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10 Things About: Debra Zarecky, Director of Parent and Family Relations

Zarecky Debra  1.) Your position as director of parent and family relations is new to CC. What does the job entail?
This new role is designed to provide a central point of contact at the college who will enhance communication, facilitate a sense of connection, and develop and maintain positive relationships with the parents and families of current, new, and prospective CC students. Research shows that appropriate parent involvement in student learning is positively related to achievement; this involvement continues to be important during the college years. As an institution, we can make parents and families our allies in augmenting student success if we treat them as partners in their students’ education and provide them with the resources and information they need to help their students flourish. One of my primary objectives is to work collaboratively with staff and faculty across campus to gather timely information about services, programs, and opportunities and then communicate that to parents and families so that they are able to support their students throughout their college experience.

2.) When and how did you arrive at CC?
My family moved to Colorado Springs from Pittsburgh in 2005 when my husband accepted a job transfer. Although I had various part-time jobs while my kids were small, I was looking to get back into full-time work outside the home. I started at CC in September 2005 and worked in the Student Life office for 7 years as the office coordinator until I became the office’s communication and enrollment coordinator. Subsequently, I moved over to Shove Chapel, where I served as the chaplain’s office manager before taking this position.

3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
As a small liberal arts college, our close-knit campus community is one of our greatest assets. I hope that this role will enhance and expand that aspect of CC so that parents and families will feel as engaged with and connected to our community as their students do.

4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background before CC?
I am a graduate of a liberal arts college, Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where I completed an English major and music/theatre double minor. I loved the wide-ranging education I received and the nurturing environment of the community. So when I moved here and saw the CC campus, I was reminded of my college experience and thought immediately “that would be a great place to work…”

After receiving my undergraduate degree at Allegheny, I went on to receive my MAT in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh. Since then, I’ve had various job experiences, including running my own desktop publishing company for a while and teaching in the HeadStart program in Pittsburgh, a federally funded program for at-risk preschool children.

5.) Tell us about your experience teaching in the HeadStart program.
At that time, the program was structured so that each area that was served had a preschool center with two dedicated teachers, usually located in a church or other community building, that the children would attend on a regular basis during the week. In addition, each area was assigned a “home-based visitor,” who visited the children and parents weekly in their homes to provide developmentally appropriate activities that the children and parents could do together outside the classroom. I was a home-based visitor. Having grown up in a relatively privileged environment, it was an eye-opening experience for me.

6.) What do you like to do with your personal time?
Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and two daughters and our furry family, including our rambunctious Bassett hound and our chirpy Chihuahua. I like to read, memoirs and fiction mostly. I also enjoy going to the movies and attending musical and cultural events around the region, especially productions of old Broadway shows.

7.) What are your goals in your career?
I love working in higher education, especially at CC. I have a unique opportunity to develop our parent and family relations program into a stellar example for other liberal arts colleges, so my immediate goal is to do the best I can with that.

8.) Who/what would you consider to be your biggest influence in life?
My paternal grandfather, who lived a full and vigorous life well into his 90s, was always an inspiration to me. “Keep the mind active” was his mantra. Good advice for those of us working in education, right?

9.) What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I have a daughter who is starting her sophomore year in college. Considering this, I have some understanding of the excitement and challenge experienced by parents and families of college students. I also have a fairly comprehensive perspective on various student experiences at CC from my previous roles here. I think that I can help parents access the resources that will assist them in guiding their students if and when they run into challenges.

 10.) Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Brussels sprouts are my least favorite vegetable.

10 Things About: Eric Perramond, Director of State of the Rockies Project

EPPinTerreroNM10 1 091.)    Congratulations on becoming the new director of the State of the Rockies Project. What attracted you to this position?
The founder and former director of the Rockies Project, Walt Hecox, had approached me about four years ago. At the time, I was on sabbatical and obsessed with water in New Mexico (which hasn’t changed) and was not in the right frame of mind to take it on. But the more I mulled it over, I couldn’t help but think what a great opportunity it is to provide our students with ways that merge a summer collaborative research opportunity with some dimensions of what a regional think-tank does: connect students to outside opportunities and experts. Plus, I was simply flattered when Jill Tiefenthaler later asked me to assume the mantle.

