ST E UNIVERSITY
> Miss Native American USA > Colorado’s aerospace economy
> The nation’s top civil servant > MSU Denver’s greatest gift
PEOPLE IN HIGH PLACES
gift of a
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Metropolitan State University of Denver
in your will or estate plans. Your generosity
will transform the lives of students for
generations to come.
Learn more about planned giving and
request a free estate planning kit at
www.msudenver.edu/plannedgiving, or call
303-556-6933 for a personal consultation.
VOL. 2 NO.2
Neil Dreher (B.F.A. theatre ’05)
served as an automation operator
for the 2014 Winter Olympic and
Paralympic Games in Sochi,
Russia. While working for the
games, he found a stray dog
in a trash pile and brought
her home to the U.S.
Photo by Mark Woolcott.
ONLINE only at
20 24 26
02 THE FIRST WORD
10 THE GIFT
For meteorologist and MSU Denver
alumna Cyrena-Marie Briedé,
the “Home of the World’s Worst
Weather” is a perfect place to work.
MSU Denver is redefining the
role of urban universities.
Colorado already boasts the
nation’s second-largest aerospace
economy. With new investments
and partnerships, MSU Denver is
revolutionizing aviation, aerospace
and advanced manufacturing
Hoteliers Navin and Rita
Dimond invest in the
transformative power of
03 THE CONVERSATION
Readers reflect on the impact
of an MSU Denver degree.
04 THE NEWS
Accolades are stacking up for
Denver attorney Hollynd
Hoskins levels the playing
Dave Montez leads the
charge for LGBT equality and
opportunity in Colorado.
UP AND AWAY
Katherine Archuleta’s journey
started in a Denver housing project
and has taken her to the highest
echelons of government. Along the
way, she’s kept a singular focus on
THE BEAUTY QUEEN
Wearing the crown of Miss
Native American USA, Sarah
Ortegon inspires the next
Jim Saccomano reflects
on the highs and lows of a
legendary Denver Broncos
30 THE PEOPLE
MSU Denver alumni share
news and notes.
ON THE COVER
Work from Navajo photographer and installation artist Will Wilson’s “Critical Indigenous Photographic
Exchange” portrait project was showcased in the recent MSU Denver Center for Visual Art Cross Currents
exhibition of contemporary native art. His work combines new technology and classic techniques to portray
indigenous people in modern terms. Wilson created this tintype portrait of fellow Cross Currents artist Sarah
Ortegon—Miss Native American USA—for the Metropolitan Denver Magazine. Read more on Page 16.
MSU Denver is redefining the role
of urban universities.
Metropolitan State University of Denver stands
on the threshold of creating something entirely
unique in urban higher education. We’ve
embraced our role as an epicenter for urban
impact—an institution that is setting the national
example for providing a high-quality education
that is accessible to all. A university that is woven
into civic life, that is actively serving the needs
of our community, bolstering our state’s economy
and finding solutions to the issues of our nation’s
increasingly urbanized society.
As MSU Denver nears its 50th anniversary in
2015–16, we can reflect with pride on how we
have transformed—and are transforming—
individual lives, our community and higher
Our impact includes preparing talented and
energetic workers for some of Colorado’s leading
industries. One successful example is the oncampus Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center,
which opened in 2012 and is a pipeline for the
state’s burgeoning hospitality industry. With
the generous support of Navin and Rita Dimond
(Page 10), our Hospitality, Tourism and Events
program is poised to lead the way in preparation
of a new generation of industry leaders.
will capitalize on Colorado’s prominent position
in the aviation, aerospace and advanced
manufacturing industries and enhance the
University’s standing as a national educational
leader in these fields. This ambitious project is
in the spirit of our mission and will help keep
Colorado’s economy thriving well into the future.
Read more about it on Page 24, and explore the
issue further online at msudenver.edu/
Fitting for a university located in the heart of
the Mile High City, this issue of the Metropolitan
Denver Magazine celebrates lofty ambitions, big
achievements and people in high places—
accomplished alumni such as Katherine Archuleta
(Page 26), head of the U.S. Office of Personnel
Management; former Denver Broncos VP for
Corporate Communications Jim Saccomano (Page
18); and Miss Native American USA Sarah
Ortegon (Page 16). They are wonderful examples
of what it means to be a Roadrunner.
We’re well on our way to becoming the nation’s
preeminent public urban institution, and the
evidence is written on every page of this
magazine. I hope you’ll join us on this remarkable
In planning our 50th anniversary celebration,
we’re also looking ahead at new ways we will
shape Denver, our state and our world in the next
One of those ways includes our Aerospace
Engineering Sciences (AES) initiative, which
Metropolitan Denver Magazine is published three times a year by the
Metropolitan State University of Denver Office of Marketing and Communications.
© 2014 Metropolitan State University of Denver. All rights reserved.
Address correspondence to: Metropolitan Denver Magazine, Metropolitan
State University of Denver, Office of Marketing and Communications, Campus Box
86, PO Box 173362, Denver, CO 80217-3362. Email [email protected]
The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the policies
and opinions of Metropolitan State University of Denver nor imply endorsement
by its officers or by the MSU Denver Alumni Association. Metropolitan
State University of Denver does not discriminate on the basis of race, color,
creed, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability in admissions
or access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs or
Stephen M. Jordan, Ph.D.
PUBLISHER CATHERINE LUCAS | EXECUTIVE EDITOR CHELSEY BAKER-HAUCK | EDITORS EMILY PATON DAVIES |
CLIFF FOSTER | LISA SPORTE | EDITORIAL ASSISTANT BRETT MCPHERSON (CLASS OF 2014) | CREATIVE
DIRECTOR SCOTT LARY | ART DIRECTOR CRAIG KORN, VEGGIEGRAPHICS | PHOTOGRAPHY MANAGER
JULIE STRASHEIM | WEB CONTENT MANAGER NATHAN SOLHEIM | CONTRIBUTORS | JONATHAN BENTON |
MATTHEW BORKOWSKI | JANALEE CARD CHMEL | TREVOR DAVIS (CLASS OF 2015) | ROGER FILLION | LESLIE PETROVSKI |
AMY PHARE | STEVE REMICH | PAT ROONEY | CHRIS SCHNEIDER | JESSICA TAVES (B.A. IDP ’11) | WILL WILSON | TOM
WILMES | MARK WOOLCOTT | EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD CATHERINE LUCAS, CHIEF OF STAFF AND ASSOCIATE TO
THE PRESIDENT FOR MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS | CHELSEY BAKER-HAUCK, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF MARKETING | GREG GEISSLER,
ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT OF DEVELOPMENT | DEBORA GILLIARD, PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT | KEN PHILLIPS (B.S. INDUSTRIAL
EDUCATION ’83), CHAIR AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN | SAM NG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF METEOROLOGY
Readers reflect on the impact of an MSU Denver degree.
The winter 2014 issue of the
Metropolitan Denver Magazine
considered transformations and
the theme “Mind+Body+Spirit.”
Stories included news from the
nursing program and a profile
of IDP graduate Jonathon Stalls’
While reading the magazine’s
winter edition, I was very pleased
to find that MSU Denver is offering
a BSN program and many more
options for an RN-to-BSN degree.
I became an RN in 1998 and went
back to school after working
several years as a clinical RN.
I enrolled in “MSCD” at the time
in the Healthcare Management
Program. I obtained a BS in that
program and received a great
job offer from my practicum
experience in a supervisory-
level health care position, which
still utilized my clinical experience
yet expanded upon the businessrelated education I received in my
degree. Since then I’ve relocated to
Houston and currently am in the
New York City metro area. I’ve
been quite successful in obtaining
a similar position in each city
with the hospital increasing in
bed capacity, thereby enhancing
my knowledge base and clinical
experience even further. Metro
helped me to be very successful
in its program with working
professionals such as myself as
well as young freshmen—a very
diversified urban culture in many
aspects. I credit my outstanding
education to an invested team of
professors who were current and
knowledgeable in their fields. It
was a supportive scenario for a
mother, like myself, who wanted
to further her education while
caring for young children. I would
recommend MSU Denver to any
health care professional who
desires to further their education
and experience. It will prove your
marketability to your current
employer, or give you a new
profession to specialize in.
