Posts from May, 2014
The Gazette has picked Heather Browne, coordinator of off-campus study at Colorado College, as “Best Music Mover and Shaker” in their annual “Best of the Springs” survey. More than 15,000 voters and eight staff members weighed in.
“Not only does Heather have excellent taste in music, but she has a knack for finding the rising stars of the music scene, and the drive to bring them successfully to our city,” said Jennifer Mulson, Gazette arts and entertainment reporter. “Her touch seems to be golden. More than several bands she has brought to town have gone on to find big success in the business.”
By day, Browne coordinates off-campus study for CC’s International Programs, a job she has held since 2008. However, on nights and weekends she promotes and books concerts at Ivywild School, the new community marketplace and gathering spot a few miles south of campus. When the renovation of Ivywild School was nearly completed, the opportunity arose for Browne and her music-booking partner and friend Marc Benning (formerly of the Denver band 34 Satellite, and a local musician and record producer himself) to book music in the Ivywild gym, a job she started earlier this academic year.
“It’s been fun to use my connections and relationships with folks across the country to bring so many of my favorite musicians to my town, and share the goodness here at home,” Browne said. “We are excited to continue to bring bothup-and-coming as well as established and respected artists for special nights of music at the Ivywild. The kind of music I like being around and championing is music that is connective and vibrant, and I have been fortunate that it all is finally starting to succeed here, and bring joy to people in the Springs community.”
Browne has been running her own independent music blog Fuel/Friends (www.fuelfriendsblog.com) since moving to Colorado from California in 2005. “Over the course of the last eight years writing my blog, I have felt really fortunate to make musical connections all over the world, with bands and record labels and promotions folks and booking agents and other music writers,” she said. “That’s all coming to fruition at the Ivywild.”
From that website and her connections formed with musicians because of it, Browne began organizing Colorado Springs house concerts in her downtown cohousing community near Dogtooth Coffee. “I realized that the kind of venue I really wanted to see shows at, and the sorts of musicians I loved, weren’t really being courted to come to the Springs, so I just kind of decided to do it myself,” she said.
Working with local audio producer friends from the Blank Tape Records label, she also began recording folk & indie musicians performing private concerts in Shove Chapel, and releasing those audio recordings for free download as The Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions. The sessions have hosted musicians such as The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers, Glen Phillips (from Toad The Wet Sprocket), Dawes, Tyler Ramsey (of Band of Horses), Typhoon, Pickwick, David Wax Museum, and Gregory Alan Isakov.
“I didn’t grow up playing music, other than singing all sorts of lame five-part harmonies with my hippie family on car trips in our Volkswagen bus,” Browne says. “But I’ve always loved both writing about how music feels and sounds to me, as well as connecting other people with music that I feel passionately about.” She doesn’t write music, but likes to sing and “play the drum set in my basement poorly, but for fun.”
Browne studied communication and art history at Santa Clara University in California, and currently is pursuing her master’s degree in intercultural relations from University of the Pacific. “I studied abroad in Italy, which helped spark my career in international education for the last 12 years,” she said. “My whole post-college career has been in international education. I love it. I am also so appreciative of rich music parts of my life as a parallel, rewarding endeavor that I pursue for the love of it. I get great delight out of both.
“A few years ago I got to interview Jovanotti, a very well-known Italian rapper who is a bit like the Bono of Italy, for my blog. I had first attended a concert of his when I was studying abroad in Florence in 1999. That was such a surreal day for me, to see how sometimes life all comes full-circle, wonderfully.”
So one can understand why Mulson, of the Gazette, says, “She’s on my Christmas card list for bringing the likes of Gregory Alan Isakov, You Me and Apollo, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones to Ivywild School.”
1. What does your job entail?
I oversee the safety and security of the Colorado College campus community and its guests. I started here as associate director of campus safety on Jan. 6 of this year, and took over as director of campus security in mid-March, when Pat Cunningham left to return to Tennessee. I guess you could say I hit the ground running. I’d never been to Colorado, other than the Denver airport, before.