2.)    You’re a human-environment geographer and political ecologist, and hold a joint appointment in both the Environmental and the Southwest Studies programs at CC. How do these elements coalesce?
 I’m in year nine, and I think in some ways I’m still figuring that out. I was extremely fortunate to have gracious, patient, and agnostic colleagues about what a geographer does, but I do think the spatial skill-sets and the broad education of a geographer provide a larger view of what interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs can do for students—and for faculty development. As a political ecologist, I view my job as challenging the notion that Southwest Studies is simply “regional studies” and, on the other hand, that “environments” exist without preconceived political goals imposed by humans. It’s been great fun.

3.)    As the new State of the Rockies director, what is your vision for the program?
First, coming onboard in the spring of 2014, my goal was to “do no harm” to what works in the Rockies. That said, we will be bolstering the academic content and links of the Rockies Project in a way that feeds back into the curriculum, such as getting the Rockies summer students into other CC classrooms to share and learn. We also will continue to provide our researchers with connections to the outside world through fieldwork, meeting experts and residents of the West, and (I hope) further professional development pathways after life at Colorado College.

4.)    What is the largest challenge you face?
I think it is this: How can we increase participation without completely depending on further college monies? Imagine a theme like “Water in the West” where, say, an artist, a scientist, and a sociologist collaborate with their own groups of students. This could further both faculty development and provide for a larger circle of opportunity for students. The possibilities for collaborating with foundations, public and private, are exciting.

5.)    Why is the State of the Rockies Project important?
The Rockies project has succeeded in producing dozens of focused graduates who are now dedicated to conservation, natural resource, and sustainable development questions throughout the country. We also offer a different kind of summer research focus, one that balances on-campus work that focuses on expert literature on state-of-the-art conservation problems with on-the-ground interviews with experts and Westerners affected by natural resource challenges. It certainly has given the college greater visibility at the regional and occasionally national level, too. The Rockies Project does what we already do well here at CC: It focuses on undergraduate research development and long-term outcomes.

6.)    How does the State of the Rockies Project align with your research interests?
Remarkably well, and it took a few years to realize this. Right now, I am haunted by water issues in New Mexico and the western United States in general, and it is both daunting and exciting to think of ways the project can connect to this general concern about water shortages, drought, and climate change in our region. I hope to grow into the position over the next year or two, as we may turn our attention to these water challenges.

7.)    Tell us more about your interest in water issues.
Since arriving at CC in 2005, I have become enthralled by New Mexico’s approach to water rights, resources, and management. My current book project, “Unruly Waters,” focuses on how the shift in water resources in that state has much to say about how we will all cope as Westerners, as humans, with water demands and increased scarcity. Most of the work in New Mexico is based on a spatial ethnographic approach; it pays attention to place and space, but also to what people think about how the state is handling water resources. At this point, I’ve spoken to more than 240 people about the issues, and simply cannot wait to put it into clear prose.

8.)    Tell us a little about your background.
I am a public liberal arts college product, from Mary Washington College (’92), and all my degrees have been in geography but with later focus on biophysical aspects of geography. It’s odd; I was in Virginia with no family connections to the Southwest or even previous exposure to the Southwest. Yet, for some reason, I read a few pieces about Latino cultural diversity in New Mexico in my junior and senior years, and I was hooked. Only later did I visit that state and get truly hooked on the intersection of land, water, and human livelihoods. What sealed it was my Masters at Louisiana State University on Zuni Pueblo and their efforts to revitalize traditional agriculture. Moving to Colorado simply makes it easier, now, to do my work in the Southwest.

9.)    What do you do in your personal time?
I will reluctantly admit that I hack at a guitar and occasionally croon to myself, poorly. My wife and I like to get outdoors whenever we can, for hiking or snowshoeing. I also have an interest in oenology, viticulture, and “all things wine,” since it brings together all my interests. Plus in some way, vineyard landscapes make me a little nostalgic about the French side of my upbringing, as we continue to visit my father’s side of the family in the eastern Pyrenees when we can.

10.)  Wild card: What is something people don’t know about you?
OK, maybe that I can dance decently? Not ballroom dancing, mind you, but I’m not averse to looking like a fool on the dance floor.

