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University of Colorado Denver

School of Public Affairs

SPA Lecturers

 Alexander, Ross

 Allen, Andrea

Andrea Allen received her Ph.D. in Criminology & Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina in 2013. Her research explores policing, drug/alcohol-involved crime, and firearms. Her work is published in outlets such as The Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Crime & Delinquency, and Police Quarterly.​2

 Best, Jane

Jane Best has extensive experience working among practitioners, policymakers and researchers. Currently, she is the Chief Development Officer at My Student Survey, an organization that designs, administers and provides professional services for student, parent and community surveys offered to state and local education systems.  Previously, she was the Chief Strategy Officer at McREL International and also worked for Learning Point Associates (now American Institutes for Research) and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Dr. Best started her career as a high school French and ESL teacher in Columbus, Ohio. Jane has served on the board of directors of Knowledge Alliance and STEM Education Coalition, trade associations that advocate for federal funding for education research and development. She has also served on the board of governors for the College of Education at The Ohio State University.  She has expertise in the politics of education, school and systems leadership, government relations, and implementing federal, state and foundation funded initiatives. Jane holds a B.A. from Indiana University, a M.A. from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.​4

 Brown, Greg

 Burke, Dan

 Dixon, Tamara

Tamara Dixon is the Human Resources Manager for the City of Wheat Ridge, Colorado where she guides and manages Human Resources services, policies, and programs for the City. Tamara has over 14 years of experience in Human Resources and has facilitated sessions on leadership, strategic planning, engagement and motivation and is also certified in Crucial Conversations. She is PHR and IPMA-CP certified and she holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Tuskegee University as well a Master's degree in Public Administration from Auburn University (War Eagle!). She also serves as 2nd Vice President of the Western Region of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR).​8

 Estrada, Erik

Erik Estrada is an attorney with Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, where his practice focuses on corporate and financial transactions, corporate governance, and regulatory guidance for businesses, public entities, and nonprofit organizations.  He is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder (B.A.), the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs (M.P.A.), where he was named the Outstanding Student, and the University of Denver College of Law (J.D.), where he was named a Chancellor’s Scholar.  Currently, he is pursuing an LL.M. (Master of Laws) degree from the Boston University School of Law.  Prior to graduating from law school, he served as the Program Officer for the Boettcher Foundation, a private foundation located in Denver, Colorado, and as a Trustee, Program Director and Senior Fellow of El Pomar Foundation, a private foundation located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  In addition to his tenure as a Trustee of the El Pomar Foundation, he was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to the board of directors for the Tony Grampsas Fund in July 2007.  He was re-appointed by Governor Bill Ritter in April 2010 to serve another three-year term.  He has also served on the boards of directors for the University of Colorado Alumni Association, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, and the Community Resource Center.  He is a member of the Colorado Bar Association and the Denver Bar Association.

Estrada, Erik vita May 2013.pdf​

Email –

 Fletcher, Hillary


 Fulcher, Juley


 Gartner, Jen

Jen Gartner attended the University of Delaware (B.A., 1998); the George Washington University Law School (J.D., 2001), where she served as Senior Managing Editor of the Public Contract Law Journal; and Norwich University (M.P.A., 2005). Jen Gartner was the Director of Grants & Contracts and adjunct professor for the University of Colorado Denver's School of Public Affairs. She is trained as a government contracts attorney and has worked with military, aerospace, and nonprofit contractors for many years, first at the law firm of Morgan Lewis in Washington, DC, and later at the Space Science Institute, home to the NASA's Cassini Imaging Team, in Boulder, Colorado.​10

 Harrison, Randy

Randy Harrison serves as Senior Fellow at the Buechner Institute of Governance and recently served as Executive Director of Move Colorado, a non-profit corporation representing Colorado’s transportation community on transportation finance issues, and two major architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms - URS and AECOM responsible for business and program development for corporate and regional management. 

As Director of State Planning in the Office of State Planning and Budgeting, Mr. Harrison managed  several initiatives as part of the Governor’s economic development strategy: the Colorado Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) Project to locate a $5 billion DOE high-energy physics laboratory near Ft Morgan; directed the Governor’s Council on High Technology Economic Development, a 5-year Economic  Plan and Implementation program; served as Executive Director of the Colorado Commission on Local Government Finance; and Executive Director of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Capital Infrastructure. He has supervised research into Colorado’s technology industries: biotechnology, aerospace, and advanced manufacturing; and developed small business strategies for innovation research.

 Jennings, Wesley

 Johnston, Jessica

 Lefkowitz, Laura

Laura Lefkowitz is a management consultant for non-profit and governmental educational agencies. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver and is certified by the Global Business Network as a scenario planner. From 1995 – 1999 Lefkowits was an At-Large Member of the Board of Education for Denver Public Schools (DPS). Other past positions include Director of Policy, Advanced Education Inc. (AdvancED) and Vice President for Policy and Planning Services at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) where she oversaw government relations and strategic planning.​18

 Luckey, Kara

Kara is an urban planner and PhD Candidate in Planning and Design at the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning. She is also a lecturer in the university’s School of Public Affairs where she has taught Research and Analytical Methods online.

Kara’s research centers broadly on the intersection between transportation planning, housing policy, and social justice, with particular expertise in the role of urban infrastructure in community and economic development. Her dissertation work takes a mixed-method approach to exploring issues of neighborhood change and housing affordability associated with public rail transit in order to understand policy responses to increasing pressure on housing affordability in transit-rich neighborhoods across U.S. regions. 

