Alumna Karen Philbrick has a PhD in educational psychology. She decides how tax dollars are spent in San Jose, CA. The executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute is leading the research within the California State University system to make sure gas taxes are spent on solutions that actually improve commutes, advance safety and save money.
28 Feb 2019
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.
17 Aug 2018
Morgridge College of Education recognized summer doctoral candidates with a Doctoral Hooding Ceremony, Friday, Aug. 17, in the Katherine Ruffatto Hall Commons. Thirty-three candidates received their official doctoral hoods which signify the completion of their studies. The following reception celebrated the achievements of all summer graduates of the college.
Dean Karen Riley provided opening remarks, reminding the candidates to provide a “ladder down” to those that would come behind them.
Closing remarks form Associate Dean Mark Engberg emphasized the role that each newly minted graduate will play in providing critical hope to the educational communities they will impact.
View the complete Flickr album of the ceremony and following reception here.
09 Apr 2018
On Saturday, March 31, graduates and faculty members of the University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) teamed with the Denver Public Library (DPL) on an extracurricular activity at the Leon Gallery – hosting an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. The group is part of ArtHyve, a Colorado collective of activists, artists, and archivists. The goal of the Art + Feminism campaign is to improve coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia. Since 2014, Art + Feminism has coordinated over 500 events to edit, create, and improve thousands of Wikipedia pages. For ArtHyve, hosting a Wikipedia-Edit-a-Thon is an example of its their commitment to document creative communities.
Co-founded by MCE Library and Information Sciences alumna, Jessie De la Cruz (MLIS’ 11), and her best friend, noted Colorado Creative Sigri Strand, ArtHyve’s mission is to “transcend and challenge mainstream art representation and to celebrate, preserve, and document the creative communities and practices throughout our state.” As a nonprofit organization, it fulfills its mission through developing public programming, workshops, and archival exhibitions to inspire creative engagement.
“It’s not an accident that there are multiple DU alumni and faculty involved,” said Kate Crowe, MCE affiliate faculty member of Library and Information Sciences (LIS) and DU Curator of Special Collections and Archives. “ArtHyve’s mission, to create a community-based arts archive that documents the creative history of this city and state, dovetails well with DU’s tagline ‘a great private university dedicated to the public good.’”
Crowe continues, “The Art + Feminism wikithons, which have been around for the last five years, are also run by grassroots groups of volunteers who want to make the history of women in the arts more visible. Participating in these kinds of programs is just one of the many ways that ArtHyve, DPL, and the LIS program can use the research skills we learn in school to make a positive community impact.”
According to Jane Thaler (MA ’16), marketing director of ArtHyve, “[hosting an] Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon is a natural fit for our organization because not only were we founded by two creative women, but also because part of our mission is to preserve and document Colorado’s creative community. And what better way to get the word out about our creatives than to add them to the most used reference tool in the world?”
Only ten percent of Wikipedia editors are women, and Saturday’s event worked to change that. At the end of the day, the group saw 519,000 words added, 40 total edits, 16 articles edited, and 4 new articles added. The group included, in addition to De la Cruz, Strand, Crowe, and Thaler, alumna Hana Zittel (MA’ 14).
University of Denver Morgridge College of Education curriculum and instruction alumni and adjunct professor, Dr. Floyd Cobb was the February featured author for the Office of Development and Inclusion book chat. Cobb’s recent publication, Leading While Black, is a reflection of his experiences as an educator and inspired by his relationship with his father-in-law, the late Colorado State Rep. John Buckner, who had also been principal of Overland High School. Using the era of the Obama presidency as the backdrop for this work, Cobb illuminates the challenges and complexities of advocating for marginalized children who come from a shared racial heritage in a society that far too often are reluctant to accept such efforts.
In addition to teaching at Morgridge, Cobb is the Executive Director of the Teaching and Learning Unit for the Colorado Department of Education. His background as an educator gives him a solid foundation to support current leaders in education.
Alumna Bayonne Holmes, M.A (’68), returned to the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) to participate in a dine and dialogue event in celebration of Black History Month. MCE Dean, Karen Riley, moderated the event which was attended by faculty, alumni and students of education.
