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Keynote Speakers for the Fall 2019 Commencement Ceremonies


Morning Ceremony Speaker: Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera

Dianne Primavera is a leading patient advocate who has spent three decades fighting for every Coloradan’s access to quality, affordable health care.Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera

As a young mom in 1988, Dianne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor told her that she had, at most, five years to live. Since her first diagnosis, Dianne has fought cancer four times and survived. Her personal battle with cancer inspired her to make it her life’s work to ensure every Coloradan has access to the health care they need when they need it.

In 1990, Dianne joined the Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury Center, where her work focused on helping individuals dealing with serious injuries recover and resume dignified, fulfilling lives. Since then, she’s held many prominent positions throughout the public and nonprofit sectors devoted to furthering life-saving medical research and connecting Coloradans who experience illness with the treatment they need to recover.

In 2006, Dianne was elected to the first of four terms in the state legislature, representing Broomfield, Superior, and parts of Erie. Throughout her service, Dianne was highly regarded for her success working across the aisle to promote Colorado small businesses, lower prescription drug costs, and expand access to affordable health care.

Most recently, Dianne served as the CEO of Susan G. Komen Colorado, one of the largest organizations in the country dedicated to breast cancer prevention, treatment, research, and education.

Dianne is a lifelong Coloradan and a Broomfield resident. She has two adult daughters and a one-year-old granddaughter, Kailani. Dianne is also an avid country dancer — taking after her dad, who was a dedicated ballroom dancer throughout his life, even on his 95th birthday.




Afternoon Ceremony Speaker: Admiral Jim Stavridis, USN (Ret.) Operating Executive, The Carlyle Group

A Florida native, Jim Stavridis attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and spent 37 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of four-star admiral. Among his many commands were four years as the 16th supreme Adm. Jim Stavridis (Ret.) USNallied commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans and counterpiracy off the coast of Africa. He also commanded U.S. Southern Command in Miami, charged with military operations throughout Latin America, for nearly three years. He was the longest-serving combatant commander in recent U.S. history. Following his military career, he served for five years as the 12th dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 

In the course of his career in the Navy, he served as senior military assistant to the secretary of the Navy and the secretary of Defense. He led the Navy’s premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

He won the Battenberg Cup for commanding the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet and the Navy League John Paul Jones Award for inspirational leadership, along with more than 50 U.S. and international medals and decorations, including 28 from foreign nations. He also commanded a destroyer squadron and a carrier strike group, both in combat.

In 2016, he was vetted for vice president by Hillary Clinton and subsequently invited to Trump Tower to discuss a Cabinet position with President Donald Trump.

He earned a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts, winning the Gullion Prize as outstanding student in his class in 1983, as well as academic honors from the National and Naval War Colleges as a distinguished student. He speaks Spanish and French.

Adm. Stavridis has published eight books on leadership, the oceans, maritime affairs and Latin America, as well as hundreds of articles in leading journals. An active user of social networks, he has tens of thousands of connections. His TED talk on 21st-century security in 2012 has had over 1 million views. He tweeted the end of combat operations in the Libyan NATO intervention. His memoir of the NATO years, “The Accidental Admiral,” was released in October 2014, and he had two books out in 2017: “The Leader’s Bookshelf: 50 Books That Make Us Better Leaders” in March and “Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the Oceans” in June.

Adm. Stavridis is also the chair of the Board of the U.S. Naval Institute, the professional association of the nation’s sea services: the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. He is a monthly columnist for Time magazine and chief international security analyst for NBC News. 

He is happily married to Laura, and they have two daughters – one working at Google and the other a Registered Nurse and former Naval officer, both married to physicians.


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