B.S. nursing ’09
I can say, all these years later,
that the Individualized Degree
Program (IDP) was a godsend
for me. I did get 15 credit hours
of journalism school in before I
was forced to change my major.
That’s where the IDP came in. I
completed several courses in the
structure of the English language.
I took grammar courses and such
courses as history of the English
language and semantics. There
were also courses in the old
speech communications area,
such as nonverbal communication, persuasion, debate and
psychology of communication.
My multicultural [course] was
Share the Metropolitan Denver Magazine
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in communication styles of the
various cultures. Thanks to the
courses I learned in my IDP, I can
edit copy (journalism) and hold
my own in conversations (speech
communication), and I can tell
where the other person is coming
from. I feel also that I have an
educational advantage over the
people who took other majors.
B.A. IDP ’96
Share Your Story:
How did your MSU Denver education
change your life? Tell us about your favorite
professors, best classes and the life lessons
you learned along the way. Email [email protected]
msudenver.edu or write to Metropolitan
Denver Magazine, Metropolitan State
University of Denver, Campus Box 86,
PO Box 173362, Denver, CO 80217.
Campus Box 14
P.O. Box 173362
Denver, CO 80217
Order a complimentary business subscription or
host a magazine rack and help your customers discover
the great news about MSU Denver.
Email [email protected]
or call the marketing and
communications office at 303-556-2957 today!
> Something to Smile About
> The Life We’re Given
Accolades are stacking up for MSU Denver.
An Engaging University
MSU Denver received the 2014
Engaged Campus Award from
Campus Compact of the Mountain
West for its commitment to
community engagement across the
institution. Campus Compact is part
of a national coalition of more than
1,100 colleges and universities that
are committed to the values that
service learning and civic engagement bring to higher education and
With his students’ help, support from a local nonprofit and 144
aluminum cans, Aaron Brown fabricated a solar device that will help
reduce heating bills in Denver’s low-income Westwood neighborhood
by an average of $30 per month.
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Maricle-Fitzpatrick is creating a mock
mission to Mars—and she wants MSU
Denver students to join her. Her project
The device is built with simple materials such as soda cans, plywood,
paint, plastic and a fan. The technology isn’t revolutionary, but the
price is right—just $35 to build.
was inspired by a news report about the
Brown, a professor of mechanical engineering technology, is training
the nonprofit Revision International to build the furnaces, which will
create employment for local residents.
project, which starts this semester and
“There are people who live and die in terrible conditions that are
easily remedied through simple engineering solutions,” says Brown, a
proponent of humanitarian engineering.
successful this project will be,” she says.
With a project in the Galapagos, a trip to Costa Rica and a goal of
seeing the solar-furnace technology expand to Syria, Brown is
leaving a lasting impact around the globe, in the community and in
MSU Denver’s classrooms.
“The service-learning aspect for students is such a good experience,”
says Brown. “They take away with them the knowledge that this
project will make a difference in the world.”
Mars One mission to start a human colony
on the Red Planet by 2023. The key to the
ends in the fall of 2015, is diversity. “The
more diverse the participants, the more
“If students think their field couldn’t
possibly be related, I assure them I can find
a question for them and get their gears
turning.” For example, philosophy majors
could help determine the philosophical
or theological ramifications of such
a mission. And once a Mars colony is
established, art, music and theatre majors
could develop creative endeavors.
TABLE FOR TWO
The Metropolitan Grill, a restaurant
run by students of the Hospitality,
opened in February providing a realworld experience and environment
for hospitality majors. “The price
point is kept low to encourage the
public to support the class so students
can achieve learning opportunities,”
says Jeff Koch, a chef-instructor who
supervises the students along with
David Beckwith. The Metropolitan
Grill—located in the Hospitality
Learning Center—accepts cash and
credit cards. You can make a
reservation online through Open
PHOTO JESSICA TAVES
Tourism and Events department,
W I N N I N G WAY S
MSU Denver and President Stephen Jordan have received a lot of recognition recently,
including Jordan being named one of Denver’s 50 most powerful people by 5280 magazine.
Other honors include:
> Nonprofit Impact Award from the Colorado Nonprofit Association, recognizing the
impact of Colorado leaders who work year-round to make a positive difference. Jordan
accepted the award from Governor John Hickenlooper (pictured).
> Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award from the American
Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, given to an individual who has made
significant contributions to the Latino higher education community.
> Sol Trujillo National Lifetime Leadership Award from the Latin American Education
Foundation. The University was a strong advocate of the ASSET bill, which allows eligible
undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, and Jordan is dedicated to making MSU
Denver a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution within the next 10 years.
> Civil Rights Award from the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region, presented
to Jordan and MSU Denver Board of Trustees Chair Robert Cohen in recognition of the
University’s leadership in providing higher education access to undocumented students.
Greatness is not just a word but
something I’m active at being. You
have to find your path, believe in your
path and live it. Whatever room you
walk in, you can be as big as you want.
PHOTO TREVOR DAVIS
Grammy-winning rapper, actor and author Common gave a lecture
entitled “Greatness” during a February campus commemoration of Black
History Month and the 25th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Social Work Status Upgrade
MSU DENVER SOCIAL WORK
STUDENTS CONTRIBUTE AT LEAST
140,000 HOURS OF SERVICE TO THE
COMMUNITY EVERY YEAR.
“Accreditation is central to the department and
the University because it signifies national
recognition of the quality of the program
established at MSU Denver,” says Christian Itin,
Department of Social Work chair and professor.
Accreditation is essential to applicants for
licensing and job placement; students who
graduate from the program can be licensed in
TO OUR ROADRUNNERS ATHLETICS SPONSORS
Auraria Campus Bookstore
Holiday Inn Denver Cherry Creek
Holiday Inn Lakewood
Winter Park Resort
PHOTO STEVE REMICH
In February, the Master of Social Work program
achieved accreditation from the Council of Social
Work Education—one year ahead of schedule.
This new status is retroactive to the start of
the program, which debuted in fall 2011.
FOOTBALL FEEDS AMERICA
Chef Jackson Lamb, assistant professor of Hospitality,
Tourism and Events, along with eight students and two
alumni, volunteered the night before the Super Bowl to
coordinate the Taste of the NFL fundraiser in New York.
The wine and food event attracted 3,000 high-profile
guests and raised money for the Feeding America food
bank system. “We teach our students about hospitality
and events management, but without opportunities
like this you can’t truly gain experience on this type of
scale,” Lamb says. “Kitchen supervision, high-volume
production, catering, merchandise sales, VIP service—we
work it all.”
SAVING THE DAY
Mike Stanley, an affiliate faculty member in the
B E S T F OR V E T S
Military Times named the MSU
Denver School of Business to its
Best for Vets: Business Schools
2014 list. Best for Vets rankings
factor in academic quality, outcomes
and policies; school culture; student
support and cost.
“As with all of the Best for Vets
rankings, Best for Vets: Business
Schools is an editorially independent
news project that evaluates the many
factors that make an institution a
good fit for military veterans,” says
Amanda Miller, editor of Military
Times EDGE magazine.
Department of Human Services and a captain in the
Aurora Fire Department, recently received the Firehouse
magazine Community Service Award for his heroic efforts
in stabilizing an MSU Denver student who was struck
by a light rail train in 2011. “I did what was expected of
me as part of my training,” says Stanley. “I feel like I’ve
been a witness to a miracle watching her recover from
this terrible accident.”
High Accolades in Aviation
Senior Dileep Anne, an international student from Hyderabad, India, has received a
Flight Training Excellence Award from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
AOPA selected 12 top flight-training professionals and 11 flight schools as finalists in
its annual awards program. Anne has been interning as an instructor for Alliance Flight
Training at Front Range Airport since March 2012 as a part of his degree program.
