Scholar Profiles

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. Boettcher Scholar Year: 2000 Hometown: Greeley Colleges/Degree(s): University of Denver: BA Spanish and International Studies; MA International Administration 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 worked at Rise Above Colorado for the past two and a half years. Our nonprofit works across the state, directly with youth and with the adults who serve them, to empower young people with education and inspiration to prevent youth substance misuse. The best part of my role is the ability to connect people across the state and leverage the resources and expertise that exist in local communities. I also have the amazing privilege to innovate and create alongside our youth partners, which helps me feel motivated to always live up to their high expectations! What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? I’m forever grateful for the chain of events sparked by the Boettcher Scholarship that has led me to where I am today. Apart from a year in South India working at a local NGO after graduate school, I've been in Colorado-based work ever since. When I returned from India, I had the fortune to meet a trustee of the foundation who hired me onto the Community Initiatives team at a local bank. Five years later, I joined the State of Colorado, directing a grant program to fund youth prevention work. That position led me to Rise Above Colorado. Through these diverse opportunities to serve Colorado, my love for this state has continued to grow. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I like to joke about my ongoing extracurricular activities as an adult. For many years, I’ve played on a USTA tennis league in Denver, building a wonderful community of teammates and friends. And I also have been a member of the Cherry Creek Chorale, going on nine years now. I’ve dabbled in various other activities over the years (including a summer kickball league) and have volunteered at various youth-serving programs in the Denver metro area, including serving on the board of directors for Groundwork Denver and volunteering at Mi Casa Resource Center for Women and Urban Peak’s youth homeless shelter. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? When I entered the workforce, I was idealistic and adamant that the work I would do mattered more than anything else in selecting my first job. An advisor told me to be selective about the people I worked with as well as the nature of the job. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate her wisdom. We spend so much of our time and energy with our work colleagues, and our capacity to impact change is often influenced by them. So, I would advise new graduates, as I was, to surround yourself with people who will positively challenge and inspire you. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? My maternal grandmother died when my mother was a young child, but her legacy has greatly impacted my life. I’ve heard so many stories about her and have even been compared to her at times. I would love to meet her to know who she was, and what her hopes and dreams for her family were. If my great-grandmother could be there, whom I did have the fortune to meet and know, I’d invite her for dinner too. And it would be awesome if they cooked for me!...

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. Boettcher Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado Boulder. Double-majoring in aerospace engineering and applied mathematics. Anticipated graduation 2021. What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I hope to be working for a local aerospace engineering company, redefining boundaries for humans in space as well as spaceflight technology. Furthermore, I want to continue working toward getting my pilot’s license. With these efforts, I will be one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming an astronaut. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I have always sought to find like-minded individuals as friends, as well as those whose views may challenge mine. I value diversity in all areas of my life. Thus, I decided to join Tau Psi Omega, a multicultural fraternity. These gentlemen embody the diverse perspectives that I was seeking in a group of friends. Some of these young men also encouraged me to join the CU Boulder Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, where it is our mission to empower engineers of Hispanic descent. These opportunities have opened many doors for newfound friendships and passions. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Dr. Lucas Monzon, my professor for Calculus III for Engineers, inspires me to actively seek knowledge, rather than passively receiving my education. Lucas has opened doors for me including recommending me to my current position at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics where I analyze solar data from the SORCE (Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment) satellite. Lucas has also become a great friend. We enjoyed watching the FIFA Soccer World Cup games this summer; me rooting for his home team, Argentina, and him rooting for my beloved Mexico. I view Lucas as my greatest mentor because we share common interests, passions and the curiosity to keep learning.  What's the best advice you've ever received? So much of college is a blur. You take the courses each semester, struggle and triumph, work and learn. It is far too easy to get caught up in what is next and new. Yet, these moments are memories in the making. I have found the best way to step back is to just simply take a deep breath and appreciate where you are in each moment. Turning your attention inwards beneath all of the responsibilities and stresses, you are alive. This is the greatest gift of all. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? One of my favorite bands has always been Coldplay. Their iconic piano intro from “Clocks” still sends chills through my body when I hear it. However, their new music is complete garbage in comparison to their older music. Coldplay is dead to me. So if I could have dinner with a few people from history, it would be this group. They may (technically) still be alive and well, but they are ancient history to me. Perhaps if they created quality music again, I would not have to put these artists as a group from history I’d dine with....

