Luis Colon (Chair)
Lone Tree, CO
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. After serving as a corporate strategy and e-business consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he then became part of the executive management team at Source One Management.
In 2003, he 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 (Past Chairman), the Hispanic Chamber Education Foundation (Past Chair), the Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council, the Advisory Council of the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship, the Curious Theatre Company Board, the Denver Division of the March of Dimes, the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross, Teach for America-Colorado and the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado. 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.
Renny Fagan (Vice Chair)
Renny Fagan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Nonprofit Association, joined the Association in March 2009. With about 1300 member nonprofit organizations statewide, the Association provides capacity building resources and technical assistance to nonprofits and advocates on behalf of the entire nonprofit sector. Previously, Mr. Fagan served as the state director for U.S Senator Ken Salazar and briefly for Senator Michael Bennet, where he was responsible for the Senator’s eight offices around the state. He served as a Deputy Attorney General for Attorney Generals Ken Salazar and John Suthers, managing attorneys providing legal services to elected officials and state agencies. Under Gov. Roy Romer, Mr. Fagan was the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue. He began his public service as a state legislator from El Paso County. Elected three times to the House of Representatives, he served on the State Affairs, Judiciary, and Finance Committees and focused on school finance and land use policies.
Mr. Fagan currently serves on the boards of the National Council of Nonprofits, Mile High United Way, the Colorado Channel Authority and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation.
A Colorado native, Mr. Fagan grew up in the Pikes Peak region and has resided in the Denver Metro area for the last 20 years. He received his B.A in Political Science at the University of Chicago and his law degree from Northwestern University. Mr. Fagan was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2015 to serve through July 1, 2019 as a Democrat resident of the 7th Congressional District.
Maia Babbs is a Vice President with Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel, performing investment security analysis and managing client relationships. Ms. Babbs has sixteen years of broad financial industry experience.
Most recently, she served as equity research analyst at Janus Capital for seven years, focusing on the global financial sector with an emphasis on investment banks, insurance, and specialty financial firms. She also covered business services and European retail and industrial companies while at Janus.
Her prior experience includes working as an equity research analyst covering various sectors at Denver Investment Advisors, serving as a senior associate at investment banking firm Green Manning and Bunch, Ltd., and as an associate in Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc.’s debt capital markets group where she focused on energy, power, and chemicals debt origination in New York. Ms. Babbs is a Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder.
Maia received her BA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and her Master of Arts of Law and Diplomacy (International Affairs) with a concentration in international economics and finance from The Fletcher School, Tufts University. She has served on the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Ms. Babbs lives in Golden with her husband Carlton and 9 year old daughter. She was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2015 to serve through June 2019 as an Unaffiliated resident of the 2nd Congressional District.
Mary Beth Buescher
Grand Junction, CO
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.
Stephanie Donner is a career attorney and community leader with more than 16 years of experience in Colorado. Donner was appointed to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education in March 2019.
Commissioner Donner is the founder and chairperson of Coloradoloves.com, a digital campaign that she created with the Denver Metropolitan Economic Development Commission and the Colorado Office of Economic Development. The initiative highlights the breadth and depth of innovation assets that support business expansion in Colorado.
Commissioner Donner recently transitioned from her role as Galvanize’s chief legal, people and government affairs officer and corporate secretary. In that capacity, she oversaw all legal, human resources, regulatory, compliance, corporate governance and government relations matters. Commissioner Donner also launched girls’ coding days for middle and high school girls and girls’ technology advocacy days at the state capitol. She founded, fundraised for and ran the Galvanize Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that provides technology education to traditionally underrepresented groups in the tech community.
Prior to joining Galvanize, Commissioner Donner served as chief legal counsel for Colorado Governor John W. Hickenlooper, advising the governor on legislative and policy issues, contract matters, more than 90 judicial appointments—including three supreme court justice nominations—and emergency management issues. Commissioner Donner also served as Gov. Hickenlooper’s deputy chief of staff and executive director and general counsel for the Colorado Recovery and Resiliency Office. In those roles, Commissioner Donner led the coordinated response to recover from the largest natural disaster in Colorado history and pursued and advocated for millions of dollars to assist Coloradans recovering from fires and floods. Among other policy issues, Commissioner Donner negotiated and drafted the 2015 telecom de-regulation bills.
