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The MSU Denver Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)3 governed by a volunteer board of directors. These men and women are committed to the ongoing support and advocacy of MSU Denver, each serving a renewable 3-year term of service.
President, L.C. Fulenwider, Inc.
Ferd Belz is President for L.C. Fulenwider, Inc. Prior to joining Fulenwider, Mr. Belz was the President of Cherokee Denver, LLC, the entity that owned the 50-acre redevelopment of the former Gates Tire & Rubber Factory in Denver. As President, he managed all aspects of the development, entitlements, public financing and environmental remediation for this transit oriented, mixed-use project. The project is entitled for more than 7 million square feet of mixed commercial and residential uses and is approved for more than $126 million of public financing.
Mr. Belz is also a co-founder of REGen, LLC, a real estate services and development company. REGen was the re-developer of the Mercy Hospital at 17th and Fillmore in Denver that is now the City Park South project. REGen also redeveloped the former Children’s Hospital site and sold it to St. Joseph’s Hospital where they are building their new hospital addition. During his long real estate career, Mr. Belz has developed more than $1 billion of hotel and resort real estate nationally and internationally as well as numerous commercial, residential, retail, and senior housing projects. The projects include several Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, the Pepsi Center in Denver and Tabor Center in Denver. He is currently a partner in the redevelopment of the historic Denver Union Station into a mixed use, retail, hotel and transit center project. Mr. Belz holds cum laude degrees in both architecture and engineering from the University of Kansas and he began his career as a licensed architect.
He is the past Chair of the Downtown Denver Partnership, is current Chair of the Board of the Auraria Foundation, is treasurer and on the Board of the Civic Center Conservancy and is on the Board of the MSU Denver Foundation.
Partner at Law Firm of Butler Snow
Dawn P. Bookhardt was elected Vice Chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in February 2014. Dawn was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2008 and reappointed in 2012.
She served as the Vice Chair for the Presidential Evaluation Committee and serves as the MSU Denver representative to the Auraria Board of Directors. She has recently joined the MSU Denver Foundation Board of Directors.
Dawn was a founding partner in the law firm of Bookhardt & O’Toole, and has recently become a partner with the law firm of Butler Snow, a Mississippi-based law firm with over 300 attorneys across the country and in London. Dawn specializes in complex municipal bond financing and transactions. Three of Dawn’s noteworthy achievements include representation of Forest City in the development of the former Stapleton Airport site; representation of U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray and UBS PaineWeber as underwriters for the Denver Convention Center Hotel; and representation as General Counsel to the Denver Union Station Project Authority for the enormously successful redevelopment project at Union Station in Denver. Bookhardt is the founder and owner of Odd Tale Books, a retail book store. Among the numerous awards she has received are the National Leadership Award from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council and the Woman of Distinction Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. She holds degrees from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., and the University of Denver School of Law.
RE | Solutions, Principal
Patricia Gage, CRE, has worked as a developer, lender, and contractor in commercial real estate for more than 30 years. Her career has focused on the Denver market, working on major new urbanist redevelopment utilizing public/private partnerships.
In 2018, she joined RE | Solutions as Principal. RES focuses on reuse strategies and liability management for environmentally impaired properties. Ms. Gage manages the organization’s vertical development efforts, capital procurement, and other financial and operational needs.
Prior to joining RES, Ms. Gage served in executive positions with Cobiz Financial, Continuum Partners (a large, mixed-use developer) and Bank One (now JP Morgan Chase).
Ms. Gage earned an MBA from the University of Denver and holds two undergraduate degrees from Black Hills State University in South Dakota. She currently serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Commissioners for the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA), is a member of the Colorado Charter Facilities Solutions Board, a member and former Chair of the ULI Public-Private Partnership Council and serves on the Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation Board. Ms. Gage is also a member of the Counselors of Real Estate.
“Why did I join the MSU Denver Foundation Board of Directors? The MSU Foundation Board allows me the opportunity to feed my passion for broad-based educational opportunities for all. By supporting the Foundation, we touch thousands of students and provide a service to the overall community by training professionals that can hit the ground running when they graduate.”
Founding Partner, Cardan Capital Partners
Marti Awad has more than 25 years of experience working in the capital markets, first as a practicing tax attorney at one of the country’s top securities, mergers and acquisitions law firms and, for the past 17 years, as a private wealth advisor. Before that she worked in the tax consulting group of a national accounting firm. Her tax and legal background, coupled with her deep investment expertise, place her in a unique position to advise clients on virtually every aspect of their complex wealth management issues. Marti specializes in holistic financial planning and works closely with our clients’ other advisors — attorneys, accountants and family office practitioners — to ensure that our collective advice is integrated. She is driven by a passion to assist our clients in defining and achieving their goals and, ultimately, creating a legacy for future generations. Marti’s earlier tenure as a practicing tax attorney affords Cardan clients and their families the advantage of her in-depth knowledge of the tax implications surrounding financial investment and tax minimization techniques. Marti holds the internationally recognized postgraduate law degree LL.M. in Taxation from New York University; a J.D. from Southern Methodist University; and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin. She also holds both the Chartered Financial Analyst® and Certified Financial Planner® designations and is a member of the Denver Society of Securities Analysts and the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts. Marti is a dedicated member of the Denver civic and nonprofit community and has served on numerous boards and committees. She currently serves on the boards of University Prep, World Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation and was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to the Colorado State 529 Plan board. In 2015, she was one of ten people worldwide to receive the Merrill Lynch David Brady Award for exceptional service to clients, collaboration with colleagues and contributions to the community. Marti has been quoted in the Denver Business Journal, Financial Advisor IQ, Financial Planning Magazine, US News & World Report and was featured in the Wall Street Journal.
