Scholar Profiles

Gina Gonzales-Wagerman’s life has been defined by seizing opportunity. As a result, her journey has led to diverse pursuits ranging from teaching primary school in Bulgaria to working on marketing for popular TV shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. These experiences have opened many doors for Gina; much the same way that opening the letter informing her that she had won the Boettcher Scholarship set her on the path for a lifetime of opportunity. Gina, a 2000 Boettcher Scholar from Pueblo Central High School, attended Colorado State University with her scholarship. Though she began in mechanical engineering, she soon shifted to a major that allowed her to combine her interests in math and drawing – fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design. After graduation, Gina felt the urge to give back through service in some capacity – a common desire among Boettcher Scholars who are selected in part for their strong service ethic. “I applied for the Peace Corps, and the process took about six months, so I had forgotten all about it,” Gina said. “Then, I got this call [when I was] coming out of a theater after a movie, and they asked, ‘are you ready to do your duty to your country?’ I was wondering who it was, and they said ‘this is the Peace Corps! We have a project for you in five weeks, are you ready’?” Gina moved back home, packed up, and left for Bulgaria, where she taught primary school English and started an after-school sports program. Her experience in the Peace Corps prompted a desire to become further involved in international development, leading her to pursue a graduate degree in global marketing communications and advertising from Emerson College in Boston. There, Gina heard a guest lecture from chief marketing officer from Warner Bros. speak as a guest lecturer. She followed up with the speaker and ended up receiving an internship with Warner in Burbank, California. That internship set the path for her career. “I started at Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Marketing as an intern graphic designer,” Gina said. “I basically started there, worked many different positions, and, after 10 years, I am a director here.” As director of creative services, Gina works on marketing for various Warner Bros. television shows, including Ellen, The Big Bang Theory and Arrow. One of her favorite moments with Warner Bros. was yet another instance in which she grabbed an opportunity that allowed her to combine her passions – training people in Ethiopia on how to start a radio program and market it. “This opportunity was really exciting, because I was able to do international development, marketing, and graphic design all at once,” Gina said. “I always battle with myself because I’m working in an entertainment company, which is basically the opposite of international development, but I do think that these opportunities are there for overlap. And if they are not, you can make them for yourself.” Being a Boettcher Scholar has not only taught Gina the power of pursuing opportunity, but also the importance of giving back. Whether through mentoring a high school student through Warner Bros.’ volunteer branch, serving as a running mentor with her running club, or hosting a writing club with her husband, Gina values investing in others to help them actualize their potential, just as the Boettcher Foundation has done in her own 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: Todd Breyfogle Scholar Year:  1984 Hometown: Lafayette College(s) and degree(s): Colorado College, B.A., Classics-History-Politics; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, B.A., M.A., Ancient and Modern History; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, M.St., Patristic and Modern Theology; University of Chicago, M.A., Ph.D., Social Thought Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? As director of seminars for the Aspen Institute, I help successful people live more philosophically. I organize humanities-based leadership seminars in which a deep exposure to classic and contemporary texts from around the world help senior leaders become more self-aware and more self-correcting. It is rewarding to see how the liberal arts become immediately relevant to how people think about living and leading in a complex world. Ideas in action—what could be better? What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? The Boettcher Scholarship allowed me to attend Colorado College—something my family could never have afforded. And because of the scholarship, I had the freedom to pursue what I loved—interdisciplinary humanities. That freedom to pursue learning for its own sake, without immediate regard for its utility, has carried me on an extraordinary path to study at Oxford, to a PhD from the University of Chicago, to working with undergraduates (including Boettcher Scholars) at the University of Denver, to extending that love of liberal learning among senior adults who are making significant decisions all over the world. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. My activities outside of work are largely related to liberal education. I sit on the Senate of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the board of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars, the board of the Alliance for Liberal Learning, and chair the American Academy for Liberal Education. I still wear my academic hat, writing and lecturing, and my book On Creativity, Liberty, Love and the Beauty of the Law was published by Bloomsbury in 2017. Most important, I spend time with my wife, Allyson, and my children, Sarah and Lucus. I enjoy hiking, horseback riding, music and running. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? The best advice for any career, and for living: know yourself. Ask yourself: How do I match my talents with one of the world’s greatest needs? Your career rarely matches what you studied in college. Pursue what you care about regardless of its perceived value. Ideally, undergraduate education gives you the time, space and freedom to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and to learn how to manage yourself. I work with a lot of CEOs and senior professionals who insist that they want people with integrity and purpose who can speak and write clearly, and who know how to learn. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I’d have dinner with an improbable pair: Michel de Montaigne and Teddy Roosevelt, both of whom loved horses. Both were men of unusually creative intellects who found ways of combining deep contemplation with energetic action. Both were wonderful storytellers, so our conversations would be lively and witty—and would provide much-needed perspective on life today. Beyond wit, both me deepened their sense of proportion and grace as they passed through significant existential pain. Montaigne and TR also immersed themselves in the natural world and understood how connection to an order outside of ourselves helped inculcate a capacity for self-transcendence....

