Alumni & Friends
Alumni Association Board of Directors
Joe Rice (’89)
Director of Government Relations, Lockheed Martin
In addition to holding the position as Director of Government Relations for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Joe also is a Colonel in the Army Reserve with five combat tours of duty in Iraq and one peacekeeping tour in Bosnia. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor of history, government, and public administration at the Colorado Campus of the University of Phoenix. He is a former member of the Colorado State of Representatives, and a former mayor of the City of Glendale. His wife of 21 years, Kendall, is also a MSU Denver graduate. Joe is a past recipient of the MSU Denver Alumni Association Community Service Award.
Leon Duran ('15)
President, Honeycutz; U.S. Veterans Window Cleaning and Landscaping; U.S. Navy
After transitioning from active duty U.S. Navy to Reserve Duty in 2011, Leon Attended MSU Denver where he graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's in criminology and a minor in entrepreneurship. Shortly after graduation, Leon founded his first company. U.S. Veterans Landscape Design. Followed by HoneyCutz which is a post-workout recovery supplant which using local sources honey and plant-based amino acid and manufactured here in Denver. He is currently working on his third company InspiredbyLeon where he engages and mentors individuals to live a more fulfilling life style. Outside of his companies he is a mentor for the Denver Scholarship Foundation and is going on his 13th year in the United States Navy (active/reserve).
Magens Orman ('15)
Engineering Technician, Sierra Nevada Corporation
Magens Orman works in Colorado’s booming aerospace industry where she has been fortunate enough to work on everything from components to large-scale spacecraft during her time as a Mechanical and Systems Engineer with Sierra Nevada Corporation. She did not always have a passion for building things that brave the final frontier though. When she began her education at MSU Denver in 2008, she was a Fine Arts major. Orman found her path to space through an elective science class that changed her life. After finding her passion for space, she went on to be involved with multiple student organizations including the Orbital Mechanics Club, Student Commercial Spaceflight Federation and SEDS which helped to nurture her love of aerospace.
Since graduating in 2014, Orman has helped build several satellites, rovers and deep space probes. In her free time, she pursues her other passion, STEM education. Orman leads a variety of STEM outreach efforts at middle and high schools statewide. She also works with several university boards in the Metro Denver area including MSU Denver. Orman is currently acting Secretary of the Colorado Space Grant Advisory board to the University of Colorado Boulder and Treasurer of the MSU Denver Alumni Board.
Sarena Espinoza ('18)
50/50 Raffle Coordinator, Colorado Rockies
Sarena is originally from Southern California (Corona), and made her way to Denver on a softball scholarship. She was the first person in her family to get a degree. In four years at MSU Denver, she was a starter, scholar-athlete, and earned her BA in Sport Management and minored in Sports Media. Working in sports has always been a dream of hers so she started working in the Athletics Department in her off-season as an intern. The opportunity to work in baseball originated when the Colorado Rockies and MSU Denver decided to partner on a 50/50 raffle at Coors Field. She joined the Rockies as a part-time staff member in April of 2018, during the establishment of the program. In January of 2019, she became a full-time staff member as the 50/50 Raffle Coordinator in the Community Affairs Department. She is part of a program that has raised over $1.5 million in just two seasons. A BIG part of her program are the volunteers from MSU Denver, and Sarena has managed over 2,000 volunteers and believes they are the reason why the raffle is so successful. Other areas she contributes to in the Rockies’ Community Affairs Department are the youth initiative programs such as camps, clinics, school programs, and volunteerism around Denver.
Justin Darnall (’19)
Guidance, Navigation & Control and Systems Engineer, Advanced Solution Inc
Justin started out his career by joining the Marine Corps out of high school in 2006. He served for 8 years as a KC-130J/Harvest Hawk mechanic and achieved the rank of Sergeant. During his service, he completed three tours of duty to Kandahar Afghanistan, Al Asad Iraq, and Djibouti Africa. After returning home in Colorado, he attempted college a few times but found other schools to be unfriendly to veterans and began a job in Texas working on FedEx and Hawaiian Airlines airplanes. In 2016, he decided to return to Colorado and finish his degree. Attending MSU Denver was the best decision he ever made. While attending MSU Denver he was named the 2017 A.C.E. Student of the Year. Justin graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Aerospace Systems Engineering Technology in August 2019 and employed by Advanced Solution Inc in Littleton as a Guidance, Navigation & Control and Systems Engineer. As part of the Alumni Board at MSU Denver, he hopes to help students achieve their education and career goals by helping with academic decisions as well as a trajectory toward career goals. On top of being a part of the Alumni Board, he volunteers as a Peer Mentor for the 2nd Judicial Veterans Treatment Court and serves as the Vice President for the Rocky Mountain Boosting Engineering Science and Technology (BEST) robotics competition.
