About DSF

The Denver Scholarship Foundation makes college possible for thousands of Denver Public Schools graduates each year.

Our Mission

The Denver Scholarship Foundation inspires and empowers Denver Public Schools’ students to enroll in and graduate from postsecondary institutions of higher education, by providing the tools, knowledge, and financial resources essential for success.


The Denver Scholarship Foundation was founded in 2006 based on wide recognition that Denver Public Schools students face multiple barriers to completing a postsecondary degree. Philanthropists Tim and Bernadette Marquez wanted to make a major gift to increase the level of college attainment in Denver.  They joined former Mayor John Hickenlooper and former Superintendent Michael Bennet to look at how to make access to higher education possible for all DPS students today and for generations to come. 

This “kitchen table” founders’ conversation resulted in a $50 million pledge from the Marquezes in the form of a challenge grant.  This challenge catalyzed the process of putting into place a comprehensive program to support DPS students in completing high school and obtaining a higher education degree. 

DSF began with a pilot program serving three Denver high schools, and by 2009 the program had expanded throughout the district.  Today, DSF operates Future Centers in 12 DPS high schools and it serves all other high schools with college advisors who visit regularly.


Our culture and values are the foundation upon which everything we do is built. Having a strong and shared culture is integral to our ability to accomplish our mission. We came together as a staff to discuss our strengths and weaknesses as a team and to formalize the values that bind us together. Our shared values are:

Equity -- We believe in the potential of every Denver Public Schools student, and we believe every one of them deserves the chance to earn a college or technical school degree.

Innovation -- We believe in trying new things and continually working toward improvement.

Integrity -- We keep our promises to students, families and donors. 

Leadership -- We will have created a model for college success that we share with our partners and other organizations across the country.

Learning -- We believe in lifelong learning for our staff and for our students.

Relationships -- We cannot accomplish our mission without strong relationships with students, families, donors, our school district and our community.


Forward for Investing in Denver’s Workforce & Economic Future: Benefits of the Denver Scholarship Foundation

The Denver Scholarship Foundation is making a difference. We are transforming lives and expanding horizons. 

And now we have the evidence to prove it.

As we’ve worked with scholars to pay for college and stay in college, we’ve seen that the Denver Scholarship Foundation is having a positive impact. Anecdotes are important, but we wanted more. We wanted to better understand the workforce, economic and social impacts that are the direct result of attaining a postsecondary degree or certificate. We wanted to understand the impact on our scholars and also on the Denver community as a whole.

This report, conducted by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and Development Research Partners, offers the evidence we needed.

Investing in Denver’s Workforce & Economic Future: Benefits of the Denver Scholarship Foundation shines a bright light on the societal and economic benefits that are the direct result of increasing rates of college entrance and completion for our scholars and their families.

As we near the 10-year mark of our work, we are proud of our progress, including:

  • Awarding 4,600 DPS graduates with $25 million in scholarships, an amount doubled by our college partners, who have stepped up to invest an additional $50 million in our scholars;
  • Seventy-six percent of our scholars have completed a postsecondary credential or continue to work toward that important milestone;
  • Eight hundred of our scholars have graduated from college.

Our needs-based award is helping combat long-standing racial and economic disparities in college access and success.  Our work is focused on DPS graduates—68 percent are Latino and African American and 70 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch. Further, 74 percent of our scholars will be first-generation college graduates.

As this study demonstrates, while Colorado ranks in the top five for the number of degree holders per capita, only one in four of our state’s high school freshman will go on to earn a postsecondary degree.  Contrast that worrisome statistic with the demand for a college-educated workforce (by 2020, 74 percent of all jobs in Colorado will require some level of college education or training) and it’s easy to see we have a long way to go.

This study confirms the benefits of postsecondary success.  A higher level of educational attainment means a lower unemployment rate and higher earnings potential.  For the Denver Metro region, the study finds that the average Denver Scholarship Foundation investment in a graduate returns $9.59 for every $1.00 in scholarship, in federal, state and local taxes paid.

In 2014, we were humbled when DPS Superintendent, Tom Boasberg, called out the Denver Scholarship Foundation for contributing to DPS’s strides in student achievement. This study establishes the importance of our role in strengthening the workforce and adding to the economic success of the region.

From helping to meet the demand for skilled workers in Denver’s fastest growing fields to combatting male arrest and incarceration rates with higher educational attainment, there is a substantiated need for what the Denver Scholarship Foundation provides.

The need is clear. Now, we also know what works.  

With such a high return on investment, we will continue our work with urgency. Nearly a decade ago, we had high hopes for the impact and potential of the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

Today, it is rewarding to understand the positive impact and imagine a future when our investment in human capital pays even greater dividends within and beyond our community.

