2018 Public Policy Forum KEYNOTE Speakers

Dr. Stella M. Flores

Associate Professor of Higher Education; Director of Access and Equity, Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, New York University

Dr. Stella M. Flores is an Associate Professor of Higher Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She is also Director of Access and Equity at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at NYU. Dr. Flores holds an EdD in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University, an EdM from Harvard University, an MPAff from The University of Texas at Austin, and a BA from Rice University.

In her research she employs large-scale databases and quantitative methods to investigate the effects of state and federal policies on college access and completion rates for low-income and underrepresented populations. Dr. Flores has written about Minority Serving Institutions, immigrant students, English Language Learners, the role of alternative admissions plans and financial aid programs in college admissions in the U.S and abroad, demographic changes in U.S. education, and Latino students and community colleges. Her publications include various peer-reviewed articles in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Educational Researcher, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, American Journal of Education, The Review of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, The Journal of Mixed Methods, The Journal of College Admission, The Future of Children, and The Journal of Hispanics in Higher Education, as well as three co-edited volumes. Her work has been cited in the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court Gratz v. Bollinger decision (dissenting opinion) and in various amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court on affirmative action in higher education admissions.

Dr. Ted Mitchell

President, American Council on Education

Mitchell was president of Occidental College (CA) from 1999-2005. He served as U.S. undersecretary of education from 2014 until January 2017, reporting to the secretary of education and overseeing postsecondary education policies and programs. He also has served as vice chancellor and dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and professor and chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College (NH). He has been a member of the Stanford University (CA) Board of Trustees. Prior to becoming under secretary of education, Mitchell was chief executive officer of the NewSchools Venture Fund from 2005-2014, which provides seed capital and counsel to leading education entrepreneurs at the K-12 level, and served as the president of the California State Board of Education. After concluding his service at the Department of Education, Mitchell served as a consultant to ACE in the areas of education attainment and innovation and leadership development. Mitchell received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University.




Morgridge College of Education
Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall
1999 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, CO 80210

Sie International Complex
Maglione Hall
2201 South Gaylord Street
Denver, CO 80210



Dr. Karen Riley

Dean, Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver

Dr. Riley is the Dean of the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. Her education includes a B.S. in Psychology; a M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Child and Family Studies. She completed a two year post-doctoral fellowship at The Children’s Hospital in Denver in the Fragile X Treatment and Research Center and subsequently worked at the Child Development Unit within The Children’s Hospital. Riley is a Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning Sciences

Dr. Riley currently serves on the Clinical and Scientific Advisory Board for the National Fragile X Foundation. She has over 15 years of experience in teaching and administration of early childhood special education programs and an additional 10 years of experience working with children who have neurodevelopmental disorders and their families. Particular areas of interest and expertise include assessment and intervention of infants and preschoolers, curriculum development, school consultation, behavioral interventions and low incidence disabilities. She lectures extensively throughout the US as well as internationally, on behavioral and educational interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disorders primarily those with fragile X syndrome.

Dr. Kim Hunter Reed

Executive Director, Colorado Department of Higher Education

On Feb. 1, 2017, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced the appointment of Kim Hunter Reed as Acting Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Reed was confirmed as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education on March 7, 2017. Reed, a former Louisiana higher education official, most recently served in President Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education, leading postsecondary diversity and inclusion work, supporting strong student and outcomes focused policies and aggressive national outreach efforts. She also led the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Prior to serving in the administration, Reed was a principal at HCM Strategists LLC, a public policy and advocacy consulting firm in Washington, D.C., focused on advancing effective solutions in health and education.

Reed has extensive higher education and government experience. She chaired Louisiana’s higher education transition team in 2015 and has served as Louisiana’s state policy director. Reed previously served as chief of staff for the Louisiana Board of Regents and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System. Prior to those roles, she served on the faculty at Southern University in Baton Rouge and was executive assistant to the president and interim vice president of student affairs at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

Reed received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, as well as a master’s of public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University.

She has received numerous honors, including Louisiana Role Model, Baton Rouge Chapter of LINKS, Inc.; LSU Alumna of the Year, Public Administration Institute; and Mom of the Year, Jack and Jill of America, Baton Rouge Chapter. Reed has been featured in Daughters of Men, a national publication highlighting outstanding African American women and their fathers.