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: Paula Pulido Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Lone Tree College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado Boulder, civil engineering with minors in business and leadership, graduating in 2021 with my BS/MS What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am studying civil engineering because it is a degree that will allow me to improve the lives of people. Civil engineering is a central part of community development; economies and society cannot improve without basic and enabling infrastructure. I will improve the lives of people in developing countries by creating my own engineering company partnering with local and global organizations to help deliver infrastructure projects and enable economies to grow. After graduating I hope to complement my engineering degree with a master’s degree in business administration. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. My favorite activity in college is the computer science and engineering after school class that I teach to fifth graders. I teach at a low-income elementary school in Boulder, and many of the kids have never imagined themselves attending college one day. I love this job because I get to show my students what engineering is, why it is so exciting and why they should aspire to attend college one day. I love to see their faces when I take them to Google, and they all tell them they will study computer science one day so they can work there. They know that they are working towards college one day. Additionally, this class is typically the first exposure the girls have to coding and engineering—I love to empower them so one day they can choose to study engineering without any hesitation. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Teachers make an immeasurable difference in the lives of their students. Mrs. Lay, my seventh-grade algebra teacher, was the toughest, strictest teacher I had ever had. And her algebra class was the first time I truly felt challenged at school. It often brought me to tears. I loved it. I felt that Mrs. Lay saw something special in me, but was never easy on me and always made me prove myself. She taught me to work hard. I was remembering that class last semester while taking Calculus 3. (Which is the second hardest math class I have ever taken – a close second to my seventh-grade algebra class!) What's the best advice you've ever received? Work hard and always be honest. I learned this from my parents. They taught me to love and value education. I don’t know who I’d be without them! If you could have dinner with one or more people from history, whom would you choose and why?  Sir Richard Branson. He is the founder and CEO of the Virgin Group. I love his story about his early years—his rebellion in his youth and decision to change his path and become an entrepreneur. His imagination is wild—his mind has no limits, his company ranges from spaceflight to music records!...

