Tom McGimpsey, Chair
Tom McGimpsey is Executive Vice President -- General Counsel, Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary of Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ “AEIS”) (“Advanced Energy”), a global leader in the design and manufacturing of highly engineered, precision power conversion, measurement and control products. At Advanced Energy, Mr. McGimpsey has also served as its Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Development (M&A) Officer and VP of Information Technology.
Prior to joining Advanced Energy, Commissioner McGimpsey held the position of Vice President of Operations for First Data Corporation, Executive Vice President of Business Development & Chief Legal Officer at McDATA Corporation (NASDAQ “MCDTA”), Senior Corporate Attorney at US WEST, Inc. (NYSE “USW”), was in private practice at several national law firms, and a Senior Engineer at Software Technology, Inc.
Commissioner McGimpsey received his MBA from Colorado State University (with distinction), his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Colorado, and his BS degree in Computer Science (with a minor in electrical systems) from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Mr. McGimpsey is on the board of directors of CPP, Inc., a leading wind and air quality engineering company and is also on the boards of several international companies affiliated with Advanced Energy. Commissioner McGimpsey was appointed by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2015 as a Republican resident of the 2nd Congressional District.
Vanecia Kerr, Vice Chair
Vanecia Kerr is the Regional Executive Director of College Track Colorado. With a center in Aurora and another one in Denver, she oversees a region that serves over 500 students with more than 350 high school students and over 170 college students on a path to a four year college degree. Prior to her current role, Ms. Kerr served as the Managing Director of Marketing, Communications and Development for City Year Denver for five years. Until 2011, Ms. Kerr was the Regional Director of Community Affairs for the mid-west and western region of TIAA-CREF. In this role she was responsible for developing and overseeing the strategy and implementation of community outreach activities. Over her 18-year tenure at TIAA-CREF, Ms. Kerr held several leadership positions, including relationship management with top tier clients (mostly notable colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations) whose assets ranged from $200 million to $800 million.
Ms. Kerr has received numerous certificates and honors, including her recent recognition in 2014 by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce as a Finalist for the Athena Award. An accomplished champion of civic engagement, Ms. Kerr is the founder of several organizations and has served on numerous boards. Most recently she was on the Founding Committee to bring City Year to Denver and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries, the Public Education & Business Coalition and the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Ms. Kerr is a highly experienced public speaker, credited with more than 250 speaking engagements to audiences ranging from 20 to 2,000 people; highlights include serving as a keynote speaker, expert panelist and facilitator for various local and national organizations, including the Clinton Global Initiative and Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship. Ms. Kerr is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (a public service sorority) and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hampton University in Virginia and a Masters of Public Administration from Baruch College at the City University of New York (CUNY).
In her spare time, she likes to volunteer, serve in her local church, watch movies and enjoy the many activities that Colorado has to offer with her husband and son. Ms. Kerr was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2014 and will serve through June 2022 as a Democratic resident of the 6th Congressional District."
Berrick Abramson is the Senior Policy Director at the non-partisan, non-profit Keystone Policy Center, where he leads Keystone's education practice and workforce development initiatives. He joined Keystone in 2017 bringing a diverse background in public policy, education, technology and finance. His policy work has included policy research, development, advancement and implementation in states across the country. Drawing on his time in both the private and public sectors, he also leads a variety of projects at Keystone with local and state governments and government agencies with a focus on operational efficiencies and consensus building strategies.
Commissioner Abramson is a nationally respected thought leader with more than two decades of experience in public policy and education issues and he is frequently sought to speak at national conferences on issues relating to P-20 education and workforce development. Before focusing on education issues, Commissioner Abramson worked in public policy and politics at the local, state and federal level in California and Colorado, where he focused on issues relating to education, economic development and the future of the American workforce. Prior to his work in public policy, Berrick worked in finance and technology in San Francisco. He was co-founder and Managing Partner of TPGI Ventures, a boutique venture capital, corporate finance and consulting firm for whom he now serves as a Senior Advisor.
Commissioner Abramson holds a bachelor’s degree in U.S. History from University of California Santa Barbara. He lives in Jefferson County with his fiancée Carrie, where he has helped raise two step children, one who recently graduated high school and one now in high school. They share their home with their two Australian Shepherds, one St. Bernard-Bernese Mountain Dog and spend as much time as possible camping and playing outdoors. In his spare time, Commissioner Abramson is an avid skydiver, home chef and gardener.
Commissioner Abramson was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Polis through July 1, 2023 as an unaffiliated resident of the 7th Congressional District.
Mary Beth Buescher
Grand Junction, Colorado
A lawyer by trade, Mary Beth spent 15 years as a deputy district attorney for Mesa County; ran the Great Books Program at her children's school; served 13 years on the Mesa County Child Protection Team; and, recently, has spent two years on the Colorado Juvenile Parole Board.