Marti strongly believes that MSU Denver is one of the most important resources in our city and state. She says, “the hallmarks of MSU are our cutting edge approach to private public partnerships, keen focus on Denver/Colorado workforce development and a commitment to providing a transformational educational opportunity for our students.” She is proud of the fact that close to half of the students are the first in their family to attend college and that the University is changing the trajectory of their lives and their families lives.
Senior Banking & Finance Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
Irv Bisnov serves as a Senior Banking & Finance Partner, where he has overseen a national practice which audits 20% of the top 50 Bank Holding Companies in the United States. Irv additionally serves as the Lead Client Service Partner on Ally Financial, Prosperity Bancorp and Advisory Partner on FNNI. He has spent his entire career of 32 years at Deloitte, where he has served in numerous roles in various industries although with a primary focus in the financial services industry with an emphasis in depository institutions.
He previously served over 650 professionals as the Managing Partner for Deloitte’s Carolinas practice. The Carolina’s practice includes such significant audit and consulting clients such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo/Wachovia, Duke Energy, Carolinas Medical, SPX, and BB&T.
Irv has served as the Lead Client Service Partner on other notable clients such as Fifth Third Bancorp, E*TRADE Financial Corporation, RBC Bank USA, TREE.com (formerly Lending Tree) and the World Bank Group. Other clients served, but are not limited to include: Export Import Bank of the U.S.; Blue Bonnet Savings Bank; Hanesbrands Inc.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of SC; Acacia FSB; Neiman Marcus; and FBR Bank. He is seen as an advisor to executive level management and board members. Certain topics discussed centered on governance, going public, human resources, technology, off shoring, and operational strategies.
Irv completed an 18 month executive management program at the Wharton Business School and has attended numerous external and Firm –sponsored training sessions. He has additionally instructed at numerous national and regional training seminars.
He currently serves as a board member and is the Audit Committee Chairman of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. He additional has served and led numerous other not-for-profit organizations.
Irv is a proud graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver graduating in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree.
“Why join the Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation Board of Directors? For me the answer is simple – to give back and pay it forward. As a proud graduate of MSU Denver (accounting ’85), my degree has afforded me endless opportunities to better myself, the lives of my family, employer and clients, and contribute to the communities I have lived in. My mission is to engage MSU Denver alumni and encourage them to stay connected to the University throughout their lives. I am committed to serving as a conduit for those who want to get involved, give back, provide others with opportunities and transform lives.”
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, The SAS Family of Companies: • Special Aerospace Services, LLC • SAS Manufacturing, LLC • Rocket Apparel, LLC
Heather Bulk is the chief executive officer of The SAS Family of Companies: Special Aerospace Services, SAS Manufacturing, and Rocket Apparel. She is also co-founder of the Who Dreams Wins Foundation.
Ms. Bulk oversees strategic direction, business operations, legal affairs and financial performance of these Colorado-based aerospace companies. With roughly 80 employees across the United States, the SAS Family of Companies engages in lifecycle relationships with clients in Aerospace, Aviation, Defense, and Energy providing critical guidance, tactical engineering, precision manufacturing and assembly, and procurement of mission-essential hardware.
After co-founding SAS in Boulder, CO in 2007 as a Certified 8(a), Woman-Owned engineering services, systems and solution business, Ms. Bulk has managed the company’s partnerships and expanded its footprint by building new business ventures and industry networks. Today, SAS is a leader in delivering innovative systems engineering solutions to the aerospace industry, emerging commercial spaceflight sector, and U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense.
Seeing the need for custom manufacturing and rapid prototyping in the aerospace and aviation sectors, Ms. Bulk co-founded SAS Manufacturing in 2015. Based in Arvada, CO, this firm is an AS9100D/ISO9001 certified precision manufacturing company, specializing in design, machining, prototyping, 3D printing and additive manufacturing. It now serves aerospace, defense and a variety of commercial industries.
In 2018, Ms. Bulk and her daughter launched Rocket Apparel, a clothing and accoutrement company that lends women’s fashion sense to the wardrobes of aerospace professionals.
Ms. Bulk is also dedicated to promoting the inclusion of more women in engineering and the space industry. This commitment focuses on support of ongoing educational initiatives in state and national levels. She is a passionate STEM supporter and is engaged in bringing science and education together through direct interaction in Boulder County and Denver schools.
Ms. Bulk and her family have created the Who Dreams Wins Foundation, which fosters STEM education and provides scholarships and technology to those in need.
Prior to co-founding SAS, Ms. Bulk spent 17 years as a senior executive in wealth management and financial planning. She completed her Executive Juris Doctorate degree in 2007 and holds a Master of Taxation LLM degree from the University of Denver, and Bachelor of Science in Finance from California State University, Chico. She is an instrument rated private pilot and a member of AOPA.
“MSU Denver has become a leader in Colorado for addressing the changing needs for both students and employers. I joined the Foundation Board because I believe in the university’s mission, direction and see an opportunity to share an aerospace industry perspective that will further advance MSU’s critical role in our state.”