Cathey Finlon 
Board Chair
Denver Scholarship Foundation

Nate Easley, Ph.D. 
Executive Director
Denver Scholarship Foundation

Annual Report

Click on the links below to view our most recent Annual Reports.


Cathey McClain Finlon - Chair, The Denver Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors

Cathey McClain Finlon is the chair of the Denver Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors.

Ms. Finlon has over 30 years experience in marketing and advertising.  Under her ownership of McClain Finlon Advertising, beginning in 1985, she built the agency to the top 50 agencies in the US, as ranked by both Ad Age and AdWeek magazines.  Her company also consistently ranked in the top 5 Colorado based, woman owned businesses.  She was a founder and partner of Linhart McClain Finlon PR.  She recently retired (again) after 3 years as President of the Denver Art Museum and as chair of the Board of Trustees of The Children’s Hospital.  She remains on both boards of trustees.

In 2009, Ms. Finlon was inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and also received the prestigious Leader Award from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.  In 2012, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce awarded her the Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms. Finlon is past chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and past chair of the Junior Achievement board.  Her board service includes Denver Art Museum, Denver Public Schools Foundation. Advisory board of the University of Denver Daniels College of Business and the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future at the University of Denver.  She has also served on the boards of Colorado Outward Bound, National Repertory Orchestra, Alliance for Contemporary Art, World Trade Center and is past chair of the Denver Advertising Federation.  She served on the board of the American Association of Advertising Agencies which represents the top agencies in the US.

She served on two elite think tanks at the University of Denver, which studied economic policies of Colorado and the state’s constitution over several  years.

Ms. Finlon has a BA in Fine Art, College of Wooster, Ohio and an MA in English, Penn State.  She started her career in development at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and the Denver Art Museum.

An avid sportswoman, she has cycled all over the world and climbed almost half of Colorado’s 14ers.  She has been married to Richard Finlon for over 30 years.

Finlon has been honored with many awards.  A few include AdWeek’s and Ad Age Top 100 US agencies, BtoB Magazine Top 100 Most Influential Business to Business leaders in America, Denver Advertising Federation Lifetime Achievement Award and Professional of the Year, Colorado Biz Magazine Top Professional Services Company, Denver Business Journal Outstanding Woman in Business, Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction, Colorado Historical Society Community Preservation Award, INC Magazine Top 100 Inner City Award, and hundreds of creative awards including 5 Clios.

Steven Abelman - Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Steve represents banks and creditors in bankruptcy cases and has also represented principals of debtors as well as creditors' committees. He has extensive experience representing businesses and banks in workouts, litigation, replevin and foreclosures, as well as representing equipment lessors. His litigation practice focuses on commercial collections, Article 9 litigation and adversary proceedings.

Steve is a frequent lecturer on bankruptcy and creditors' rights topics. Prior to joining the firm, he was a founding member at Cage, Williams, Abelman in Denver.

Seth Belzley - Council, Hogan Lovells US LLP

Seth Belzley serves as Council for Hogan Lovells US LLP.  Formerly, Mr. Belzley served as Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at TransMontaigne Inc., a privately-held oil trading, logistics and distribution company, and its affiliated master limited partnership TransMontaigne Partners L.P. (NYSE: TLP).  

Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. Belzley moved to Colorado to attend Colorado College, from which he received his Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy.  Mr. Belzley received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, where he served as the Managing Editor of the Texas Law Review and graduated with High Honors.  Following law school and prior to joining TransMontaigne, Mr. Belzley practiced law at Hogan & Hartson LLP in Denver, specializing in corporate and regulatory law.

Mr. Belzley serves on the board of directors for Mental Health America of Colorado, Get Smart Schools and the Denver Scholarship Foundation, as well as on the Denver Foundation Board’s Donor Services Group Committee.  

Mr. Belzley and his wife, Cody, live in Park Hill with their daughter Liza (4), son Cooper (2) and dog Truman (54, in dog years).

Joe Blake - Chancellor Emeritus of the Colorado State University System

Joe Blake is Chancellor Emeritus of the Colorado State University System.   

As chancellor, he oversaw CSU, CSU-Pueblo and CSU-Global, the first public university created to provide 100% online degree programs.  He managed the System’s legislative operations, served as the chief spokesperson for the System, and worked to increase the level of engagement among CSU’s 115,000 alumni statewide.  One of his top priorities was to help provide necessary statewide leadership to find sustainable funding for public higher education. 