Mary Beth was the first woman lawyer to have a practice in Grand Junction. She also worked for Ken Salazar, while he was a United States Senator, helping run the Senate Office for the Western Slope.
She has served on the boards of many non-profits including, currently, Mental Health Colorado and the Riverside Educational Foundation (REC). REC serves the poorest neighborhood in Grand Junction with after school tutoring and enrichment programs, preparing them for higher education.
Her proudest accomplishment is choosing Bernie as her life partner 44 years ago, raising four great kids: now all employed, college educated adults. She hopes her term on CCHE continues to expand higher education opportunities for all Coloradoans. Mary Beth was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2016 to serve through July 1, 2020 as a Democratic resident of the 3rd Congressional District.
Lone Tree, Colorado
Commissioner Colon is the current Chief Development Officer for Mile High United Way. Mr. Colon began his career in 1989 with Eli Lilly and Company as a chemical engineer, supporting day-to-day operations of chemical manufacturing plants and directing large renovations of manufacturing facilities. After completing his master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Cambridge (England) and his MBA from the University of Michigan Business School, Mr. Colon joined A.T. Kearney, a leading management consulting firm. He later served as a corporate strategy and e-business consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and then became part of the executive management team at Source One Management.
In 2003, Commissioner Colon joined Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's Cabinet as the Manager of the Department of General Services. His success in that position inspired him to start his own company, Colón Construction Services, a construction solutions company focusing on sustainable construction. He also managed the Western U.S. operations for the CSA Group, a full-service architectural and engineering project delivery company with headquarters in Miami, Florida. He is now part of Xcelente Global’s senior team, where he focuses on consulting with clients on international business strategy and logistics.
Mr. Colon received the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s 2000 Brillante Award, the organization’s highest award, and also received fellowships from the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, the William Davidson Institute, Astra-Zeneca, and Air Products and Chemicals. Mr. Colon was selected as one of the Denver Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award recipients and also received the prestigious Gates Family Foundation fellowship to attend the Harvard Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. He currently holds or has held seats on the Board of Trustees of both the Iliff School of Theology and Mesa State College, the Board of Directors of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross, Teach for America-Colorado and the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, among many others. He also serves on the Colorado Community Advisory board of U.S. Bank.
Mr. Colon was born and raised in Puerto Rico and he resides with his wife Toti and three children in Lone Tree. He was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2013 to serve through June 2021 as a Republican resident of the 4th Congressional District.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Cassie Gannett is an assistant principal at Stratmoor Hills Elementary School in Harrison School District 2 in southeastern Colorado Springs. She has spent the majority of her career in District 2 where she worked as a high school math teacher and Instructional Coordinator for Secondary mathematics. Dr. Gannett has over 20 years of experience in education including K-12, community college, and university work.
She is a Colorado native who returned to her home state after earning a degree in education from the University of Kansas. Her pursuit of knowledge continued at Regis University where she earned a Masters of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a focus on English as a Second Language. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Denver with a dissertation focus on equitable math education.
Outside of work and learning, Cassie is the secretary of Peak Education, a non-profit with a goal of helping students to and through college with mentoring and support beginning in 7th grade.
Her passion for education is not surpassed by her love of family. She enjoys many Colorado pastimes including skiing, hiking, and camping with her husband and three boys. Dr. Gannett was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2016 to serve through July 1, 2020 as an unaffiliated resident of the 5th Congressional District.
Sarah Kendall Hughes
Sarah Kendall Hughes brings more than a decade of education and political leadership to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and she currently owns her own consulting firm.
Prior to starting her own firm, Commissioner Hughes was Senator Bennet’s Deputy Chief of Staff for nearly a decade, responsible for the development and strategic implementation of a statewide agenda, day-to-day operations, communications strategy, and oversight of all staff. She also managed constituent outreach and stakeholder engagement across Colorado with business, government, education, and community leaders.
Passionate about quality public school education, Hughes has spent her professional and volunteer capacity working to improve public education for all students. Commissioner Hughes served as Chief of Staff at Denver Public Schools (DPS) from 2005 to 2009. Among many accomplishments, she helped create and implement a reform agenda to help turn the district around after years of budget cuts and falling test scores. She also worked with then-Superintendent Bennet and the executive team to transform the administrative hub of DPS from a one-size- fits-all, centralized enterprise to a central office that worked in support of schools, principals, and teachers by attempting to push decision-making to principals and schools themselves. She is also the President of the Board of Directors of a local Charter school and has worked as a classroom teacher at various points in her career. Hughes has been committed to public service throughout her career. She served as Deputy Chief of Staff for then-Mayor John Hickenlooper’s first mayoral term in the City and County of Denver. She was involved in all aspects of Hickenlooper’s reform agenda to bring common sense solutions to the challenges facing the city. She also helped run Mayor Hickenlooper’s Transition team having served as its Deputy Director.