President and CEO, Centennial Bolt, Inc.
Mark Cordova is founder and president of Centennial Bolt, Inc. one of the Rocky Mountain region’s largest fastener suppliers. After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from the University of San Diego in 1978, Cordova moved to Denver and founded Centennial Bolt the following year. The company provides fasteners to the manufacturing, industrial and construction industries. Cordova is actively involved in the community. Most recently, he has served on the Community Forum board of Wells Fargo Bank; the board of trustees for the Mile High Council of Boy Scouts of America; the board of directors for Girl Scouts of Colorado, Osage Initiatives, Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council and Volunteers of America/Colorado; and the advisory board of the University of Denver, Center for Teaching International Relations and St. Vincent de Paul School. He also has served on the board of directors for the American Red Cross–Mile High Chapter, Mile High United Way, Junior Achievement—Rocky Mountain, Inc., Rocky Mountain Minority Suppliers Development Council (past MBIC Chair) and Young American Educational Foundation. He also is actively involved in business organizations. He has been chairman of the board of directors for Mountain States Employers Council and is a board and executive committee member of the National Association of Manufacturers. He is a past board member of the Small Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Fastener Distributors, Los Angeles Fastener Association and the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. Centennial Bolt has received the Colorado Clean Air Award for Small Business and has received the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award.
“I have followed MSU Denver for many years and watched it gro. It has had a tremendous impact upon the entire community – both on students and employers. MSU Denver should be considered a “Colorado Treasure”. I am proud to be a part of the MSU Denver team and to be able to contribute to its mission.”
Retired Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo
Before she retired from Wells Fargo at the beginning of January 2020, Pat Cortez served as senior vice president for Wells Fargo’s public relations and government relations in Colorado. Under Pat’s leadership, Wells Fargo has received community service awards from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Museo de las Americas and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, Pat was awarded the prestigious “Woman of Distinction” award by the Girl Scouts of Colorado.
Pat oversees Wells Fargo’s charitable contributions in Colorado. In 2008, Wells Fargo awarded nearly $4.4 million to more than 900 Colorado nonprofit organizations.
A Colorado native, Pat has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, all of it with Wells Fargo and its predecessors. She has held several positions within the company. Prior to her current position, she managed Wells Fargo’s business development efforts among emerging markets, including the African-American, Asian, Latino and women’s markets, with responsibility for nearly $1 billion in consumer assets.
Pat is actively involved in the Denver community, where she was a founding member and past chair of the Colorado Scholarship Coalition. She previously served as a trustee of the Denver Public Library, a mayoral appointee to the Planning Board for the City and County of Denver, and director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver.
Pat currently serves on the board of directors of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Latin American Educational Foundation, the National Sports Center for the Disabled, and Visit Denver, the travel and visitor bureau for Denver, Colorado.
“I am committed to MSU Denver because of the University’s dedication to the communities it serves – particularly communities of color. MSU Denver is the most diverse organization of higher education in the state, with diversity that extends beyond the student body to the faculty and support teams. I am honored to serve on the Foundation Board, with its strong leadership and extremely committed board member.”
(Ex-Officio) President, MSU Denver
The eighth president of MSU Denver, Janine Davidson, Ph.D., is a compelling leader with extensive experience guiding large and complex organizations. Prior to joining the University, Davidson served as the 32nd undersecretary of the United States Navy, where she managed all Department of the Navy affairs including Navy and Marine Corps integration, acquisition, finance, personnel, legislative affairs, research and development. In that role, she was responsible for the health and well-being of nearly 900,000 sailors, marines, civilians and their families.
Davidson has nearly 30 years of experience in military operations, national security policy and academic research. As an analyst and academic, Davidson was a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she is a lifetime member. She has taught national security policy and political science at Georgetown University, George Mason University and Davidson College.
She holds a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s of science degree in architectural engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. She was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Squadron Officer School and was the first woman to fly the Air Force’s tactical C-130.
Davidson became president of MSU Denver on July 24, 2017. Her primary focus is on student retention and graduation – better serving the nearly 20,000 current students that call the University home and preparing them to launch into the workforce. While MSU Denver is a leader in educating Coloradans through programs relevant to the state’s economy, Davidson aims to build the institution’s reputation both nationally and internationally.
Director of Strategy, Stonebridge Companies
Ashley Dimond is the Director of Strategy at Stonebridge Companies, a hotel ownership and development company based in Denver. Ashley started at Stonebridge after graduating from business school at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in June 2021.
Prior to attending the Booth School of Business, Ashley completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University at the School of Hotel Administration. While there, she pursued a minor in Real Estate and a concentration in food and beverage.
After graduating from Cornell, Ashley spent a year in Miami at Burger King Corporation, working on global procurement for non-food and paper items, after which she transitioned to Uber, focusing on driver and rider acquisition through local partnerships. From there, she served as a “launcher,” launching Uber in new cities and moving to India to launch new Uber products. She closed out her four years at Uber as chief of staff to the head of operations for Uber Eats.
Ashley is also a board member on the Cornell Hotel School Young Alumni Council, the Cornell Alumni Admissions Committee, The University of Chicago Booth Admissions Committee and the Dimond Family Foundation.
“My educational experiences have been transformative to the way I approach my personal and professional life, and I want the same opportunity to be available to those who choose it. I’m incredibly excited and honored to be a part of an organization that prides itself on the idea that every student should have an opportunity to better their lives through the highest quality of education at an affordable price.”