10 Things About: Roger Smith, Director of Parent and Family Giving

Smith Roger

1.) This is a new position at CC. What does the job entail?
Engaging parents in the life of the college is a top priority. Their support is critical to ensure that students enjoy the world-class educational and immersive learning opportunities that make Colorado College a one-of-a-kind academic experience. In collaboration with parents, we can bolster innovative educational programs, deepen our scholarship, expand our reach, and cultivate the minds of our students.

2.) What are some personal or professional experiences you’ve had either at CC or outside of it that play into your current role?
I’ve had the privilege of working in 20 countries and all of those experiences have been mind-expanding, transformative, and fascinating. Encounters that stand out include doing prison outreach in Northeast Germany and corporate community impact initiatives through build-a-bike programs targeting inner-city youth. Within higher education, I’ve had rich and varying experiences which have given me a holistic perspective. In my first post in higher education, I served as the director of leadership gifts and later transitioned to the role of corporate and community relations director (fundraising).

3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
Being able to help parents and family members optimize their philanthropy to Colorado College to support their sons and daughters’ transformative Colorado College experience is rewarding.  Gifts made to the Parents’ Fund support every part of the CC experience, including financial aid, faculty and academic programming, athletics, experiential career placement, independent research, outdoor education programs, global study, and our beautiful campus.

4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background before CC?
I completed my undergraduate degree and M.B.A. from private liberal arts institutions in Wisconsin. I arrived to Colorado College during the summer of 2008 and absolutely love it. I grew up in Saint Albert, Alberta, Canada.  After working for a global non-profit based out of Denver, I fell in love with the region and wanted to come back. Raising kids out West was a priority. I saw a position for Colorado College posted online via Higher Ed Jobs.com. It was the first and only position I applied for, and three months later I was here.

5.) Tell us a little more about your experience doing prison outreach in Northeast Germany.
The prison outreach was a component of a broader dialogue program about personal responsibility, intersecting identities, social justice, and multiculturalism, stimulated by frequent, intense interactions among peers and people with vastly different backgrounds and world views — it was life-changing.

6.) What do you do with your personal time?
I have three incredible kids ages 9, 6, and 4; we go hiking in the mountains with our Golden Retriever “Buddy” every weekend. Colorado is an incredible place for adventures and establishing memories that my kids will have for a lifetime. 

7.) Do you have a favorite place to hike with your kids?
My favorite place to hike with the kids is Section 16, the Crags, Barr Trail, and Helen Hunt Falls.

8.) What’s your most memorable hike?
My most memorable hike with the kids was up to the Continental Divide — not too far from Breckenridge. Hiking with kids invigorates the joy of discovering things in nature that we take for granted.

9.) What is your passion?
I’m passionate about being a father and traveling to new places. I find that traveling, both domestically and internationally, expands my mind. Not necessarily because of what I’m experiencing with the senses, but what I experience first-hand by encountering new cultures and lifestyles that nuances my perspective and understanding of the world around me.

 10.) Wild card: Can you tell us something about yourself that might be surprising?
Like a true liberal arts person, I have eclectic passions and interests. I graduated from a musical theatre high school and was involved with an acting agency for about 10 years. I never made it big; however, I met lots of fascinating people and grew a lot as a person. Growing up I ran track and cross-country and played soccer, basketball, and football. I also was involved in dance, jazz choir, and the creative process of short scene production. However, what I enjoyed the most was playing amateur football in the Canadian Junior Football League as a running back and kick-returner (and running for my life!)

The Secret Life of…Heather Browne

Photo credit: Kevin Ihle

Photo credit: Kevin Ihle

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.”

10 Things About: Roy Garcia, Director of Campus Safety

Roy Garcia, far right, at the Tiger Watch award ceremony.

Roy Garcia, far right, at the Tiger Watch award ceremony.

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.

Roy Garcia cropped3. 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!

From Pro Hockey to Fundraising at CC, Preston Briggs Keeps His Perspective

Preston Briggs ATBBy Stephanie Wurtz

Congratulations to Preston Briggs, who was recently selected as major gift officer for Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region. He currently serves as leadership giving officer in the advancement division and started at CC in April 2013.

