History of DHE Executive Directors, click here;
Lieutenant Governor Joseph A. Garcia is the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Prior to his appointment by Governor John Hickenlooper in January 2011, Mr. Garcia recently worked as president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and energized the campus by considering nontraditional solutions to longstanding issues. While there, he helped the school overcome stagnant enrollment, a mediocre reputation and financial difficulties.
Before he worked at CSU-Pueblo, Mr. Garcia was president of the second-largest community college in Colorado, Pike’s Peak Community College. There, he oversaw three campuses that serve more than 16,000 students annually. He earlier worked for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies as the Executive Director. In this capacity, he managed and maintained budgetary responsibility for such Colorado divisions as Banking, Financial Services, Real Estate, Insurance, Civil Rights, Securities, and Public Utilities Commission. Mr. Garcia was appointed by Romer.
Mr. Garcia has continuously participated in community and non-profit organizations throughout his professional career. These experiences taught him to find solutions, not by driving a partisan agenda but by working with all stakeholders to reach a common ground. He and his wife, Dr. Claire Garcia, became deeply involved in public education when their own children entered grade school in Colorado Springs. Mr. Garcia served in roles as varied as PTO President to Legal Counsel for the District 11 School Board.
Born into a military family with deep roots in northern New Mexico, Mr. Garcia has lived in cities ranging from the Western United States to Western Europe. Mr. Garcia earned a business degree from the University of Colorado. He returned to Colorado after earning a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School because of the quality of life found here. An avid mountain biker and mountain climber in the summer and snowboarder in the winter, Mr. Garcia could not imagine calling anywhere else his home – and hopes to pass that tradition onto his children and grandchildren.
Dr. Matt Gianneschi is the Deputy Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Prior to joining DHE in 2011, Dr. Gianneschi served as the Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management at the Community College of Aurora.
Prior to joining the Community College of Aurora, Dr. Gianneschi was the senior policy advisor for education to Governor Bill Ritter, during which time he directed the state’s P-20 Education Coordinating Council, or “P-20 Council,” and helped create numerous bipartisan and cross-sector legislative initiatives, including SB 08-212, the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (sponsored by Romer & Penry, Witwer & Scanlan), or “CAP4K,” and HB 09-1319, the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act (Merrifield & Massey, Williams). Gianneschi also served on the “pipeline” subcommittee for the recent Higher Education Strategic Plan (HESP) process and was the co-chair of the education transition team for Governor Hickenlooper and Lt. Governor Garcia with State Board of Education Chairman Bob Schaffer. Dr. Gianneschi has taught at the University of Denver and at the Community College of Aurora.
A graduate of Manual High in the Denver Public Schools, Dr. Gianneschi holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Denver and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.
Mark Cavanaugh has been serving as the director of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Team overseeing compliance and accountability for $7 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for Colorado.
Prior to working on ARRA oversight, Mr. Cavanaugh managed Governor Ritter’s Government Efficiency and Management Performance Review, which resulted in over 90 specific recommendations to increase government efficiency that are expected to save $205 million over five years.
Mr. Cavanaugh has worked in budget and management positions for the Department of Defense, the National Park Service and the Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting under Governors Roy Romer and Bill Owens. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Cavanaugh served as the vice chair to the Board of Trustees of Adams State University. He also was the deputy campaign manager for the Referenda C & D campaign.
He received his B.A. in Business and English from Regis College and a J.D. from the University of Utah.
Dr. Poast has over seventeen years of professional experience in higher education administration and community engagement. She has a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education, with a research emphasis on underrepresented student populations and gender.
At the university/college level, Dr. Poast has held a number of positions including Director of Student Life, Dean of Students, Academic Advisor and Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Community College of Denver, Regis University and the University of Northern Colorado.
Dr. Poast has served on a number of community boards including: the Denver Center for Crime Victims, Mind’s Matter Denver, the Cheshire Children’s Fund, the Academy for Urban Learning (Denver Public School Charter school), DPS Executive Internship Program, and is currently Vice-Chair of Denver Project Wise.
Dr. Poast received her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Counseling Psychology from California Lutheran University, and her Ph.D. in Higher Education, Student Affairs Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado.
Dr. Macgillivray started his career in education as a science teacher at Manual High School and Horace Mann Middle School in Denver Public Schools and at a private, P12, dual immersion bilingual school in Mexico City, México.
After experiencing the P12 educational realm, Dr. Macgillivray became Assistant Professor of Educator Preparation at James Madison University's College of Education where he published two books, numerous journal articles, and was awarded the 2007 Provost Award for Excellence in International Beliefs and Values. He also represented his college on the Faculty Senate and participated on the Diversity Committee and the Curriculum Development, Implementation, and Review Committee. His research focused on issues related to inclusion and equity in school settings.
Most recently, Dr. Macgillivray served as Academic Policy Officer for Educator Preparation at the department where he oversaw Colorado’s 20 higher education-based educator preparation programs. In this role, he provided statewide guidance on national and state law and policy changes affecting the preparation of educators and he continues to assist in implementing the state’s P20 alignment, Educator ID Longitudinal Data System, and new educator effectiveness initiatives.
Dr. Macgillivray received his B.A. Biology from University of Northern Colorado, his M.A. Anthropology from University of Colorado Denver, and his Ph.D. Foundations of Education Policy and Practice from University of Colorado Boulder.
Senior Director for Grants and Strategic Initiatives
Inta Morris is the Assistant Director of Interdepartmental & External Affairs for the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Before joining the Department in July 2007, she served as Academic and Political Affairs Officer for the Canadian Consulate General in Denver, Colorado. In that position, she developed advocacy programs and strategies for advancing Canada’s positions with the political and academic communities in the Rocky Mountain region.
Previously, Ms. Morris served as Vice President of the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation, a nongovernmental organization focused on fostering ties between the scientific and academic communities of the United States and countries of the former Soviet Union. Prior to that position, she served as director of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences and she worked in the International Affairs office of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences (now National Academies). She began her career working for Congressman David Skaggs, first as a member of his campaign staff and then as a legislative assistant in his congressional office.
Ms. Morris received her Masters degree from George Washington University and her Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado. She is multi-lingual and has traveled extensively in Europe, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa. Ms. Morris is married and has two stepdaughters.