998 Hometown: Aurora University & Degrees: University of Denver -- BAs in Graphic Design & Spanish; Denver Seminary -- MA in Youth & Family Ministry     Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation?  Currently, I’m a stay-at-home mom with two boys, ages 4 and 6-next-month. I have lots of favorite things in this work – especially the frequent, sparkling joys of watching my boys discovering or experiencing something brand new. They often surprise me with how much they’ve learned. I occasionally experienced some of this delightful joy in my previous work as a teacher and youth pastor.   How has being a Boettcher Scholar affected what you are doing now?   There has been a long chain reaction catalyzed by not having school debt. I made job and life choices I may not have made otherwise. Now, that choice is staying home with my children. I’m so thankful to be free to make the choice to be home with my family. One’s path can go multiple ways.   Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. Each summer, I coach Boettcher scholars working at Mission Spark and the Boettcher Foundation. I run a local Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) group to support moms and more. This group focuses on community service and education on social justice and family issues. Of course, we also connect on parenting. I work with middle school and high school students at my church. Right now, my small group is on a pause for the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, I’m on the PTCO executive board for our elementary school. In this capacity, I support projects that help the school’s educators, including providing mini grants for teachers. As a result of the board’s work, we are now are starting a community garden for the school and have more specific curriculum for special needs students. I’m part of Moms Demand Action, a political action group working to end gun violence. I never thought I would be so busy as a stay-at-home mom!   What advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? My advice is applicable to virtually every field, including parenting: embrace the ‘&’. It is ok to be something and, at the same time, something else. Passionate & practical. Mom & person with ambitions that reach beyond motherhood. This is a movement away from dualistic thinking and into wholistic thinking. I’m an ‘&’; I have multiple sides and facets.   If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would like to share dinner with Jesus; my Grandmother, who I’m named after; and Tina Fey, because nobody makes me laugh like her. Each of these dinners would be full of laughter and compassion.  ...

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Parker University & Degrees: University of Denver — BS in Physics with minors in International Relations, Math, Leadership Studies, and Chinese     What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? After graduating, I plan to pursue a PhD in physics. This will entail two years of classes and up to four additional years in a lab. Ideally, my research will focus on light/matter interactions or quantum information.   Tell us about the activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. The Society of Physics Students (SPS) focuses on outreach to K-12 students, providing physics demos and encouraging students to engage with science. We try to provide exciting science-based experiences for students in order to combat the common view that science is boring. The Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP) is a strong, interdisciplinary community of good people I could relate to and have conversations with. The Honors Program is full of good people and provides interesting course offerings. Through the Honors Program, I took writing and science courses in addition to a few electives and seminars. These were some of my favorite undergraduate courses. I have worked in the same physics research lab since midway through my freshman year, which has been an excellent source of continuity throughout my time in college.   Tell us about an important mentor you have had.   I met Dr. Mark Stephens while touring DU as a high school student – he showed me his physics lab, and I was immediately enamored. Dr. Stephens invited me to start working in his physics lab right away as a freshman. I was taken aback by the experience, and it completely changed my career aspirations. Dr. Stephens also serves as the SPS advisor. In that role, he has taught me about science education and outreach. Providing further guidance, Dr. Stephens referred me to a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, and it was recently awarded to me. This fellowship will fund the first 3 years of my PhD classes and research. Dr. Stephens often reminds students of their “vast spare time,” inspiring us to take advantage of the opportunities which surround us.   What's the best advice you've ever received?   When I was struggling to choose between attending DU and CU, Cam Hickert, Boettcher and DU alumnus, said “Wherever you go, the physics will be the same.” This helped me see that the people I worked with would have a far bigger impact on my academic experiences than the physics itself. As I choose between graduate schools, this same advice drives my decisions.   If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why?  J Robert Oppenheimer, director of Manhattan Project, would be interesting dinner company. His pure interest in physics drove his studies, yet his work was entangled with numerous political and ethical issues. I would ask him about how he navigated these issues. Additionally, I’d ask about the impact physics, the Manhattan Project, and the bomb’s destructive effects had on him.  ...