The event honored Holmes’ legacy and work in encouraging diversity in schools in Colorado and California as early as the 1950s to present day. As a professional educator and community volunteer, Holmes has inspired many youths to look beyond their circumstances and establish future goals. In all of her classrooms, as early as 4th grade, she required her students to make journey maps which would include their future in education.
Holmes is quick to credit her mother with instilling the value of education in her family tree – a seed that took root in Holmes’ siblings and beyond. Holmes’ older brother William Smith also earned two degrees in education from DU and went on become the first black principal in Denver. Thirty years later, his son, Robert Smith, gave the 2017 commencement address at DU.
During Holmes’ decades-long career, she provided curriculum and diversity leadership to the Denver Public School System, UC Berkley, the Colorado Coalition for Domestic Violence, and the Community College of Denver. Her work allowed her to play a pivotal role in civil rights issues, including desegregation and school bussing.
In addition to reflecting on her life’s journey in education, Holmes described her experience being one of only a handful of black students at DU in the 50s. A time in which she transcended expected roles to become the first black cheerleader and one of the founders of the Black Alumni Affinity Group on campus.
“I graduated from East High School (in Denver) so I knew what it was like to be among a lot of white students,” Holmes said. “Everyone has to find out for themselves what they have to do to feel comfortable. The way you carry yourself can project respect. I felt good about myself so I didn’t allow anything negative to have an impact on me. I just did it!”
Holmes continues to bring that diehard enthusiasm to the current projects with which she is involved; tutoring at an afterschool program and creating a mural of her family tree for the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver’s Five-Points neighborhood. As Holmes is quick to point out, the family tree will be a visual representation of the power of education. Referring to her nephew Robert Smith, Holmes recalls, “When his dad came home with his PhD it didn’t just change the family. It changed the community.”
View more photos from the event on our Flickr album.
14 Nov 2017
Laura Finkelstein (PhD ’14), has been keeping very busy since graduating from Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver (DU). She spent the first year of her post-graduate professional career as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She then accepted a position as a staff psychologist at the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) Counseling Center until she was promoted to Outreach Coordinator. In her roles at UTD, she provided individual counseling for students dealing with a broad range of concerns, from adjustment issues to the emergence of more severe mental health symptoms. She ran several groups, including an Expressive Arts Therapy Group, a Men’s Issues Group, and a Self-Compassion group. She also oversaw outreach training, coordination, and provision for UTD students and staff.
More recently, Laura moved back to Washington, DC to be closer to family and has since opened her own private practice where she sees adults with a range of concerns and symptoms. She focuses on trauma, relationship issues, men’s issues, and expressive art therapy, and she just recently accepted a position as the Director of the Counseling Center at Marymount University.
Laura remembers her time at DU and Morgridge fondly, particularly the relationships she built with faculty and instructors.
“They embodied the type of compassionate, curious psychologists I wanted to be, and in many ways continue to be important examples to me,” Finkelstein said. She also appreciated the broad scope of experiences and counseling skills that were a part of both the MA and PhD programs, which prepared her well for an assortment of challenges she has faced professionally.
Finkelstein was initially drawn to the field of counseling based on her fascination with people’s stories; their childhood, relationships to self and others, and construction of narratives. Before entering the field as a student and eventually a professional, Laura wrote for a fashion magazine but found that she was more interested in how individuals functioned psychologically in the industry than she was the fashion itself.
“I applied to the MA program to see if these interests would fit for me as a career,” she said. “Absolutely loving it from day one, I knew I wanted to continue through a PhD program and make a professional life out of psychology.”
“DU first came on my radar because I had a lot of friends from the East Coast, where I grew up, who had recently moved to Denver and loved the lifestyle. Through my research of the program and my interview, I was excited by the breadth of learning and experiences offered by the counseling program. The people in the program, my cohort and professors, kept me going and feeling inspired professionally.”
