Alumni Board

By Gergana Kostadinova Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. The “Make Your Mark” presentations were remarkable! They covered a wide range of topics, and each speaker left the audience with an enduring lesson. The overarching message of the morning reminded me of the words of Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” To start the day, Craig Heacock, a 1985 scholar, shared the cutting-edge research to return psychiatry to its shamanistic roots, specifically by using ketamine to treat depression and prevent suicides, and utilizing MDMA, better known as “ecstasy,” to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Craig reminded us to never stop questioning what is possible. Beth Skelton, a 1984 scholar, told a story from her time as an educator at an international school in Germany, when she discovered the importance of “leading from behind” and creating the social architecture to empower her students to create their own experiences. Veronica Fernandez Diaz, a 2015 scholar, recounted how the Boettcher Foundation made her baggage of living as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipient, easier to carry. She shared how she is constantly fighting to convince people of the humanity of her community, and challenged us to “Be Active. Do Something,” and stand up against injustice. Jeff Bauer, a 1965 scholar, had a successful career as a health futurist and medical economist for nearly 50 years before he embarked on a second career as an artist. Jeff encouraged us to take on a new challenge at any age and to consider doing something totally unpredictable. The visual art he shared was fantastic! Mark Hess, a 1984 scholar, on the other hand, tried to retire once and realized that there’s nothing else he’d rather do than be a teacher because he has observed invaluable lessons from his young students. Mark reminded us to follow the example of kids, who create genuine social connections because they’re not afraid to be vulnerable. Noha Kikhia, a 2013 scholar, challenged us to rethink community development as a crucial shift towards social change that focuses on empowering people to enact change for themselves and those around them. This model is more effective than seeking to inspire leaders to be independent “changemakers.” Dee Bradley Baker, a 1981 Boettcher Scholar, shared his experiences as a voice actor and the beauty of bringing characters to life. A sampling of his many famous credits include Klaus from American Dad and Daffy Duck in Space Jam. Dee challenged us to embrace and comprehend those who are different with the same hospitality as fan conventions, and to remain flexible by welcoming our future with many voices. A special shout-out to Katy Craig, a 1995 Boettcher Scholar and the leadership coach and content developer for the Boettcher Foundation. She served as a flawless emcee and spent the past several months helping the speakers prepare. To conclude the morning, Lori Prok, chair of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board and 1992 Boettcher Scholar, encouraged the audience to make their mark with a quote from Audre Lorde: “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision –  then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ...

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Michael Anthony Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Aurora College and degree(s): University of Colorado Boulder, BS 2019 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I currently study architectural engineering and plan to pursue a master’s degree in business analytics. I am also looking into PhD programs in architecture. I hope to use experience in engineering, business and design to start my own sustainable design firm and consult on sustainable design projects. I strive to address pressing urban design challenges like overpopulation and global warming through strategic, community-centric development. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I entered CU as a transfer student from DU in 2016 with a new passion for architecture and urban planning. I moved into architectural engineering and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives worldwide. At CU, I now work as president for a sustainable international development team called Bridges to Prosperity that addresses poverty caused by rural isolation. We volunteer with communities in Bolivia and Swaziland to design and build bridges that connect people with education, markets and health services. I love art and debate and found a way to work on these interests at CU for the Conference on World Affairs, which brings speakers to CU’s campus each spring for interdisciplinary panels that touch on pressing questions from every field. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Professor Angela Thieman Dino has been a great mentor for me. Ang has pushed me to be my best. She has a spunky, fun-loving outlook on life that makes everyone feel excited to learn. This excitement and energy has helped me through some of the most challenging parts of my academic career and has taught me to face new difficulties with confidence. She becomes excited about each student’s work and supports everyone in striving toward their academic and personal goals. What's the best advice you've ever received? Two pieces of advice have really stuck with me. The first, I heard from another Boettcher Scholar: Syd Levy. He said that he “never misses an opportunity to shut up.” Many of my close friends come to me with questions or want to chat about new experiences that they are trying to think through. I really value that these friends confide in me. That trust can only be developed through honest listening, and when I pause and “take an opportunity to shut up” it gives people the chance to open up and share. Second, a professor at DU, Dr. Kate Willink told me “tears are holy water.” For me, the moments that bring me to tears are the moments of raw humanness. I feel alive when I cry tears of joy, or when I grieve. The moments when I feel so much emotion are powerful, and tears are my body’s honest response. This raw honesty is something to be appreciated, not to be repressed. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? Two visionary leaders come to mind. Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein were both incredible thinkers that changed how people thought and felt. An evening with Einstein would be an opportunity to learn about how to think about things that have never been thought before. From his quotes and photos, Einstein seems like an optimistic, quirky and happy person. For Martin Luther King, Jr., I would love to ask him about how he balanced the gravity of civil rights issues with being a husband and father. I can’t image balancing such public scrutiny with everyday life. His moral certainty and virtuous conviction that brought such unity seems so honorable in today’s polarized rhetoric. I aspire to make my values apparent in every action and word like Martin Luther King, Jr....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Beth Baker Owens Scholar Year: 1977 Hometown: Longmont College(s), Degree(s), Graduation Year(s): University of Denver, B.A. French Language & Literature, B.S. in Chemistry (1982), University of Phoenix, MBA Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? Since 1997, I celebrate regularly with real estate clients as they grow their net worth and establish new homes for their families. I serve them when their child purchases her first home or when we sell their parents’ home or build their portfolio. Concurrently, I teach real estate classes to first-time home buyers, investors and Realtors to empower them to make better choices through a deeper understanding of the market and best real estate practices. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? This focus on empowering others is also reflected in my work as a business and life transition coach. My various activities today stem from an earlier, 13-year career teaching science to teens and demonstration skills to elementary teachers. I marvel how these opportunities all stem from undergraduate degrees in chemistry and French at the University of Denver! Without the Boettcher Scholarship, I would have had to attend CU Boulder part-time while working full-time. Who knows where that path would have led? Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. My first weekend at DU, I met Kent Owens, who would become my husband five years later. When our three kids were in their middle-school years, we homeschooled them. This experience knit our family together and developed a love of learning we share today. Now, with the kids grown, I am developing new areas of interest as an active Boettcher Ambassador, Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board member, Toastmaster and rower. My family and I regularly cook, read, play games, learn about new things and hike together. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Any person who wants to have a positive impact on his own life needs to be curious, mindful and intentional. For a busy “human doing,” such as a Boettcher Scholar, this time shifting focus is especially important. Meditation, especially being still, was not innate to me. Still, by developing the practice through years of good times and hard times, I’ve become better able to adjust, cope and be resilient. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? For a most memorable dinner, I would ask Jesus to dinner with friends, family and me. This would probably have the most challenging and lasting impact on those present. It might not be as fun as having my favorite musician or as inspiring as hosting my most admired statesman. And it might not be as intellectually challenging as listening to a world-renowned professor or as heartwarming as bringing loved ones together. Our spiritual lives affect how we think, are and act. Jesus got to the spiritual heart of the matter in his stories and often dined with people from all walks of life....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Mark Hess Scholar Year: 1984 Hometown: Yuma College(s) and degree(s): CU-Boulder, BA English 1988; CU-Colorado Springs, MA Education 2000 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I teach elementary gifted and talented students in Colorado Springs School District 11. I’m finishing my 30th year as a teacher, and I plan to teach 40 years or maybe even more. I have published more than 200 units and lessons for gifted learners, and I consult and teach teachers through professional development as well. I love my job, love the kids and have a passion for gifted education. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Like most Boettcher Scholars, I have a passion for learning. I always loved school. My dad was a teacher, and growing up in a small town I was a "school rat." I didn't want to miss anything, and I was involved in practically everything. If I wasn't in classes, I was at a ball game, at a sports practice, attending a concert at the school, in a play, at a school potluck or playing around on the school playground or in the gym. It was natural for me to become a teacher. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. I am the president of the Pikes Peak Association for Gifted Students and a state board member for the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? The best advice I've received is never stop learning and growing. I would advise current scholars entering education to lead with their heart, but I wouldn't need to say it. If they are considering being a teacher, they've already decided to do just that. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would have dinner with my grandparents, and that's an easy one for me – if not such an interesting choice for this question – because I love my grandparents and miss them. I want to hear all of the old stories again. ...

The Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board recently organized a variety of health and wellness events as a way of reconnecting while also encouraging healthy habits among the Boettcher community. Volunteer site coordinators organized events ranging from hiking to golf, and organizers reported that the events were a great opportunity to engage with the Boettcher community while burning some calories. Here’s a sample of some of their activities:   Western Slope - Hiking Five Boettcher Scholar alumni living on the Western Slope met for a hike into the Colorado National Monument  west of Grand Junction on April 7. They enjoyed the five-mile hike in beautiful weather and were treated to the a sighting of several desert bighorn sheep, including a ewe and her two lambs. The attendees included Mike Moran (1983), Cathy Bonan-Hamada (1982), Hope Waibel (1976), Kristin Donahue (1994) and Beth Skelton (1984). They also enjoyed the company of the mother of a current Boettcher Scholar, Harriet Carpenter, mother of Courtlyn Carpenter.     Fort Morgan - Golf A group of Boettcher alumni and current scholars hit the links on Saturday, April 28 for a health and wellness event. After playing nine holes at Fort Morgan’s Quail Dunes Golf Course, they got together for a fun happy hour to cool down, catch up and network. The group consisted of Will Helling (2012), Austin Herman (2017), Brad Johnson (2017), Charlie Johnson (2010), Kaitlin Johnson (2009), Megan Neumann (2011) and Trey Thompson (2011).   Phoenix - Night Hike A group of Boettcher Scholar alumni met at White Tanks Regional Park near Phoenix, Arizona for a sunset hike that included after-dark scorpion spotting. Tracy Wahl (1986), Keli Price (1976) and Pam and Martin Turman (1975) attended this fun outing on April 28.     Denver - Mindfulness Under the guidance of alumni board member Beth Baker Owens (1977), several Boettcher alumni and current scholars learned about the importance of living a centered lifestyle, and discovered how mindfulness can positively impact their lives. Our DU scholars even set intentions to integrate mindfulness into their education and community engagement routines, including educating their own students about chakra scanning and sitting meditation.   Golden - Hiking Boettcher Scholar alumni from the Denver Metro area gathered at South Table Mountain Park on April 29 for a hike among flowering wild plums and cliff faces above the City of Golden. Jennifer Meyers (1991), Mallory Bustow (2004), Tanner McManus (2011) and Garrett Mayberry (2011) were joined by Mallory’s husband, Aaron, and Jennifer’s daughter, Maya. They enjoyed Tanner’s drone photography and an after-hike lunch in Golden. ...

Saturday, June 23, 8:30 - 11:45 a.m. Denver Museum of Nature and Science Seven diverse alumni speakers will inspire you to explore your leadership, your purpose, and unique and surprising ways in which you can make your mark. Craig Heacock - The Psychedelic Revolution in Psychiatry Psychedelics are back and they are changing the way we treat mental illness. Psychiatric drugs typically dial down symptoms without changing the substrate of the illness-- these new psychedelic tools can offer the promise of transformation and even cure. Beth Skelton - Stumbling Into a New Leadership Style: Leading from Behind After Beth Skelton was scheduled to lead a class field trip to London, her co-leader, who knew London well, backed out of the trip just four weeks before departure. Beth had to create the conditions for the students to take a much more active role in the trip by empowering the students to take ownership and initiative. In the process, she fell into a new leadership style: leading from behind. Jeff Bauer - Creating a Difference: Career Transition from Health Care to Art and Music Knowing he could never quit working (retire), but tiring of the work he did for almost 50 years, 1965 scholar Jeff Bauer describes his purposeful transition from widely recognized health care expert to unknown artist and how the principles of creativity can help plan a major transition, at any stage of life. Veronica Fernandez-Diaz - Sin papeles. Sin Miedo. Sin papeles. Sin Miedo. Without papers. Without fear. Veronica, a 2015 scholar, shares the process of losing and finding herself alongside her undocumented familia, and how finding her own way of resistance motivates her life as a leader and advocate.  Mark Hess - If You Are a Lost Parent, Please Meet Your Child at the Service Desk at the Front of the Store Have you lost your child? No, not that one . . . the one inside of you. Have you kept the door open to the joy of being a kid, of living your passions, of following your heart? As a teacher of gifted children, Mark sees you--the Boettcher Scholar and the gifted adult--in his classroom and on the playground every day. Let's remember what it is like to play. Noha Kikhia - Why the World Doesn't Need More Changemakers In an increasingly connected world, we are more aware of social problems and their impact on communities across the world. Changemakers - individuals hellbent to solving those problems - have emerged and claim to be identifying new ways to solve these age-old problems. Yet aspiring to be a changemaker is not necessarily the best way to "make your mark." Dee Bradley Baker - Fan Conventions and the Human Need to Make the Fantastical Real Humans are creatures that love to create narratives, stories and mythologies that reach beyond our mundane existence. Through conventions, we can participate and live in them. The inclusive and collaboratively creative spirit of fan conventions points to a better world, and is a model for how we as humans should be directing much more of our time. Get your pass to all Signature Event activities here! This event is open to current and alumni scholars, significant others and adult family members....