UNITED AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING
AnnJanette Alejano-Steele, a professor of women’s studies who was featured in
the winter issue of the Metropolitan Denver Magazine, spoke in March at the 58th
session of the Commission on the Status of Women held at United Nations
headquarters in New York.
Alejano-Steele’s presentation was part of a panel discussion, “It
Takes a Village: Expanding Our Success in the Fight against Human
Trafficking.” She cited The Colorado Project to Comprehensively
Combat Human Trafficking, a collaborative project she co-authored
to create a replicable process for other states to conduct assessments
of their own communities.
It’s working: California and Texas are replicating her model, and
because of her presentation at the UN, her reach has gone beyond
Keep up to date on MSU Denver news at msudenver.edu/newsroom.
PHOTO JESSICA TAVES
The No. 1 Roadrunners men’s basketball team aimed high but fell short of a national
championship, losing to Central Missouri in the NCAA Division II semifinals in March.
Juniors Mitch McCarron (pictured at right) and Nicholas Kay were named Capital One
second team Academic All-America, becoming the first pair of teammates in school history
to be named Academic All-America and the only teammates to be chosen among this
year’s 15-person selections. Senior sensation Brandon Jefferson was named the National
Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II Player of the Year and the Division II
Bulletin National Player of the Year after leading the Roadrunners to the Final Four.
Four Roadrunners—Breanna Hemming, Jon Clarke, Kirk Harvey and Nick Kadlec—competed
in the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in May. Hemming earned All-America
honors with an eighth-place finish in the women’s 1,500-meters, while Harvey earned
All-America honors by finishing fifth in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.
FOLLOW the Roadrunners at gometrostate.com.
Navin Dimond feels an affinity with many
students at Metropolitan State University of
Denver and understands the challenges they
“I’m the product of immigrant parents who
arrived in the UK with minimal language
skills and minimal skills, period,” he says. “My
parents did everything from work in factories
to driving buses and, as a child, I didn’t really
know much more than that. Nobody went to
college. Nobody had a college degree.”
Today, Dimond owns Stonebridge Companies,
which he founded in 1991, and has developed
more than 75 hotels and 7,500 guest rooms
across the United States.
NAVIN AND RITA DIMOND
INVEST IN THE
POWER OF EDUCATION.
STORY JANALEE CARD CHMEL | PHOTO MARK WOOLCOTT
Recently, he and his wife, Rita, made the
largest gift in the University’s history—$1.5
million to establish the Rita and Navin
Dimond Hotel Management Program within
the Hospitality, Tourism and Events
“I’m a believer that every human being has
the intellectual capacity to thrive; it’s just a
question of whether they are put into the
right environment to flourish,” says Dimond,
a member of the MSU Denver Foundation
board. “In my case, I was fortunate that I was
put into an environment where I flourished.”
As a child, Dimond was not a good student.
One day his father looked at his grades and
said simply, “Go find yourself a boarding
“That was the turning point in my life,” says
Dimond. “I was in this circle with family and
friends, and all I could see were the choices
that they made and the responsibilities that
they had. When I started boarding school, all
of a sudden that completely changed. I was
interacting with a completely different set
“That was the catalyst. It took me out of where
I was and helped me to see more, and be what
I am today.”
That is exactly what the Dimonds hope their
gift will do for MSU Denver students.
A significant portion of the endowed gift will
create the Dimond Fellowship Program,
which will fund 10 student-fellows each year.
During their senior year, these students will
have the opportunity to work directly on
management issues with the general manager
and executive team at the on-campus
SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown hotel.
They’ll also be individually mentored by
industry professionals, including Rita and
Navin. Annually, one outstanding fellow will
also be awarded a $5,000 prize for his or her
efforts during the program.
The Dimonds started Stonebridge together.
Initially, the couple worked for banks,
cleaning and managing properties during the
savings and loan crisis. “We cleaned nasty
stuff,” remembers Dimond. “But it didn’t
matter. We didn’t care. We had a client and
we would do anything the client needed.”
Mark Sidell, president of Gart Properties and
Dimond’s friend since 1982, says, “It is an
honor to celebrate the success of Navin and
Rita, who not only rose from humble
beginnings to exceptional heights, but more
importantly have maintained their sense of
humility and passion for helping others less
fortunate to realize their goals as well.”
Sidell adds, “My friendship with the Dimonds
has been one of life’s great gifts.”
At the heart of the Dimonds’ gift to MSU
Denver is a belief that education can lift
people out of challenging circumstances and
help them to see beyond their limited
“I should not be where I am today,” says
Dimond. “All the odds were against me. I’m
fortunate to be where I am today. If I can
impact one person’s life, I believe it will have
a multiplier effect on the siblings and the
cousins and the buddy down the street. That’s
how you make the world a better place.
“And I hope that we can inspire others to do
the same and to do it for MSU Denver.”
LEARN MORE about the MSU Denver
Hospitality Learning Center and
Hospitality, Tourism and Events program at
SUPPORT the education of an MSU Denver
student at msudenver.edu/giving.
When Hollynd Hoskins (B.A. communications multi-major ’87) was in second grade, she
wanted to play soccer. Badly. The boys in her class played at recess every day and she
joined in. So, when those boys formed a team, Hoskins naturally wanted to join that too.
“This was the early ’70s,” she recalls. “I wanted to be on the team and I’d try to go to practice
but they weren’t sure what to do with a girl. The parents and coach had to have a big
meeting about whether I could play, and my mom had to march down to the meeting.
Ultimately, I got to play.”
Hoskins played soccer all the way through college—including two years as a Roadrunner—
and she even received a scholarship to coach while she was still a student at MSU Denver.
That willingness to challenge the system has become Hoskins’ hallmark in Colorado courts
as well. She has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America and one of the Top 50
Women Colorado Super Lawyers. She has tried everything from death-penalty cases to
complex medical-malpractice lawsuits.
The essence of Hoskins seems to rest in her desire to “level the playing field,” whether
that’s on a soccer field or in a courtroom.
“I’m a little bit of a bleeding-heart liberal,” she says, explaining a career that has included
clerkships at the Legal Aid Foundation, the ACLU and the domestic violence unit at the
Denver City Attorney’s office. Hoskins then spent more than a decade as a trial lawyer
for the Colorado State Public Defender’s office. “I believe it’s important to give back to the
community and to work for the indigent and less fortunate so that everyone can be on a
level playing field. It’s important to the integrity of our system.”
Today, Hoskins is a shareholder of Leventhal, Brown & Puga, a Denver law firm specializing
in medical-malpractice and personal-injury cases. Perhaps the most high-profile litigation
of her career thus far involved numerous lawsuits she filed against a local hospital and
physicians on behalf of 15 patients, who were infected with hepatitis C.
This litigation centered around a technician who was accused of stealing fentanyl, a
narcotic used for anesthesia on surgical patients, then injecting herself with the drug.
She would then refill the dirty syringe with a saline solution and return it to a surgical
tray where it was then unknowingly administered to patients, infecting them with the
hepatitis C virus.
Hoskins was adamant that the case go beyond compensating the victims to creating a
safer environment for future patients.
“We wanted to make changes to prevent this from ever happening again,” says Hoskins.
“We helped to hold the hospital and anesthesiologists accountable for the way they
safeguard narcotics like fentanyl and to change their practice to secure them from diversion.”
Lauren Lollini was one of the victims represented by Hoskins.
“Hollynd truly cares,” says Lollini. “She cares about her clients and gets to know them as
people, which helps their cases. She is a very protective lawyer and I felt like she always
had my back. On the flip side, when we were deposing the anesthesiologists, she was a
“Hollynd knows her stuff and she uses it for good.”
Hollynd Hoskins received the 2014 Alumni Association Dean’s Award for the School of
STORY JANALEE CARD CHMEL | PHOTO MARK WOOLCOTT
READ about other Alumni Association award winners or nominate a Roadrunner for an
award at msudenver.edu/alumni.
