Each year the Denver Business Journal (DBJ) chooses 40 professionals under 40 who are movers and shakers in the Denver community. These hardworking individuals are some of the brightest Denver has to offer and Morgridge is delighted to call one of our alumni a DBJ 40 Under 40 winner. Scott Laband, MA ’10, is the current president of Colorado Succeeds, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan coalition of business leaders focused on improving the state’s education system. Scott recently sat down to chat with us about his award, his time at Morgridge, and where he sees himself in the future.
Tell me about your time at Morgridge.
The Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver is known for encouraging out of the box thinking and my time at Morgridge did not fall short of my expectations. I came to Morgridge at a time when I was making a seismic shift in my career, from corporate to nonprofit – with a stop in public service along the way. I was inspired, challenged, and met amazing people who are still engaged in the movement to improve our nation’s schools today.
Why did you choose a degree in higher education?
I remember it vividly. I’m the oldest of five children and was doling out advice to my siblings entering their adult life, encouraging them to follow their passions. While chating with my youngest sister about her college major, it struck me that I should take a dose of my own advice. In a matter of weeks, I quit my comfortable corporate job, found a new role as a Legislative Director with in the State Senate, and enrolled at Morgridge to study leadership and organizational change inside education.
Coming from a family of educators, I have immense respect and admiration for their radical commitment to the next generation. It was important for me to understand how I could contribute and do my part. The Morgridge College helped me find my role. My focus then, and still is today, large-scale systems change to create educational experiences that work for all students.
This starts with understanding the diverse needs and interests of all learners and empowering eduators to address them in relevant ways. When we talk about great leaders, we talk about educators and we are committed to supporting them and clearing a path for them to succeed.
Did your degree help you in your career path?
Both personally and professionally. The professional growth is perhaps the most obvious through the expertise, networks, and educational thought-leaders I gained during my time at Morgridge. On a more personal level, I was able to fine tune my skills in time management and discipline as I suddently found myself reporting to one of the most prominent Senators in the Statehouse by day, pursuing a full time degree by night, and learning the ropes as a father for the first time. Talk about a growing opportunity!
What lead you to Colorado Succeeds?
Colorado Succeeds came as a welcomed and natural transition after my time at the Capitol. I was 2010 and I brought on as employee #2, with big expectations to meet. Succeeds was in its infancy, created by a coalition of passionate, prominent business leaders who wanted to exert their leadership and acumen to improving schools, ensuring all students benefit from the types of high-quality educational experiences they received. At the time, we were largely a policy and advocacy shop.
Nine years later, it’s fun to look back and see how we’ve evolved. We’ve all grown together – as a staff, as a membership, and as an incubator for innovation and employer-educator partnerships that are reimagining the learning experience. What led me to Succeeds is the same reason I’m still here today, nearly a decade later: I can be a social entrepreneur laser focused on impact, while reporting to a board comprised of wickedly-smart business executives who a deeply committed to this work.
How does it feel to be listed as one of Denver’s 40 Under 40?
It is humbling and a true honor and at the same time, I know that the reasons I’m being acknowledged are hardly my own to tout. The Board and team at Succeeds was just excited to hear the news and is equally deserving of the recognition. We’re all attending the award reception to celebrate together. It’s a great opportunity to step back, reflect, and toast to the journey.
What is next for your future?
I have never been more excited about the vision and trajectory of Colorado Succeeds. Our leadership is working to create agile learning pathways that respond to the diverse needs and interests of learners. Employers have an important role in coming together with educators to inform those pathways. We’re expanding beyond policy to incubate partnerships and direct philanthropy, putting both our network and money to work. Together, these 3 focus areas – policy, practice, and philanthropy – will increase student access to relevant and rigorous learning environments where they can acquire transferable skills and competencies that will help them achieve economic security and mobility regardless of where the future takes us.