As a journalist and investigative reporter for 9News, Chris Vanderveen has been recognized at the national level for coverage of the Aurora Theater Shooting, opiate abuse, and a query into the fuel lines of combusting helicopters that prompted a federal investigation. For these stories, Chris received Reporter of the Year awards from the National Press Photographers Association and a regional Edward R. Murrow Award. However, when asked which stories stand out the most from his 22-year career, the 1992 Boettcher Scholar noted, "It’s the small ones – stories that would have remained untold otherwise, about humble people living remarkable day-to-day lives.” Chris Vanderveen’s own story began in suburban Denver in 1973. While other kids watched cartoons after school, Chris grew up consuming television news and the daily paper: “When something was going on, I wanted to know more about it.” Chris’ inquisitiveness helped him earn a Boettcher Scholarship to attend CU Boulder, where he studied broadcast journalism and anchored the campus radio station. From there, he landed a job as a photographer in Casper, Wyoming, and soon was anchoring weekend newscasts. There, Chris realized a career in journalism was a match for his inherent curiosity and love of storytelling. “Journalism starts with something as simple as a curious reporter asking the questions that no one else is,” Chris said.  From there, “the story develops into something much bigger, something that can profoundly impact our community.” One of Chris’ most memorable stories took place in 2010, when he met an Army veteran who had been shot in the neck in Iraq and paralyzed. Over the course of a year, Chris documented the veteran’s recovery and his dream to have children. The day Chris received a call that the veteran’s wife was pregnant with twins was “one of the coolest moments to capture” in his career. Sharing remarkable stories fuels Chris’ passion for journalism and service, even in the face of adversity. While many might perceive the current social and political environment as an obstacle for journalism, Chris sees a unique opportunity to discuss free speech and advocacy. “I’m more proud and more excited to be a journalist, writer, and investigative reporter than ever,” stated Chris. “It’s a fascinating time in our country. We are having overdue discussions, and that’s a good thing.” Chris is a strong advocate for the First amendment, and lent his thoughts to the ongoing discussion about college campus speech: “We must listen to things we don’t agree with. Yes, we’ll hear things we despise. But supporting the ability of people to speak who you may not agree with is a critical form of leadership.” One of the ways Chris employs his skills to give back to the community is as a board member for The Blue Bench, a sexual assault prevention and support center in Denver. As an advocate for victims and the father of a young daughter, Chris is optimistic about the direction of recent discussions and the #metoo movement. “This country is having an overdue discussion about the role of powerful men and victims’ voices,” he said. “Victims need to feel they have an avenue to be heard and for justice to be pursued, and that’s finally coming to light. It’s okay to be uncomfortable.” Looking back, Chris admits at the age of 18 he was unsure about accepting the scholarship, when his dream had been to attend a program out of state. Yet today, he is grateful for the financial freedom and the encouragement to give back to Colorado that the scholarship provided him. “[The scholarship] was one of the greatest surprises that could have happened to me. I don’t take that gift for granted, especially with the perspective I have now.”...

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 Skelton Scholar Year:  1984 Hometown: Littleton (currently in Crawford) College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): German Language and Literature (BA, 1989) with secondary teaching licensure; Curriculum and Instruction in Multicultural Teacher Education (MA, 1994) Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I am an independent educational consultant. I support schools and educators across the United States and internationally in their quest to provide equitable education for English Language Learners. I love the challenges and variety in my work and the ability to impact students’ education. I have the opportunity to work directly with students, coach teachers, support principals, and facilitate workshops. Since I began consulting in 2002, I have worked with schools in 19 different states, in 12 different countries and on five different continents. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? During my junior year at Colorado College, I won a scholarship from the college to study abroad in Germany for a year. I was able to put my Boettcher Scholarship on hold for that year, which meant I had an additional year of funded undergraduate study. During this fifth year at CC, I used the Boettcher Scholarship to earn my teaching certificate, which unexpectedly launched me into my career. I continue to be an involved Boettcher Scholar alumni serving as an Alumni Ambassador and on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. In addition to serving on the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board, I also serve on the board of the Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. I regularly do yoga, hike, cross country and downhill ski, canoe, work in our organic garden and spend as much time outside as possible. I’m also an avid reader and have been part of a local book club for the past 19 years. This past year I took on a new challenge and started learning to play marimba with a local group. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? In my first week of college, a senior Boettcher Scholar advised me to “major in professors, not classes.” This older Boettcher Scholar pointed me toward the best professors in all academic fields, and I ended up taking courses from calculus to philosophy in the first year. “Majoring in professors” meant that I was interested in every class and learned a lot about the magic of teaching from these dynamic and engaging individuals. I would advise current graduates entering education to share their passion freely with their students. Ignite them with your love of your content and set them on the path to lifelong learning. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? If I could share a meal with anyone from the past, I would choose my mother. Although isn’t mentioned in a history book, she made a huge impact on my life and the lives of the nearly 1,000 kindergarten and first-grade students she taught to read during her career. She left this earth before I turned 30, and I would love the chance to talk to her again. I would ask her the personal questions that were never posed while she was alive and discuss educational issues with her again. Most of all, I would love to introduce her to my daughter, her namesake....