DAVE MONTEZ LEADS
THE CHARGE FOR
LGBT EQUALITY AND
OPPORTUNITY IN COLORADO.
STORY BRETT MCPHERSON | PHOTO MARK WOOLCOTT
In the sunny corner office of One
Colorado’s Capitol Hill headquarters,
Dave Montez (B.A. journalism ’02)
explains his approach to leadership.
It’s based, he says, on values he
acquired in his youth and lessons he
learned about the power of people
resources so he could get what he
needed. They provided a loving and
supportive social network. He was
never told that he couldn’t do
something. And even though his
family is devoutly religious, they
came to love and accept him as an
openly gay person.
“When I think of leaders, I think of
folks who I learned from—people who
apply both firmness and compassion
to their approach,” says the new
executive director of One Colorado,
the leading statewide advocacy
organization working to secure
equality and opportunity for lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender
Coloradans and their families.
This community spirit became the
foundation of Montez’s leadership
style. “It has really impacted the way
I see nonprofit work,” he says. “No
single nonprofit has enough money,
enough time, enough resources to do
all the incredible work that needs to
be done, to make the social change
that needs to happen.”
Montez grew up in the economically
depressed, rural southern Colorado
town of Gardner, population less
than 600. His grandparents—proud
Catholics with a strong work ethic
and traditional values—helped raise
him. They taught Montez about
overcoming adversity at an early age.
“I remember getting roughed up quite
often just for being different,” he
says. “And that was compounded by
the fact that we didn’t have a lot of
But his family and neighbors created
a powerful community around
Montez. They pooled their financial
And yet Montez has led advocacy
organizations towards great success
despite such hurdles. He was acting
president of the national Gay &
Lesbian Alliance Against
Defamation (GLAAD) when the Boy
Scouts of America lifted the ban on
openly gay members and when
Colorado allowed civil unions for
Some of the fundamental principles
Montez has embraced came from the
classroom. At MSU Denver, he says,
professors respected the diversity
of ideas. “That has carried throughout
my work,” he says. “It reminds me to
listen to people more and respect
In his view, the personal connection
between people is what brings
change. “The most powerful tool we
have is storytelling,” he says. “When
someone is sitting across the table
from you, whether it’s a Boy Scout
or a den mother or a loving couple
who want to make a lifelong
commitment to each other, it’s hard
to say no to that—to say ‘No, you’re
not good enough for this institution.’”
Montez feels that advancements in
marriage equality have come from
gay and lesbian couples talking
openly about why they want to
marry. Similarly, when Latina/o
activists known as DREAMers began
campaigning for education rights,
Montez noticed huge shifts in the
public conversation about
“Storytelling is such a powerful
thing,” he says, “not just for LGBT
people, I think, but for other
progressive causes as well.”
The American Dream is found in
these stories, Montez says. Wanting
to build a family or get an education—
these are causes that all people can
“You can do far more when people
come together to make it happen,” he
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WEARING THE CROWN OF MISS NATIVE
AMERICAN USA, SARAH ORTEGON
INSPIRES THE NEXT GENERATION.
STORY LESLIE PETROVSKI | PHOTO WILL WILSON
When the pageant director, Tashina Atine, and the
outgoing Miss Native American USA, Shaylin Shabi,
placed the beaded crown on Ortegon’s head, she was
shaking. “I didn’t even have a thank-you speech
prepared,” she says. “They handed me two dozen roses
and a heavy [Pendleton] blanket. I thanked everyone
and thanked God. That’s how I was raised.”
A week before Sarah Ortegon (B.F.A. art ’13) went to
Tempe, Ariz. in August to compete for the Miss Native
American USA (MNAUSA) crown, she had to learn how
to put on makeup.
Growing up, the Ortegon kids spent summers with their
aunt and uncle on the Wind River Reservation in
Wyoming. Ortegon loved the powwows, the sound of
the drums and the sight of jingle dancers. Her father, an
independent preacher, wouldn’t allow her to dance
growing up, so as soon as she could, Ortegon began
learning the Ojibwe jingle dance.
“I also had to learn better posture and how to walk in my
evening dress in high heels,” says the self-professed
tomboy. “Tennis shoes are my daily wear.”
“There’s nothing like that drum beat to drive you to want
to move,” says Ortegon, who performs with Larry Yazzie’s
Native Pride Dancers.
Indeed, the 2013–14 Miss Native American USA shows
up for an interview wearing no makeup and a long-sleeve
T-shirt and jeans, looking more like the newly minted
MSU Denver graduate she is than a beauty queen.
After graduating from Denver’s North High School,
Ortegon enrolled at MSU Denver, starting first in preveterinary medicine but eventually migrating to art,
soaking up several Native American studies classes
along the way. She graduated from the University with
her brother Joel Ortegon (B.A. modern languages, French
concentration ’13) and plans to get a graduate degree in
Native American studies and eventually teach.
Ortegon wears her crown lightly. Earnest and downto-earth, Ortegon—who is Eastern Shoshone and
Northern Arapaho on her mother’s side, Basque on her
father’s—applied to be a pageant contestant because she
saw it as a way to transcend her natural shyness.
“It looked like something interesting to do and learn and
meet different varieties of people,” she says.
Unlike the Miss America Pageant in which contestants
must win local and state competitions prior to entering the
national event, the MNAUSA pageant—now in its third
year—requires an application process and interview to
participate. Contestants must satisfy requirements such
as U.S. citizenship, submitting proof of Certificate of Degree
of Indian Blood, and other mandates. There is no swimsuit competition; MNAUSA instead focuses on promoting
Native American traditions, leadership and goals.
To get ready for the pageant, Ortegon, who is the 10th
of 12 children, made a beaded belt and earrings to go
with her evening gown, as well as the jingle dress she
wore during her talent showcase—traditional jingle
dancing, which she only took up three years ago. She
also presented some of her artwork.
At MSU Denver, she says, professors pushed her to really
think about what she was creating. Her work, which
combines beading with other media, was showcased
alongside the art of other noted contemporary Native
American artists in Cross Currents, a recent exhibit at
MSU Denver’s Center for Visual Art. A solo show ran
through May 2014 at the Wind River Hotel and Casino
near Riverton, Wyo.
As Miss Native American USA, Ortegon has traveled in
the Western United States, speaking at schools and
appearing at powwows and other events. She seems
acutely aware that she has a role to play in how the future
“The younger generation is our future, and reaching out
to them will change the future,” she says. “I want to let
them know that not everything is handed to you and
I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve done. Sometimes
it’s lonely in the hotel room when I’m traveling, but I’m
there for them and that’s my passion.”
LEARN MORE about the work of photographer Will
Wilson at msudenver.edu/magazine.
JIM SACCOMANO REFLECTS ON THE HIGHS AND LOWS
OF A LEGENDARY DENVER BRONCOS CAREER.
INTERVIEW PAT ROONEY | PHOTO CHRIS SCHNEIDER
By his own admission, Jim Saccomano seems to be doing a poor job of retiring.
His most recent title of vice president of corporate communications was just one of
countless hats Saccomano wore during his 36 years with the Denver Broncos. Since his
announcement that the 2013 football season would be his last, Saccomano has been feted
with the sort of respect—even reverence—rarely seen in sports for someone who never
actually donned a uniform.
The Broncos christened the press box at Sports Authority Field at Mile High the “Jim
Saccomano Press Box.” In May he received the prestigious South Metro Denver Chamber
Lifetime Achievement Award. Saccomano will continue to keep a not-so-low profile in
his so-called retirement with his “Broncos Sideline Stories” television series, and he will
continue to consult with the Broncos.
That said, the career arc of the Denver native has risen, not coincidentally, alongside the
Broncos’ evolution as the premier professional sports team in Colorado and the entire
Rocky Mountain region. Recently the 1970 graduate of MSU Denver (B.A. speech
communication) sat down to talk about his unforgettable decades.