VP and CFO for Kaiser Permanente, Colorado
Laura English is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan with more than 670,000 members. In this role, Ms. English is responsible for the region’s financial and statutory reporting, financial planning and analysis, accounting, decision support services, revenue cycle management, materials management and hospital contracting.
Ms. English has lived in the Denver Metro area since 1995 and brings to Kaiser Permanente over 25 years of experience in healthcare, including roles as Vice President of Public Exchanges, Chief Financial Officer and Finance Director within healthcare organizations in the West and Southwest regions of the United States.
A graduate of the California State University system, Ms. English earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and went on to earn her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver Graduate School of Business.
Ms. English is active in the community and has served on several boards in the Denver area over the past decade. She is currently on the board for the Aurora Public Schools Foundation and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. She lives in Southeast Aurora with her husband and four wonderful sons.
“I am proud to be part of the MSU Denver Foundation Board of Directors because MSU Denver’s mission of excellence, accessibility and engagement with the community resonates with me. I have seen first-hand within my own family how MSU Denver is a great launching place for success through access to education. The deep connection with community is enriching for students and demonstrates how an institution can better the health and vitality of its community. The MSU Denver Foundation Board allows me to give back and help ensure that students from all over Colorado have access to high-quality education.”
Attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Emily Renwick Garnett is an attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, where she focuses on protecting investors and the U.S. capital markets. Prior to the SEC, Emily was in private practice, where her clients included public and private educational institutions. Emily worked with these clients to set appropriate policies and procedures to ensure these organizations put in place model consumer protection and regulatory compliance standards.
Emily is passionate about educational policy and civic leadership. She has served non-profit organizations in various capacities, including co-chairing the board of the Center on Colfax (formally the GLBT Center). Emily believes that the roots of our community are grounded in high-quality and accessible educational opportunities. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time with her little ones and husband, Alec, running, listening to podcasts (often all at the same time) and pawning off baked goods to her friends, family and work colleagues.
Retired Investment Banker, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Rus Heise had a professional career for more than 37 years with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and its predecessors. During his tenure as an investment banker, he financed infrastructure projects throughout the western United States. Major projects included airports, hospitals, universities, utilities, and municipal complexes. Within Colorado, he provided traditional and creative financings for major developments (Stapleton, Lowry, City and County of Broomfield, Belmar, and Ridgegate) as well as project financing for City and County of Denver, DURA, DHA, DPS and a range of cities and counties. In his capacity as Managing Director, he had responsibility over offices in several other states.
Rus has also been continuously active in a wide range of civic and non-profit organizations. He is a past Chairman of the Downtown Denver Partnership, past Chairman of Visit Denver, past Chairman of Denver Health and Hospital Authority, and past Chairman of the Urban Land Conservancy. He continues to be involved in most of these organizations and serves on the Park Creek Metropolitan District board. He has served on a wide variety of other community-focused committees and task forces.
Mr. Heise has a B.A. (English) and an MBA (Finance) from the University of Minnesota.
“I joined the MSU Foundation because of it’s commitment to provide affordable education opportunities and improve workforce development. MSU is a critical and growing part of the fabric of Denver and Colorado and MSU Foundation is focused and committed to supporting MSU in achieving its mission.”
President, Chairman and CEO, UMB Financial Corporation
Mariner Kemper is president, chairman and chief executive officer for UMB Financial Corporation. He has been with the company for more than 20 years and has served many roles including president of UMB Bank Colorado, n.a. and executive vice president of UMB Financial Corporation. He has been in his current role since May 2004. In 2019, Mariner was awarded the John Madden, Jr. Leadership Award by the CBCA, which recognizes a lifetime of extraordinary leadership and a legacy of support for the arts. In 2013, he was named “America’s 7th Most Powerful CEO 40 and Under” by Forbes.
Kemper is actively involved in the community. He is on the board of trustees at the Denver Art Museum and serves on the executive committee; the board of directors at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; the board for the Kansas City American Royal (past chairman); a lifetime director for the Agriculture Future of America and is on the board of trustees for the Boy Scouts of America Denver Area Council.
“Why did I join the MSU Denver Foundation Board of Directors? I love that MSU is committed to providing an affordable, quality education that is accessible to all.”
President, Alpine Bank – Denver Tech Center
Charlie Kercheval is a proud, native Coloradoan, originally born and raised on the Western Slope, prior to graduating from CU Boulder in 1988. For the past 25 years, he has lived with my wife and 2 sons in Parker, CO, enjoying over three decades as a community banker and now currently serving as President of Alpine Bank’s Denver Tech Center market. During his banking career, he has been fortunate to hold numerous leadership positions in the Denver Tech Center, Douglas County, and Cherry Creek area. Success as a business leader is important to him. However, of equal importance is demonstrating his commitment to service and encouraging a spirit of giving among his family, colleagues, and community.
As a young adult, Mr. Kercheval was encouraged to participate in a variety of service projects within his community of Grand Junction, Colorado and throughout the world. His career path as a banker has since enabled him to engage in board leadership, supporting many impactful organizations including: CollegeInvest, Colorado Succeeds, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, the CU South Denver Advisory Board, the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the Public Education and Business Coalition, the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, the Cherry Creek Area Business Alliance, the CU Boulder Alumni Association, and the Douglas County Educational Foundation.
