Doers & Difference Makers Fellowship

In July 2021, Boettcher Foundation announced its inaugural cohort of the Doers & Difference Makers Fellowship. A nine-month program, the Fellowship seeks to identify, celebrate, elevate, and connect community champions from across Colorado. The program elevates these individuals’ voices and amplifies their impact through structured opportunities to develop as individual leaders and members of Colorado’s ecosystem, including a financial investment, individualized coaching, and an emphasis on building connections among Fellows.

An Ideal Candidate

Ideal candidates for the Boettcher Fellowship are individuals with a deep commitment to their community and a willingness to put in the work to make things happen. A community can be defined as either a group of people living in the same place (a geographic community) or having a particular characteristic in common (an ethnic, racial, or cultural community).

They are community champions from all sectors who have a positive impact in their communities by finding creative solutions, developing and strengthening networks, or showing high levels of resourcefulness. Candidates are either the ‘doers’ who are on the frontlines of making things happen, or those who are at the cusp of something game-changing. They have big dreams though may have fewer connections. They are the people who may or may not have had a seat at traditional leadership tables but they move their community forward regardless. Candidates may not be formally recognized or celebrated, but they are recognized by their communities as key difference makers.

Candidates from rural communities or underrepresented groups will be given priority. For the purpose of prioritization points, rural will be defined as “census places less than 50,000 people and not adjacent or contiguous to an urbanized area.”
Of note, candidates who are CEOs, executives, or leadership program aficionados are not excluded from applying, but preference will be given to those who are not considered traditional leaders.

Participant Profile:

  • Fellows must be current residents of Colorado.
  • Fellows are the doers and difference makers in their communities.
  • Fellows have a demonstrated, long-term commitment to Colorado, proven personal initiative, and a dedication to lifelong learning.
  • Fellows can work in any sector or industry.
  • Fellows possess leadership potential and are active in community or public service. This can be demonstrated through their profession or volunteer activities.
  • Fellows are interested in connecting with others from across the state to learn and share resources and experiences.

2021 Cohort Profile:

  • Average number of years serving Colorado communities: 15
  • Sectors:
    • Local Government
    • Nonprofit
    • Tribal Education
    • Funding Capital for Rural Coloradan Entrepreneurs
  • Geographic spread (by county):
    • Alamosa, Garfield, Jefferson, Montezuma, Phillips, Routt

Boettcher Fellows – 2021 Cohort

Identified by local leaders for their leadership potential and their commitment to the community, we are pleased to recognize the following individuals as the members of our inaugural cohort:

Brisa Chavez

Hispanic Outreach Coordinator, Garfield County Public Health, Rifle

Brisa was born in Guachochi, Mexico and was raised in Colorado. As a daughter of immigrants, Brisa is most proud of her work in community advocacy. She serves as a connector for communities of color and is passionate about equity work. Brisa has worked in public health for over 18 years. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Colorado Mesa University with a focus in communication, literature, and English. In 2020 she was awarded the Garfield County Humanitarian Award for Community Empowerment. She is committed to empowering and elevating marginalized voices, spending time volunteering on various community councils. Brisa was recently appointed to the State Board of Human Services in 2021.  Brisa has lived in Garfield County with her husband and two boys for over 23 years.

Trisha Herman

Executive Director, Phillips County Economic Development, Holyoke

Trisha became the executive director for Phillips County Economic Development in 2017. Previously, she held various roles in education that included teaching preschool and kindergarten, running a daycare, and serving as the director for Phillips County Education Services. Trisha is an active community member, serving on the Holyoke City Recreation Committee and holding the titles of project coordinator of the Holyoke Childcare, consultant for SBDC, and treasurer of the Women’s Golf Board. She is an active community member in the Holyoke Youth Summer Swim team. In 2015, Trisha opened her own business in launching the Holyoke Fitness Club. Although active and involved, Trish always puts family first. Her husband, Justin, works for Pioneer Seed and they have two children, Kaden, 12, and Braylin, 10 in addition to raising Ozzy and Oscar, their two bulldogs. Raised in Kansas City, Trisha graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in family life and community service.

Sherrell Lang

Co-Founder of Kwiyagat Community Academy (first charter school on Ute Mountain Reservation), Educator, and Volunteer, Towaoc

Sherrell, who is Cheyenne-Arapaho, Dine, and Ute Mountain Ute, grew up in the Four Corners area and currently lives on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in Colorado. She graduated from New Mexico Highlands University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She is a wife and has three beautiful children. She continues to be a lifelong learner and enjoys the teachings from her tribal cultures and traditions. She was a NACA Inspired Schools Network fellow while establishing the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s Kwiyagat Community Academy, the first Indigenous charter school in Colorado. Sherrell continues to advocate for Indigenous education and for her community.

Azarel Madrigal

Program Director, Southwest Community Fund, Alamosa

Azarel is passionate about supporting the disenfranchised and underrepresented, and has worked across nonprofit, government and political sectors to promote equitable community and economic development. Azarel participated in the Colorado State Department of Locals Affairs’ Best & Brightest Program, working with the City of Monte Vista on community and economic development projects. She has also worked in the behavioral health sector by supporting advocacy efforts, as well as leading and managing grants and projects. Azarel has also worked on grassroots political campaigns and served on a regional board to brand and market the San Luis Valley. Azarel graduated from Adams State University in Alamosa with a master’s degree in public administration. At ASU, she was an involved student leader, participating in student government and serving on the Board of Trustees.

Mathew Mendisco

Town Manager of Hayden, Hayden

Mathew is a diverse individual who has experience in both the private and public sector, making him very unique to the public sector. Originally from the west end of Colorado in Naturita, he is the third generation of his family in the United States with his grandfather coming to America in 1945 from France. After graduating high school, Mathew attended Fort Lewis College where he earned a degree in political science with an emphasis in foreign policy and a minor in economics. He then earned a master’s degree in political science with an emphasis in public policy and leadership from the University of Colorado Denver. Mathew has worked in local government, government consulting, private development, and for the last 4.5 years he has lead the Town of Hayden as the town manager. Away from work, Mathew enjoys the outdoors, spending time with his family, reading, and just enjoying life.

Adrian Mendoza

Assistant Director of Advisement, Denver Scholarship Foundation, Denver

Adrian serves as the assistant director of advisement with the Denver Scholarship Foundation. In this role, he helps drive the organizational mission and vision through one-on-one coaching coupled with the creation and facilitation of professional learning modules. He brings a passion for building capacity in others, leads through a lens of equity, and strives to empower students, families, and their communities. Previously, Adrian held positions as a campus advisor on the Auraria Campus and as a school counselor at Abraham Lincoln High School. He earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors from Belmont Abbey College before completing a master of science in school counseling from The University of Memphis. Adrian enjoys playing soccer, reading, and forever trying new hobbies. His favorite endeavors were stand-up comedy and clay working.

The Doers & Difference Makers Fellowship is bringing together a cohort of talented individuals with a willingness to put in the work to make things happen from across our beautiful and diverse state.