For her service to Colorado, Commissioner Donner has been awarded Colorado’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women, Girls Scouts’ of Colorado Women of Distinction Award, Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award, Colorado Law Week’s Top Women Lawyer and Colorado Business Magazine’s Top 25 Young Professionals. She was also named as the 2017 9News Leader of the Year, Recipient of the 2018 Richard Marden Davis Award for Outstanding Attorney in the Community and 2018 Colorado Womens' Bar "Raising the Bar" awardee.
Colorado Springs, CO
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 treasurer of the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics and a member of the Colorado Math Leaders. In addition, she has volunteered for Junior Achievement, TESSA, and Newborn Hope.
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.
As a K-12 educator, Ms. Garcia has a wealth of experience. She spent six years as the dropout prevention coordinator at Keating Alternative High School; three years coordinating vocational education programs in partnership with Pueblo District 60, District 70 and Pueblo Community College; seven years as a business education teacher at Pueblo South High School and Aurora Central High School as well as 13 years as an elementary school principal in Pueblo District 60 and Harrison School District 2. Ms. Garcia received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern Colorado, her Master’s Degree in Education from Lesley College and her administrative coursework from the University of Denver. She is a co-founder of Partners in Education and the Pueblo Homework Hotline and has served on the Board of Directors for the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation. She is currently on the Latino Advisory Committee for El Pomar’s ELD Program; Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Pueblo County; Board of Trustees for the Sangre De Cristo Arts and Conference Center; and Pueblo Community College’s Advisory Council/GOLD Panel. She is now employed by IntelliTec College of Pueblo as the Director of Career Services. Natives of Colorado, Ms. Garcia and her husband Patrick have a daughter who graduated from the School of Engineering at CSU-Fort Collins and CU Law School; a daughter who is a graduate of CSU-Pueblo with an elementary teaching degree; a son who graduated from the School of Business at CSU-Fort Collins; a son who is a pre-med student at CU Boulder; and one granddaughter. Ms. Garcia was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2011 to serve through July 1, 2019 as a Democratic resident of the 3rd Congressional District.
Vanecia Kerr is the Regional Executive Director of Denver’s College Track chapter, overseeing a cohort of 75 students at Abraham Lincoln High School. College Track Denver will grow to serve 300 students by 2020, providing the support and commitment they need to enroll in and graduate from college. 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.
Pardis Mahdavi, Ph.D, has dedicated her life to higher education reform, and her background in scholarship and teaching bring a unique perspective to the Commission. She is currently the acting dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
Before arriving in Denver in 2017, Dr. Mahdavi was a professor and chair of anthropology at Pomona College in California. Over her 11-year tenure, she directed the Pacific Basin Institute and served as the Dean of Women. Her research interests include academic freedom, diversity and inclusion in higher education, gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures.
An accomplished scholar, Mahdavi has published five books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Mahdavi received her Ph.D in sociomedical sciences and anthropology from Columbia University and her bachelor’s degree in diplomacy in and world affairs from Occidental College in California. Dr. Mahdavi was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in July 2018 to serve through July 1, 2022 as a Democrat resident of the 1st Congressional District.
Tom McGimpsey is the Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & General Counsel of Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ “AEIS”) (“Advanced Energy”). At Advanced Energy, Mr. McGimpsey has also served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development (M&A) from 2011 to 2015 and managed the IT function from 2010 to 2013.
Prior to joining Advanced Energy, Mr. 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.
Mr. McGimpsey received his MBA from Colorado State University (with honors), 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. Mr. McGimpsey was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2015 as a Republican resident of the 2nd Congressional District.
Monte Moses is an educational consultant and speaker. Prior to starting his private consulting firm, Dr. Moses was the Superintendent of the Cherry Creek School District in Colorado. Monte also served as a school administrator in Littleton, Colorado; Garland, Texas; and Casper, Wyoming; and he was a professor of education at Murray State University in Kentucky. Dr. Moses is the author of two books, and his articles on subjects pertaining to leadership and organizational improvement have appeared in numerous journals. His recent articles have been influential in shaping the debate about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and high school reform.
Dr. Moses has received numerous awards including the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence, Administrator of the Year from the Association of Office Professionals, and National Superintendent of the Year in 2005 from the American Association of School Administrators. He has served on numerous panels and commissions at the state, national and international level. Some of these include the Colorado Race to the Top committee, the AVID Board of Directors, the Rose Community Foundation, ASCD advisory board on the whole child, Colorado P-20 Council, the Western States Benchmarking Consortium, advisory boards for ACT and the College Board, and consultant to the East Asia Regional Council of Schools. Dr. Moses was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Hickenlooper in 2011 to serve through July 1, 2019 as a Republican resident of the 6th Congressional District.