Briggs said characteristics he developed as a professional hockey player, most recently with the Bloomington Prairie Thunder, enhance his work in both his current and new role in advancement.

“In professional sports, every day could be your last day, and that’s still a good perspective to have; it taught me to celebrate the highs and acknowledge the lows, but to keep an even keel and focus.”

Briggs was traded four times in his first two years playing professional hockey, then had hip surgery after his second season and spent the off-season in intensive rehabilitation to be ready to play. It’s that persistence and work ethic he said carried into his career after hockey.

“It’s about building the relationship between the donor and the college and finding where they want to make their impact, then connecting with those opportunities.”

Born in Colorado Springs, Briggs said he was inspired by CC hockey, attending every home game.

“I don’t think I would’ve ever played hockey at all, let alone professionally, had I not been growing up here watching the CC Tigers play every season.”

As a Colorado Springs native, Briggs said he feels personally invested in the city. He wants to see the community grow and thrive, and sees potential in CC collaborations with the greater community. “We have a lot here [in Colorado Springs] to offer, if we use it. CC is one of those things. Not many 500,000 cities can boast one of the best liberal arts schools in the country.”

His new position focuses on major gifts to support scholarships, research opportunities, internships, specific departments, and other areas.

“What’s really exciting is I’ll be in a place to talk with our alumni, parents, and friends about what they dream Colorado College could be, asking the question,  ‘What does the best CC look like?’ ”

Briggs will officially move into his new role this spring. He will finish out the year by retaining his focus on leadership in annual giving. A search for his replacement will begin soon.

“Preston is a polished and articulate representative of the college. He was selected among a pool of very strong candidates to take the role vacated by Ron Rubin last year,” said Mark Hille, associate vice president for development.

Briggs and his wife, Amanda, met in college and now have a 13-month-old son, Davis.

10 Things About: Stephanie Wurtz, Director of Internal Communications

Stephanie Wurtz ATB1.) This is a new position at CC. What will the job entail?
The focus on developing an intentional internal communications position is a key element of our strategic plan. The goal of this position is to strengthen our culture and improve workplace excellence, build strong internal communication, vibrant collaboration, and organizational transparency. We all want CC to be the best place in the world to work, and strategic internal communications will advance that priority and make us a more effective organization.  This will involve working across all divisions, bringing together varying perspectives, and facilitating meaningful dialogue. First off, I’m taking an inventory of all our internal communications efforts to establish where we are, assess what is working, what is not and why, and then develop a plan to get us where we want to go. I’m excited to dive right in and start getting to know our outstanding faculty, staff, and students; the most important part of my job is building those relationships.

2.) What qualities do you bring to Colorado College?
That quality of connecting with people is something I hope to bring to CC. We all have stories and experiences – the things that make us unique and the things that unify us as the CC community. Being able to look at those things in a strategic way, to find effective, intentional ways to grow our internal community, will be part of what my experience adds to our team. I’ll also bring my enthusiasm and drive to be continually learning and growing, both personally and professionally.

3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
We have great potential to strengthen our culture and facilitate collaboration and transparency throughout CC. Many individuals I have talked with already have expressed a similar sentiment: They’re craving some kind of consistency in connecting with one another, receiving information, and having dialogue internally. We can build and support meaningful, cross-organization relationships, which will improve our effectiveness and strengthen the CC community. This impacts our entire organization and ripples out to the broader community.

4.) Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Prior to starting at Colorado College, I served as the public information officer for Falcon School District 49, one of the fastest growing K-12 public school districts in the state. I managed the organization’s communications program, including media relations, marketing, internal communications, strategic planning, and crisis response, among many other roles throughout my four and a half years in that position. I began in District 49 after five years as a news reporter, working for the ABC affiliate in Colorado Springs and Pueblo and CBS affiliate in Topeka, Kan.

5.) Tell us about being a news reporter.
My days started at 4 a.m. as a morning show reporter, covering everything from blizzards and floods to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and state politics. The best part of being a news reporter is the people you meet. As a journalist, you have the opportunity to tell a person’s story and give them a voice. You get to really get to know an area, its people, and its culture. Every day brings a new day with a new story and new adventure. Those stories were fueled by the individuals I was able to interview and talk with about their experiences.