A Colorado native, Joe was the President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce for nearly a decade.  For nearly twenty years prior to his leadership of the Chamber Blake was part of the senior management team that created the new community of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, home today for nearly 100,000 residents.

He is a graduate of Dartmouth College (B.A., English Literature) and the University of Colorado School of Law (Juris Doctorate). He resides in Denver and is the father of two and the grandfather of four.

Linda S. Bowman - Colorado Community College System

Dr. Linda S. Bowman serves with the Colorado Community College System and is President Emerita of the Community College of Aurora (CCA), where she served as President from 2000 to 2012, and has served as Vice President for Executive Leadership Training and Development for the Colorado Community College System since 2010.  She also works as an Executive Coach and Consultant with the University of Denver.

Dr. Bowman served as Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for the Colorado Community College System from 2005 to 2009 and Interim President of Arapahoe Community College from 2009 to 2010, both concurrent with her Community College of Aurora responsibilities. Prior to joining CCA, Dr. Bowman was the Interim President of Lamar Community College, which was preceded by her roles as Vice President, Dean, Director, and Adjunct Instructor for Red Rocks Community College. Before joining the community college system, Dr. Bowman served as President of Parks Junior College.

Dr. Bowman has served as a full-time and adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. In Spring 2012, she worked as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Hong Kong, assisting the two-year public and private institutions with planning for the implementation of articulation and credit transfer to the four-year university system.

Dr. Bowman has been an active member of the community and has served on and led numerous boards and received appointments to a number of statewide councils and taskforces for the Office of the Governor and the Commission on Higher Education. She worked on a number of important statewide initiatives, including as a member of the P-20 Council, appointed by Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., to chair a committee to design the legislation for ASCENT, the Colorado concurrent credit and fifth-year senior program, as well as later work on the legislation for associate degrees with designation and statewide credit transfer. Under her leadership, the Community College of Aurora became the largest and most successful concurrent credit provider in Colorado.

She has chaired, among others, the Board of Directors for the Aurora and the Northwest Metro Chambers of Commerce, the Aurora Chamber Governmental Affairs Council, Aurora Chamber Education Council, Adams County Education Consortium, Coalition of Jefferson County Chambers of Commerce, and Arvada Child Advocacy Center. Dr. Bowman has been an active member of community service organizations, including Aurora Rotary and Arvada/Jefferson Kiwanis.

Linda S. Bowman has received numerous honors, including Mile High Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction, Aurora Woman Sculptor of the Community, Honorary Co-command Chief for the 460th Space Wing, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Community Colleges State Student Advisory Council President of the Year, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society Presidential Award of Distinction, U.S. Library of Congress Veterans History Project Appreciation Award, and Special Congressional Recognition.

Dr. Bowman holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration, Masters degrees in Public Administration and in English, and a Bachelors degree in English and Spanish. She and her husband, Roger, are avid travelers and students of world cultures.

Upon stepping down from the Community College of Aurora, Dr. Bowman was recognized by Governor John Hickenlooper, by the Colorado General Assembly, and by Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and the Aurora City Council.

Thomas Brady - Chief Economist, Newmont Mining Corporation
Luis Colón - Managing Partner - Xcelente Global

Luis Colón has over 20 years of experience in the areas of business strategy, project and change management, and communications. Working with large multinational companies and small businesses alike, he has helped them develop and implement effective plans that drive success in large scale and complex change projects.  Luis is the Managing Partner of Xcelente Global, a strategic marketing and communications firm that helps clients create successful brands in the Latino markets and assists organizations with change management initiatives through the use of effective communication and process improvement techniques. Luis is also a graduate-level professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at Regis University’s School of Management.

Luis spent the first half of his career working for two of the most prestigious management consulting firms, A.T. Kearney and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he was responsible for complex change management projects in the Americas, Europe and Asia for clients such as Eli Lilly, Energizer, ARCO, 3Com and Corporate Express. He continued this line of work as an in-house consultant for XOR Inc. and Source One Management until 2003, when he joined then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s Cabinet as Manager of the Department of General Services. In 2010, Luis joined engineering company CSA Group, heading their western U.S. operations until his departure in 2012 to join Xcelente Global.

Luis has always taken a keen interest in community involvement, and currently holds seats on the Community Advisory Board of U.S. Bank Colorado, the Board of Trustees of the Iliff School of Theology, the American Red Cross, Teach for America-Colorado, and the Latino Community Foundation. In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper appointed him to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Luis previously held seats on Colorado Mesa University’s Board of Trustees, the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board (Past Chairman), and the Advisory Council of the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship.