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: Noah Hirshorn Scholar Year: 2016 Hometown: Highlands Ranch College(s), Degree(s): Colorado College; environmental science (chemistry) 2020 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am interested in pursuing a master’s degree in environmental engineering so that I can work on the development of clean and renewable energy. After graduate school, I would like to begin work in the aviation industry to make traveling on airlines better for the environment. In my free time, I would like to finish climbing all of the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and learn how to whitewater river kayak on the Animas River. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I am currently on the Boettcher Scholar Student Committee, which has been a great opportunity because it allows me to help improve the experience of all scholars while learning more about the foundation. I am also a member of the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse team at CC. Lacrosse has been a part of my life since I was 10 years old, and I'm glad I can continue playing in college because I believe being a student athlete helps me build character, leadership skills and time management skills. In addition, I am part of the Early Scholars Tutoring Club and visit Bristol Elementary School once a week to tutor students. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Dr. Jake Herman was a great mentor to me in high school. As my lacrosse coach, he pushed me to work as hard as possible to become a better player. Yet, it was the relationship we had outside of lacrosse that I cherish the most. Dr. Herman supported me in all endeavors that I pursued in high school. His passion for lacrosse and science along with his ability to be a great leader all played a role in developing me into the person I am today. What's the best advice you've ever received? When I was a freshman in high school, my grandpa gave me a piece of advice that I have held onto ever since. He said that when it comes to making decisions, I should decide what is best considering the information that I already know without making assumptions. While it seems like a simple piece of advice, I have found that it has always worked. Decisions can be hard, but by only looking at what is certain, I have found that making decisions has become an easier process for me. If you could have dinner with one or more people from history, whom would you choose and why?  I would have dinner with Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl was the drummer of Nirvana and the lead singer/guitarist for the Foo Fighters, which are two of my favorite bands. Music has always been a huge part of my life and hearing about Dave’s experience in two of the most successful bands of all time would be amazing. Furthermore, I want to ask about how he believes grunge music has changed popular culture. Dave, if you are reading this, feel free to invite me to dinner next time you are in Colorado....

On the high plains of Colorado, an emerging leader is driving wild mustangs and the policies that manage them. Stephanie Linsley, 2011 Boettcher Scholar, is the head trainer and equine manager at the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary (GEMS), a Colorado nonprofit that provides training, adoption and advocacy for wild mustangs and burros. After graduating with a degree in psychology from Colorado State University, Stephanie joined GEMS full-time in 2016. Since then, Stephanie has lived and worked on a 1,000-acre ranch in the eastern Colorado town of Deer Trail, managing up to 80 horses at a time and facilitating on-range operations with a lean staff of three. Last year, the organization helped more than 200 wild horses find homes instead of being sent to holding facilities where they are often destroyed or sold for slaughter. The mission of GEMS means Stephanie’s days are largely spent in the saddle socializing wild mustangs and educating adopting owners. Unlike many horse enthusiasts, however, she wasn’t born in the saddle. Her love for horses – and psychology – emerged when she received her first horse at the age of ten: “I realized there was more to owning a horse than loving him…I recognized early on that I needed to figure out how to communicate with this horse if my life with horses were to go any further.” Soon after, Stephanie began volunteering with wild horses and decided to pursue a degree in psychology. For her, the connections between the disciplines are clear: “Working with horses, there’s a whole other animal to deal with: people. Understanding how both animals are motivated and learn is critical to horsemanship and running an organization.” Stephanie’s all-in passion for wild horses and understanding