6.) What do you do with your personal time?
I am a runner. I’ll be out running, in all weather, typically training for one race or another and often volunteer in the running community.  My interests are varied, so I’m always looking for new ways to connect with our community: I co-direct a trail race in the fall at Venetucci Farm and recently I enrolled in a painting class. Over the past several years, mountain biking has become another challenge. It is a perfect way to get out and explore and experience the natural beauty we have here in Colorado, and across the globe. I also enjoy traveling, reading (send me your book recommendations!), and picking up cooking tips from my fiancé (we’re planning a small June wedding in the mountains).

7.) What’s next on your race calendar?
The Catalina Marathon is coming up in March. That’s a beautiful and agonizingly hilly trail race, 26.2 miles across Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. I ran it last year and wild bison were actually out on the course with us – a great motivator to pick up the pace. Also, I’ve started training for my first Ironman triathlon, so that will be a significant training challenge. I’ve never done a triathlon, but I thought I’d jump right in with a big one. I have until Aug. 3 to get ready for that.

8.) What is your most memorable run?
It’s tough to come up with one; there have been so many amazing runs! Running is truly the most ideal way to explore a new city or locale. I’d have to say the Rim to Rim to Rim run across the Grand Canyon. 44 miles in one day from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, to the north rim and back again. We started well before sunrise, found snow on the north side, and ran through 105+ degree temperatures in the bottom of the canyon. The views were phenomenal!

9.) Tell us about your background.
I am originally from Kansas, in a suburb southwest of Kansas City. It was a wonderful place to establish roots and values as an individual. I received my Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Strategic Communications degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia and actually began my career as a reporter there in college. In my experience, Midwesterners are people who value hard work and support one another. As I’ve lived and traveled to other parts of the country, I realize those people are actually everywhere! (though more often than not, they’re actually Midwestern transplants.)

 10.) Wild card: What’s your indulgence/guilty pleasure?
Relaxation can feel like a guilty pleasure to me, with a glass of good red wine and a good book out on our front deck (after a long trail run or bike ride). Or, reading through an issue of Bon Appetit or Runner’s World cover to cover (I initially planned to become a magazine writer before catching the television bug). I sometimes feel like it’s indulgent to sit down and just unwind, but it helps me recharge. I also teach yoga, so squeezing in some time to take a class also is a bonus!

10 Things About: Bryan Oller, Staff Photographer/Communications

Bryan2005Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Before I came on board at CC, I was knee deep in a freelance photography career. I produced a lot of work for the Independent, The Denver Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and several other local and national publications and agencies.  Before I entered the world of freelance I was a staff photographer at The Gazette for several years.

Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?
There have been too many for me to count! I was entrusted to cover Hurricane Katrina, the devastating floods and forest fires in Colorado, the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and several presidential visits. It’s been quite a ride. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Honestly, one of my favorite assignments as a newspaper photojournalist was covering CC’s Frozen Four run in 2005. I was given the task of following the team around the country when they made that incredible run. It was tough to watch the Tigers lose to DU in Columbus, Ohio, but what a season that was! It culminated with Marty Sertich winning the Hobey Baker Award the next day. I was right there in the front row when he held up the trophy and looked right into his mother’s eyes. That was an incredible moment to witness and capture with the camera. My proudest achievement in the last year was seeing some of my photographs being picked up by The New York Times and Time magazine. That was a huge honor for me.

What do you bring to this job?
I bring passion. Lots of passion. You’re only as good as your last photograph and there is always room to improve. That’s something someone told me a long time ago and it has stuck with me throughout my career. Every time I snap a photograph I imagine I am trying to catch a big fish. I truly love taking photographs as much as a fisherman loves catching the big one.

Who/what was the biggest influence on your career?
Without a doubt, CC alum Dave Burnett. I saw his work for the first time in my high school photography class and was instantly hooked. At The Gazette I was able to call Bob Jackson a co-worker. Bob took the photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Many consider that image to be the most important photograph of the 20th century. And I got to work every day with Bob! His presence in our photography department was a huge influence on my career.