Luis has been honored with a number of special awards and recognitions. He received the National Society of Hispanic MBA’s highest recognition, the Brillante Award, in 2000. In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Gates Family Foundation fellowship to attend the Leadership Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard and was selected by the Denver Business Journal as one of their “Top Forty Under 40” award recipients.  In 2009, Luis received the American Diabetes Association’s Father of the Year Award.

Luis was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and now resides in Lone Tree, Colorado with his wife, Toti Cadavid and their three children.

Robert Coombe - Retired President, University of Denver
Barry Dorfman - President, Rocky Mountain Region, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc.
Jayne Ford

Jayne Ford is formerly the Recruiting Director of ghSMART. The firm offers quality-guaranteed services in the areas of management assessment and leadership coaching. Clients include leading private equity investors, hedge fund managers, Fortune 500 boards and senior executives.Prior to joining ghSMART, Jayne was Vice President of Shawnee Milling Company. There she led the strategic planning initiative in addition to overseeing the southeastern US sales group. Before joining Shawnee Milling Company, Jayne was the Chief Administrative Officer for Corbin & Company Capital Management.

Jayne holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.

Mark Goodman - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Nut Company

Mark Goodman currently serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Colorado Nut Company. Mr. Goodman has served as the top executive in leading public and private equity backed companies.  Most recently, Mr. Goodman has served as Chief Executive Officer of MG Capital Group.

Mr. Goodman has served as the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and CRO for Save-A-Lot.  As COO, Mr. Goodman was responsible for retail operations of Save-A-Lot’s network of 1,200 stores, achieving sales, profitability and growth objectives of the company.  He had direct responsibility for licensing development, merchandising, vendor management and supply chain efforts.

Prior to leading the turnaround at Save-A-Lot, Mr. Goodman served as Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Strategy, Membership and E-commerce for Wal*Mart/Sam’s Club where he was responsible for strategy development, marketing and membership enhancement for Sam’s Club.  Previously, Mr. Goodman held the position of Corporate Vice President, U.S. Strategy and Operations for McDonald’s Corporation, with responsibility for development and execution of strategies for profitable growth, as well as full operations management of a 600-store business unit. Prior to this, Mr. Goodman served as President of Agway Retail Services and Vice President of ADR International Consultants.  Previous, Mr. Goodman served on the staff of Senator Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts.Mr. Goodman received his bachelors degree in philosophy of economics and logic from the College of Wooster, masters degrees in philosophy and economics from Tufts University.

Mr. Goodman is active in supporting educational institutions on a national basis.  He has served on the board of directors for St. Louis University School of Business, St. Louis, Missouri, Xavier University, New Orleans, Livingstone College Salisbury, North Carolina, History Makers, Chicago, Illinois, Eton Academy, Birmingham, Michigan, Cal State Dominquez Hills School of Business.

Patrick Hatcher - Chief Financial Officer, SVP, Vistar, A Performance Food Group Company

Patrick Hatcher is the Vice President of Finance for Vistar Corporation, the largest distributor of candy, snacks and beverages in the country. As the leader of the finance department and manager of a 25-person team, he is responsible for planning, forecasting, accounts receivables, rebates and integration and acquisition efforts. He also provides and explains detailed financial information to corporate headquarters.

Prior to joining Vistar, Hatcher spent 10 years working for MillerCoors, first as Senior Analyst of Planning and Forecasting, later as the Director of Sales and Marketing Finance and lastly as the Director of Sales Integration. His contributions at MillerCoors included exceeding sales synergy targets and growing sales volume, shares and profits.

Hatcher holds an MBA from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. and a Bachelor of International Relations from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. 

Ronald Henley - President, GCC of America, Inc.
Stephen Kurtz - CEO, MuscleSound, LLC

Primary Emphasis: financial restructuring, due diligence, negotiation, structuring and tax planning for mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, leveraged buyouts, and corporate tax planning. 

In 2008, formed Kurtz Financial, LLC (www.kurtz-financial.com) a consulting firm specializing in restructuring, turnarounds and M& A advisory services to assist companies meet the challenges and opportunities of the current recession and financial climate. 

Co-Managing Member of Mankwitz Kurtz Investments, LLC, (www.mankwitzkurtz.com) a Denver based private equity firm co-founded in 2001.  The firm purchases controlling ownership in mid sized businesses of various industries with the intent of building and selling these businesses in three to five years. 

In 1997, merged Shenkin Kurtz Baker & Co., CPA’s and Century Capital Group into Century Business Services (NYSE: CBZ). Served as national head of accounting firms for CBZ and led all its Western U.S. acquisition activity, helping to build a $600 million revenue company.