A 2007 Boettcher Scholar, Cristina Gonzales entered the University of Denver as a business major. However, she soon realized her true passion was in art history. Rather than continuing to take art classes “on the sneaks,” Cristina made a bold move and declared an art history major at the height of the recession. She then went on to complete a MBA in museum studies and nonprofit management. “It was the best, ‘bad’ decision I could have made,” she said. Cristina’s decision to pursue her passion in art history paid off when she found a trajectory to positions at cultural nonprofits such as History Colorado, Museo de las Americas and the Latino Chamber of Commerce, as well as with the media giant Comcast-NBC. She was recruited to Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation’s development team during the final phase of the hospital’s $100 million capital campaign. Cristina is currently the development manager for Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. In her role, she coordinates donor engagement for Denver's oldest private teaching hospital, which occupies a newly constructed campus just east of Downtown Denver. Cristina describes her position as “one of the hospital’s faces of community good” and enjoys working closely with donors to identify opportunities to support Saint Joseph’s mission, as well as attending community outreach events. At just 29 years old, Cristina’s résumé has more diverse experience than many mid-career professionals, an accomplishment she attributed to following her interests and receiving support from those who believed in her potential, a message she received when she opened her letter from the Boettcher Foundation. After opening her letter in the Pueblo Central High School parking lot, Cristina remembers jumping up and down and soon being surrounding by other staff and friends at the school who heard she had been offered a Boettcher Scholarship. “My whole village was celebrating, and they deserved to. My accomplishment was theirs as well, because they supported me. That’s why I will always believe in giving back.” As a first-generation college student, the journey to receive a scholarship was not always easy. She remembers classmates telling her to drop out of the Boettcher process: “They’re never going to pick someone from Central,” she was told. However, Cristina persisted in serving her community and following her passions – a theme that has defined her journey. In the broader community, Cristina seeks to create the same life-changing opportunities for others as her “village” and the Boettcher Foundation did for her. Her service on the boards of DU Art at the University of Denver and CultureHaus at the Denver Art Museum provide an ideal mix of her professional expertise and passion and inspire her to live a “creative life.” When she’s not creating innovative fundraising strategies or traveling to see unique art exhibits, Cristina enjoys “hosting ridiculously themed dinner parties for friends.” Cristina hasn’t built the resume that she or others initially expected when she entered the University of Denver as a business major. Instead, she says she ended up with something much richer. Her advice for those hoping to do good through their profession is to pursue opportunities that they truly enjoy. While that may seem like a risk, the reward is almost guaranteed. “If you really love what you do, you’ll be the best at it and your contributions will be greater than thought possible. Find that niche, embrace it. You can’t go wrong with following your heart.”...

