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.

 

 

Dr. Shimelis Assefa exemplifies Inclusive Excellence through his scholarly work in global knowledge production. His research focus on knowledge production and knowledge diffusion highlights a new form of social-class division, which is commonly known as the north-south divide, which he frames as the knowledge divide. For Dr. Assefa, knowledge divide between a developed and a developing country is based on human capital. As the key element to the wealth of nations and globalization, human capital facilitates the free flow of ideas, information, best-practices, know-how, and knowledge on a global scale. He investigates how Africa’s limited access and non-recognized contribution to the global knowledge base creates a challenge for Africa, hindering it from playing an active role in today’s knowledge-based economy. In his book chapter Unfulfilled Promises of Globalization: Global Knowledge Production and Africa, he argues that global knowledge production is critical for a speedier, wider, and deeper interconnectedness that is inclusive and benefits all nations involved. Dr. Assefa is an Associate Professor in the Library and Information Science program.

Dr. Shimelis Assefa talks with students

In 2012, Dr. Assefa organized a panel discussion at the Association for Information Science and Technology annual meeting on the topic of Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint. Taking research outputs and patent applications across all regions of the world, he analyzed the volume of production as a barometer for the well-being of nations’ scientific and innovation impact. Last year, at the same conference in Seattle, WA, he organized and led another panel on the topic of Open Access: The Global Scene, with the goal of reviewing global open access practices and suggesting ideas for the implementation of an international infrastructure that supports and sustains the future of open scholarly communication. In his recent interview with Janet Lee, Dean of Libraries at Regis University, he discussed challenges and opportunities of library collaboration from an international perspective. One key theme he discussed in the interview is exemplified through the practices of PubMed Central (PMC), the world’s largest free full-text database of bio-medical and life sciences  that archives more than 3.3 million journal articles and scientific papers. Hosted by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, so far PMC International (PMCI) supports only Europe (Europe PMC) and Canada (PMC Canada).

In his recent publication Diffusion of scientific knowledge in agriculture: The case for Africa, he developed a knowledge diffusion model that enhances the existing extension service that is slow and hierarchical. Borrowing from the method of translational research, Dr. Shimelis investigates methods on how scientific research findings reach farmers, in a format and language that is easy to use and provides timely access, thereby narrowing the gap from knowledge to action/decision-making. Dr. Assefa also organized and led a workshop for agricultural scientists at the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists titled Using Moodle as an Online Learning Management System to offer Professional Development Courses to Agricultural Extension Workers in Africa. He has played leadership roles in the Association for Information Science and Technology, where he served as co-chair (2011-2012) and chair (2014-2015) of the Special Interest Group in International Information Issues. We look forward to his continued dedication to Inclusive Excellence.


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