Reed is a wife, proud volleyball mom and relentless student advocate.

Allegra “Happy” Haynes

Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation

Allegra “Happy” Haynes is the Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation and was re-elected in November of 2015 to a second term on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. Happy is a Denver native and attended Denver East High School. She received a BA degree in Political Science from Barnard College at Columbia University and an MPA from the University of Colorado at Denver.  During a career in local government spanning 36 years, Happy served 13 years on the Denver City Council from 1990 – 2003 and was President from 1998 – 2000.  She currently chairs the Colorado Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and serves on the boards of KUVO/Rocky Mountain PBS, Denver Zoo, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She is single, an avid jazz fan and loves to participate in sports and outdoor activities.

Cheryl Crazy Bull

President & CEO, American Indian College Fund

Cheryl Crazy Bull, Wacinyanpi Win (They Depend on Her), Sicangu Lakota, is President & CEO of the American Indian College Fund. A lifelong educator and community activist, Cheryl is an advocate for self-determination focused on Native voice, philosophy, and traditions as the heart of the people’s work in building prosperity for current and future generations. An accomplished public speaker and writer, Cheryl also promotes tribal educational autonomy, community-based research, and family and youth empowerment. She believes all tribal nations should have their own tribal college and that education is the answer!

Joe Garcia

President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Joe Garcia was appointed president of WICHE in June 2016. He served as Lt. Governor of Colorado and executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education beginning in 2011. He had previously served on the WICHE Commission for nine years, including as chair. In these roles, Garcia focused on increasing equity in outcomes for all students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and communities of color. Garcia also has served as president of Colorado State University-Pueblo and of Pikes Peak Community College; as a member of the cabinet of Gov. Roy Romer; and at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Garcia earned his B.S. in Business at the University of Colorado Boulder and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Dr. Robert E. Anderson

President, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

Robert E. Anderson was appointed President of SHEEO on August 1, 2017. Anderson’s extensive experience includes his most recent role as Interim Chief Academic Officer and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University System of Georgia. As a senior leader at USG, he addressed academic program approval, college completion initiatives, distance education, new delivery models, K-12 policy, teacher education, and grants administration and evaluation. Recently, he restructured the system’s learning support paradigm, which resulted in significant completion gains within credit-bearing gateway courses.

Previous to his role at USG, Anderson served the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for seven years as Vice Chancellor for Policy and Planning and Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration. In these positions, he directed Academic Affairs, Fiscal Affairs, Legal Affairs, Financial Aid and WVNET, the state’s computing infrastructure unit, for both the 10-college four-year system and the 10-college community college system. During his tenure, he acquired and managed competitive grants totaling more than $20 million that were funded by organizations including Lumina Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and Complete College America, as well as a federal GEAR UP grant. Each of these grants was targeted at improving college access and completion.

Dr. Rebecca Chopp

Chancellor, University of Denver

Rebecca Chopp, PhD, is chancellor of the University of Denver, where she is leading the implementation of DU IMPACT 2025, a strategic plan focused on the 21st-century transformation of knowledge, the holistic education of students, and the University’s engagement in local and global organizations and communities. A visionary leader, Chopp emphasizes the importance of developing DU as an intentional and inclusive global community.

Previously, Chopp was president of Swarthmore College and Colgate University. She also served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University and as a dean at Yale University.

Chopp is a widely published author and editor, including six books and more than 50 articles.

Connor Long


Connor Long, from Louisville, Colorado, is a busy actor, advocate and athlete. Born in Maryland, he graduated at age 17 with a full diploma from Fairview HS in Boulder and aspires to college when one day he has time.

As an advocate, Connor has worked on a range of issues to improve opportunities for people with differing abilities. He has testified before school boards, city and county councils, state legislatures and met with governors, congressional representatives and senators, locally and nationally.  In 2016, he was named by the Arc of the United States as the Catalyst Award program’s national self-advocate of the year.