 What have you noticed about CC?
Everyone seems happy and I see so many smiling faces every day. And you cannot help but notice how hard the students, staff, and faculty work. This has already been reflected in the work I have produced so far.

Tell us a little about your background.
I’m an Air Force brat. My father met my mother here in Colorado Springs in 1966. We trotted around the country and parts of the world throughout my youth. We moved to Colorado Springs in 1982 and my parents swore they would never move again. I went to high school here and then went on to college at CU-Boulder. I met my wife, classically, in the newsroom. We have two kids, a boy and girl. Colorado Springs is my home. We have family roots in Colorado and parts of Northern New Mexico that can be traced back to the original Spanish colonists and Native American tribes. So it’s safe to say I’m rooted here.

What do you like to do when not photographing?
I hardly ever go anywhere without a camera. But naturally, I like to get into the mountains as much as possible. We’re always trying to figure out our next trip to Taos.

Do you have a favorite photo or photographer?
If I had to name a favorite photograph, it would be the image I took after my daughter was born and my wife and son are lying in the bed at the hospital. My son is seen in the photo holding his baby sister for the first time. That image tugs at my heart every time I look at it.

What is your passion?
I am passionate about my family and my children. But when it comes to photography, I am passionate about how powerful a medium it really is. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else other than working with a camera. It’s a major part of my life.

How do you think your photography will benefit CC?
CC now has a staff photographer. This means many, many opportunities to capture the uniqueness of the campus, the students, faculty, and staff, and the overall vibe that makes CC such an amazing place. Everyday something historic to the college takes place. And I have a chance to be right there to document things as they happen. It is such an honor to be a part of it! Colorado College is amazing and there is something beautiful happening every day. I am looking forward to capturing as much of it as I can with my camera and all the passion I bring to the craft.

Wildcard question: Tell us a little about the photo of you above.
I’m in Haiti standing in front of the UN headquarters building, now a pile of rubble after the earthquake. It’s a newsworthy photo because I was following Bill Hybl around Port-Au-Prince when he was there as a diplomat trying to help establish
election systems following the Aristide coup. So it’s got a nice CC tie. And it was a very dangerous time over there. We were always under threat.

Huge Hands: Coburn Exhibit by Andy Tirado

Andrew_Tirado_7Andy Tirado, the 3D arts supervisor for the Colorado College art department, has sculptured a series of massive hands using a very appropriate CC material – reclaimed redwood from the deck outside the studios at Packard Hall, which houses the art department.

Tirado provides tech support for the art department, supervises the sculpture shop, and teaches a spring woodworking adjunct class. He also will be teaching sculpture at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass this summer.

The four sculptures, all of which depict right hands (Tirado is left-handed; he uses his right hand as a model) are enormous – one is 13 feet long and weighs more than 300 pounds – and take up nearly all the space in Coburn Gallery, where they have been on exhibit. However, the huge hands, constructed from redwood, alder, and steel, all materials Tirado scrounged for, will soon be moved to make way for a new exhibit.

A Palmer High School graduate and an art major at University of Colorado—Colorado Springs, he started out building wood strip canoes. Later, he designed and built custom marketing-related props for clients such as Burton and Frito-Lay, before  joining Colorado College in October 2005. The move allowed him to transition from building custom pieces and to enjoying the freedom that comes with making one’s own art. Taking the job at CC, he says, “was like walking into the perfect position. Like it was handcrafted – no pun intended.”

When Tirado embarked on the first piece in the hand series two years ago, he envisioned a large hand contoured as a chair. However, it evolved into something else entirely. “It’s fun not knowing where it will end up. With client work, you know exactly how it will end up. There’s not the same creativity and sense of freedom I have now,” he says.

Sections of the hands are little paintings and abstractions in themselves, coming together to form the much bigger piece. Each finger is individually carved from a larger piece of wood with various sizes of forstner bits, he says. One satisfying element of his work: “Responding to how the work is responding to your touch,” he says. Occasionally a piece will fall or a part will break off. “I don’t try to put it back; I leave some clues rather than hide all the evidence of a break – I think it’s important to allow the work to talk back to you rather than be dictated to.”

His two-car garage has been turned into a studio, and is where he will store the hands for the time being, while also working on another series of hands crafted from steel bands. See more photos of Tirado’s work.