In the future, Finkelstein is open to different roles as a psychologist, including further work in counseling centers, either in a teaching or administrative capacity. In whichever direction her career in the field of counseling moves, she feels very prepared for a wide array of positions, which is one of things she appreciates most about having her degrees in Counseling Psychology.
“The path of a counseling psychology student, especially a Ph.D. candidate, was not always smooth,” she said. “There were many challenges and I definitely had moments where I questioned if I could do it. I have so much admiration and respect for students in these programs. To them I want to say, this can be such a rewarding and meaningful path, and it does get easier!”
10 Nov 2017
On Tuesday, November 7, Morgridge College of Education alumna Dr. Carrie Olson (PhD, ’16) was elected to represent district 3 on the school board for Denver Public Schools. Olson beat out incumbent Mike Johnson 52% to 48%. Olson graduated from Morgridge in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
27 Oct 2017
For Child, Family, and School Psychology alumna Dr. DoriAnn Adragna, work is family business. Adragna and her husband, Joe, a family medicine physician, formed Peak Professionals in their hometown of Montrose, Colorado. Through their joint practice, they can help not only the whole child but the whole family navigate injuries and behavioral struggles together. They noticed one injury in particular affected both of their practices and was also possibly preventable – traumatic brain injuries. Then while at a skate park in Montrose, they noticed many of the children were not wearing helmets.
Dr. Dori’s specialty is in pediatric traumatic brain injuries. While at Morgridge College of Education, she specialized in traumatic brain injury and autism spectrum disorders. She and her husband decided to take action to prevent traumatic brain injuries in their own community. In 2016, they were awarded two grants totaling $30,000 from the Colorado Brain Injury Program. One of the grants was specifically used to prevent these injuries and helped produce the HeadSTRONG program, a helmet awareness campaign designed to increase helmet usage amongst individuals on Colorado’s Western Slope.
The campaign targeted youths and encouraged them to be STRONG, to stand up to peer pressure, and to wear a helmet. Individuals who signed up and pledged to be HeadSTRONG were entered in a contest to win a helmet and everyone who made the pledge could receive a discount at local vendors to purchase a helmet.
“In my practice, I work with families who have been affected by traumatic brain injuries and I help them mourn the loss of the child they once thought they were going to have,” said Dr. Dori. “It’s a grieving and acceptance process, and it changes goals parents have for their children, it changes their perception of their child’s future.”
Through the HeadSTRONG program, a total of 73 individuals pledged to wear a helmet, over 40 helmets were given to adults and children, and information on the importance of wearing a helmet was distributed and embraced by the community through events, local organizations, and press releases. The campaign was so successful that the City of Montrose is trying to get funding to keep the campaign going into the next year.
“The initial grant period is over,” Dr. Dori explained. “But we want to continue this and we are working with our local government to make that happen. Eventually we would love to expand to include all traumatic brain injuries, not only pediatric.”
30 Sep 2017
On September 30, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies gradate Fernando Branch (Education Administration, Secondary School Leadership, ’12) was honored by the City and County of Denver at the My Brother’s Keeper 25 luncheon at the Park Hill Golf Course. Originally an initiative of the office of the president in 2014, My Brother’s Keeper honors those working tirelessly to make the American Dream available to all boys and young men of color by eliminating gaps in their opportunities and outcomes.
Khara Croswaite Brindle graduated from Morgridge College of Education Counseling Psychology master’s program in 2012 with a passion for helping and a keen ear for listening – and understanding – others. Today, she is a private practice licensed professional therapist with a focus on clients using Medicaid. At nights and on the weekends, she runs her own business developing an app to assess and prevent suicide.
“I saw a need for this assessment tool,” she said, as if this were the simplest thing in the world. “I want people who want to go ‘there’ to be able to have that tough conversation and be able to access resources to get help.”
By people who want to go “there,” she means teachers, coaches, case managers, anyone who may be in a professional position to see another person struggling but not be a clinical mental health professional. Her goal is to make the conversation about suicide easier to approach, easier to have, and easier to know what to do. Her app works like this. Said person (let’s call them the professional) sees another person struggling. Maybe they have every day contact, maybe they see them once a week, but they believe this person is having a hard time. They decide to broach THE question, the tough question, the one they know the answer to but maybe do not know what to do with the response.