Judy George ('01)
Alumni Engagement; Scholarship & Awards
Vice President, Kirby Company of Denver
Judy is a Denver native and Vice President of Kirby Company of Denver, a family-owned-and-operated company formed in 1950, and is co-owner of Appraisals “By George” automotive appraisals. She received the 2007 Outstanding Alumni Award for “Making a Difference” in recognition of her work with the Foothills Animal Shelter Foundation, where she served on the Board of Directors from 2001 to 2013, including three terms as President. As a student, Judy was a three-term Co-President of Golden Key International Honor Society and initiated the Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Research Awards for affiliate faculty members. Judy is a proud parent of two sons who are both MSU Denver graduates and credits them with her decision to go back to school and finish her degree. Most recently, Judy has joined the LearnOn steering committee and is excited to continue to be involved on campus and work to make MSU Denver great.
Amy Greinke ('15)
Insurance Advisor, Cherry Creek Insurance Group
Amy has been a professional in the areas of insurance and financial services for nearly 20 years. She is passionate about education and has earned Bachelor’s Degrees in both Finance & Marketing. Amy holds licenses in Health & Life as well as Property & Casualty insurance in addition to the Certified Insurance Counselor Designation, CIC. Amy prides herself on taking the time to get to know her customers and finding solutions to meet their unique needs. She is passionate about insurance and specializes in helping businesses navigate their way through benefit packages, compliance, The Affordable Care Act, and employee communication.
Tiffany Hammer ('05)
Tiffany graduated MSU Denver in 2005 as a Daniels Opportunity Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Nonprofit Organization Administration. Her favorite memories of her time at Metro include working for Student Activities as the Service-Learning Coordinator, pledging Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority as a founding sister of the MSU Denver chapter, and studying abroad in South France. After college, Tiffany studied law at the University of Denver as a Chancellor’s Scholar and later worked as a legal aid attorney for DNA-People’s Legal Services (Dinébe’iiná Náhii?na be Agha’diit’ahii) in Window Rock, Arizona, providing legal representation in civil matters for members of the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Jicarilla-Apache Nations. She went on to serve as District Court Magistrate, Domestic Violence Docket, for the Crownpoint Judicial District of the Navajo Nation, before returning to Colorado to start her own consulting firm. In 2017, Tiffany joined First Nations Development Institute as a Senior Program Officer after many years of serving First Nations’ grantees as a nonprofit capacity-building consultant.
As a member of the MSU Denver Alumni Board, Tiffany is excited to support the University’s efforts to influence public perception and policy as an MSU Denver Champion.
Vanesa López ('06)
Spanish and ELA-S teacher, Denver Public Schools
Travis Luther ('08)
Alumni Engagement; Student Engagement
President, Queen Anne Pillow Company, ValetAds and Law Father
Travis Luther is the Founder of Luther Media, LLC whose companies include Law Father, ValetAds, Queen Anne Pillow Company, and TrialLine.
Luther is the current Entrepreneur in Residence for the University of Colorado Denver and a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Metropolitan State University’s College of Business. He is also a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and the Director for EO Colorado’s Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards (GSEA) Program.
He sits on the Executive Board of Scholars Unlimited, a Denver non-profit focused on improving child literacy among low-income and at-risk grade school children and founded their kid’s computer coding program, CodeSpire.
He is a frequent lecturer and author. In his free time, he plays guitar and enjoys international travel.
Judge Chris Melonakis ('74)
Scholarships & Awards; High School Recruitment
Retired District Court Judge
Judge Melonakis graduated Summa Cum Laude from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado in 1974 with Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Political Science. He graduated With Distinction from the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific in Sacramento, California in 1977. He was admitted to the practice of law in October, 1977. Before becoming a judge, he was in the private practice of law with a litigation practice in the areas of civil, criminal, probate and domestic relations law. He was appointed as a District Court Judge by Governor Roy Romer in 1998 and served on the Seventeenth Judicial District Court until his retirement in 2015.
