Russell Noles and Kristin Hultquist.

As announced in the Early Bird last week, the Metropolitan State University of Denver Board of Trustees elected two new leaders and bid farewell to an outgoing chair.

Russell Noles elected board chair

Russell Noles, a proud MSU Denver alumnus (’81), will become the first graduate to chair the Board of Trustees. Noles will replace Barbara Grogan, outgoing chair and longtime MSU Denver champion, who was appointed to the board in 2015.

Also, Kristin Hultquist was elected by her fellow members to serve as vice chair.

Janine Davidson, Ph.D.

“MSU Denver has the most committed and engaged trustees in higher education,” said President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. “We are so thankful to Barbara Grogan for her years of service to our students and mission, and it is very exciting to see Russell Noles and Kristin Hultquist bring their visionary leadership to these important roles.”

Noles, who is also the first African American to chair the board, chose to pursue his undergraduate degree at MSU Denver because of its Cooperative Education program and a scholarship that paid for tuition, books and fees the first year and provided a job that helped fund his tuition in subsequent semesters. After earning a degree in Accounting, he spent more than 30 years in the telecommunications and financial-services industries as a business strategist, financial leader and executive. He held senior leadership positions with Qwest Communications and the St. Paul Travelers Cos. before serving as chief operating officer for Nuveen, which Noles helped TIAA acquire as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2014. At Nuveen, he helped oversee nearly $1 trillion in assets and was responsible for executive oversight of the company’s finance, information-technology, operations and risk-management functions. Noles retired from the firm in March 2019 and in April 2019 was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees.

“MSU Denver opened the doors to my career,” Noles told RED in 2021. “I relied heavily on the advice I received from my Accounting professors, and it paved the way for my career.”

Noles also has given generously to the University for more than 30 years with his time, treasure and talent. In addition to serving the Board of Trustees as vice chair since 2019, Noles is the chair of the board’s Finance Committee, serves on the Governance and Academic and Student Affairs Committees and the Hospitality Learning Center board and is a former member of the Alumni Association and the MSU Denver Foundation board of directors. He also has spent time in the classroom as a guest lecturer, offering students the same kind of guidance and advice he got as a Roadrunner.

Kristin Hultquist elected vice chair

New Vice Chair Hultquist was appointed to the Board of Trustees in December 2019. She is a founding partner of HCM Strategists, a public-policy and -advocacy consulting firm founded in 2008. She is an expert in higher-education policy and strategy development at the state and federal levels across the firm’s higher-education clients.

Those clients include Ascendium, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation and Strada as well as major national higher-education associations, regional higher-education compacts, state higher-education agencies and systems, the College Board and the George W. Bush Center.

Hultquist’s policy leadership with experts, states, foundations and organizations includes providing expert testimony three times to Congress, authoring opinion editorials appearing in the New York Times and USA Today, and securing regulatory and statutory changes that have simplified federal financial aid to serve millions more students.

Her belief in the transformative power of higher-education opportunity is a direct result of her educational experience. Prior to forming HCM Strategists, Hultquist served as senior advisor to the U.S. Undersecretary of Education, where she helped develop the secretary’s action plan in response to the Spellings Commission report, which recommended a national strategy for the reform of higher education. She previously served as the program director of the education division of the National Governors Association and directed the Washington, D.C., office of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

A Pell Grant recipient and the first college graduate in her family, Hultquist earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University. She also serves on the board of the Institute for Higher Education Policy and has assisted with the selection of the Scholarship America Dream Award since 2019. She and her husband, Brent, share four children and live in Parker.