As an actor & performer, he has a growing list of awards and credits for live performance, film, theater and television projects. His film projects have been screened on cable, at conferences and festivals around the world.  Locally, he has studied and performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival,  Phamaly Theatre Company and Tapestry Theatre Company, an all-abilities troupe he helped found. In 2017, he and a teammate earned regional Emmy awards for their roles as contributing news reporters with the Denver ABC affiliate news station, becoming the first known people with IDD anywhere to have achieved such an honor.

Connor lettered in men’s swimming during high school and remains a highly competitive swimmer. An avid cyclist, each summer he rides dozens of miles in the Rocky Mountains during the Colorado Children’s Hospital Courage Classic biking event to raise funds for Down Syndrome medical research and clinical care.  He has earned his 1st degree black belt in the martial art of Taekwondo.

His efforts and achievements have been recognized by awards from the National Down Syndrome Society, the Council for Exceptional Children International, the John Lynch Foundation, the John J & Anna Sie (“see”) Foundation, Childrens Hospital of Colorado, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and The Arc of the US and several its chapters.

Finally, he loves gluten-free pasta, cheese, and all things mango.

Dr. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve

Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Higher Education, Morgridge College of Education

Ryan Evely Gildersleeve is Associate Professor and Department Chair of Higher Education at the University of Denver. He pursues a research agenda grounded in the philosophical foundations of higher education, critical policy studies, and critical qualitative inquiry. He was a National Academy of Education / Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012-2014 and received the 2011 Early Career Award in Research Methodology from the American Educational Research Association. Gildersleeve earned his MA and PhD in Education from UCLA. He is a graduate of Occidental College.

Dr. Miriam Feldblum

Nonresident Fellow, Migration Policy Institute; Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Pomona College

Miriam Feldblum is a Nonresident Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and is Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Students, and a Professor of politics at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

Her teaching and research areas are the politics and policies of immigration and citizenship, and immigration and higher education. Dr. Feldblum is the author of Reconstructing Citizenship: The Politics of Nationality Reform and Immigration in Contemporary France (SUNY Press, 1999) and has written articles on European Union citizenship, highly skilled labor in the United States, comparisons between the United States and Europe, and has conducted workshops on supporting college students who are unauthorized immigrants (including those granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status) in the United States.

As Vice President for Student Affairs at Pomona College, Dr. Feldblum oversees all student services, academic support, and policy governance and many compliance issues related to students. Prior to joining Pomona, she worked at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director for Academic Support Programs, and a Senior Research Associate and Faculty Associate in Humanities and Social Sciences. Prior to Caltech, she served as an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Feldblum received her BA in political science from Barnard College and her MA, MPhil, and PhD in political science from Yale University. She is a member of the steering board of the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS).

Dr. Lorelle Espinosa

AVP, Policy Research & Strategy, Center for Policy Research & Strategy, American Council on Education

Lorelle L. Espinosa serves as assistant vice president for ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy, where she is responsible for the co-development and management of the center’s research agenda which focuses on issues of diversity and equity in 21st century higher education, public finance and higher education systems, and transformational leadership.

Espinosa has served the higher education profession for nearly 20 years, beginning in student affairs and undergraduate education at the University of California, Davis; Stanford University; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has contributed opinion and scholarly works to peer-reviewed journals, academic volumes and industry magazines on a variety of topics. Prior to ACE, she served as a senior analyst at Abt Associates, Inc. and as director of policy and strategic initiatives for the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Espinosa holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in higher education and organizational change from the University of California, Los Angeles; a B.A. from the University of California, Davis; and an A.A. from Santa Barbara City College. ​​

Dr. Lolita Tabron

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Morgridge College of Education

Lolita A. Tabron is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. Through critical policy analyses and critical quantitative inquiries, she studies how systemic racism and other forms of oppression are perpetuated and sustained through policies, politics, and statistical data. Her research spans both K-12 and higher education and uncovers historical and contemporary factors that preserve differential access to economic and educational opportunities based on race and class. Specifically, she reveals factors that strengthen or attenuate college access and opportunity for African American and Latinx students while they are still formulating their post-secondary decisions. She seeks to inspire the next generation of educational leaders to think deeply and critically about policies and data (national, state, and local) so that their leadership philosophies, policies, and practices do not perpetuate systems of marginalization. She is also passionate about increasing literacy in quantitative inquiry among educational leaders from historically underrepresented groups.

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