“Do you want to kill yourself?”
“Are you suicidal?”
“Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?”
They bring up the app. The app is loaded with the suicide risk assessment, and the professional begins the heart-to-heart. Together, they talk, the professional listens, and they have the conversation. Once complete the app populates next steps, organizations to contact for additional help, where to find online and face-to-face support, and who to call for emergency assistance. It also goes one step further and populates resources based on factors such as age and geographical location. Currently its resources are for the entire state of Colorado.
Croswaite Brindle stresses that this app is not meant to be a total assessment. This is also not a one and done conversation. This app is meant to help on the spot and give the professional and the person hurting a beginning roadmap to intervention and recovery.
In her practice, Croswaite Brindle regularly works with at-risk populations. This is a conscious decision to provide the best possible care to patients with Medicaid. She works with teenagers, single parents, individuals struggling with gender identity, veterans; she works with regular, everyday people who are struggling and each and every day her goal is to provide them with the best possible care.
“I think my cohort at Morgridge helped to frame my career now,” she said. “My class graduated and we were so excited to get out and be agents of change.”
An agent of change she is. Already her app is in use and under development. She has started to work with the Mental Health Center of Denver and run workshops with other professionals to continue to build resources and continue to assess risk factors. She considers Colorado to be her pilot state, but her long-term goal is to have the application be used nationwide and endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Through it all, she stays in contact with her professors at Morgridge. Now colleagues in the field, she finds their support and encouragement invaluable.
“My connections are wonderful to have,” she said. “It’s been great to continue to collaborate and exciting for me to see the cohorts grow. I definitely am a proud Morgridge alum, and someday I hope to be back in some capacity.”
Back as in, getting a PhD, teaching the next generation of mental health professionals?
“I can see all of that,” she smiles. “Someday.”
More information about the app can be found at Cacs-co.com.
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) graduate Lara Jackman (MA’16) has recently accepted the position of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator with Summit School District in Frisco, CO. Jackman, who leaves her position as Literacy Resource Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher at Upper Blue Elementary School in Breckenridge, CO, will step into her new role for the 2017-2018 school year.
Jackman was in the Mountain Cohort of the Morgridge College of Education’s principal certification program, Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS). The Mountain ELSS cohort expands opportunities for educators and administrators to benefit from the program’s expertise and earn Certification for Colorado Principal Licensure. ELPS—which earned a top 20 ranking in Best Education Administration and Supervision by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016—launched the Mountain cohort of ELSS in the 2014-15 academic year to support leadership development within the rural mountain communities of Colorado and to meet the needs of region’s district superintendents. Since that time, the cohort has seen 13 graduates accept leadership positions within their districts, six of which are now in assistant principal or lead principal roles.
According to Morgridge Assistant Professor of Practice, Ellen Miller-Brown, Ph.D., the cohort provides a “high-quality, hybrid face-to-face and online program without the need for extensive travelling.” Face-to-face classes are held at locations in the high mountain region where the majority of the students reside.
Miller-Brown is incredibly proud of Jackman’s recent promotion.
“She [Jackman] is very knowledgeable about curriculum and this is the dream job she wanted with the certification she received through our program,” Miller-Brown explained.
The Morgridge Mountain ELSS Cohort will kick off another class in fall 2017 and is accepting applications now for the 2017 – 2018 academic year.
Curriculum and Instruction program alumna Dr. Barri Tinkler (PhD ‘04) has been awarded the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health. Tinkler will be at the University of Calgary (UCalgary) in Spring 2018 conducting research with the Werklund School of Education, examining the community engaged work they do to support refugee integration. Tinkler’s research on the work of the Werklund faculty will provide a model to inform the field of teacher education for all countries that undertake refugee resettlement.