How did you land with the Broncos?
I liked sports. And I liked to write and talk. There
were more radio stations than newspapers, so
that was my goal. I got an internship—the first
intern in the history of Metro State. Then I got
drafted. It was 1970. I’d just gotten married.
I did my military service stateside [and] was
supposed to go to a base in Korea and President
Nixon ended the draft… So I got to go back to the
radio station. That’s how I got into baseball and
I’m fortunate, I think, to have been there
for the four greatest moments in Broncos
history…winning the two championships,
because they’re the world championships, the
acquisition of John Elway and the acquisition
of Peyton Manning. So much was triggered by
the acquisitions of Elway and Manning to an
astonishing level. The Hall of Fame stuff is great,
but the acquisitions of Elway and Manning were
Your work ethic is legendary. What were the
origins of your approach?
There’s only one question in any endeavor,
from relationships to religion or whatever:
Are you in, or are you out?
I was very close to my dad, who’s long deceased.
A sportswriter, Rick Morrissey, told me at my
dad’s funeral, “And you wonder why you are the
way you are.” Because someone had told him
about how my dad washed his car. By hand, of
course, but he also jacked up each of the tires
individually to wash the insides of the tires. Call
me the new version of the old-timer.
Clearly you’ve leaned on “old school” principles,
yet you always had a forward-thinking approach
to new, game-changing aspects of the job, such as
the birth of the Internet and the advent of social
media. Where did that balance come from?
I didn’t want to be the old guy who still insists
on typing on his Royal Underwood. I could see
the changes. I could remember saying, “One day
we won’t do press releases on paper.” People said
I was insane. What I knew was that you have to
be at the cutting edge of it. You have to adapt.
Did you always believe you were in for the long
haul with the Broncos?
You start off your career and you never think
it’s a career. It’s a job. In retrospect, you’re able
to go “Wow, I’m really fortunate to have a career
of this length, at this level.” I’ve worked under
enlightened ownership. Winning coaches. Soldout stadiums and a crazed populace. (Executive
Director of Media Relations) Patrick Smyth
figured out that that in 39 years, including three
with the Denver Bears, I did 74 years of 40-hour
weeks in the office. But then, because it’s PR
and you have to take calls at home, I took about
55,000 calls at home. So 74 years of 40-hour
weeks in 39 years, and 55,000 calls at home.
Otherwise I just kind of cruised along.
What are the highlights of your tenure with
READ the full interview and watch a video about Jim
Saccomano’s career at msudenver.edu/magazine.
FOLLOW Jim Saccomano on Twitter at
For meteorologist and MSU Denver alumna Cyrena-Marie Briedé,
the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather” is a perfect place to work.
STORY TOM WILMES | PHOTOS JONATHAN BENTON
very hour on the hour for the past 82 years and
counting, someone at Mount Washington
Observatory steps outside with a handheld thermometer
to measure the temperature and dew point. In whiteout
snowstorms, extreme cold and triple-digit wind speeds
throughout the year, staff members personally monitor
conditions at the only permanent mountaintop weather
station of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
“What’s special about our data set is that we’ve been
collecting data every hour and in the same way since
the observatory was founded in 1932, with very little
change in variables,” says Cyrena-Marie Briedé, director
of summit operations at Mount Washington Observatory
and a Metropolitan State University of Denver alumna
(B.S. meteorology ’05). “It’s a very long, consistent
climate record that’s used in research and forecast
models around the world.”
There’s plenty to observe at the “Home of the World’s
Worst Weather.” At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington, in
the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White
Mountains, is the tallest thing from the Black Hills of
South Dakota to the Carolinas. The peak’s wide-open
exposure, coupled with its orientation and other factors,
has a “finger over a garden hose” effect that forces wind
up and over the mountain, Briedé explains, squeezing
and accelerating as it funnels across New England.
Nearly every storm system that moves across the United
States ends up passing over the area. The fastest
human-recorded surface wind speed—231 mph—was
clocked here in 1934.
Meteorologists use data collected by the observatory
to improve the accuracy and range of their forecast
models. Its unique location and the mountain’s extreme
conditions are also ideal for testing a wide range of
hypotheses and products. Organizations such as NASA,
the Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering
Laboratory, the National Forest Service, the National
Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and numerous universities use the
observatory to study cloud physics, mountain
meteorology, cosmic rate flux, ice formation, highelevation climate change and many other topics.
As director of summit operations, it’s Briedé’s job to
evaluate researchers’ testing plans and help them
employ the most effective measurement methods, as
well as to provide a realistic expectation of what it’s
like to work on the summit. She’s also responsible for
the overall operation of the weather station, maintaining
and improving its technological infrastructure,
managing transportation and logistical support, and
for the general safety of everyone on the mountain.
“Cyrena is the go-to person to handle the logistics of
any research project that requires measurement on the
summit or simply getting people up there,” says Eric
Kelsey, director of research at Mount Washington
Observatory and a research assistant professor at
Plymouth State University. “She makes sure that we
have the resources, financial or otherwise, to do what
we’re hoping to do, and she also does a lot of problemsolving on her end.”
I learned more about meteorology in the
one year that I spent at Metro than in the
three years I spent at Oklahoma.
Ever since the Air Force built hangers on the summit
in the 1940s to test aircraft engines, the observatory
has also been used to test everything from clothing and
outdoor equipment to Keurig® coffee makers, dialysis
machines and even gas-powered robots.
“You can’t replicate the combination of extreme wind,
ice and cold that we have in any laboratory,” says Briedé,
who also helps with the testing. “If a product has a flaw,
we will find it up here.”
Briedé would know. As Superstorm Sandy made its way
across the Northeast in 2012, she and Kelsey hurried
to install a mobile weather station to capture information
from the storm. Although they wore gear that’s rated
for subarctic conditions, freezing rain driven by
sustained 80-mph winds cut right through their layers.
“We came back inside soaking wet, but that’s what we
all enjoy,” Briedé says. “We all love weather and its
extremes, and we love every opportunity to experience
those extremes and share what we learn with others.”
Education is also part of her job at Mount Washington.
Briedé enjoys explaining the observatory’s work and
encouraging students to explore career paths in science,
technology and mathematics. She began a recent
presentation to a group of local high-school girls by
showing them a picture of her with her seventh-grade
“It was great to be in front of these kids and say, ‘I’m the
director of summit operations for Mount Washington
Observatory, but let me tell you how I got my start and
about how it’s cool to be good at these things,’ ” she says.
The seeds of Briedé’s love for weather were sown during
her childhood. Born on the sun-soaked island of Curaçao
in the Netherlands Antilles, she moved with her family
to Aurora, Colo., as a young child. That’s where, as a
wide-eyed 5-year-old, she witnessed a tornado that
sparked her interest in severe weather.
“That single moment basically inspired my career and
the rest of my life,” she says.
Briedé spent most of her childhood in Winchester, Va.
Her father, a pilot for United Airlines, was based in
nearby Washington, D.C. She participated in science
fairs throughout grade school and took meteorologyrelated projects to both state- and national-level
Briedé studied meteorology at the University of
Oklahoma. She transferred to MSU Denver to finish her
degree, in part so she could take an internship with
Vaisala, an international instrumentation manufacturer
based in Louisville, Colo.
Briedé says that the smaller class sizes and the personal
and professional connections she established at MSU
Denver made all the difference in completing her degree
and in launching her career.
“I learned more about meteorology in the one year that
I spent at Metro than in the three years I spent at
Oklahoma,” she says. “The level of personal connection
that the professors have with students at Metro—not
just with their student, but any student in the program,
really—provides a personal level of guidance and
assistance that you don’t often find at the larger
Briedé went to work with Airdat, a NASA contractor
that tests meteorological sensors on aircrafts, following
graduation. She then spent several years working for
a Denver-based air-quality monitoring company,
traveling primarily to Alaska to install and calibrate
weather stations. Working in harsh, remote landscapes
accessible only by helicopter taught Briedé to be
extremely resourceful and creative in her problemsolving, and solidified her passion for field work. It
was also great preparation for life atop Mount
“At the end of the day, we sat down over pizza and
commented, ‘She’s the one,’” Kelsey says. “Cyrena has
deep expertise in working with instrumentation in
extreme weather conditions, and also brings a
personality that’s very outgoing, considerate and
passionate. She’s really good with people, and a great
host and ambassador for the observatory.”