R. Scott Nycum, Jr. - Retired Vice Chairman, J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Scott Nycum served as a Managing Director of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Based in Denver, Colorado. Scott served a member of the management team of J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Private Bank. The largest Private Bank in the U.S., the J.P. Morgan Private Bank serves high net-worth clients, including 45% of the individuals on the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans list.

Scott was specifically responsible for J.P. Morgan’s private banking business in the Rocky Mountain Region. In addition, he was directly responsible for several client relationships in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma.

Scott joined J.P. Morgan in New York in 1974. From 1975-1983, he worked with corporate clients in the mining and heavy construction industries as well as large multi-nationals. Scott was assigned to Melbourne, Australia from 1983-1988. As Managing Director of J.P. Morgan Australia Ltd., he was responsible for Morgan’s overall business in Australia and New Zealand, which chiefly included investment management, investment banking, foreign exchange and money market activities.

Scott received a B.A. in History from Williams College (Phi Beta Kappa) and an M.A. from Oxford University (Political Science/Economics). Scott is married with three children and resides in Denver. He currently serves on the Advisory Boards of the Daniels Business School at the University of Denver, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, the Denver Council of the Boy Scouts, The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, and the Perry Institute of Brigham Young University Marriott School.

Lisa Pinto - Chief Communications Officer, JeffCo Public Schools

Lisa Pinto operates Media Aspen Lane Media, LLC., a communications crisis and media consulting practice, where she is currently consulting Colorado candidates for the 2014 election cycle.  Prior to forming Aspen Lance, served as Communication Director for Colorado’s Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office where she generated over 30 television and radio appearances for D.A. George Brauchler.  Ms. Pinto has an extensive experience in the legal system as both a practicing lawyer and communication specialist.  

She has made hundreds of television appearance that have included guest spots on CNN and the British Broadcasting Corporation.  Ms. Pinto served as guest Political and Legal Commentator for CNN, a Political and Legal Commentator for Oxygen Media, and as guest Commentator for the British Broadcasting Corporation, which included coverage of the London Tube bombings and the War on Terror.  Ms. Pinto has also contributed to 9/11 coverage, elections coverage, and education and health care legislation coverage.

Prior to her work in media and media consulting, Ms. Pinto spent two years with the New York County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney and three years with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.

Ms. Pinto earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of San Diego.

Margot Pinto - Community Leader and Philanthropist
Martin Pocs - Vice Chairman/Managing Director, DHR International

Martin M. Pocs serves as Vice Chairman of DHR International and is the Managing Director of the firm’s Denver office. As one of the three top producers in the history of the firm, Martin has made significant contributions in shaping the success of DHR. His search practice includes diverse industries such as telecommunications, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, advanced technology, consumer products, aerospace, software, bio-medical, mining, renewable energy and non-profits covering a variety of disciplines and general management positions within those industries.

Scott Scheirman - Retired Executive Vice President and CFO of the Western Union Company

Scott served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Western Union Company from 2006 to 2013,  where he was responsible for the leadership and direction of the organization. Prior to this role, Scheirman held a variety of senior financial leadership positions with First Data Corporation, Western Union's former parent company.

Prior to joining First Data Corporation, Scheirman was responsible for leading audit services for public and non-public clients for Ernst & Young.

In addition, Scheirman is the past Chairman of the Western Union Foundation's Board of Directors and served as a Director of the International Rescue Committee and KIPP Schools of Colorado. Scheirman holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Don Silversmith - Chairman, First Western Trust, Cherry Creek

Mr. Silversmith has an extensive background in finance and the planning issues that affect families in their desire to accumulate and transfer wealth. His years of board experience with large charitable organizations have allowed him to help clients whose primary objective is building their estates and leaving a charitable legacy. As Chairman of First Western Trust, Cherry Creek he is responsible for managing the banks financial goals and expanding their presence in the Cherry Creek market.

Mr. Silversmith joined First Western Trust in 2005, through the merger of Sterling Partners, the wealth management firm he founded in 1986. At Sterling Partners he was primarily responsible for helping clients who require advice on wealth transfer planning and business continuity planning. He brings more than 30 years of experience in real estate to First Western Trust.


Bachelor of Science in Economics from University of Pennsylvania , Wharton School

Chartered Life Underwriter – The American College


Board of Directors for the Colorado Ballet

Board of Directors for the Denver Scholarship Foundation

Vice-Chair of the Board at National Jewish Health

Past Campaign Chair and Treasurer for the Allied Jewish Foundation

Past Board Member of Jewish Family Service at Colorado


Enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, Lara and Ashley


Both he and his wife were honored as Business Leaders of the Year – Jewish Family Service at Colorado

Gregory Sissel - Managing Director, Platte River Equity

Greg Sissel is a Managing Director of Platte River Equity. Mr. Sissel has been a private equity investor in numerous industrial and service-based operating companies for more than 15 years.