animal behavior has enabled GEMS to enact positive change beyond the boundaries of the ranch. The organization’s philosophy of cooperating with the Bureau of Land Management and other key stakeholders has given GEMS a respected voice in wild horse management, an oft-contentious issue. Last winter, the Bureau of Land Management wanted to conduct a helicopter round-up of the Sand Wash Basin mustang herd near the northwestern Colorado town of Craig. Helicopter round-ups are a quick but often traumatic method which can lead to injury or even death. GEMS successfully lobbied to conduct smaller scale bait-trapping and field sterilization with the assistance of their on-range support team. Forty-three mustangs in total were rounded up, and all have landed in safe homes or found sanctuary at GEMS. In October, Stephanie was invited to present to the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board about these efforts. Receiving the Boettcher Scholarship was a catalyst in Stephanie becoming a leader in her field at just 23 years old: “Without that opportunity from Boettcher, I wouldn’t have had the chance to pursue this type of advocacy work at a nonprofit, in a field I love. That gratitude is always in the back of my mind, guiding me to serve.” With more than 100,000 wild horses across the country, Stephanie acknowledges that GEMS can’t tackle the whole issue. However, as the only organization in the country that provides on-range and off-range support, she believes GEMS and its cooperative approach can serve as a successful model for other states. Looking ahead, it’s clear Stephanie’s passion for horses and commitment to understanding them will continue to guide her impact: “Horses are our greatest teachers. They tolerate our mistakes, they forgive us, and they encourage us. No other creature can inspire such passion in a human, and for that, I've dedicated my life to interpreting their lessons.”...

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: Ashesh Thaker Scholar Year:  2000 Hometown: Greeley College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): University of Colorado Boulder – BA, 2004; University of California, Los Angeles – MD, 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 joined the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in August 2016, after completing my postgraduate medical training, most recently a fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. I am a neuroradiologist and have a clinical practice at the University of Colorado Hospital, where I also train residents and fellows. I particularly enjoy teaching and research, with a specific interest in understanding changes that occur in the brain during disorders of cognition, such as in Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a real privilege to teach and work at my alma mater! What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? The Boettcher Scholarship helped me achieve my goals in ways more than just financial. The Boettcher community instills a sense of service; this ultimately pushed me towards academic medicine rather than private practice. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to return to Colorado after 12 years on the east and west coasts. I look forward to being more involved with the foundation and its many service activities now that I’m back home. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. My wife and I just had our first child, a baby boy, so he has been keeping us pretty busy outside of work! Having just moved back to Denver from California, we are hoping to get more involved in local groups and organizations. We are members at the Denver Art Museum, involved in the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of the Rockies, and joined our local neighborhood civic association in Hilltop. . What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? When I was a third-year medical student at UCLA on a surgical rotation, an intern (whose name I sadly can’t remember to give fair credit) gave me the great advice to “always function like I’m one level above my current position;” that is, act like an intern when a medical student, a resident when an intern, and a fellow when a resident. This is sound advice in a hierarchical field like medicine, but I think the message applies more broadly to any career. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Though not really a “historical” figure, I would love to have dinner with Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld (my favorite sitcom) and star of the current series Curb Your Enthusiasm. His style of comedy has always resonated with me, and I find his work refreshing. He reminds me to take life a little less seriously and a dinner date with him would be entertaining to say the least!...

