MSU Denver

More from the Board of Trustees:

Russell NolesRussell Noles


Russell Noles was elected chair of the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in January 2022. 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 with responsibility for TIAA-CREF Trust Company, F.S.B., and Kaspick & Company (Planned Giving business) for three years.

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 publicly listed 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.

Russell currently serves on the Board of Directors for Consumer Reports, where he chairs the Finance Committee and Investments Subcommittee and on the Board of Directors for Jackson Financial, Inc. a publicly listed insurance company where he chairs the Finance & Risk Committee.


Kristin HultquistKristin Hultquist


Kristin Hultquist was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in December 2019 and elected Vice-Chair of the Board in January 2022.

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 also serves on the board of 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.


Albus BrooksAlbus 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 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 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.


Emily Renwick GarnettEmily 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.


Mike JohnstonMike 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.


Mike KoppMike Kopp


Mike Kopp was appointed to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in late 2020.

Mike Kopp is the President and CEO of Colorado Concern, an alliance of top business executives with a mission of enhancing the Centennial State’s business climate.

Mike’s career began as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. In Ranger School he seized upon and never let go of the Ranger Creed’s line, “Surrender is not a Ranger word.” He often notes that that phrase has shaped him like none other. Mike also served as a hot shot firefighter.

Mike served on the senior management team of Colorado’s largest electric cooperative where he oversaw the Corporate Affairs Division which provided leadership for its professional development, legislative and regulatory affairs, corporate communications, public affairs and member relations functions.

He won a highly competitive race for a Colorado state senate seat and was re-elected to a second term. During his tenure he was chosen by his peers to serve as Caucus Chairman and Senate Minority Leader. He later won his party’s state convention in a bid to become Governor in 2014.

Mike earned a Masters of Public Administration at CU-Denver and serves on several nonprofit boards including the Griffith Centers for Children, EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children), Rose Community Foundation Healthcare Committee and the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at The University of Denver.


Marissa MolinaMarissa 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.


Jim QualteriJim Qualteri

Alumni Representative

Jim Qualteri was elected president of the MSU Denver Alumni Association Board and the alumni representative to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees in 2021.

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 from MSU Denver in 1996 with a degree in Criminal Justice.


Dr. Meredith Jeffers

Faculty Trustee

Meredith Jeffers was elected Faculty Trustee in 2022.

Meredith Lyn Jeffers is a professor of Spanish at MSU Denver. Her teaching experience includes Spanish film, literature, culture, and creative writing. Meredith prioritizes student engagement and career readiness, and her students regularly contribute to signature events at MSU Denver, such as the annual World Languages Undergraduate Research Conference, the World Languages Week Celebration, and the Translation Colloquium.

Her previous research explored the recovery of historical memory of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship, and she conducted archival research and interviews in Barcelona and Valencia, Spain. Her current research centers on representations of otherness in contemporary films from Spain. In 2020, Meredith received state grant funding through the Open Roadrunners Program to author two openly licensed textbooks that are now available to students at no cost.

Meredith holds a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She believes language is at the core of identity and community. For this reason, she has volunteered as a translator and interpreter for the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office, served on a fundraising board for a Denver legal non-profit, and assessed the Denver Fire and Police language proficiency exams. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing and running with her dog, Daisy.


No Photo AvailableGabriel Trujillo

Student Trustee

Gabe was elected student trustee in 2022.



David FineDavid 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.

David has been listed in Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers and 5280 Top Lawyers on multiple occasions. He serves on the board of the Florence Crittendon Services. David also served on the MSU Denver Foundation board.

David 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.


Melinda OlivarezMelinda 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.