Henley recalls that Briedé was also the only applicant
who included pictures with her cover letter—images of
her covered in snow, climbing a weather tower and
fixing instruments in the Alaskan tundra.
“In my mind, the successor for [30-year observatory
veteran] Ken Rancourt was going to be another big,
burly mountain man,” he says. “But Cyrena is a young,
talented meteorologist with incredible field experience
and poise whose skill set perfectly aligned with what
we were looking for.”
“If I could take a little piece of everything I enjoyed from
my past positions and put it all into one job description,
it would be for what I’m doing right now as the director
of summit operations at Mount Washington,” she says.
“I feel like the luckiest person on earth.”
Briedé accepted the job in 2012, and so far the position
has been an ideal fit for her. She splits her time between
the summit station, administrative offices at the base
of the mountain and speaking engagements, and has
already identified several ways to improve efficiencies
in the observatory’s instrumentation.
Briedé, 31, was just 29 years old when she applied for
the director of summit operations position. She wasn’t
expecting much to come from it, but working at the
Mount Washington Observatory had been on her bucket
list for years and, as she says, “You’re never going to do
crazy things if you don’t take crazy chances.”
When she’s not working, you’ll most likely find Briedé
outdoors—either skiing or hiking with her two dogs.
Her parents are planning a winery at their home in
Virginia, and Briedé has taken a recent interest in
studying microclimates around the proposed
The four-person search committee—which included
Kelsey and Executive Director Scot Henley—didn’t think
that the notion of hiring Briedé was the least bit crazy.
“Even in my personal life, meteorology tends to
take over,” she says. “It just goes to show how much
I enjoy it.”
SEE more photos of life at Mount Washington Observatory
VISIT MountWashington.org for weather reports,
webcams, information on membership and summit
trips, and more.
STORY ROGER FILLION
Colorado already boasts the nation’s second-largest
aerospace economy. With new investments and
partnerships, MSU Denver is revolutionizing aviation,
aerospace and advanced manufacturing education.
“The manufacturing and aerospace industries are saying, ‘We can’t find talent.’
They are bringing their business back from China and they want homegrown
talent, but we have a shortfall in workforce. We need to educate our own people.”
—Peggy Severson, Business Development Representative, Denver Office of Economic Development
olorado is big on space. But a graying workforce and budget
constraints are among the obstacles that could hamper its
ascent into higher orbit.
The Centennial State boasts the second-largest aerospace economy
in the nation. Colorado companies build satellites and interplanetary
spacecraft. They crunch intelligence data for the federal government.
They develop critical components for spacecraft and collect highresolution satellite photographs.
In 2013, Colorado was home to 140 aerospace companies, and more
than 400 companies and suppliers providing space-related
products and services, according to a study by the Metro Denver
Economic Development Corp (EDC).
The state’s workforce, in turn, is teeming with aerospace types—
primarily along the Front Range. The Metro Denver EDC study
counted 25,150 people employed in private Colorado aerospace
companies in 2013. That represents 0.9% of the state’s total
employment, and the nation’s highest concentration of private
“Colorado has amassed a formidable, layered and diverse space
economy that contributes heavily to the state’s economic well-being,”
a Brookings Institution report noted last year. And while the report
said the state’s space economy “seems well situated to flourish,” it
warned of “ongoing trends” that could “imperil” its momentum.
Among the challenges it cited: A heavy reliance on federal dollars,
as well as a looming shortage of skilled workers to replace the ranks
of an aging space workforce.
MSU Denver is among the institutions aiming to help fill this
workforce gap. Last year it unveiled plans for a new $60 million
building to house its aerospace-related programs under one roof.
Workers are expected to break ground on the 142,000-squarefoot Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building in early 2015.
“This initiative will have one of the single biggest impacts on this
region that this institution has ever had,” MSU Denver President
Stephen Jordan said.
READ the full story online at msudenvermagazine.com.
>MSU Denver is partnering with industry to develop a
transformative aviation, aerospace and advanced
>Get a look at plans for the new MSU Denver Aviation
Engineering Sciences Building.
>Watch a video about MSU Denver’s new aerospace initiative.
journey started in a
project and has
STORY LESLIE PETROVSKI | PHOTO MATTHEW BORKOWSKI
taken her to the
highest echelons of
the way, she has
kept a singular focus
ot long after Federico Peña was sworn in as
Denver’s first Latino mayor in summer 1983,
he made an appearance at Katherine
Archuleta’s desk. A former schoolteacher
and administrator, Archuleta was working on his staff
after helping the 36-year-old Peña win his unlikely
bid against 14-year incumbent William McNichols.
“There’s something I want you to do for me,” he said.
“I want you to be my council lobbyist.”
Archuleta (B.A. elementary education ’71), who today
serves as director of the U.S. Office of Personnel
Management (OPM), remembers being nonplussed.
“I’ve never done any lobbying,” she protested.
“Katherine,” Peña countered. “I’ve never been a mayor.”
Archuleta tells this story from her cell phone at the
end of a long day in Houston, where she is promoting
health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care
Act. The anecdote illustrates the advice she often gives
youth on the precipice of their careers.
“Be a risk-taker,” she says. “Today young people have
so many options, they shouldn’t be afraid of going
beyond their level of comfort and taking on
responsibility. I’ve done things in my career that I,
frankly, never thought I could do.”
In 2013, President Obama appointed Archuleta to lead
the OPM, making her the highest-ranking Latina in
the administration and the first to hold this post. As
director of the OPM, she is effectively the country’s
HR director-in-chief; her more than 5,000-person
“Be a risk-taker. Young people have so many options, they shouldn’t be
afraid of going beyond their level of comfort and taking on responsibility.
I’ve done things in my career that I, frankly, never thought I could do.”
“There are many of us who graduated
agency is responsible for recruiting, shaping and
maintaining the federal government’s 2 million-plus
employees—a workforce the president, by executive
order, would like to see become more diverse.
Archuleta understands that priority intrinsically. Born
in the North Lincoln Homes, a public housing project on
Denver’s west side, Archuleta grew up in Aurora,
graduating from Hinkley High School in 1965. At
Hinkley, she became acquainted with thensuperintendent of Aurora Public Schools Ruth Dalton,
who helped her get into the University of Colorado.
Archuleta was the first person in her family to enroll in
college, but by 1969 she had dropped out. Having suffered
a personal tragedy, she left Boulder to be closer to her
family. Unsure about her future, she reached out to “Miss
Dalton,” who by then was teaching education at the
upstart Metropolitan State College of Denver.
When Dalton asked if she was ready to return to school,
Archuleta said,“ I’m not sure I can.” Dalton was having
none of it, pressed an application on her, and said, “You’re
coming back to school.”
“It was one of these magic moments when someone
enters your life and cares for you,” Archuleta says. “She
was this influential woman who never lost track of me.
This speaks to what mentorship is all about.”
Attending MSU Denver before construction of the
Auraria campus, Archuleta became the archetypal
Roadrunner, attending classes in disparate buildings
throughout downtown Denver and connecting more
deeply with the Latino community.
from Metro State because it’s affordable,
accessible and in the heartbeat of the
Latino community. I don’t think I would be
where I am today without that experience.”
“It cemented my role in that community,” she says of her
experience at MSU Denver. “I met people there who
remain my friends and who I’ve worked side by side
with for decades. There are many of us who graduated
from Metro State because it’s affordable, accessible and
in the heartbeat of the Latino community. I don’t think
I would be where I am today without that experience.