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: Serene Singh Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Colorado Springs College(s), Degree(s): University of Colorado; political science (BA) and journalism (BA) and leadership studies (minor) What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am interested in pursuing a law degree with a focus on constitutional and human rights law. Since I am interested in becoming a Supreme Court justice, I am excited to hopefully work for the American Civil Liberties Union where I will specialize in defending free speech rights and at The Sikh Coalition where I will help defend religious freedoms. Within all this, if I could squeeze in a chance to compete for Miss America, an opportunity to act in a Bollywood film and a way to release the first Indian-American female rapper mixtape, that would be great. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. Some of the activities are The Serenity Project, the Appellate Court, the Colorado Bhangra Team, and 3P Speech and Debate. The Serenity Project is a fashion show with a yearlong “pageant reign” that helps women who are not our society’s traditional models become fashion models and ambassadors for inspiration throughout the community. The Appellate Court ensures legitimacy and defends student freedoms! The Colorado Bhangra Team is a Punjabi Indian dance team that spreads positivity. 3P Speech serves students across the country who are passionate and eager to be heard. My job is to help them speak effectively and to watch them change the world through their voices – a pretty awesome first job. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. Mr. Brian Hoff. For me, he was not just a high school speech/debate coach, but an individual I highly respect. Despite having attended Rampart – a school without a forensics team – Mr. Hoff took me under his wing at The Classical Academy. Mr. Hoff challenges me to push myself and to take on adversity with a smile. His relentless belief in my abilities inspired me to one day enter public service – and more importantly, believe that I could do it. Whether it be pageants, relationships or life itself – Mr. Hoff has been there to encourage me to never give up and to use my voice to serve others. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I have ever received was from my mother who said, "If you want something you don't have, you have to do something you've never done." This has been a guiding philosophy in my life because I am constantly working to become a better version of myself. I often put myself in odd and uncomfortable situations in life (like when I first joined a pageant as a tomboy or when I interned at a strict Republican’s office as a social liberal) in order to remind myself that I never can stop growing and learning. If you could have dinner with one or more people from history, whom would you choose and why?  I would choose Mata Khivi Ji. Mata Khivi Ji has been an inspiration for me since I was a little girl. Mata Khivi Ji instituted free nutritious community kitchens called “Langars.” Langars are for all people – regardless of gender, race, etc. to sit alongside one another and break bread. Five hundred years ago, not only was this revolutionary, but it set up a foundation for “sewa” or selfless service to be the most central part to a Sikh’s life. Meeting Mata Khivi Ji would give me the chance to volunteer alongside an incredible figure, and learn as much as I can to be a stronger female leader in my community....

After a successful career in film production, 1970 Boettcher Scholar Lee Gash-Maxey is using her storytelling prowess to help advance black-owned businesses in the State of Colorado. Lee is executive director of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, a position she has held since April of 2016. In her role, Lee is working to increase membership in the business organization by providing relevant programming and partnering with the business community to create opportunities for African-American students. Lee graduated from East High School in Denver and used her Boettcher Scholarship to attend Colorado State University where she graduated with a degree in radio and television production. She started her career with KOA radio, received her first Emmy nomination at KOA-TV, then relocated to Pittsburgh to work on Evening Magazine at KDKA-TV. Lee returned to Colorado where she began doing publications for the Governor’s Office of Energy Conservation, during the administration of Gov. Roy Romer. (“If you can write, you can work in almost any industry they’ve developed,” she said.) Eventually her role expanded to include creating and managing programs to employ young people in recycling and weatherization work. She was soon pulled back into media, however, when a friend told her that BET was starting a Movie channel in Denver. She was hired as managing producer of BET Movies. She later launched her own media production company, Maxey Media Production Group, and was focused on that when, once again, a friend told her about the opportunity with the Colorado Black Chamber. The organization, the friend noted, could benefit from somebody with her unique skills and connections. The position provided her with an opportunity to serve the black community and small business owners, two groups for which she has a strong affinity. “As a Denver native, the black community is very close to my heart,” she said. “My roots in Denver go deep.” Similarly, her own experience as a business owner gave her a deep understanding of the unique pressures faced by small business owners and the need for an organization to provide value to them. “We need to re-establish the reputation of the chamber, and that’s definitely happening,” she said, adding that small business owners are under extreme time pressure and have little time for organizations that don’t provide value. “We need to make it so small business owners know that we can help them grow their business.” In addition to providing training and resources for small businesses, Lee wants to provide value specifically for the younger generation of entrepreneurs while also partnering with businesses to create job opportunities for black students. The desire to give back is something that has driven Lee, and it is a strength she sees in the Boettcher Scholar community. “I think there is an underlying goal in most Boettcher Scholars,” she said. “They know somebody had the foresight to give something back, and they are thinking about how to give something back or pay it forward – maybe not in the exact way they were helped, but in a way that matters to them.”...