While at Morgridge, Tinkler worked to merge her interests in community-based work with a meaningful research agenda. Dr. Tinkler is especially interested in social justice issues, something that attracted her to apply for a Fulbright especially at UCalgary. “I am excited to be able to learn from the faculty at UCalgary, especially Dr. Darren Lund,” said Tinkler. “Dr. Lund has made it a common goal across campus to focus on supportive integration, and the entire university’s strong commitment to social justice frames its choices.”
Dr. Tinkler is currently an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and Education for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity at the University of Vermont (UVM). She serves as faculty in the Secondary Education program and the Education for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity minor. Her previous research focused on the impact of service-learning experiences on preservice teachers when working with marginalized populations of learners.
More recently, her research focuses on the impact of service-learning experiences with refugees with an eye toward fostering cultural humility. In 2015, Tinkler instituted a “Citizenship and Education in the United States” class to help adult refugees from Russia, Bhutan, Uganda, Nepal, South Sudan, Vietnam, and other countries prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. Part of the class is a service-learning component, which Tinkler added to her curriculum as a way of giving life to the course content.
“It’s a way of connecting the policy to the person and put a face on the individuals that it affects,” said Tinkler. “I also want students to understand how resilient the refugee population is by hearing about it first-hand.”
The Fulbright award will allow Tinkler to collaborate with UCalgary, a public research university, and create curriculum to further support her passion of refugee integration, something she has incorporated into her entire career.
Tinkler has teaching experience at the K-12 level as a Peace Corps volunteer in Papua New Guinea and as a social studies teacher at Stillwater Junior High School. Her recent Fulbright is one more step on her life-long commitment to social justice and cross-cultural understanding.
Several Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumni, all of whom lead schools in DPS, are banding together to create an “innovation zone.” Chalkbeat Colorado reports that this zone will consist of several innovation schools which already operate in Denver. Innovation schools are defined by the high level of autonomy given to school leaders. This autonomy allows leaders to create unique and effective learning environments.
Ashley Elementary School became an innovation school in 2013 after principal Zach Rahn (MCE class of 2010) was hired as part of a turnaround effort. Since then, Ashley has seen progress in academic achievement as well as in school culture. Rahn strives to “inject joy into each day” at Ashley Elementary.
The Denver Green School is co-led by MCE alumna Prudence Daniels and serves students in K-8. This innovation school has its own produce garden, where each class tends a plot. The school uses solar panels for energy, providing unique learning experiences for students.
The Cole Arts & Science Academy, which is led by MCE alumna Jen Jackson, has focused heavily on early literacy. The school’s Kindergarten through third-grade currently ranks among the top in the state for literacy.
The leaders of these three schools – along with the leader of Creativity Challenge Community – are seeking the creation of this innovation zone, governed by a new nonprofit organization. This proposed zone will provide the innovation schools with even more autonomy, further allowing them to meet their separate needs while sharing in the common goal of promoting individualized learning. It’s all about “going from good to great” says Rahn.
The ELPS program specializes in training individuals capable of implementing positive change in the institutions they lead. Graduates like Rahn, Daniels, and Jackson learn to apply their skills, transforming low-performing schools into effective learning environments.
22 Feb 2016
Library and Information Science program (LIS) graduate Marta Pardo was featured in the Elbert County News recently for her work updating Elizabeth Middle School’s Library. Pardo, a Colombian immigrant with an impressive career history as a Medical Doctor and cancer researcher, found herself working in Colorado libraries in 2005. After several years working as a para professional she received a scholarship enabling her to pursue a Master’s degree in LIS at the Morgridge College of Education.
In 2014 Pardo began working at Elizabeth Middle School. “I wanted to work in a small library. Its important work” says Pardo who is firm believer of making a big impact in small communities. In her year at Elizabeth Middle School she has been able bring library technologies forward a decade and turn the library into a paradise for students.
Pardo advocates that her students – especially the female ones – “just do it, get into school, get an education.” She uses her own daughters, who are away at Yale on scholarships, as shining examples of what young woman can achieve.
Elbert County News is a part of Colorado Community Media. Colorado Community Media is a joint venture between MetroNorth Newspapers, Mile High Newspapers and Community Media of Colorado. Colorado Community Media’s authority on the 24 local communities it serves is unparalleled.