He was named the 2007 National Judge of the Year by the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, the 2005 Judicial Officer of the Year by the Colorado Judicial Branch, the 2003 Judge of the Year by the Colorado Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, was named Adams/Broomfield Court Appointed Special Advocates Judge of the year four times, received a 2006 Child Advocacy Award Recognition from the American Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, was named the Adams/Broomfield Bar Association 2007 Volunteer Lawyer of the Year, awarded the Metropolitan State University Alumni Association Award for Core Value of Making a Difference in 2011, 2015 Adams/Broomfield Bar Association Excellence in Practice Award and has received numerous other professional and community awards.
Amber Mozet (’06) (she/her/hers)
Assistant Director for Equity & Student Leadership, MSU Denver
Born and raised in Westminster, Colorado, Amber took 5.5 years to earn her BA in Psychology and German (her tip: do not self-advise!). While a student, she worked in Athletics and the President’s Office, pledged Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and was a member of the Cheerleading Club.
Amber has worked at MSU Denver for over thirteen years and loves the way that her work directly benefits future alums. She currently advises the Black Student Alliance (BSA) student organization and is actively involved with the African American Affairs Council (AAAC). In joining the Alumni Board, Amber is excited to connect with all alumnae; she especially wants to bring Black alumni and current students together, as this is a frequent request of her students.
Jim Qualteri ('96)
Former President of Nexus Technologies Inc. and CIO of RK Mechanical.
As President of NexusTek, Jim for over 10 years managed the largest privately held MSP in the region until its successful sale in 2017. He was the Chief Information Officer for RK Mechanical, the largest mechanical contractor in the region. Jim is a veteran of the United States Army’s 4th Infantry Division and while at MSU served as a Military Police Officer with the Colorado National Guard. After graduation Jim joined the CIA’s Threat Management Unit as a Federal Officer. Jim enjoys being active in the Colorado community. He served eight years on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, two of which he was Board Chair. Jim currently owns his own IT consulting company where he provides C-Level services to MSPs around the country. He graduated MSU in 1996 with a degree in Criminal Justice.
Stephanie Rayman ('09)
Scholarships & Awards; High School Recruitment; Student Engagement
Food and Beverage Operations and Marketing
Stephanie brings over 15 years of experience in the food and beverage industry. Her focus has been building brand architecture, identity, and loyalty across Colorado’s beer industry. Stephanie believes in the importance of effective leadership in organizational success and leads teams through continued coaching and mentorship. Stephanie serves on the MSU Denver Alumni Board and has been a member since April 2019. She has a heavy focus on alumni engagement/networking, new student recruiting and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As an Alumni Board Member, Stephanie’s strengths in networking and building philanthropic relationships have led to unique partnerships. Stephanie helped launch the MSU Denver Mug Club with Tivoli Brewing Company which now funds an endowed scholarship for the School of Hospitality. In addition, Stephanie is a proud supporter of MSU Denver’s Athletics Program and helped establish a beer garden at athletic events, raising money for the Red and Blue Club.
Stephanie graduated from MSU Denver in 2009, earning a B.A. in Psychology. She has had the pleasure of furthering her professional career in Denver, keeping her connected to her alma mater. “Being able to engage with students, faculty, and staff is something I continuously look forward to as these open lines of communication keep me up-to-date with the ever-developing culture and progression of our University.”
Elisa Varela ('10)
Scholarships & Awards; High School Recruitment
PhD Student, University of Colorado
Elisa is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a 2010 alumna of MSU Denver’s Department of Communication Studies. Currently, her research focuses on democratic engagement across differences. Broadly, she draws on social interaction and feminist perspectives to dig into questions of discourse, difference, and democracy. In particular, she is interested in how persons in dialogue and deliberation engage in discursive practices that support and limit quality communication across differences and ultimately democratic action. Often times, well-meaning people perpetuate prejudice and polarization and the practical aim of Elisa's research is to support responsible, accountable, and critically reflexive communication practice that contributes to social change. As a member of the Alumni Board at MSU Denver, Elisa is committed to putting into practice the democratic values that ground her research through various MSU Denver community-focused projects.