It galvanized a lot of interests, passions and emotions
Majoring in elementary education, Archuleta would go
on to graduate summa cum laude from MSU Denver and
to teach 4- and 5-year-olds at Denver’s Del Pueblo
Elementary School (now the Girls Athletic Leadership
School, an all-girls charter) near Eighth Avenue and
Santa Fe Drive. The school catered to the neighborhood,
offering bilingual education to local kids.
Able to trace her family’s Colorado roots back to the late
1500s, Archuleta was raised with a deep commitment
to community and a profound sense of pride in her Latino
heritage. As a young professional, she threw herself into
community work and was tapped by Denver Public
Schools to run the district’s state bilingual education
efforts. That’s how she met Peña, who was drafting
legislation on the issue for a civil rights organization.
And when she sees the Blue Bear in front of the Colorado
Convention Center, she can look back to the work she
did for Denver’s Public Art One Percent, tying 1 percent
of city capital projects with budgets of $1 million and
up to public art for that project.
“She’s very intelligent,” Peña says. “I was very impressed
with her knowledge of education and commitment to
kids and social justice and education reform.”
There is something about Archuleta that is both fierce
and approachable. When asked if the protocol is to
address her as Director Archuleta, she says, “Oh, brother.
Really?” In a 2012 Denver Post column—“The most
influential women in Colorado history”—former Colorado
first lady Dottie Lamm described Archuleta like this:
“Katherine is politically sensitive, but psychologically
tough and outspoken. She can be fearsomely direct, even
with ‘her own.’ I was there, and part of the ‘accused,’
when she took on her ‘sisters’ of The Women’s Foundation
founding committee for not being inclusive enough. ‘You
are going against everything you are supposed to stand
for!’ she admonished us. And she was right.”
Archuleta is a hometown girl at heart, which is why
after a short stint working for the California Department
of Education, she returned to Colorado and joined Peña’s
campaign for Denver mayor, working for him in various
capacities during his eight-year administration. She
remembers the “Imagine a Great City” years as halcyon
days, when this young, idealistic mayor and his equally
youthful staff not only worked to transform Denver from
a sleepy city to a cosmopolitan mecca, but also changed
the racial and gender dynamics of the city’s power
“We felt that what we had could be so much more,” she
says. “It was a magic moment in the Denver community
and its economic history. When you think about what
happened–the development of the 16th Street Mall, the
baseball stadium, the airport, the convention center, the
parks—all of that changed, and who was at the table
making decisions changed.”
In the ensuing years, Archuleta has stepped up to
countless challenges. Her bio on whitehouse.gov covers
only the high points of the impact she’s made on her
home state and the nation: chief of staff and senior policy
advisor to Transportation Secretary Peña and then
Energy Secretary Peña; senior policy advisor to Mayor
John Hickenlooper; chief of staff to Secretary of Labor
Hilda Solis; and national political director for Obama’s
2012 campaign. But she also helped to launch
organizations that today are Mile High City institutions,
including The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, the
nonprofit Center for Regional and Neighborhood Action,
and the Mi Casa Resource Center.
Archuleta recognizes her own power as a role model to
young Latinas and is happy to play that part. “I can be
an example of where Latinas in my community can go,”
says Archuleta, Hispanic Business Magazine’s 2014
Businesswoman of the Year. “They can be leaders of our
Only a few months into her new job, Archuleta is still
“drinking from a fire hose” but has already fulfilled a
promise she made during her confirmation hearing to
roll out a strategic information technology plan. She’s
also traveling the country to persuade uninsured
Americans to sign up for health insurance and to promote
federal employment opportunities. She is a thoroughly
modern leader with an active Twitter feed—including
the occasional missive in Spanish—an Instagram account
and a Facebook page, and she connects with federal
employees via LinkedIn.
What’s next? “I’m one of those elders in government,”
she says. “But I have a few more good years in me and I
want it to be in Denver. This is the fifth year I haven’t
been home. I want to go home and be part of the
community I deeply love. Those are my roots; Colorado
is a state that has magical blue skies, beautiful cities,
rich history and it’s really true for me—I crave being
“I can be an example of where
Latinas in my community can go.
They can be leaders of our country.”
FOLLOW Katherine Archuleta online:
Alumni News + Notes
Paula Torke (A.A.S. mental health worker
’80) is director of administration at the
Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt
Farber Schreck. Prior to that, she worked
as regional director for Dorsey & Whitney,
where she guided recruiting strategies and
developed programs to improve employee
Erica Johnson (B.A. theatre ’10) is a fulltime actor at Imagination Makers Theater
Company in Boulder, Colo. She performed in
12 productions while at MSU Denver, where
her favorite role was the Wicked Witch of
the West in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Rosa Willems (B.A. psychology ’10) is a
market research analyst for Andon Guenther
Design and is studying in the professional
master of business administration program
at Colorado State University.
Joe Petrocco (B.A. biology ’95) grows more
than 2,000 acres of mixed vegetables in
Brighton, Colo. He recently was named a
founding member of the GenNext Growers
Initiative, which aims to identify, develop and
promote up-and-coming specialty growers
from around the country.
Edward Spear (B.A. broadcast communications ’81) is a central control supervisor
at CBS and lives in Tujunga, Calif. He has
worked for multiple television stations, networks and channels, including ESPN, PBS
Shaun Kruchek (B.S. aviation technology ’02) is director of operations at
Grande Aviation, which offers Lear 35 and
King Air F90 and C90 airplanes for charter.
Prior to that, he spent time as a flight instructor and small-aircraft pilot. He resides
in Knoxville, Tenn.
David Rozansky (B.S. professional pilot ’85)
is owner and publisher of Flying Pen Press,
following years of work with a multitude of
other publications. Prior to that, he was an
air traffic controller for the Denver Air Route
Traffic Control Center and volunteered as
an air ambulance pilot in Belize. He lives
Jeremy Johnson (B.A. speech communication ’03) is a staff writer for The Derrick
and The News-Herald newspapers in Oil
City, Pa. He lives with his wife and young
daughter in Franklin, Pa.
MSU Denver Alumni Travel Program participants explored
the lake district of northern Italy in September 2013. Pictured
on the banks of Lake Maggiore in Cannobio, Italy, are (from
left) George Shepherd, Violet Pimentel (B.S. contract ’85),
Richard Jividen (B.F.A. art ’00), Valerie Hale and Anne Grady.
Mary Robertson (B.A. IDP ’05) is completing a Ph.D. in sociology at the University
of Colorado Boulder and has accepted a
tenure-track assistant professor position
at California State University San Marcos
in the sociology department.
Scott Rosenthal (B.S. marketing ’07) is a
real estate developer for Panera Bread and
lives in Greenwood Village, Colo., with his
Meggie Davies (B.A. modern languages
’08) is known as Meggie Maddock, an actress who starred in Eat—a psychological
thriller that recently was featured at the
Starz Denver Film Festival. Her latest role
is in the upcoming television series “Hunter’s Game.”
Sophia Chavez-Hilton (B.S. IDP ’08) practices various spiritual and holistic wellness
approaches in underserved areas such as
the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood in
Analeise Casey (B.S. integrative therapeutics ’11) and Jeremy Casey (B.S. integrative
therapeutics ’11) met each other while at
MSU Denver. Now husband and wife, they
are studying together at the Rocky Vista
University College of Osteopathic Medicine
in Parker, Colo.
Jessica Leifheit (B.A. English ’09) is an
English teacher at Castle View High School
in Castle Rock, Colo. She is among 14 winners of the 2014 Journalism Education Rising
Star Award for demonstrating a commitment
to journalism education.
Bonnie Murray (B.A. music ’09) is the
lyricist of a book of hymns that has been
played for more than 10,000 parishioners
and is being translated into Spanish for the
Mormon church. She resides in Aurora, Colo.
