University honors outstanding alumni

Four good reasons to celebrate

University honors alumni who embody the spirit of service

November 6, 2018

The CU Denver Alumni Board kicked off the weekend of LynxFest activities with the Alumni Awards celebration on Oct. 12 at the SpringHill Suites overlooking the city. This event honored four alumni who have demonstrated outstanding support for the university and excelled in their careers and service to the community. More than 50 people attended the celebration, including past alumni award recipients and their families and current and new board members.

“Tonight we celebrate four outstanding alumni who embody the spirit of service that has been a guiding principle since the founding of our university,” said Chancellor Dorothy Horrell in her opening remarks. “As graduates and supporters of our university, everyone in this room adds value to the CU Denver student experience.”

CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell
Chancellor Dorothy Horrell addresses the audience at the 2018 Alumni Awards celebration.

The Alumni Board announced changes in leadership, thanking Keri Ungemah (MS ’02) for five years of service on the board, two of which she served as president.

“As I finish my time as president and reflect on the members of the board I was able to serve, I am truly proud of this hardworking team of talented people who are dedicated to CU Denver and its alumni,” Keri said, as she concluded her final function as president of the board. “I have no doubt that our incoming president will continue to lead this group of highly successful volunteers.”

Four-year board member Jessica Godo (BA ’05) was introduced as the new president. Five new board members were also welcomed: Korey White (MArch ’13, MURP ’13), Shan Venkatsammy (MBA ’16), Valerie Lash (BS ’00) and David Hiesler (BSBA ’17).

Four glass awards on a table
The following alumni awards were conferred at the 2018 Alumni Awards celebration (from left to right): Mack Easton Alumni Award, Alumni Award for Excellence, Alumni Partner Appreciation Award, Recent Alumni Award.

2018 Alumni Award Recipients

Ian Kellett (BA ’13) | Recent Alumni Award

The Recent Alumni Award is given to alumni who are within five years of graduation and are effecting positive change for the community.

A 2013 College of Arts & Media graduate, Ian Kellett created his own production company, Liquid Luck Productions, to provide internship and employment opportunities to current students. He has a passion for teaching, creating Colorado film work and employing highly skilled filmmakers.

CU Denver Alumni is proud to award Ian Kellett with the Recent Alumni Award for championing the importance of engaging with the university, fellow alumni and current students to support the future success of CU Denver.

Ian Kellett and Lucas Ortiz
Ian Kellet (BA ’13) accepts the Recent Alumni Award from student Lucas Ortiz.

Kelly Hodges (BFA ’02) | Alumni Award for Excellence

The Alumni Award for Excellence is presented to alumni who have excelled in their career field, served their community and supported CU Denver.

Kelly Hodges is a 2002 College of Arts & Media graduate who has transformed the level of scholarships for CU Denver students in Visual Arts. Hodges’ role as executive director of The Melvin and Elaine Wolf Foundation – her family foundation – has resulted in meaningful scholarships for nearly 20 students. She is passionate about her alma mater, art and artists, and student success.

Hodges is a standout alumna and donor because of her commitment to the university and its mission. She is also an active public artist having pieces installed throughout the Denver-metro area and is always working on new pieces in her studio. She is passionate about creating a world filled with art and wants all those with the creative edge to explore, pursue and act within it to their fullest. CU Denver Alumni is proud to award Kelly Hodges the Alumni Award for Excellence for her exceptional accomplishments in her career and community service in support of CU Denver.

Kelly Hodges
Kelly Hodges (BFA ’02) accepts the Alumni Award for Excellence.

Jim Paradise (BS ’98) | Alumni Partner Appreciation Award

The Alumni Partner Appreciation award is given to alumni within organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to CU Denver and its mission through opportunities for current students and alumni. Jim Paradise is a 1998 College of Engineering and Applied Science graduate and has generously provided his time and expertise to CU Denver students and staff by organizing an extended tour of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems campus. Paradise went above and beyond what is expected of an effective alumni partner by organizing visits to Lockheed departments that corresponded with the interests of each student in attendance.

In addition to lending his time to the university, Paradise was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award that he accepted at the White House for volunteering over 7,000 hours with NASA as a solar system ambassador. In this role, Jim visits schools, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts troops, local museums, and civic groups to share the exciting work undertaken by NASA and the history of space exploration. An engineer by trade, Paradise now oversees Lockheed’s internal leadership development programs. CU Denver Alumni is proud to award Jim Paradise the Alumni Partner Appreciation award for his commitment to CU Denver and student success by providing opportunities for students and alumni to excel.

Jim Paradise
Jim Paradise (BS ’98) accepts the Alumni Partner Appreciation Award.

Andrea Wagner (MA ’14) | Mack Easton Alumni Award

The Mack Easton Award is the CU Denver Alumni Board’s highest honor. This award is in memory of D. Mack Easton, the first dean of the “Denver Extension Center.” His vision paved the way for the extension to become the diverse and dynamic urban research university it is today. The award is presented to alumni who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to serving CU Denver and its students and alumni.

Andrea Wagner is a 2014 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate and joined the Office of Advancement in 2010, moving into a leadership role in 2015. Wagner’s passion for CU Denver has touched the university and its alumni in multiple ways, from being a student to a campus leader, and now a proud alumna and donor.

Wagner’s work has continued the legacy of Dean Mack Easton in showcasing the value of a CU Denver degree. As the university has worked to integrate into the downtown Denver community, she has worked diligently to show the campus’ downtown neighbors what a special place CU Denver is and how they can engage with its talented students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Countless alumni, donors and friends have become engaged with CU Denver due to Wagner’s efforts and the team she led. These people continue to be engaged, show their university pride and make investments to support scholarships and programs on campus.

Making college viable for all students, no matter their income or background, is one of Wagner’s greatest passions. Her work in building the future for CU Denver, inspired by its students, has helped alumni, faculty, staff and students to feel and demonstrate their own pride in CU in the City for years to come. Learn more about Andrea Wagner’s legacy at CU Denver.

Andrea Wagner
Andrea Wagner (MA ’14), former vice chancellor of Advancement, accepts the Mack Easton Alumni Award.
Dorothy Horrell, Jim Paradise, Kelly Hodges, Andrea Wagner, Ian Kellett, Dan Gould
University administrators and alumni awardees (from left to right): Chancellor Dorothy Horrell, Jim Paradise (BS ’98), Kelly Hodges (BFA ’02), Andrea Wagner (MA ’14), Ian Kellett (BA ’13), Dan Gould, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.

Guest contributor: Monica Cutler, Office of Advancement