Prior to joining Platte River Equity, Mr. Sissel was a Vice President in the Denver office of Vestar Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm that has raised over $7 billion across six funds. At Vestar, Mr. Sissel pursued management buyout transactions across a broad spectrum of industrial and consumer sectors. His responsibilities included structuring transactions and leading diligence and financings for new acquisitions and portfolio companies. While at Vestar, Mr. Sissel led numerous strategic and operational projects for Vestar portfolio companies, as well as capital markets financings and execution of numerous add-on acquisitions.

Previously, Mr. Sissel was an Associate with William Blair Capital Partners, LLC (now Chicago Growth Partners) and an analyst in Leveraged Finance for Goldman, Sachs & Co. (New York and Chicago).

Mr. Sissel holds an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and a B.A. in Economics, summa cum laude, from DePauw University.

Michael R. Starzer - Retired President and Chief Executive Officer of Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc.

Mr. Starzer has a degree in Petroleum Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from the University of Alaska. Mr. Starzer has 31 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and has served in numerous technical, managerial, and executive positions. In 1999, Mr. Starzer founded the first Bonanza Creek company serving in positions of Managing Partner, President and CEO and on the board for the four Bonanza Creek companies. In 2014, Mr. Starzer retired from the fourth company, Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc. (NYSE:BCEI). He is now a founder and managing partner of Fifth Creek Energy.

Mr. Starzer serves on the board of Newalta Corporation (TSX:NAL) and is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (U.S.) and the Institute of Corporate Directors (Canada). Mr. Starzer is a registered professional engineer in petroleum engineering and is a published author on topics including recovery optimization, investment decision-making and resource extraction policies. He has represented the industry providing expert testimony for private and public companies and to state legislatures and various governmental agencies in Colorado, Alaska and California on advancements in technology and the impact of taxation policies and environmental regulations on industry investment. Mr. Starzer is  member of the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers and in 2013, Mr. Starzer was awarded the Colorado School of Mines “Mines Medal” for exemplary service.

Mr. and Mrs. Starzer serve with several philanthropic and industry non-profit organizations.  Mr. Starzer serves on the DSF Board of Directors and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Denver ACE Scholarship Foundation.  Mr. and Mrs. Starzer are serving as Co-Chairs for the 2015 Denver Heart Walk with the American Heart Association.  In 2012, Mr. and Mrs. Starzer formed the Starzer Scholarship Foundation at the Colorado School of Mines to provide scholarships for undergraduate education.  In 2013, Mrs. Starzer was appointed to the Colorado School of Mines Foundation Board of Governors, the first woman appointment to the Board of Governors.  Mr. Starzer serves on the Board of Alpha-Omega Seminary and is a past Councilman and Treasurer for Calvary Bible Church.  Mr. and Mrs. Starzer are members of the Gideons International and have served in executive positions for the organization.  Between 2006 and 2011, Mr. Starzer served as a Director and from 2009 to 2011 as Finance Committee Chairman for Bakersfield Christian High School.

Thomas G. Wattles - Executive Chairman of the Board, DCT Industrial Trust, Inc.

Mr. Thomas G. Wattles co-founded DCT Industrial Trust in February 2003 and currently serves as Executive Chairman of the Board.  Mr. Wattles also served as Chief Investment Officer from 2003 to 2005. 

Mr. Wattles brings more than 30 years of experience to DCT. From 1991 until 2002, Mr. Wattles held a number of positions with Security Capital Group and its investees. From 1991 to 1992, he oversaw multifamily acquisitions for Property Trust of America, now known as Archstone Smith. In 1992, he co-founded Security Capital Industrial Trust, now known as Prologis Trust, and served as Chief Investment Officer, Chairman and Co-Chairman, and a member of the Board of Directors. As Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Security Capital Group, Mr. Wattles oversaw real estate research and served as a member of the Operating Committee as well as numerous private company boards of directors. Prior to Security Capital Group, Mr. Wattles spent 12 years with LaSalle Partners, now known as Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago, Mexico City and New York. He also spent two years with Stanwich Advisors in Stamford, CT. 

Mr. Wattles currently serves as a director of Regency Centers—a national owner, developer, and operator of grocery-anchored and community shopping centers. He also chairs the Regency Investment Committee and is a member of the Audit Committee. Mr. Wattles received both his M.B.A. and his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

David West - Vice President, Semiconductor Marketing, Arrow Electronics, Inc.

