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Board of Trustees Biographies

Photo of Board Chair, Barbara Grogan

Barbara Barnes Grogan


Barbara Barnes Grogan was elected chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December 2019. Barb was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in 2015 and reappointed in 2019.

She serves on the Governance and Finance Committees.

Barb is the founder of Western Industrial Contractors Inc. and was its CEO for 22 years. She grew the company from its inception to become a highly respected and successful corporation working in all 50 states and over 300 airports for clients such as IBM, Coors, GE, Manville, Lockheed, the U.S. Postal Service, United Airlines and the TSA. During her career, Barb also served on the boards of directors of three New York Stock Exchange companies and was the chair of the Federal Reserve of Kansas City – Denver Branch and the Denver Chamber of Commerce. She also served on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout her career and since her retirement, Barb has been deeply involved in our community, focusing primarily on children and their families with an emphasis on education – early childhood, K-12 and higher education. She works on public policy for education at a national level as a trustee for the Committee for Economic Development and at the state level as the co-chair of Colorado’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission and as a member of Colorado’s Education Leadership Council.

Barb is involved in many nonprofits in our community serving the needs of the most vulnerable citizens, such as Volunteers of America. One of her current passions is immigration reform and the support of our Asset students to prepare for, attend and successfully graduate from our great institutions of higher education. Barb has received Leadership Denver’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the United Methodist Church Human Relations Award and the University of Colorado School of Business’ Distinguished Leader Award. She was selected as the 2012 Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Colorado Nonprofit Association and was recently honored by National Volunteers of America and Mile High United Way.

Photo of Russell Noles

Russell Noles


Russell Noles was elected vice-chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December 2019. Russell Noles was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in early 2019.

He is the Chair of the Finance Committee. Russell also serves on the Governance and Academic and Student Affairs Committees.

Russell is a retired corporate executive, serving most recently as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Nuveen, a wholly owned asset management subsidiary of Teacher’s Insurance & Annuity Association (TIAA), located in New York City.  He was responsible for executive oversight of the company’s finance, information technology, operations and risk management functions.  He was appointed to the role in June 2017 and retired in March 2019. 

Prior to this role he was the senior managing director and chief strategy officer for TIAA for six years where he led a team that was responsible for strategic planning, corporate development and strategy consulting.

Previously, Russell was senior vice president of trust products for TIAA for three years, which included executive oversight for TIAA-CREF Trust Company, F.S.B., and Kaspick & Company (Planned Giving business).

Russell joined TIAA in July 2004 in the role of senior vice president and chief internal audit executive for three years and was the acting chief financial officer for the company for one year.

Before TIAA, Russell spent three years with the St. Paul Companies, a property and casualty insurance company in Minnesota where he was the vice president and chief internal audit executive for the company.  Previously, he spent over seventeen years in the telecommunications industry in Denver with US West and Qwest Communications in a number of accounting, finance and internal audit roles.

Russell is a graduate of the Denver Public Schools and is an alumnus of MSU Denver, receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting.  He also holds an MBA from the University of Denver and is a licensed CPA.  He previously served on the MSUD Foundation and Alumni Association Boards.

Photo of Trustee, Albus Brooks

Albus Brooks


Albus Brooks was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December 2019.

At the core of Albus Brooks’ identity is community development and servant leadership. Albus moved to Colorado in 1997 to study and play football for the University of Colorado. Sports Illustrated named him one of the Top 10 Hardest Hitters, and the NFL took interest in him before injuries ultimately ended his football career. 

Albus Brooks pursued his calling for community development by working with young people in Denver’s poor communities. He served as the Director of the Issachar Center for Urban Leadership, an organization that invests in Denver’s emerging leaders. In 2010 Albus worked to elect then-Mayor John Hickenlooper as Governor of Colorado, acting as the statewide Outreach and Political Director. 

This exposure to political leadership led him to seek public office, and in 2011 Albus defeated 38 opponents to become the youngest African American ever elected to Denver City Council. Serving two terms on Denver City Council, including two terms as Council President, Albus accomplished an ambitious range of progressive legislative victories with the goal of building a truly inclusive city.  

To address the affordability crisis, he co-created Denver’s first - and Colorado’s largest - affordable housing fund. To make Denver a more equitable place to grow up he funded and expanded the Denver Preschool Program, providing universal access to preschool for all 4-year-olds. He also decriminalized marijuana possession for those 18-21 years old, preventing thousands of young people from entering the criminal justice system.  

Albus Brooks received his M.B.A. from the University of Denver. He is now the Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for Milender White, a Development and Construction firm operating in Southern California and Colorado. 