Trustees also approve additional grant to support Statewide Relief Effort DENVER, April 8, 2020 — Today the Boettcher Foundation is announcing the creation of a $1 million biomedical research fund to fight COVID-19 and potentially curtail future pandemic outbreaks. Called the COVID Biomedical Research Innovation Fund, the Fund’s Request for Proposals (RFP) asks researchers and investigators to complete grant applications by the close of business on Friday, April 17. The rapid response strategy is both a short- and long-term approach. “We wanted to be strategic in our COVID-19 response by supporting scientific innovation to fight the pandemic immediately and help impact Coloradans in the future,” said Board of Trustee Chair Kenzo Kawanabe. “We know the good work being done in Colorado’s biomedical research and this represents an effort to accelerate support and prioritize public health.” The Boettcher Foundation has a long history of supporting biomedical research in Colorado dating back to the 1940s. More recently since 2008, these investments have included nearly $15 million in biomedical research grants through its Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Awards. The awards have supported 68 Boettcher Investigators to establish their bioscience and biomedical research, ensuring that Colorado’s top scientific minds remain in-state. “What we are experiencing is monumental in how it has impacted every community in Colorado,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. “We want to support organizations that are so critical to providing solutions to fighting COVID-19. Colorado has long been home to incredible innovation, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an effort like this to support research around our state that could help us address this pandemic.” The RFP for the fund can be found at boettcherfoundation.org/innovationfund. A review panel of biomedical experts will review applications in early May before funding is disbursed. Grants will likely range between $25,000 and $250,000. For more information, visit boettcherfoundation.org/innovationfundfaqs. In addition to creating the Boettcher COVID Biomedical Research Innovation Fund, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees have approved $50,000 to support Help Colorado Now, the state’s COVID Relief Fund, announced by Gov. Polis last month. The statewide relief effort is being hosted by the State of Colorado and Mile High United Way. “At Boettcher we understand the significance of bioscience and biomedical research and innovation in Colorado,” said President and CEO Katie Kramer. “Our approach in initiating our own fund and supporting the state’s efforts align with our core strategies to achieve transformational impact for Coloradans.” About the Boettcher Foundation: We believe in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans. Every day we champion excellence across our state by investing in our most talented citizens and high-potential organizations, because supporting their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come....

Jade Gutiérrez’s varied interests may, at first, seem contradictory to one another. She oversees a research project at CU Boulder yet is critical of the ivory tower of academia. Her impossibly busy schedule allots time for, of all things, mindfulness and pottery making. And her work in CU’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience was preceded by her work as an art curator. These unexpected alignments may be puzzling on paper, but the common threads which unite and explain them are illuminated by the stories Jade tells of her personal and professional development. A 2012 Boettcher Scholar from Bayfield, a small town outside of Durango, Jade pursued undergraduate degrees in studio art and art history from CU Boulder which helped prepare her to teach high school art history in Colorado Springs and later curate for the Peyton Wright Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Jade’s specialty as a curator was “decolonizing artworks and methodologies from First Nations and Latin America.” She explains that the work of decolonizing artworks varies by context. She believes that sometimes, indigenous artworks should be returned to the people from whom they were stolen or otherwise misappropriated. Other times, they may be displayed but require tasteful and culturally aware exhibitions. Such exhibitions can make culturally dominant audiences uncomfortable. In her view, “members of dominant cultures should reckon with their oppressive histories when they appreciate the fruits of that oppression in a museum.” Beyond artwork, Jade is concerned with decolonizing methodologies as well. She focuses on auspicious approaches to art, wellness, and academic inquiry that have been largely discounted by western academia. Specifically, she has taken interest in mindfulness as a means of mental health care as well as community-based research (CBR) as a means of academic inquiry. CBR is a partnership approach to research that involves community members as equal partners in knowledge, discovery, and issue analysis. Jade’s commitment to elevating alternative methodologies drew her to CU’s new Renée Crown Wellness Institute. With its emphasis on CBR, the transition from the art world to the research world seemed natural. She now manages the Mindful Campus Project, one of the institute’s 15 research endeavors. The Mindful Campus Project is, in part, meant to accommodate ever-increasing student demand for CU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services. In order to assess the degree to which mindfulness-based interventions can help address this demand, Jade is working with 12 undergraduate students who are part of the project’s target audience. In accordance with CBR, these 12 students co-design the project’s research and will be co-authors on whatever is published as a result. This lies in contrast to more traditional western research paradigms, under which members of a target audience might be studied as a focus group rather than treated as equal-stake investigators. The Mindful Campus Project keeps Jade busy, but it does not interfere with her work as an adjunct professor in MSU Denver’s Department of Art History, nor does it prevent her from pottery making or avid rock climbing. When asked how she manages all this, she responds: “Like most Boettcher Scholars, I have a pretty high threshold for multitasking.” She later reveals that coffee bears significant responsibility for this high threshold and that much of the pottery she makes is coffee-inspired. Jade also says her involvement in the Boettcher Scholar community has provided the kind of mental support she hopes the Mindful Campus Project will one day help provide to CU students at large. She says her gratitude for the scholarship is hard to quantify: “Maybe this is a little melodramatic, but [the Boettcher Foundation] probably saved my life.” Jade is thankful for the range of college options afforded by the Boettcher Scholarship and the freedom from working full-time or taking out loans to pay her way through school. Likewise, her career choices were made more possible by the absence of student loan debt. Jade Gutiérrez is a mosaic of a Scholar; her successes show not only that one can have interdisciplinary and seemingly unrelated interests, but also that those interests can be quite complementary. Someone with such varied interests can never be too sure what their future holds, but one thing seems certain: Jade and her coffee-related pottery are just getting started changing the community for the better....