David West is currently Arrow’s Vice President of Semiconductor Marketing.  David has held numerous roles over his 13 years at Arrow, including Vice President of Engineering, Lighting and CLS

Prior to joining Arrow in 1998, David worked for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) for 11 years in sales, product line marketing and distribution.  David was named North America Sales Person of the Year in 1991, and served three yeas as the company’s Director of World Distribution.  David began his career working in distribution as a manufacturer’s representative for five years.

A native of Los Angeles, David earned a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

Steve White - President, Comcast - Western Division

Steve White currently serves as the President of Comcast’s West Division. In this role, he is the senior executive responsible for all Comcast cable operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Texas and Wisconsin. He leads nearly 28,000 (internal and external) employees and serves more than seven million customers, driving annual revenue of nearly $12 billion. 

Prior to his role as Division President, Steve served as Regional Senior Vice President for Comcast California, joining in late 2007. In California, he led 7,500 employees and served more than 2.45 million customers, leading a number of operational improvements during his two-year leadership tenure. He oversaw all operations for Comcast in California, and his team was among the first to launch DOCSIS 3.0 and Project Cavalry. 

Prior to his role in California, Steve served as the Regional Senior Vice President of the Company’s Mid-South Region, where he held management responsibilities for about 1.6 million customers and 4,600 employees, along with leading Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast — a 24-hour regional sports network based in Atlanta. Prior to the merger of Comcast and AT&T Broadband, Steve served as Senior Vice President, AT&T’s Atlanta cluster from 2000 to 2002. His first assignment in the cable industry was in Chicago, where he served as Regional Vice President with Telecommunications, Inc. (TCI), which was purchased by AT&T. 

Before joining the cable industry, Steve spent six years with the Colgate-Palmolive Company, where he held several positions of increasing responsibility. His final assignment was Marketing Director of Colgate-Palmolive’s Toothbrush Products Division. In this capacity, Steve directed and managed the growth of the business, including the development of numerous new products and a relaunch of the kids’ line. 

Steve has 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, operations and general management. His broad background includes sales, marketing and operations management in the beverage, health and beauty care, household products, and healthcare industries. 

Steve currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Comcast Foundation, COMPAC, WICT Northern California and the Denver Scholarship Foundation. He is also member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and Colorado Forum. Additionally, Steve serves as the Executive Champion for the Black Professional Alliance Affinity Group at Comcast. The group creates professional development, mentoring and networking opportunities and an inclusive environment for the Company’s African-American employees.

Martha Wofford - Group Vice President - DaVita

Martha Wofford leads DaVita’s patient experience efforts and also serves as the Interim CEO of a Joint Venture between DaVita HealthCare Partners and Centura Health, called FullWell. Prior to joining DaVita, Martha served at Aetna for nine years in various leadership roles. She led the Consumer Platform effort to deliver simple solutions to help consumers navigate the healthcare system. Immediately prior, Ms. Wofford served as Head of Product and Strategy for Aetna’s Middle Market, Small Group, Individual Pre-65, Medicare, Student Health, Voluntary and Direct to Consumer businesses.  She joined Aetna in 2005 to help lead the Consumer Segment; had accountability for Aetna’s national Direct To Consumer sales capability; and subsequently served as the General Manager for the Northeast Region for Aetna’s Consumer Segment, with full accountability for Profit and Loss.

Prior to joining Aetna, Ms. Wofford was a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton from 2000 to 2005, focusing on growth strategies in the healthcare and media industries. She served in the Clinton Administration for six years in communications and legislative positions in The White House, USAID and USEPA.  Ms. Wofford received an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where she focused on Strategy and Managerial Economics, and a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College. At Swarthmore she received 12 varsity letters, was captain of four teams, and achieved regional and national honors in Lacrosse.

Martha, her husband and daughter moved to Denver in August.

Tom Boasberg - DPS Superintendent - Ex Oficio

Since being appointed as Denver Public Schools Superintendent in January of 2009, Tom Boasberg has led the district's efforts to accelerate its progress in student achievement and better serve the families of Denver.  

Over the past five years, the district has posted record enrollment increases (with a higher rate of enrollment growth than any other major urban school district in the country), increased its four-year graduation rate by 20 percentage points, dramatically expanded the number of preschool and full-day kindergarten slots, and continued the student-achievement gains that began with the creation of the Denver Plan in 2005.  

He earned his B.A. in History summa cum laude from Yale College and J.D. with Distinction from Stanford Law School.