“I am also a proud parent of a Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) Roadrunner. At MSU, our son is pursuing his perfect major, in a highly diverse student community, located at the heart of one of the most dynamic and desirable cities in the country. His instructors are engaged (and engaging), and with the outstanding, personalized support that MSU provides for his particular learning style, he is succeeding, thriving, and loving every minute! More importantly, MSU is providing this educational opportunity in an accessible manner, to students who simply may not have other realistic alternatives. Generations of families are being changed by MSU’s first-class education which emphasizes inclusion and commitment while embracing each students’ unique circumstances. This model is relevant, critical, and the future of higher education. This is why I have chosen to be part of the MSU Denver Foundation Board of Directors.”
EVP/COO, Co-Owner, RK Mechanical, Inc.
Jon is the EVP/COO and a co-owner of RK (RK Mechanical, Inc.). Jon has a passion for education and workforce development that is evident in his community involvement. RK is one of the region’s largest suppliers of construction, manufacturing and service solutions. RK Mechanical, the company’s most established unit, has installed mechanical systems in prominent commercial construction projects that define the Colorado skyline. RK operates seven business units that provide integrated products and services for construction, commercial and industrial customers. RK is a second-generation, family-owned Colorado-based firm that is recognized for giving to our community through the RK Foundation. Jon has an MBA from the University of Denver and a BSBA degree in Finance and Real Estate from Colorado State University.
“MSU Denver is the workforce development institution for the Denver region. By investing my time on the MSU Foundation Board, I can make a meaningful impact towards ensuring our region has a strong workforce of tomorrow today. MSU Denver is a true partner in our community, serving both the students and businesses.”
Shareholder, Recht Kornfeld
Rick Kornfeld, founding shareholder of Recht Kornfeld, P.C., is a seasoned litigator and advocate who has tried numerous cases in state and federal courts. A former federal prosecutor, Rick specializes in white collar criminal defense, corporate compliance and internal investigations. Rick is a frequent legal commentator, and has provided commentary for Bloomberg News, CNN, CBS News, ABC News, MSNBC, The L.A. Times and Colorado media outlets. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the University of Michigan Law School, Rick is active in the Denver legal and nonprofit communities. As a fourth-generation Coloradan, Rick joined the MSU Foundation Board to help facilitate MSU’s mission to educate Coloradans for Colorado, and to foster MSU’s commitment to first generation college students and immigrants, two communities he is particularly passionate about.
“MSU Denver is a game-changer for the State of Colorado. The University provides a first-class education to thousands of Coloradans each year, including non-traditional and first generation students. In the process, MSU Denver provides both the students and Colorado businesses and industries with employees who are ready to contribute to the workforce, and to our communities, from day one. I’m honored to help facilitate the mission of MSU Denver.”
Retired, Regional President, Wells Fargo Bank
Prior to his retirement from Wells Fargo at the end of 2010, Don Marshall served as Denver Metro regional president. There, he managed a team of more than 1,700 financial services professionals at 80 stores. Together, they helped individuals and small-to-medium-sized businesses reach their financial goals. Wells Fargo was the largest financial services organization in the Denver Metro area with approximately 23 percent deposit market share – according to the 6/30/09 FDIC report. Marshall’s team was responsible for $10 billion in consumer and business deposits.
A native of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies, Marshall began his banking career with Citibank in Trinidad. After completing an honors finance undergraduate degree, as well as graduate work in finance and international business at the University of Texas at Austin, he joined First City National Bank of Houston. Marshall handled managerial assignments in international, energy and minerals, and corporate banking over the next 16 years, including managing the Denver loan production office. He joined Norwest Bank Colorado (a Wells Fargo predecessor) in 1992.
Marshall was named regional president for Denver Metro Business Banking and Specialized Industries in 2000. He was promoted to regional president in July 2006.
Marshall currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation. “I care deeply about the mission of MSU Denver,” he says. “As a workforce-oriented university with the lowest public university tuition rates (but excellent teaching) in Colorado and a large first generation student population, MSU Denver can have a transformative impact on people, families and communities in this region. The more time I spend thinking about effective philanthropy, I can’t find a more powerful leverage point for giving back than at MSU Denver.”
(Ex-Officio) Vice President of Advancement and Executive Director of the Foundation, MSU Denver
Christine Márquez-Hudson is the Vice President of University Advancement and the Executive Director of the MSU Denver Foundation responsible for providing strategic and operational leadership for Metro State University (MSU) Denver’s fundraising efforts. In this role, Christine oversees a team of more than 30 staff members working to advance the University’s fundraising, alumni engagement, and donor relations. She also serves as the primary liaison with the Foundation Board of Directors and oversees the effective stewardship and distribution of MSU Denver Foundation’s assets.
Prior to joining MSU Denver, Christine was president and chief executive officer of The Denver Foundation, the largest and most experienced community foundation in the Rocky Mountain West. Her 30-year career includes serving as CEO of Mi Casa Resource Center and several years as a nonprofit consultant, direct service provider, and teacher.
Christine has won numerous community awards for her leadership, including 9News Leader of the Year, LatinasFirst Trailblazer Award, the Colorado Women’s Chamber’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women, and Girl Scout’s Woman of Distinction. She has served on many community boards, commissions and committees. Currently, she is a Colorado Trust trustee, a Denver Museum of Nature and Science board member, and a member of The Women’s Forum of Colorado.