Get to know … Libby Rittenberg

Libby Rittenberg, former CC economics professor, faculty assistant to the president, and dean of summer programs, is now wearing a new CC hat – ombudsperson, a position she will hold for a minimum of two years.

Rittenberg, who retired in 2010, started in her new position on July 1, taking over from Jane Cauvel.  “It’s a good opportunity to continue to be part of the CC community,” Rittenberg said. “The position came at the right time. It’s part-time, and it allows me to make what I hope will be a valuable contribution. Plus, it’s an opportunity to learn something new, in an entirely different field.”

Rittenberg was nominated by both staff and faculty members, and is appreciative of that implicit vote of confidence. She attended “ombuds training school” in Orlando, Fla., this summer, and was surprised at the variety of organizations that employ an ombudsperson – everything from the F.B.I. to Coca-Cola to colleges and universities. The four major principles of the ombuds office are confidentiality, informality, independence, and neutrality, and the CC ombudsperson reports to the audit committee of the Board of Trustees and to the college president.

 Rittenberg says she will be dealing mainly with “issues” rather than “disputes,” as many matters that come to the ombudsperson are not full—blown arguments but rather concerns that can fester if not addressed. She will identify trends, rather than report on individual cases, and in that way help to bring about change, if necessary. She plans to visit as many departments as possible during the next few months in order to explain what the office is about and how it can help CC employees.

Originally from Charleston, S.C., Rittenberg came to Colorado College in 1989 as an associate economics professor interested in international economic development. She applied for a position at the college – the only school she looked at that was not on the Eastern Seaboard – after seeing an ad that specifically mentioned international experience as a plus. Besides the opportunity to become part of such a fine liberal arts college, she selected Colorado College because of the value it places on an international perspective, and because it was the only school she interviewed at in which people from a variety of departments came to the presentation interview. “At all the other schools, it was only the people in the department who came to the ‘job talk,’ as we call it. At CC, I was struck by how many people from various departments attended. I thought, ‘Wow, people from different departments talk to each other here.’ That made an impression,“ she said.

Rittenberg earned a B.A. in economics-mathematics and Spanish from Simmons College in Boston, and master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. She initially was drawn to economics because of the way economists look at issues, rather than by the issues themselves. “Economists look at so many different kinds of issues beyond what people think,” she said. “That framework becomes a useful device, and has been useful in so many things I have done at CC.”

Her research areas include international trade, sources of economic growth, stabilization/liberalization policies, the transition of centrally planned economies, Third World debt, productivity analysis, and the Turkish economy. Rittenberg has visited Turkey more than 30 times, in large part because her husband, Nasit Ari, a research engineer whom she met while folk dancing when she was an economist at Mathematica, Inc., in Princeton, N.J., is from Istanbul.

Rittenberg keeps her hand in economics by working on the third edition of her book, “Principles of Economics,” co-authored with Timothy Tregarthen and published by Flat World Knowledge. In an effort to keep the cost of textbooks down, the book is an open-source textbook, based on the iTunes model, in which consumers can purchase and download as much or as little of the book as they want. “We’ll see how it goes,” she said. “It’s still a test model.”

Rittenberg enjoys hiking below tree line and riding her electric bike, and makes it a point to spend time outdoors every day. In recent years she started taking piano lessons, something she hasn’t pursued since junior high school. She also enjoys the arts, especially concerts, plays, and opera. Her passion for the arts meshed well with her six-year tenure as dean of summer programs, as she enjoyed spending summers in Colorado Springs attending as many of the arts and cultural events as she could. She has served on the boards of the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, the Colorado Springs Conservatory, the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, and the Foundation for School District 11.

 Rittenberg can be reached at 330-0410 or lrittenberg@coloradocollege.edu.  A self-described email and phone junkie, Rittenberg will return an email or call as soon as possible. Her September office hours at Tutt Library, Room 212 are 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. Tuesdays and 4-6 p.m. Wednesdays.  Office hours for subsequent months will be posted outside the ombuds office and on the ombuds website: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/offices/ombuds/.  She also is more than willing to meet people off-campus; call or email her to make arrangements.