2. What qualities do you bring to this job, and what are some of your goals?
I bring more than 35 years of law enforcement experience at the federal, state, municipal, and higher education level. I started in law enforcement in 1976, and my dad was a police commander as well. Among my goals at CC are increasing student involvement in the Tiger Patrol, and we’ve already had great success with that. We’ve gone from seven to 33 students on the Tiger Patrol, and I’m very proud of that.
3. Tell us a little about your career path.
My last position was the District Director of Campus Safety for the City Colleges of Chicago, overseeing eight campus locations, 120,000 students, and 6,000 faculty and staff, which included 580 campus safety officers. I started as a police officer in Calumet City (of “The Blues Brothers” fame), outside Chicago, and worked there for two years.
The bulk of my career has been in narcotics and gang intelligence. From 1978 to 1998 I was director of the Illinois State Police North Central Narcotics Task Force/ DeKalb Office, where I was responsible for the coordination of a multi-jurisdictional Narcotic Enforcement Task Force in DeKalb County. I led the investigation into the first “GHB/Date Rape” drug case, which resulted in the interruption of a drug distribution network from California to Illinois and three arrests. I also was responsible for the initiation of the “Campus Date Rape” conference hosted by the Attorney General Jim Ryan. In September 1997 I testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice, hosted by Chairman J. Dennis Hastert. I also did gang intelligence in Elgin, Ill., from 1990-1993, where I was responsible for gathering gang and narcotics intelligence information and overseeing prevention programs throughout the state. I was assigned to the Governors Gang Task Force to assess gang awareness programs and provide intelligence information.
I retired from the State Police in 1998 to become Chief of Police in Sycamore, Ill., where I was chief for five years. Later I became the higher education police liaison for the state of Illinois under Gov. Rod Blagojevich enforcing the Campus Safety Enhancement Act for emergency preparedness that mirrored the federal law. I monitored all colleges and universities in Illinois to make sure they were in compliance.
I have been blessed with a distinguished career in law enforcement and hold the honor of the being one of most decorated officers of the Illinois State Police.
4. Tell us a little more about your experience doing undercover drug work.
I trained in extensive intelligence gathering as a Special Agent Inspector (1980-1990) and was assigned to covert narcotic investigations. I conducted high-level narcotic conspiracy investigations, and was assigned to the DEA interdiction unit at O’Hare Airport for six months, with the result being I was later assigned to train state agents in interdiction techniques.
A major multi-jurisdictional task force I led involved the initiation and investigation of a case against a key Mexican narcotics organization, which resulted in the arrest of 87 people and the seizure of $10 million in assets. Later I was awarded the 1987 International Association of Chiefs of Police Award, and received the award in Toronto. Unfortunately, my father could not accompany me to that.
5. Who/what was the biggest influence on you? My family, in particular my son, who is my inspiration. Also my father. When I received the International Association of Chiefs of Police Award, I felt like I had been to the top of the mountain, and talked to the burning bush. And that burning bush was my father.
6. What have you noticed about CC?
All the wonderful people here, especially the students of the Tiger Patrol. Everyone has been so friendly and willing to help out, and so many people have gone out of their way to help me. I tend to butcher names, and people have been great about that as well!
7. Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in Chicago; I grew up on the south side of the city, as we call it, in a very diverse neighborhood with many cultures. It was like being in the U.N. I love the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, and White Sox.
8. What do you like to do when not working?
Since I arrived here at CC I enjoy looking at the mountains and enjoying the weather. I played softball from the time I was 16, and retired from playing at 55. I used to play with a traveling state police team. I love a sense of humor and comedy. I also enjoy golf and plan on buying a new set of clubs to play in the CC tournament.
9. What is your passion?
My son, Anthony. He’s 25, and went to Westminster College in Utah and graduated with a degree in environmental science. He works for an environmental firm that restores land to its natural state. He’s also a great snowboarder.
10. Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you? I was bullied as a child because I wore large black glasses and had a large head. I looked like a bobble-head doll!