DENVER, Feb. 15, 2020 — The Boettcher Foundation is pleased to announce that Scholar Alumnus Jason Wheeler has been appointed to the Board of Trustees. Wheeler’s impressive career spans more than 20 years as a finance leader and tech executive. Today, Wheeler is the Head of Corporate Functions for Forward, a revolutionary preventive healthcare membership that puts individuals in control of their health with world-class doctors supported by technology. Wheeler served as the CFO of Tesla from 2015-17. Prior to Tesla, Wheeler spent 13 years as the Vice President of Finance at Google where he led global finance, including financial planning, accounting and controls, internal audit, treasury, and tax operations. Comprised of Colorado’s most dynamic business and community leaders, the Boettcher Foundation trustees are responsible for supporting and guiding the foundation in its mission to invest in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans. “In addition to his finance knowledge and business acumen, Jason brings a global leadership perspective that adds tremendous value to our mission,” said President & CEO Katie Kramer. “Jason’s talents and passions are multiple. His dynamic background in finance and technology will diversify our thought leadership and help us to achieve transformational impact in Colorado.” Wheeler graduated in 1992 from Gilpin County RE-1 High School in a class of 21 students. He attended Colorado State University, where he studied finance, graduating summa cum laude and number one in his class. He went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. With his appointment, Wheeler becomes the fifth Boettcher Scholar alumni member to serve as a trustee in the organization that is 82 years old. Recognized by CSU as a distinguished alumnus in 2013, Wheeler served on the university’s College of Business Global Leadership Council. He is a past member of the Boettcher Foundation Scholar Alumni Board along with Positive Coaching Alliance, a national nonprofit organization focused on changing the culture of youth sports. “The Boettcher Foundation has been a driving force in my life,” said Wheeler, a husband of 20 years to his wife Robyn and father to their three children. “I am a very grateful example of the Foundation’s promise to fulfill the potential of Coloradans to pursue academic and professional excellence while being a citizen who gives back through leadership and service. I am truly honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve the Foundation in this capacity.” About the Boettcher Foundation: At Boettcher, we believe in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans. Every day we champion excellence across our state by investing in our most talented citizens and high-potential organizations, because supporting their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come....