Albus sits on multiple boards and commissions and has been a part of the following national and international fellowship programs: The Marshall Memorial Fellowship, the NewDEAL Leaders, and the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship.

Although a rising global leader, it is in the heart of Denver where Albus feels most at home. He lives in the Cole neighborhood with his wife Debi and their three young children, Makai, Kenya, and Kaya.

Photo of Trustee, Mario M. Carrera

Mario M. Carrera


Mario M. Carrera was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December of 2019.

Mario M. Carrera is an accomplished senior executive in top-rated media sales, television, radio and online properties with a successful track record of growing cash-flow margins. His extensive experience involves the formulation of company strategies, plans and objectives. Mario's achievements include top reve­nue generation with major communications companies, including Univision. Mario's total sales and management background includes over thirty years in Senior Management responsibilities with radio and television stations in several markets across the United States such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Colorado Springs, Fresno, and Bakersfield. His entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic have allowed him to accumulate notable busi­ness skills, community recognition and experience while accomplishing meaningful objectives in the markets he has served. 

As Entravision’s most recent Chief Revenue Officer, Mario lead for seven years all sales activities across the country in­cluding the execution of revenue strategies and innovative client-centric integrated mar­keting solutions with 56 Television Stations, 49 Radio Stations, a National Radio Network and various Digital Properties. Mario’s prior role was as Senior Vice President of Spanish-Lan­guage Television, overseeing and managing all of Entravision's Spanish language televi­sion properties. Carrera also previously led Entravision's Radio, Television and Interactive assets in Colo­rado as the Vice President and General Manager for eight years. His success in media management is directly attributed to his belief that the main purpose of mass media is to enhance the lives and economic wellbeing of the community served through education, information, and entertainment.

Mario is a graduate of Harvard University, studied at El Colegio de Mexico and participated in pro­fessional development programs offered through the University of California Los Angeles and the North­western University, Kellogg School of Business.  Mario and his wife, Irma, live in Lone Tree, Colorado.

Photo of Trustee, Emily Renwick Garnett

Emily Renwick Garnett


Emily Renwick Garnett was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in February 2020.

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 our 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.

Photo of Trustee, Kristin D. Hultquist

Kristin Hultquist


Kristin Hultquist was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December 2019.

Kristin Hultquist is a founding partner of HCM Strategists (HCM), 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, which include several major US philanthropies, including Ascendium, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, 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. Kristin’s policy leadership with experts, states, foundations, and organizations includes providing expert testimony three times to the US 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.

Kristin’s belief in the transformative power of higher education opportunity is a direct result of her own educational experience. Prior to forming HCM Strategists, Kristin 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. She previously served as the program director of the education division of the National Governor’s 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, Kristin 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. Kristin serves on the boards of Metro State University Denver and the Institute for Higher Education Policy and has assisted section of the Scholarship America Dream Award since 2019. She and her husband, Brent, share four children and live in Parker, Colorado.

Photo of Trustee, Mike Johnston

Mike Johnston


Mike Johnston was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December 2019.

Mike Johnston is the President and CEO of Gary Community Investments which includes the Piton Foundation and the Gary Community Investment Company. GCI is dedicated to using all types of non-profit and for-profit investments to transform the lives of low-income children in Colorado.  He began his career as a teacher in rural Mississippi, which inspired him to write his acclaimed book, “In the Deep Heart’s Core.”

He came home to Colorado to serve as the principal of three different schools, including one inside a juvenile prison and one that served students who lived in residential treatment centers due to significant histories of delinquency, abuse, and neglect. His third school, MESA, became the first school in Colorado history where 100 percent of seniors graduated from high school and 100 percent were admitted to a four-year college.

Mike served as a senior education policy advisor to Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and transition and was elected to two terms in the Colorado State Senate from 2009-2017. During his tenure, he passed over 100 bills with bipartisan support, including major reform measures on education, immigration, racial discrimination, and economic development. Over the last two decades, Mike has led and founded numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations, including New Leaders, the Urban Leaders Fellowship, America Achieves and Traverse.

Mike is a fluent Spanish speaker and holds degrees from Yale College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Yale Law School. He lives with his wife Courtney, who is a Chief Deputy District Attorney in Denver, and their kids Emmet, 12, Seamus, 12, and Ava, 8.

Photo of Marissa Molina

Marissa Molina


Marissa Molina was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in 2019.

She serves on the Governance and Academic and Student Affairs Committees.

Marissa serves as Colorado State Immigration Manager for, a bipartisan political-advocacy organization started by business and tech leaders committed to meaningful reform within the country’s immigration and criminal justice systems. In 2015, she was named a White House Champion of Change, an honor given to “extraordinary educators with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status who have been strong role models for students and families as well as change agents within their communities.”