By Gergana Kostadinova Boettcher Scholars have undeniably left their mark throughout the state of Colorado and the United States. Some, like Ambassador Arnold Chacón, have also left a global footprint through their public service. On March 12, scholars had the opportunity to dine with Ambassador Chacón in Denver and learn about his career as a U.S. diplomat while discussing opportunities in the U.S. Foreign Service. Ambassador Chacón was in Denver to assist the foundation with scholarship interviews. He is a 1974 Boettcher Scholar from Denver North High School and graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a B.A. in international relations and affairs. Ambassador Chacón’s impressive career has taken him around the world. Currently, he is the Diplomat in Residence at Duke University. Immediately prior, Ambassador Chacón was the Director General and Director of Human Resources of the Foreign Service (2014-2017). He earned his title as the Ambassador to Guatemala (2011-2014) and also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy in Madrid (2008-2011). Throughout his career, he was posted at U.S. embassies in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Italy, Mexico, and Honduras, in addition to being part of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. In his current role as a Diplomat in Residence, Ambassador Chacón is responsible for recruiting individuals interested in internships, fellowship, and careers in the Foreign Service and had a captive audience of Boettcher Scholars who shared their personal stories of recent and anticipated engagements abroad. Some of the Scholars in attendance are actively pursuing roles with the State Department. No doubt, these impressive scholars may one day rise to the rank of ambassador themselves....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Tommy George Scholar Year:  2001 Hometown: Rifle College(s) and degree(s): CU Boulder, BA - Economics, 2005; University of Arizona, JD, 2009 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I’ve been a lawyer for a little over eight years and I currently work at the law firm Spencer Fane in Denver. My specialty is organizing and representing special districts. Special districts are unique local governmental entities created under Colorado law, and are responsible for providing much of the public infrastructure and services necessary to support commercial and residential communities across the state. Whether you know it or not, you probably live in one. The best part about my job is working with the boards of directors who serve the various districts we represent and seeing the impacts these individuals and their efforts have on their communities. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? The Boettcher Foundation and the Boettcher Scholarship cemented in me the constant internal question “Are you using your opportunities and abilities to benefit your community and the state of Colorado?” This question has played into just about every big decision I’ve made about my education, my profession, my career, my community service efforts, and where my wife and I wanted to start our family and raise our kids—right here in Colorado. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. Over the past few several years I served on the CU Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Jefferson County Community Development Advisory Board, and co-chaired the Presidents Leadership Class Alumni Board. More recently I’ve been involved with political organizations, and I’m serving on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? My advice: slow down. It’s so easy to be overeager about progressing in your career and wanting to move quickly from one set of tasks or responsibilities to the next higher level. But it takes time to learn and master certain skills, and sometimes you just have to slog through seemingly mundane tasks in order to do it. If you can slow down you’ll produce a better work product and will obtain a deeper understanding of what you’re doing and why. But it’s okay to struggle with this—I still do, every day. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? My clear first choice would be Jesus, for innumerable reasons that I don’t need to go on about here. But a close second would be to have dinner with both of my grandmothers. My grandmothers passed when I was in middle school and in high school. I was able to spend a lot of time with them when I was young, and I had great relationships with both of them. But now that I am an adult and a parent, there are so many stories, memories and laughs I’d love to share with them, and questions I’d like to ask about their lives. Most importantly, I’d want to seek their advice, guidance and observations on family, parenting, friendship, my career, current events and so many other things. Of course, I’d have to be clean shaven, be properly dressed and mind my manners for dinner with my grandmothers, or they’d let me hear about it....