Commissioner Hughes earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Franklin and Marshall College. She now lives in Edwards, Colorado with her husband and three children. She was appointed by Governor Jared Polis to serve through July 1, 2023 as a Democratic resident from the 3rd Congressional District.
Charlotte Olena serves as the advocacy director at New Era Colorado, where she has made a career out of challenging the status quo. In fewer than three years, Commissioner Olena has transformed advocacy work at New Era to mature as an $800,000 program and driven the conversation on student debt at the state legislature.
This past legislative session, Commissioner Olena worked tirelessly with students, graduates, organizations and legislators to pass critical legislation to help level the playing field for student borrowers—the strongest legislation of its kind in the nation. She works directly with the students the commission serves every single day, getting their feedback on policy proposals and mobilizing them to raise their voices and trust that they matter.
Before joining New Era, Commissioner Olena served as assistant organizing director for Green Corps, where she developed and executed eight local, state and national environmental grassroots campaigns.
Commissioner Olena earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Colby College. She was appointed by Gov. Polis in July 2019 to serve through July 1, 2023 as a Democratic resident from the 1st Congressional District.
Brittany Stich is the co-founder and Vice President of Learning at Work at Guild Education, a company whose mission is to unlock opportunity for America’s workforce through education. In partnership with universities around the country, Guild helps those who have yet to earn a degree access education through their employer's tuition benefits.
At Guild, Commissioner Stich has led work around college pathways, credit for workplace training, and innovations in student support. She has years of experience in public/private partnerships, curriculum development, instruction and career and academic advising in the K-12 and higher education sectors, both as an educator and operator. She believes deeply in the power of education as a first-generation college student herself.
Prior to founding Guild, Commissioner Stich started her career as a middle school and elementary school teacher at Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School and is a Teach for America alum. She spent multiple years leading student services and program operations, building honors programs in community colleges across the country. She and Guild Education have received multiple accolades including Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies List, Forbes 30 under 30, and EBN’s Top Benefit Technology Innovator. She is an alumna of Stanford, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Stanford Graduate School of Education.
Commissioner Stich was appointed by Gov. Polis in July 2019 to serve through July 1, 2022 as a Democratic resident from the 1st Congressional District.
As President & Chief Executive Officer of the Pueblo Latino Chamber, Steven Trujillo is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations, public relations and community representation. Under his leadership, the Latino Chamber continues to grow and advance, while staying focused on the small business community of southern Colorado.
In addition to CCHE, Commissioner Trujillo currently serves on the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, the President’s Leadership Program Advisory Board and the Pueblo Community College CETD Advisory Board. He is a member of the Chavez-Huerta Board of Directors and a member of the El Pueblo Interdevelopment Corporation (EPIC) Board of Directors among many others.
Commissioner Trujillo was a member of the Presidents Leadership Program at CSU-Pueblo and served on the Scholars Board for the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, advocating and representing students from CSU-Pueblo since 2010. In 2009 Commissioner Trujillo received the 2009 Colorado State University-Pueblo Campus Leader of the Year Award, presented by the Boettcher Foundation, and was a 2009 Nominee for “Colorado Student Leader of the Year.”
A native of Pueblo, Steven is a 2007 graduate of Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School. He holds an Associate of Applied Science Degree in general studies from Pueblo Community College, a bachelor’s of science in business administration from Colorado State University-Pueblo with a minor in leadership studies, and a master’s degree in business administration, also from Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Commissioner Trujillo enjoys volunteering his time with groups that work toward the enhancement of the Pueblo Community, and spending time with his family and friends in the beautiful Colorado outdoors.
Commissioner Trujillo was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis in July 2019 to serve through July 1, 2023 as a Democratic resident from the 3rd Congressional District.
Eric Tucker, Ph.D.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Eric Tucker, Ph.D., serves as the Director of Consulting and Assistant Professor of Management at the United States Air Force Academy (USAF). A proven team player, Commissioner Tucker is a goal-driven leader and experienced problem solver who focuses on data-driven decision making for continuous improvement. He is experienced in human resources, scheduling, training, budgeting and operational execution.
Commissioner Tucker has taught at USAF Academy since 2004. In his teaching, he challenges his students to use the tools and techniques to solve ill-defined problems. He incorporates real-word illustrations to demonstrate that operations management, project management and various analytic techniques are applicable across many domains.
In his research, Commissioner Tucker focuses on the improvement of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems. He has published several academic articles, earned many grants and fellowships, presented at more than a dozen conferences and is writing a forthcoming book.
Commissioner Tucker earned a bachelor’s of science from the USAF Academy in aeronautical engineering, a master’s in science in engineering and technology management, a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College in Newport and Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering in Industrial Engineering from University of Central Florida.
Commissioner Tucker was appointed by Gov. Jared Polis in July 2019 to serve through July 1, 2023 as an unaffiliated resident from the 5th Congressional District.