Todd Stansfield (B.S. management ’09)
is back in Denver having spent the last few
years in New York City as an intern for an
international literacy journal called Fiction
and Teaching English at City College of
Haylee Ebersole (B.F.A. art ’10) is an artist
who has presented her research at multiple conferences and whose work has been
exhibited nationwide. Her most recent showing was at 707 Penn Gallery in Pittsburgh,
near where she lives.
Brandon Brooks (B.S. integrative therapeutics ’12) is a graduate student at Drexel
University in Philadelphia. He is committed
to serving urban communities.
Rezal Gillies (B.A. theatre ’12) is studying
drama therapy at the California Institute of
Integral Studies in San Francisco, where she
lives with her husband.
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STORY AMY PHARE
aul DeHerrera (B.S. electrical
engineering technology ’84) is
a high achiever—literally. An FAAinstrument-rated pilot, he serves
on the board of directors of the
General Aviation Manufacturers
Association and is CEO of Universal
Avionics in Tucson, Ariz.
Yet his highest achievement?
“Earning my undergraduate
degree, because it took so long,”
says DeHerrera, who spent 10 years
pursuing an electrical engineering
technology degree at MSU Denver
while working full time and raising
And that degree helped transform
his life and led him to even greater
“Finishing that was huge, as was
earning my pilot’s license, graduate
degree, airframe and power plant
license, my instrument ratings for
flying, and a rescue-dive certification. These are all big accomplishments, and the same is true with
being named CEO.”
CEO certainly wasn’t on the radar
when DeHerrera got his start in
aviation. At the time, his only
experience was fueling airplanes
at Stapleton International Airport.
His employer offered a program that
would pay for a degree, but he would
first need to become a licensed
airframe and power plant mechanic.
outside of major cities. They don’t
have it, because the municipalities
can’t afford it.”
So he did.
So Universal developed a solution. It
produces equipment that provides
precise and accurate GPS-based
approaches, improving safety and
accessibility at smaller municipal
“I always wanted to excel,” says
DeHerrera. “It was always in me, so
I put myself through school.”
After graduating from MSU Denver,
DeHerrera moved to Tucson to
become Universal’s marketing
manager. And the same ambition he
demonstrated at MSU Denver and
beyond took him all the way to the
C-suite 20 years later.
“I always had this drive to move
through the ranks and do more,” he
says. “I probably would not have
guessed that it would happen, but I
worked hard for it.”
While Universal has a large focus
on regional commercial airlines
and the military, it also developed an
airborne flight-management system
to help helicopter and air ambulances
land at municipal airports, like those
in many Colorado towns.
“Most large cities have instrumentlanding systems to help airplanes
land in bad weather to guide them
to the end of the runway,” DeHerrera
explains. “The tough part is if you go
“Not everyone has accidents in big
cities,” DeHerrera says. “Sometimes
there will be an emergency with a
child, and the only way to get them
to a clinic is by air ambulance or
helicopter rescue. But if the weather
was bad, there was no way to get in
there. Now there is a way. Now they
can land and get patients out to major
DeHerrera’s success at Universal is
an example of how persistence and
fortitude can transform lives, but he
is quick to credit those around him
for his success—from a mentor early
in his career to the faculty and staff
at MSU Denver.
“Metro was really terrific to me,”
he said. “People are always trying
to help you succeed. I am grateful
for the foundation they gave me.
It’s fun; it’s not all work. The people
are terrific, and that’s what it’s all
Douglas Atherton (B.S. accounting
’78), November 2012
Michael Glenn (B.A. history ’76),
James Wagoner (B.S. psychology
’70), August 2013
Tim Dunbar (attd. 1996-2005),
Lorna Fair (B.S. management ’86),
Carole Rowland (B.A. communications ’89), March 2006
Katherine Baker (B.S. contract ’90),
Richard Gast III (B.S. computer
information systems ’00), February
Carol Jacobson (B.A. English ’02),
Faculty and Staff
Philip Boxer, emeritus dean of liberal arts, was one of MSU Denver’s
earliest faculty members. In 1938,
Boxer earned his bachelor’s degree
in business from the University of
Kansas. He owned a steakhouse
for 20 years, and while running it
he studied English literature at the
University of Denver. After earning his master’s degree and a Ph.D.,
he sold the restaurant. Boxer joined
MSU Denver in 1965 as a professor
of English literature, philosophy
and religion. In the late 1960s Boxer
chaired the English Department and
later became dean of the School of
Liberal Arts. He was on the Academic
Deans’ Council and founded the
New Campus Review and Cultural
Caravan events series. He died in
Guenther worked as an engineer
in private industry for a number of
years and was granted two patents:
one for an aspirating machine and
method and one for a method and
apparatus for centrifugal impact
Wolfgang “Peter” Guenther taught
mechanical engineering at MSU
Denver from 1971 to 1992. Born in
Germany in 1930, Guenther became
an American citizen in the late
1950s. In the late 1960s he moved
his family from the East Coast to
Colorado. He remained in Denver
until his death in December 2013.
Hubert “Hub” Safran taught business law at MSU Denver and was a
well-known lawyer and lobbyist in
Colorado. Safran served as a member of the Colorado Legislature from
1964 to 1974 and voted on the bill
that first made the University a fouryear college. He died in December
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Mary Lou Van Voorhis, assistant
director of academic advising,
died in March 2014, after a sixyear battle with cancer. She began
teaching at MSU Denver approximately 20 years ago and became
assistant director in 2008. She
served as an advisor to student
clubs and mentored advisors.
She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mankato State
University, did doctoral work in
women’s studies at the University
of Minnesota and was the chair of
the Women’s Studies Department
at Mankato State. Van Voorhis
worked in law enforcement before
she began a career in higher education. Proud of her Cherokee heritage, Van Voorhis was a leader in
the Two Spirit Society of Denver.
READ more about Hubert Safran at msudenver.edu/magazine.
Clinton Williams Jr. (Lic. teacher in
residence ’02), November 2013
Lee (Barry) Williams (B.S. criminal
justice and criminology ’06), August
Ronald Hill Sr. was a faculty member in the MSU Denver Speech
Department who was regarded by
many as an excellent instructor. Hill
received his bachelor’s, master’s and
honorary doctoral degrees from Bob
Jones University. He was ordained
a minister in South Carolina and
started a church there. Hill had a
career as a pastor and school principal for 26 years. He was still teaching
at the time of his death in February
David Skougstag taught accounting at MSU Denver from 1976 until
his retirement. He loved teaching—
Skougstag often remembered his
students by first and last name—
and was an avid hiker and cyclist.
He backpacked the John Muir Trail
regularly and was a charter member
of the Courage Classic bicycle race.
He died in February 2013.
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MSU DENVER WILL CELEBRATE
ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2015!
We are already planning the celebration, but we need your help!
We want ANYTHING you’ve got from your MSU Denver or Metro State experience.
Photos, report cards, fliers, T-shirts, hats, course catalogs … and we want your
memories to go along with them!
Clean your closets. Raid the attic. Scan photos from albums. Then contact
303-556-8320 or [email protected]
, and we will take what you give us.
Metropolitan State University of Denver has been transforming lives for half a
century. Help us honor this legacy by sharing your memories and memorabilia.
Campus Box 14
P.O. Box 173362
Denver, CO 80217
STORY BRETT MCPHERSON | PHOTO EVAN SEMÓN
You could say that the sky’s the limit for Assistant Professor of Aviation and Aerospace Science
Tanya Gatlin (B.S. aviation management ’96). In 2013, she and aviation student Daily Davies—
pictured here with a World War II-era Stearman biplane—flew in the Air Race Classic (ARC), a
four-day, cross-country competition for female pilots. The duo finished a respectable 28th out of
49 initial entries. The tradition of women’s air racing started in 1929, and today the ARC aims to
encourage and educate women pilots and preserve the tradition of pioneering women in aviation.
Gatlin will race again this year, teaming up with experimental aircraft pilot Gayle Schutte. The
ARC provides “an amazing amount of flying in an incredibly short amount of time,” says Gatlin.
“It’s also a ton of fun.”