Vice President of Market Planning & Strategy, Comcast Cable Corporate
Cindy Parsons is the Vice President of Market Planning and Strategy for Comcast. In this position, she is responsible for identifying opportunities offered by our connected world for cities across the Comcast footprint. She works with local leadership to collaborate with people, companies, not-for-profits and government leaders to bring big ideas to life and unleash the innovation economy. Her team enables forward-thinking cities populated with big thinkers to innovate and enable breakthroughs in business, the arts, healthcare and education through sustained partnerships, working with city leaders to catalyze innovation and accelerate economic growth.
Prior to this role, Cindy served as the VP of Community Affairs for Comcast’s West Division and in her previous role as VP of Communications for Comcast’s Mile High Region, Cindy has demonstrated success in creating and sustaining deep relationships with key influencers; including media, business leaders, government officials, the non-profit sector and the growing and evolving entrepreneurial and start up communities.
She currently serves on the Downtown Denver Partnership – Denver Civic Ventures, Inc. Board, Visit Denver Board and Metropolitan State University Foundation Board. She is an active member of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Foundation, the Metro Economic Development Corporation, WICT, CTAM and CTPAA. Cindy is a graduate of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s 2006 Leadership Denver program, served on the Downtown Denver Partnership awards jury in 2005 and chaired the jury in 2007/2008 and again in 2016.
Senior Vice President, Comcast Cable’s West Division
Shane Portfolio has responsibility for engineering, technical operations and advanced services for more than six million customers. Shane oversees the Division’s fiber network and IP-based infrastructure. He also leads the Division’s technical operations and engineering teams responsible for testing and deployment of new technologies and resources to deliver innovative new products and services as well as a reliable network and customer experience.
Most recently, Shane served as Regional Vice President of Engineering for the California region, responsible for the oversight, guidance, direction and vision for all technical engineering aspects throughout the Comcast California footprint. With a career spanning nearly 20 years, his journey has taken him from the Central Division’s eXcellence in Operations Center, which monitors the network around the clock to identify and address issues that could impact service for multiple customers, to the National Engineering and Technical Operations center, which oversees Comcast’s nationwide backbone and wholesale organization, to leadership roles in IP Operations and network capacity planning. Shane’s extensive experience, leadership ability, and passion continue to assist the West Division with setting the pace within Technical Operations and Engineering.
Shane is a 14 year veteran of the U.S. Army, where he was a Platoon Sergeant recognized as a Top Gun for Colorado and served as a leadership instructor for Combat Arms Units. Shane is also a lifelong learner; after earning his Bachelor of Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver in Computer Information Systems and Management Science, he went on to earn several advanced degrees, including master’s degrees in Organizational Leadership from Regis University and in Telecommunications from Denver University.
“I chose to be a part of the board to pay it forward for what MSU provided me, which was a great foundation to start my career. Without it I am convinced I would not have been able to be as successful… I believe it is now my responsibility to help others achieve success as well…”
Former President and CEO, Surf Air
Jeff is a seasoned executive with a successful track record and a demonstrated ability to lead in diverse industries within both the private and public sectors. Currently, he serves as the President and CEO of Surf Air, the first membership club that offers its members unlimited flights for a monthly fee. Concurrently, he is Co-Chairman of Splick-it, an early stage mobile tech company that he is also an investor and active in supporting its business development efforts. Previously, he was President and Chief Executive Officer for Boyd Group International, an industry leading travel and transportation consulting firm. Prior to joining BGI, he was Chief Operating Officer for Intrawest, LLC and also held the title of Chief Executive Officer for one of its portfolio companies, Alpine-CMH. Intrawest is a hospitality company that owns and operates six ski resorts in North America, Club Intrawest (Timeshare Company), the Honua Kai Resort in Hawaii, and Alpine–CMH. Alpine–CMH is the world’s largest heli-skiing company with twelve private lodges in Canada and its own fleet of forty helicopters. Reflective of his leadership success, he has been named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003 by Eastern Washington University, CEO of the Year in 2005 by Colorado BIZ Magazine, Business Person of the Year in 2006 by the Public Relations Society of America and received the Governor’s Tourism Award in 2007 for his individual efforts on the behalf of tourism for the State of Colorado. While leading Exclusive Resorts, the company received honors as one of the Best Places to Work in Colorado from 2009 to 2011. Robb Report Magazine also recognized the company as one of the “Best of the Best” Destination Clubs, for the years 2007 to 2010. While leading Surf Air, it was named Entrepreneur Magazine’s Travel Company of the Year for 2014 and named to Forbes Magazine’s Most Promising Companies for 2015. Potter attended Washington State University and Eastern Washington University. He currently resides in Colorado with his wife, Kelly and has three grown children. In his free time, Potter enjoys traveling, reading, golfing, playing racquetball and cooking.
Assistant General Manager, bartaco
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. Additionally, she 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 Fund.
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.”
Director, Government Relations | Lockheed Martin
Joe Rice is Director of Government Relations for Lockheed Martin Space (LMS). Lockheed Martin Space Government Relations (LMS GR) works primarily at the state and local level in areas where LMS has business interests to facilitate relations with federal, state, and local government officials as well as business, education, and community organizations.
Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in August 2011, Mr. Rice served two terms in the Colorado State Legislature from 2007-2010 as State Representative for House District 38. While in the legislature, he focused primarily on transportation and economic development, passing legislation resulting in significant transportation improvements and job creation. He also previously served two terms as the Mayor of Glendale, Colorado, from 1996-2003. His professional business experience includes more than 10 years of customer service management experience with MCI Telecommunications, JDEdwards, and Wells Fargo Bank.
Mr. Rice has over 32 years of military service, primarily in the United States Army Reserve. He currently holds the rank of Colonel and entered the Retired Reserve in June 2017 where he is subject to recall in the event of a large scale mobilization of the reserve components. Military service includes UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and five combat tours of duty in Iraq including serving as the Senior Military Officer facilitating establishment of the first democratically selected Baghdad City Council and subsequently as an advisor to both Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces on the streets of Baghdad. He is Airborne and Ranger qualified.
Mr. Rice is on the Board of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable and is active with the Colorado Space Coalition and Citizens for Space Exploration. He served on the Colorado Aeronautical Board, from 2015 to 2020, appointed by then-Governor John Hickenlooper. He previously was an adjunct professor of history, government, and public administration at the University of Phoenix, Colorado Campus. He served on the Board of Directors of Sister Cities International and helps coordinate the Baghdad-Denver Region Partnership (BDRP).
Mr. Rice holds an associate’s degree from the New Mexico Military Institute, a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver, a master’s of public administration degree from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a master’s of strategic studies degree from the U.S. Army War College. Military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Combat Action Badge for actions under enemy fire, and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge. Mr. Rice has been recognized for leadership in global diplomacy by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. He was recognized for collaborative problem solving by Club 20, a coalition representing western Colorado, by receiving the Johnson-Theos Bridge Builder Award. Along with Astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin, Joe Rice is one of four recipients of the Thomas R. Hobson Aerospace Distinguished Service Award by the Aerospace States Association.
Executive Director of the IMA Foundation | Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications
Ruth Rohs is the senior vice president of corporate communications and executive director of the IMA Foundation for the IMA Financial Group. In this position, Ruth oversees internal communications, public relations, diversity, equity & inclusion and corporate social responsibility for IMA and its five subsidiaries in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. Prior to joining IMA in May 2011, Ruth was the manager of community relations for Comcast Mile High Region. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has a master’s degree from Chapman University. She also received a certificate in corporate community involvement management from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.
Ruth currently serves on the boards of the Denver Public Schools Foundation. She is past-Chair of the Denver Chamber Leadership Foundation and also served on the boards of B:CIVIC, Colorado Association of Funders and the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter. Ruth is also the founder of The Community Chest, a women’s giving circle of breast cancer survivors supporting women’s and girl’s initiatives. Ruth completed the Colorado Governor’s Fellowship Program in 2018, is a 2006 graduate of Leadership Denver and a 2012 graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program. In 2007, she was selected as one of Denver’s Forty Under 40 by the Denver Business Journal. In 2012, Ruth was honored with the Betsy Bernard Emerging Leader award from the Women’s Vision Foundation, and in 2018, was named one of Colorado’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
“I am passionate about education and believe every student, no matter who they are or where they come from, deserves the chance to get one. MSU Denver serves an incredibly diverse student body, giving many first-generation students the chance to earn a four-year degree. Our state will benefit from giving these students this opportunity.”
President & CEO, Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council
Currently, Mr. Sena is President & CEO of the Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council, a 501C (3) corporate member organization that certifies Minority Owned firms, provides access to certified MBE’s to its corporate members, and provides contracting opportunities to its certified MBE’s from its corporate members within Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri
Mr. Sena is also the owner of SNAP Staffing Services, a mid-sized staffing firm located in Denver focusing on administrative and light industrial temporary, temp-to-hire, and permanent placement and Goodwin Personnel, a mid-sized staffing firm located in Denver focusing on placing temporary, temp-to-hire, and permanent placement within the healthcare and dental industry.
Mr. Sena was previously Executive Vice President and COO of Americold Corporation, the leading third-party supplier of supply chain solutions in the consumer packaged goods industry. Americold, with 117 locations in North America, enjoyed sales of over $800 million and an employee base of over 6500. In his capacity with Americold, Mr. Sena was responsible for the growth of the organization-an LBO from Beatrice Companies-starting with 30 locations nationally and $65 million in sales to an international organization with over 100 locations and $800 million in sales. Mr. Sena has line experience managing the organizations operations as well as presiding as the company’s General Counsel and responsible for all the legal activity including divestitures and acquisitions.
Mr. Sena has held senior corporate positions as General Counsel for a multi-state telecommunications company and Managing Director for a large, international logistics consulting company.
Mr. Sena is a native of Denver; received his BA from MSU Denver and his doctorate in Law in from the University of Denver. He has been an attorney for 30 years and continues to be active in the Colorado Bar Association, the Douglas County Bar Association, and the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association.
Mr. Sena previously served on the Board of Directors of the American Frozen Food Association, The International Frozen Foods Association, and The International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses, The Colorado Staffing Association, U S Bank Advisory Board, Metropolitan State University Foundation, Solera National Bank, The Denver Hospice, and The Arapahoe House.