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: Theo Chapman Boettcher Scholar Year: 2003 Hometown: Aurora College(s), Degree(s): University of Denver, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Business Administration Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I have been a proposal engineer at Custom Instrumentation Services Corp. (CiSCO) since March of 2016. We provide the equipment and software necessary for power plants, refineries and other operations to monitor and report their emissions data to the EPA. My favorite aspect of my job is that no project is ever identical to another –  some are relatively simple while others are complex. This has also been the first job of my career where the focus is on business development as compared to design and construction.   What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Being a Denver native and spending most of my career in Colorado, everyone recognizes the Boettcher name. For me, I take it as a personal challenge to live up to that name each day by working hard, giving back, cultivating new relationships, learning as much as possible in a variety of realms and disciplines, welcoming constructive criticism to be better and doing my best to make a positive impact in my organizations and surrounding community.   Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations, or groups outside of work. I am a Boettcher Foundation Alumni Ambassador, a Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) board member, the Black Alumni Association president at the University of Denver as well as an active alumnus of the Pioneer Leadership Program and the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science. I am also a graduate and alumni advisory committee member of the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado Chamber Connect program, as well as an alumnus of the New Leaders Council Fellowship. I look forward to future work with the Daniels College of Business advisory board and reconnecting with the Colorado Association of Black Professional Engineers and Scientists (CABPES).   What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for current graduates entering your career field? Never stop asking questions. The more you develop and learn, the more you realize just how much you don't know, which will keep you humble and hungry for new knowledge. Network with the intention of doing something for someone else instead of looking for what they can do for you. Also, network with everyone, from your fellow engineers to the accountants to human resources to the CEO to the custodians. Everybody has an important role, and if you take any of those roles away, the organization does not function properly. Show respect to everyone. Period.   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 family members who are no longer here – grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers and mentors – so that I can be reminded of advice that has been forgotten, gain new advice to share with others, reminisce on the memories we had, laugh until it hurts and earn their ultimate stamp of approval on whether or not I'm doing a good job in this game called 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. Boettcher Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Colorado Springs College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, BS Biomedical Sciences, minors in Political Science and Biochemistry What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I was around six years old when my mom first told me about how sick my grandmother, who lived in the Kurdistan, was, and how hard it was to find doctors who could help her. Conversations continued, and I realized that I wanted pursue medicine and become a doctor. This desire has been churning inside of me ever since - I have been one of the lucky few who have known what they want to do with their lives forever! I hope to apply to medical school after graduation with dreams of reforming global health. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. From elementary throughout high school, I found myself in student council, so of course I had to join the Student Government Association at UCCS. I began as a justice and soon became the associate chief justice. This March, I was elected student body vice president. I see UCCS as a hub of opportunity –  my hope is to push other students into that opportunity! Outside of UCCS, I spent the past two years working with Colorado Springs School District 11, passing a bond and mill levy. After much door-knocking, Colorado Springs said “yes,” and our schools received more public support. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I have had the privilege of a wonderful relationship with my freshman chemistry lab instructor. I took honors chemistry for majors, an optional chemistry course designed with more rigor and was one of the few females in the course. My instructor, Tisha Mendiola-Jessop, is an avid critical thinker and excellent scientist and taught us to seek community in our endeavors. Tisha taught me how important it was to make strong relationships. She was the one who pushed me to apply for my Harvard research fellowship in the summer of 2017, and has since kept me as an assistant in her lab. What's the best advice you've ever received? I seek out advice from anyone I meet and I make a mental note of it, because I think the best way to learn is from others. The best piece of advice I have ever received, though, is a little tidbit I heard from a friend I made in Boston last summer. She told me that, amidst our incredibly busy lives, we need one day where we do not touch our work. Instead, we take that one day to ourselves; we write notes of gratitude and also write down any occurrence of a thought related to work. Essentially, “schedule balance in.” If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, who would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with anyone from history, I would choose Cleopatra. Cleopatra faced several barriers in her reign –  she was from a culture outside of the Egyptians, and she ruled a massive society and a male-dominated one at that. I would ask her for all her advice on leadership and diplomacy, and I would want to hear her perspective on our society and world today. I imagine it would be incredibly memorable....

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.” ...

Embracing adventure is a common theme of Brian Hall’s life and his career with the U.S. Department of State. A 2004 Boettcher Scholar from Custer County High School, Brian attended Colorado College, where he majored in economics and was involved in track, student government and research. When plans to work at a financial planning nonprofit didn’t materialize after graduation, Brian took a mentor’s advice and moved to Nepal with only a 15-liter backpack and no guidebook. “It was the best advice,” Brian said. “I was totally dependent on making connections with people.” While teaching in a remote village, Brian started a recycling project, taught local students, and sponsored college scholarships for three aspiring Nepalese teachers. Grounded in serving others abroad, he successfully applied for the foreign service. “I knew about economics and how to engage with people, and I was completely honest about who I was in my interview. Being authentic took me where I needed to go.” Since entering the foreign service in 2009, Brian’s adventures have included living in Ecuador, Niger, Washington, D.C. and Kenya – all while starting a family. He currently works as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, but has worked on a range of projects from processing visa applications and advocating for U.S. businesses, to developing relationships with Kenyan academics and officials and helping with the recent high-level visit by the Secretary of State. Brian’s favorite aspect of his work is connecting with people and partnering their aspirations and U.S. interests. One such example is a young leader from Niger, who with the help of the U.S. Department of State, attended Harvard and recently established the first liberal arts college in his country. These connections help Brian appreciate the differences and “amazing similarities” he encounters in his daily life. “Rural Africa is remarkably similar to the rural America I experienced as a kid. People are nice, welcoming and want to engage. But unlike the U.S., there’s no option for fast food.” Outside of work, Brian is committed to living out his service ethic. Though he moves posts every few years, Brian volunteers with youth, hosts informational programs for rural American students interested in international careers and is a mentor with the Boettcher Foundation's mentorship program. He also aims to recruit more talented students like Boettcher Scholars to careers in international relations and government service. “Public service isn’t something that’s far away and only for a certain type of person. We need capable and service-minded Coloradans and people from all over the U.S. to serve.” On balancing service work and life, Brian shared a lesson he learned in college: “Always seek out service opportunities. But be very specific about what you do, and don’t try to do too much. Focus in on the places you can make a deep impact and real connection.” Brian’s career in the foreign service is extremely rewarding and full of connection, but also presents challenges. Brian and his wife are intentional about connecting their two children back to the U.S. and Colorado, as it can be challenging to develop a sense of home. His family is asked to uproot every few years, and they miss many weddings, funerals and holidays. Yet in the face of such challenges, Brian’s optimism and service ethic keeps him and his family moving forward: “Always stay connected with the people you love and serve. They’ll remind you of the good that you’ve done and the positive experiences you’ve shared.” Brian is surprised by his life’s adventurous path, and experiences he would have never imagined. He is grateful for the Boettcher Foundation’s initial investment in his education and is  motivated by knowing that even though he lives outside of Colorado, he is paying forward that investment by serving his country in a meaningful way. “Be open to possibilities. Realize that Boettcher gave you the great gift of financial freedom. Look towards the world and see how your global connections can elevate those around you and even Colorado.”...