For Mark Paricio, science is not about sitting in a lab developing theories – it’s about telling stories and active learning. Consequently, this 1980 Boettcher Scholar has a long list of spellbinding professional experiences. From nuclear engineering at Rocky Flats to climate change research in Siberia, Mark amassed an eclectic collection of stories to share with the many students he had over the course of a long career as a high school physics teacher. Mark came to appreciate the role of stories in science and education after listening to those of his own high school physics teacher, who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. This teacher spent one day a week simply recounting his experiences and the other four teaching course material. Mark’s desire to be a teacher was sparked by that formative course. To become the most impactful teacher possible, Mark sought out guidance from his mentor and college professor, Bettie Willard. Willard suggested he work for at least a few years in “some controversial field” in order to build a stock of interesting life experiences to inform his teaching. Mark took his mentor’s advice and, after graduating from Colorado State University with a BS in chemical engineering, found one of the most controversial jobs he could: a nuclear and environmental engineer at Rocky Flats. Rocky Flats was integral to the United States’ nuclear weapons development effort, and at the time, all things nuclear were regarded with deep suspicion by the public. Despite the inherent controversy of his position, Mark strove to make a positive impact. Many of his more experienced colleagues were complacent about their techniques of nuclear byproduct management, which were harmful to both the local environment and its steadily growing human population. Mark, on the other hand, used his knowledge of environmental science and chemical engineering to help develop safer processes for dealing with nuclear byproducts. After five years at Rocky Flats, though, Mark concluded, “It’s better to teach people not to make a mess than it is to clean up after them,” and decided it was time to pursue the career in education he’d always wanted. Remembering the impact of mentors on his personal and professional development, as a teacher Mark connected his students with mentors of their own. He partnered with the ACE Mentor Program to foster relationships between high school students and people employed in the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering. This partnership led his students to make more informed choices about their collegiate studies, win numerous scholarships, and gain valuable experience. Working as a teacher, Mark was able to spend his summers conducting research and consulting on various projects. One of the most notable of these projects was his work with a team of international scientists at the Polaris Project in Cherskiy, Siberia, which is frequently featured by National Geographic. When asked about the impact of this research, Mark explained that “People don’t believe data; they believe stories.” It was one thing to see climate change data published by other scientists, but it was another thing entirely to conduct fieldwork and see climate change for himself. He brought stories from Siberia home to his students and believes his proximity to the research helped his students realize its relevance. This experience almost certainly helped him be recognized in 2015 with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Though Mark recently retired from his award-winning career in public education, he continues to reach young people through the Boettcher Alumni Ambassadors program. His work as an ambassador allows him to help high school students discover not only that they can make a difference in the world, but also that they can take tangible steps toward making that difference right now. Beyond his work as an educator, Mark is part of what he calls a “Colorado poster family.” Their favorite ski area is Ski Cooper, and Mark and his wife have climbed all of Colorado’s fourteeners together. Notably, both of their children are also Boettcher Scholars. Though he travels as much as possible, Mark loves living in Colorado because it allows him to live his motto: “Science, like life, is not a spectator sport.”...

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2004 Hometown: Fort Collins Colleges/Degrees: University of Colorado (Go Buffs!): B.A. integrative physiology and leadership certificate, 2009; The George Washington University: master’s in health science and master’s in public health, 2014 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? Currently, I’m working overtime as a mom on maternity leave after the recent arrival of our second son. These days, my main objective is keeping two small humans alive while maintaining some semblance of sanity. I’m most proud of my “mom” job title. In my “spare” time, I’m a physician assistant at National Jewish Health in the Department of Pediatrics where we specialize in allergy, immunology, and pulmonary medicine. I’ve been at NJH for 5 years. Last but not least, I’ve been a spin instructor for over 10 years. It’s my alter ego occupation. Favorite aspects? Helping people. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Wow, where to begin?!? First off, it kept me in-state and enabled me to get an amazing education at CU Boulder that prepared me exquisitely for graduate school and the professional world. I cannot sing enough praises about the CU Department of Integrative Physiology and the Presidents Leadership Class! Second, it was a spring board to meeting phenomenal human beings that to this day, inspire, support, and challenge me. Some call this a “network.” I call them friends. Lastly, being a Boettcher Scholar has made me even more determined to plug in, show up, and do good; particularly in Colorado. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. Lately, I’ve tried to focus my energy into being the best mom, wife, physician assistant, and spin instructor I can be rather than over extending myself (which I’ve been known to do). More than ever, I want to do good work, not just a lot of work. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering with the Colorado Youth at Risk Organization (which I recently left due to a relocation) and various professional organizations, namely the Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants. But the activity I enjoy the most? Running uphill on a dirt trail. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Three best pieces of advice I’ve received: “Go where you belong.” — My husband “The most consistent thing in life is change.” — My mentor. I thought she came up with it herself; turns out, it originated from a fancy Greek philosopher named Heraclitus. “Turn left and keep your shorts on.” — My grandpa the track coach I would tell graduates to be genuine, work hard, and always, no matter what, do what’s right for the patient. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why?  Though cliché, I’d love to meet Michelle Obama. Ideally, I’d love to take a spin class with her (I hear she’s frequents Soul Cycle classes) and then go grab brunch and get her perspective on current world events in addition to her insight on being a working mother, supportive wife, and one of the most (in my opinion) influential and inspiring women of our time....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Aurora College/Degrees: Colorado State University – B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering; Minor in Ethnic Studies (expected December 2021) What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? My plan is to continue to graduate school and pursue a master's degree in global health innovation. My ultimate vision is to take technological health solutions that we see every day in Western societies and apply them to under-served communities around the world and to do so in a way that is still acknowledging and respecting cultural norms. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I am member of the National Society of Black Engineers, and I am in my third term on the Region VI executive board, this year as the Region VI chairperson. I am also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I joined each of these in search of communities of individuals whose common passion is to illuminate and normalize the Black experience in various settings. They’ve pushed me to transform and expand my understanding of public service, to critically consider how my leadership manifests in different spaces, and to own the role I have in shaping the future. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I never knew how to approach someone about becoming my mentor, but I realize now that it just starts with asking to have a conversation. One of my mentors has played a key role in giving me a safe space to talk about my identity as a Black woman engineer. It's nice to have someone who understands the academic rigor and the way that identity ties into that experience. She's provided the most sound (and logical) insight, usually when I'm overthinking something. It's a connection I'm glad I have and hope to provide for someone else in the future. What's the best advice you've ever received? Impostor syndrome has manifested in so many ways since I started college. I've found myself doubting my own abilities, denying myself of my own growth. During one of the hardest times I had with accepting that I was meant to be doing the work I was doing, one of my mentors told me this: "You are going to grow in ways that the people around you are not. Don't stop. Ever." I've learned that sometimes it's better to let others see the strength in me, and I simply have to trust that it's enough. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? Dr. Mae Jemison, Michelle Obama, Kendrick Lamar, Malcolm X, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, James Baldwin, The Squad. There's a specific reason for each person, but in a broad statement: each of these people has had a major impact on me and the development of my identity, be it academically, culturally, or professionally. They have profound stories of persistence and carry a rich piece of history in their experience. In some cases, their show of strength has been an inspiration; in others, their words provided me with much needed hope....

Boettcher Scholar Year: 2008 Hometown: Greeley College/Degree: University of Colorado at Boulder, B.A. Environmental Design, 2012; University of Colorado at Denver, M.A. Leadership for Educational Organizations, 2019 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I got involved in educational equity work immediately after graduation. I wanted to address inequity through direct community advocacy. I joined Teach For America in 2012 in Detroit and absolutely loved it. I then joined Teach For America's national recruitment team and have worked here for 6 years. I am now a managing director at TFA and manage our work in Colorado, Texas and Missouri in order to find incredible, diverse leaders who will dedicate their careers both inside and outside of the classroom to make sure that all kids have access to an excellent education. My favorite part is getting to develop incredible leaders who are making daily progress in disrupting systemic oppression. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Boettcher Scholar has fundamentally changed my life, both financially and professionally. My family and I did not have the means to pay for college, and I would not have been able to attend CU and pursue the extracurricular activities I chose without the generosity of the Boettcher Foundation. Professionally, I have the career I do now solely because of the Boettcher Foundation and the Presidents Leadership Class at CU; through these groups I was able to develop my leadership skills and network, and gain experiences that helped me understand the systemic inequities in this country and identify that educational inequity is the most direct way we can disrupt those systems. My best friends, my colleagues, and my husband are Boettcher Scholars and I couldn't possibly have my career, personal life, and accomplishments without this life-changing experience. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. In college, I joined the Presidents Leadership Class in order to develop my local/global mindsets and skill sets and it was a critical part of my development. I also worked for Jane Goodall on an environmental publication for children and sought out a lot of student advocacy work through several organizations. Now, I volunteer for many different Teach For America alumni. Most recently, I served as the director of recruitment for Mike Johnston's US Senate run representing the state of Colorado. I play competitive volleyball and love horror movies. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? My dad sat me down as a freshman in high school and told me that he wanted me to know that it was okay to go into any industry, to do any type of work I wanted to. That validation stuck with me. He reiterated the adage, “If you love what you're doing, you won't work a day in your life." It's something I think about every day because I love what I do, and I adore the students I get to work with. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I'm going to be basic and say that I would love to see Tana French, Sandra Oh, Michelle Obama and the totally-not-fictional Severus Snape interact at a dinner party....