Mr. Sena currently sits on the Boards of The Colorado Enterprise Fund and The Mountain Plains Minority Supplier Development Council as well as the Coalition of Minority Chambers. “I have always resonated with MSU Denver’s primary objective, ‘that every student should have an opportunity to better their life with the highest quality education at the lowest tuition rate in Colorado.’ As a proud graduate, I feel a strong sense of obligation to foster that objective by contributing as an active participant in the work of the Foundation Board.”
Retired, President of FirstBank Holding Company
Ron Tilton, the former president of FirstBank, retired after a nearly 36-year career with the organization. Tilton started his career with FirstBank – Colorado’s largest bank and the third-largest privately held bank in the nation – in 1985 and held several positions through his tenure.
Tilton spent much of his career managing larger commercial real estate relationships and was mainly responsible for facilitating FirstBank’s most complex client relationships and financing projects: Wynkoop Brewing (1992), the Denver Dry (1993), The Palace Lofts (1996), Union Station (2012), the Denver Pavilions (2008) and Maryland Creek Ranch (2016). He managed a team that included the president of credit, the president of mortgage & consumer lending, the president of business banking and three regional presidents who oversee the 21 markets located in Colorado, Arizona and California.
Currently, Tilton’s commitment to community involvement is as a member of the MSU Denver Foundation Board. His past public service includes the Metro Denver Economic Corporation Board, the Colorado Hall of Fame Selection Committee and the Colorado State Banking Board. Tilton also served on the board of Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain and, in 2013, received the Junior Achievement National Gold Leadership Award for his service to the organization.
Tilton holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Kansas State University and is a graduate of the Bank Compliance School in Norman, Oklahoma, and the Pacific Coast Banking School in Seattle, Washington.
Previous Community Involvement
“I was drawn to the mission of MSU Denver several years ago primarily as a place where we (FirstBank) could recruit talented, diverse, Colorado-based employees. The more I became involved, the more I realized the transformative impact the University has on the students it serves and the entire community. MSU Denver is an essential contributor to the very fabric of our state, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
President, Citiventure Associates, LLC
Marilee Utter is President and founder of Citiventure Associates, LLC, a real estate advisory firm focused on development strategy, and offering particular expertise in Public-Private Partnerships (P3s), Transit-Oriented Developments (TOD), and transformational real estate.
Previously, she was Executive Vice President of the Urban Land Institute, a Washington DC-based global non-profit of 40,000+ members known for real estate best practices and cutting-edge thinking. Her responsibilities included oversight of staff, operations, and local impact for offices in 75 cities around the world.
Prior to that, Marilee’s experience included Managing Partner for P3 West LLC, Regional Vice President with Trillium Corporation managing the land development revitalization of Denver’s Central Platte Valley rail yards, Mayoral–appointee Director of the Office of Asset Management for the City and County of Denver, first manager of Department of Transit-Oriented Development for the (Denver) Regional Transit District, Vice President with (now) Wells Fargo Bank, and secondary math teacher.
With this unique background, Marilee has become a nationally known speaker, writer, and advisor on innovative approaches to community redevelopment and urban issues.
Marilee holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School, a certificate in State and Local Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a designation from the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) where she is global Chair-elect. She is adjunct faculty at University of Colorado Denver, national Trustee for the Urban Land Institute and past Chair of the Colorado District Council. Currently, she is Chair for the Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation Board, serves on National Charrette Institute Board of Directors, and is a member of the International Women’s Forum.
“I have long been passionate about MSU Denver because of its incredibly important mission, the high quality education, and experience our students receive. As a first generation graduate myself, I have experienced how profoundly education changes lives. As a student of cities and economics, I believe there is nothing as important to the future competitiveness of Denver as the quality of the education we offer our residents. This is MSU Denver’s sweet spot and I am proud to be able to contribute.”
Chief Relations Officer, Well Advised
Charlie Walling is Chief Relations Officer of Well Advised, a new Healthcare Technology company based in San Francisco. The Artificial Intelligence Technology company’s initial focus is helping Medicare consumers find the right healthcare coverage through a simple and quick web application process.
Charlie has extensive management and entrepreneurship experience in the consumer-packaged goods Industry. With roles including general manager of Robinson Dairy, a $95 million division of Dean Foods that packaged and distributed a diverse non-organic and organic dairy product line. In addition to his Robinson Dairy chief executive position, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Froozer; a healthy frozen fruit snack brand and managed an $85 million dairy distribution center in Houston. Charlie was recipient of the 2010 Colorado Ethics in Business award, appointed to two Colorado Governor’s Agricultural Commission transition teams, as well as serving on the nine member Colorado Milk Marketing Board.
Charlie currently serves on the board of Denver Health Hospital Foundation and Metro State University of Denver Foundation. He is past chair of the Denver Metro Leadership Foundation board, past board member of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, Denver Athletic Club, Denver Metro Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a graduate of Leadership Denver. He is a Texas Tech alumnus and currently lives in Ken Caryl Valley.
“I chose to join Metropolitan State University of Denver as a board member because I admire the University for being an affordable higher education option that opens doors for those individuals who otherwise would not be financially able to attend college. As a business owner, I have a special interest in workforce development and know the critical part it plays in the strength of Colorado’s economy. MSU Denver has a proven record of being at the forefront of successful workforce partnerships throughout the Denver Metro area and the state that will encourage continued growth. I am honored and privileged to know that through my work on the Foundation Board of Directors, I am supporting Colorado’s future workforce leaders at the grassroots level.”