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Marianne Hughes Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Elizabeth College(s), Degree(s): University of Denver, International Studies and French, BA 2020, MA 2021 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? Thankfully, I will be pursuing my graduate degree in international studies from the University of Denver in tandem with my undergraduate studies, giving me a bit more time to discover where my many interests intersect in a professional setting, but I am very interested in spending substantial time abroad post-college. This could include joining the Peace Corps, using my bilingual skills in the Francophone world, or simply working in continental Europe for a period of time, but I definitely have no linear path for my future just yet. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. Being a member of the DU Debate Union has certainly been the most important part of my intellectual development since coming to college. Not only does it make me more intentional in my analysis of the daily news and conversations with others but demands a broad and deep exploration of so many varied topics that I’m always kept on my toes. I also love living with my sorority sisters of Delta Zeta, serving in philanthropic capacities in our own community and having a powerful support system of incredible women to rely on. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. My high school history teacher profoundly affected how I understand my purpose in life, both personally and professionally, and how I should adjust my daily behavior to reflect what I value most. He had an interesting dichotomy, living for your eulogy or for your resume, that has always stuck with me as I confront situations in which I am forced to ration my time into ever smaller pieces. Do I choose to do things that will make the lives of others better and more fulfilling, or do I spend my life chronically “competing” or “performing” without adding real value to my life or the lives of those around me? What's the best advice you've ever received? In the words of the great thought leader, Mr. Kanye West, “nothing in life is promised except death.” My family has always reminded me to stay grounded and remember my roots, to not expect anything and to be grateful for everything. Everything I have earned is because I have had the support of those around me and been able to access incredible opportunities; therefore, I should always make the most of what I am lucky enough to have. If you could have dinner with one or more people from history, whom would you choose and why?  I would love to have dinner with Yves Saint Laurent, an iconic French fashion designer and revolutionary in haute couture. He not only normalized the wearing of suits and tuxedos for women, but consistently searched for new ways to improve his creative eye, his stitching technique, his experimentation with new materials and textures and his craft. He empowered women to take on their new roles in society as active members of the workforce post-WWII while breaking down many of the barriers that exist in high fashion. He created opportunities for young talent to rise and consistently reimagined the modern woman through beautiful clothing....

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Raquel "Kelley" Ritz Scholar Year:  2006 Hometown: Frederick College(s) and degree(s): University of Denver, Russian and Economics, 2010 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I currently work as a deputy sheriff for the Denver Sheriff Department. Over the last few years, our country has experienced a shift in the perception and respect for law enforcement. Given how I was raised to help and serve others, I am most excited about being a part of the change to the law enforcement community. I want to restore the public's faith in us because we help and protect a part of our community that most people don’t even want to think of. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Like every other Boettcher Scholar, this scholarship has changed my life, giving me opportunities I would have never had otherwise. Having no debt allowed me to explore options after college including volunteering as a victim advocate, which led me to find my passion in civil service/law enforcement. In addition, being a Boettcher Scholar has given me such enriching experiences with my Boettcher family. I have served on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board, and as a Boettcher Ambassador and Boettcher Class Champion, the last few years where I have been able to reconnect with incredible alumni and plan fun events that reengage and inspire alumni, including the 2018 Signature Event in June! Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. Beyond serving on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board planning events, and serving as a Boettcher Ambassador and Class Champion,  for more than four years I volunteered as an on-call Victim Advocate with Victim Outreach Inc. For years I have been paged in the middle of the night to respond to crime scenes and meet with victims of crime and traumatic events. I love being a part of each of these organizations because I believe so fully in their missions and contributions to the State of Colorado. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? First, find what makes you happy and settle for nothing less. And most importantly, the advice my mother taught us was that if you have the ability to help others, you also have a duty to. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I would love to have dinner with my grandmother. She died when my mother was 10 and she talks about how similar we are. I would love to meet her and get her advice on everything....