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....

As a journalism major at the University of Colorado Boulder, Kelly Graziadei didn’t know she would one day build and lead critical functions from sales to product marketing for the world’s largest media company. “If you had asked me then about doing work in tech (or what I thought of as working with computers back then), I would have replied ‘absolutely not,’” she said. The 1993 Boettcher Scholar, however, always felt drawn to places with abundant opportunity where she could create and define her own path. Such was the feeling she encountered as a recipient of the Boettcher Scholarship. “I knew I had the foundation behind me, believing in me and my ideas. That pushed me to work hard and gave me a vote of confidence to go and do big things,” she said. After graduating and starting in a leadership development program at a phone company in San Francisco, Kelly saw the opportunity to be a pioneer in the digital sector and made the leap. She worked at numerous companies, including Yahoo, before embarking on a seven-year career at Facebook, where she successfully led monetization strategy and go-to-market functions as the director of global marketing solutions. Today, Kelly is an entrepreneur-in-residence at Foundation Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. She’s taking the time to explore opportunities in start-ups and venture capital, a season the fast-paced technology executive called “a true gift.” For Kelly, making thoughtful decisions and taking action are fundamental to entrepreneurship and leadership. While all people have the potential to be entrepreneurs, Kelly notes it’s not just good ideas that lead to success. “We all have good ideas. What sets an entrepreneur apart is they are driven to build. They cannot not act. There’s no plan B or option of sitting back.” In her own right Kelly is a builder and successful entrepreneur, working in companies from three people to 20,000; In her tenure at Facebook, global advertising revenue grew from $3 billion in 2011 to more than $39 billion in 2017. Grounded in her experience, Kelly shared the key qualities she encounters among thriving entrepreneurs, and advice for would-be entrepreneurs: Grit: “Know that if you’re going through something difficult, it will help you later.” Commitment and passion: “Lean into what you love. You can learn a lot of skills but you can’t manufacture passion.” Hustle: “Work really hard and creatively solve problems that others won’t.” Leadership: “Communicate a clear and bold vision to enroll the right people.” Authenticity: “Truthfully answer the question of which issue you are uniquely positioned to solve.”   For Kelly, part of authenticity is also knowing what opportunities to pass up: “It’s just as important to know when to say no. You need to understand your values and let those inform your decisions and priorities. The opportunity cost for entrepreneurs is really high.” Knowing how to spend her own time is critical for the relationships she maintains as a mother of two and a mentor. Mentoring young people, especially women in the tech and entrepreneurial sectors, is something she is deeply committed to. “I love spending time with people looking how they can step up as a leader and take their impact or organization to the next level. Anytime I can be a coach or a sounding board, I do,” she said. “But it’s hard to classify this as giving back, because I gain so much myself.” In addition to mentoring, Kelly gives talks to groups across the world on numerous topics surrounding leadership and innovation. She was also the speaker at CU Boulder’s 2016 spring commencement, where she live-streamed grads singing the university’s fight song. In daily life, social media is ubiquitous. Like television in the 1950s, it fundamentally changed the way we connect with each other and consume information. And while social media has opened new doors to participate in each other’s lives and the market, it has also produced troubling isolation and misinformation, especially among young people, she noted. “My hope is with this mobile transformation, the pendulum swings back a bit towards deeper connection,” said Kelly. “People are hungry for meaningful connection. My wish is we’ll see more entrepreneurs willing to build spaces that better span and connect the physical and digital world from health and wellness to shopping and entertainment and more.” From building the social media advertising world to paving inroads for her mentees, Kelly is a builder and a thought leader who continues to pay forward the investment of the Boettcher Scholarship. When asked to share advice for scholars building their own paths, Kelly shared a final bit of advice. ”Don’t live someone else’s dream. There’s no replacement for passion – you can’t fake it. Pursue the thing that makes you so excited you can’t imagine doing anything else.”  ...