Marissa is a 2014 graduate of Fort Lewis College and a former public-school Spanish teacher who began her career in education with Teach for America. Since 2015, she has participated in the Urban Leaders Fellowship, the Education Pioneers Career Track Fellowship and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado Public Policy Fellowship. Prior to joining, Marissa also served as manager of community engagement for Rocky Mountain Prep.

James M. Mulligan, Esq.


Jim Mulligan was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in 2017.

He is the chair of the Governance Committee. Jim also serves on the Finance Committee and is the MSU Denver representative to the MSU Denver Foundation Board.

Jim, a longtime fixture on the Colorado real-estate scene, has played a firsthand role in many of the real-estate transactions that have helped fuel the state’s growth over the past 40 years.

A former member of Husch Blackwell’s Real Estate, Development & Construction team, Jim advised clients across the real-estate industry with an emphasis on commercial and mixed-use real estate, including urban, resort and suburban developments, corporate campuses, plus a more recent and additional focus on Public-Private Infrastructure Partnerships.

Jim has extensive experience with federal, state and local developments, project finance, tax and other incentive programs for corporate users, and public-private infrastructure and redevelopment projects, including economic-development incentives, land use and entitlements, historic designations, tax-increment-financed projects, tax-credit structures and taxable and tax-exempt bond and TABOR issues.

Corporate and commercial clients involved with real-estate leasing, ownership, development, infrastructure and finance in Colorado and throughout the Rocky Mountain region seek Jim’s assistance with a variety of public-policy and government-relations issues, initiatives, economic-development incentives and related legislation. He also advises clients on affordable-housing projects and programs and has been appointed special deputy attorney general representing the Colorado Division of Housing in finance transactions.

In addition to counseling clients, Jim holds leadership positions in real-estate industry and community organizations. He is on the national board of NAIOP – the Commercial Real Estate Development Association and on the board and executive committee of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., and most recently was appointed by former Governor John Hickenlooper to the governing Board of Trustees for Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Photo of Joe Rice

Joe Rice

Alumni Representative

Joe Rice was elected president of the MSU Denver Alumni Association Board and the alumni representative to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in 2018.

Joe is fond of his days at MSU Denver – it’s where he met his wife of 25 years, Kendall (B.S. exercise physiology ‘90). Joe earned an associate’s degree from the New Mexico Military Institute, a bachelor’s degree in history from Metropolitan State University of Denver (‘89), 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.

Joe is Director of Government Relations for Lockheed Martin Space (LMS). Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in August 2011, Joe 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.

Joe has over 30 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.

Joe is on the Board of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable and is active with the Colorado Space Coalition and Citizens for Space Exploration. He serves as an appointee of former Governor John Hickenlooper on the Colorado Aeronautical Board. 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 has been involved since 2003 with the Baghdad-Denver Region Partnership (BDRP).

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. In 2017, Joe was recognized for leadership in global diplomacy by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and presented the Thomas R. Hobson Aerospace Distinguished Service Award by the Aerospace States Association.

Photo of David Fine, General Counsel & Secretary to the Board of Trustees

David Fine

General Counsel & Secretary to the Board of Trustees

He staffs the Governance Committee.

Before becoming General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Trustees at MSU Denver, David Fine was a partner at the international law firm of Holland & Knight specializing in several areas of law, including higher-education law. He also served as the Denver City Attorney under Mayor John Hickenlooper from 2007-11. 

Fine has been listed in Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers and 5280 Top Lawyers on multiple occasions. He serves on the boards of the Florence Crittendon Services and the Urban Land Conservancy, where he is Board Secretary.  Fine also served on the MSU Denver Foundation board.

Fine is a fourth-generation Coloradan and a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools. He received his Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Wisconsin and his Juris Doctor from the Northwestern University School of Law.

Photo of Mel Olivarez, Paralegal & Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Melinda Olivarez

Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Mel is the Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees, paralegal for MSU Denver's Legal Department, and Executive Assistant to the General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel.

Prior to joining MSU Denver, Mel served as General Counsel, David Fine's Executive Assistant in the private sector at Holland & Knight LLP and Dentons US LLP and in the public sector when David served as the Denver City Attorney under Mayor Hickenlooper from 2007 to 2011.

Mel earned a bachelor of science degree in management from MSU Denver's School of Business ('10). She is proud to have served on the Board of Directors of the Citizens' Police Academy Alumni Association of Northglenn (CPAAAN), as a Greenprint Denver Urban Fellow with the City and County of Denver, and as a Unified Partner with the Colorado Special Olympics.


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