Nate Easley, Ph.D. - DSF Executive Director - Ex-Officio

Nate Easley, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF).  Prior to joining DSF, Dr. Easley served as President and Secretary of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education.  He also worked as Vice President for National and International Programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, DC.  COE is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities in postsecondary education for low-income and disabled youth and adults. 

Dr. Easley serves on Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Framing Committee and his Education Leadership Council.  He is a current member of the Community College of Denver Advisory Council and the National Advisory Council for Texas Guaranteed Inc., the third largest student loan guarantee organization in the United States.

Dr. Easley has extensive experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education and securing grant funding to sustain student programs.  His master’s and doctorate focused on how higher education can better support the academic success and college completion of Black and Latino students. Dr. Easley has worked at the state, national and international levels to create opportunities for first-generation, low-income and ethnic minority students.  He has over 25 years of experience working with college access and retention programs and professionals.

Dr. Easley served as an Upward Bound counselor and assistant director at Colorado State University, President of the Colorado TRIO Association (Colorado ASPIRE), board member for the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel, director of the Student Support Services program and the campus learning center at the University of California at San Diego, and as a member of Colorado Governor Ritter’s P-20 Council.  Dr. Easley is a proud graduate of Montbello High School in Denver, Colorado.


Ph.D. Education, American University, GPA – 4.0

Dissertation Topic: Factors that Contribute to the Academic Success of Mexican Immigrants

M.S., Student Affairs in Higher Education, Colorado State University, GPA – 4.0Master’s Research:  Retention of Black College Students at White Colleges

B.A. History, Colorado State University, GPA – 3.2Senior Paper: “Why Africans Became Slaves in the New World”

John Elofson

John Elofson is a partner at Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, where he practices law in the securities and mergers and acquisitions areas. Before joining Davis Graham & Stubbs, he worked in the corporate department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City, and served one-year terms as a law clerk for the Honorable Shira A. Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York and the Honorable Douglas H. Ginsburg in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

John attended Columbia Law School, where he was a James Kent Scholar and Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, graduating in 1997. A Denver native, he received Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Colorado in 1989 and 1992, respectively. He is married and has three children.


Suzanne Arkle
Mary Gittings Cronin
Stanton Dodge

Barbara Grogan
Terry Leprino
Evan Makovsky
Bernadette Márquez -- Co-Founder
Timothy Márquez -- Co-Founder

Stewart A. “Skip” Miller
Theresa Peña
Tom Brinegar
Casey Cortese
Beverly Karns
Sarah M. Viamonte, Ph.D. MSPH


Nate Easley, Ph.D - Executive Director

Nate Easley was appointed as DSF's executive director on March 1 2013. Prior to his appointment, Easley served as Deputy Director of DSF since 2008, overseeing dramatic growth in the organization’s three-part program to help students from Denver Public Schools succeed in college. 

Easley has more than 25 years of experience helping disadvantaged students realize their dream of a college education. Prior to his work at DSF, Easley served as vice president for national and international programs for the Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C.  Easley also served on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education as both a member and former president. His master’s and doctorate degrees focused on how higher education institutions can better support the academic success of Black and Latino students.

Wendy Nelson - Deputy Director for Finance & Administration

With a combined 20 years in finance and accounting services, Wendy Nelson serves as a vital member of our senior management team.  As Deputy Director for Finance and Administration, Nelson oversees all financial, IT, and human resource aspects at DSF.  

Before coming to DSF, Nelson worked in nonprofits, financial services, internet, web hosting, and e-commerce industries. She began her career as a CPA with Ernst & Young. She has also provided finance and accounting for Western Union, High Speed Access, and Verio and served as the CFO for Omnex Group, Inc., a New Jersey based company. Nelson currently serves as the Vice Chair of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce Small Business Development Center. Before coming to DSF, Nelson operated her own company specializing in CFO consulting with small businesses across the US. Nelson provided clients with CFO level support, facilitated relationships with key third parties, and provided financial planning, analysis and reporting.

Rana Tarkenton - Deputy Executive Director

Rana Tarkenton has been with DSF since 2008 and currently serves as the deputy executive director.  She formerly served as the director of DSF’s College Success Services.  As deputy director for programs, Tarkenton oversees DSF’s three-part program to help students succeed in college.

Tarkenton has a master’s degree in higher education administration from Harvard University, and before joining DSF, she helped develop college access and scholarship programs at College in Colorado, Colorado GEAR UP and CollegeInvest. Tarkenton’s professional activities include service as an executive board member of the Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling, an advisory committee member of the Colorado Counselor Corp Grant Program and an executive council member and past chairwoman of the Colorado Statewide ACT Council.

Gregory Movesian - Deputy Director for Development, Marketing, and Communication