After earning a B.S. in Civil Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City, Kara worked as a practitioner in a range of contexts including transit and transportation planning, waterfront redevelopment, and planning for public and federal lands. Her PhD work has been supported by the National Science Foundation through the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program, as well as through a U.S. Department of Transportation Eisenhower Fellowship.

After living in Colorado for over a decade, Kara recently moved back to her hometown of Seattle, Washington with her husband, 2-year old son, and 5-month old daughter. When not thinking about and researching urban policy, Kara enjoys braving the rain with her family to explore all the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

 Machado, Jason

Jason Machado is currently a Doctoral Candidate and received his MPA from UCD in 2006.  Jason’s research interests include comparative public administration, nonprofit board governance, grassroots advocacy and the role of nonprofits in the policy process.  He has worked as a Public and Legislative Affairs Director for multiple Colorado nonprofits and continues to consult on several advocacy projects that promote civic engagement and voter access.​​19

 Meija, James

James Mejia is the interim President and CEO of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  He was a candidate for the Mayor of Denver in 2010, and prior to that served as the CEO of the Denver Preschool Project, Project Manager for the Denver Justice Center, and Manager of Denver’s Parks and Recreation Department.    He was named 9News Leader of the Year in 2009.  James received a master’s degree in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and an MBA from Arizona State University.​20

 Mendyka, Joe

Joe Mendyka is currently the Vice President of Community Impact with Foothills United Way in Lafayette, CO. He works with non-profits, local governments, school districts, businesses and community volunteers to build collaborative human service initiatives in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. He also oversees the grant funding to non-profits in this region. Prior to living and working on the Front Range, Joe worked as a legislative liaison with the Department of Public Health in the State of Connecticut and as a staffer for Governor M. Jodi Rell. He also has extensive experience with campaigns for local, state and congressional offices. Additionally, Joe is an ordained priest in the Japanese Tendai Buddhist tradition and co-leads a small Buddhist community in Northglenn, CO. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Naropa University in Boulder, CO.​21

 Mentor, Kenneth


 Penny, Michael

Michael Penny is the city manager of Littleton, Colorado, a vibrant and unique community located about 10 miles south of Denver. With a population of 42,000, Littleton is primarily residential, but without the suburban feel that typically accompanies a city so close to a metropolitan area. The core of the community is made up of homes, churches, schools, parks and open spaces. Another aspect of Littleton’s charm is the walkable Main Street Historic District, full of eclectic businesses and devoid of any chains (the Main Street Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Placesin 1998). The city of Littleton has roughly 450 employees, a large figure due to the fact that Littleton’s fire and medic personnel also serve surrounding communities, including an additional 180,000 citizens.​23

 Pryor, Wendell

Wendell Pryor is the current Director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation. He has served as Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chaffee County, and is the former Director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.  Wendell has also served as Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Public Employees (CAPE); Human Resource Director for the City and County of San Francisco; Personnel Director for the cities of Aurora, Colorado and Riverside, California; Director of Personnel Operations and Acting Personnel Director for the Career Service Authority, City and County of Denver; and the Personnel Administrator for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  He holds a law degree from the University of Denver, College of Law and an MPA from the University of Colorado.  He has also been involved with numerous community organizations, including the San Francisco branch of the NAACP.​24

 Reed, Jack

Jack K. Reed joined the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice’s Office of Research and Statistics as a statistical analyst in 2014, bringing experience in data analysis, research design, and project evaluation. Jack is primarily tasked with analyzing the impact of marijuana legalization on law enforcement, juveniles, public health, education, impaired driving, and diversion to other markets. He has experience evaluating specialty courts, community corrections programs, jail-based treatment programs, and strategic planning in the criminal justice system. He began as a lecturer in the Criminal Justice program at the C.U. Denver School of Public Affairs in Fall 2015. He will be teaching courses on Crime Theory and Causes as well as Courts. Jack has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada, Reno and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from the University at Albany, State University of New York.30

 Reynolds, Dana

Dana Reynolds is a 15-year veteran of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. He began his career as a State Trooper with the Colorado State Patrol. He held assignments as a policy and research specialist, accreditation manager, field supervisor, internal affairs investigator and polygraphist. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of Captain where he led the Homeland Security Section and served as Director of the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC), the state fusion center. Mr. Reynolds then accepted a position as Director of the Office of Preparedness in the newly formed Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (DHSEM). He was later appointed Deputy Director with oversight over critical infrastructure protection, cybersecurity, state preparedness, interoperable communications, grant and finance, and strategic communications. Most recently, Mr. Reynolds was appointed as Director of Emergency Management and leads the state’s emergency management agency within DHSEM. Mr. Reynolds holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Colorado at Denver.  He is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Crisis Leadership, an executive education program, along with the Executive Leadership Program (ELP) from the Center for Homeland Defense & Security, Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, CA.  Mr. Reynolds also serves as a Senior Lecturer in the Homeland Security Certificate Program at Denver University, and holds an adjunct faculty position in the Sociology and Criminology Department, also at Denver University.​​25

 Scanlon, Nora

Nora Scanlon currently works at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs as the undergraduate criminal justice Academic Advisor & Program Coordinator.  In her role at SPA Nora works closely with students to ensure they are supported in their degree program and are able to take advantage of SPA’s as well as community resources.  Nora received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of Denver, and Master of Criminal Justice & Master of Public Administration from the University of Colorado Denver.​29

 Tunstall, Ashley


 Van Leeuwen, Jamie

Jamie Van Leeuwen currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Governor Hickenlooper after almost four years as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Community Partnerships. Leading up to the Hickenlooper administration, he worked as the Policy Director and served on the transition team for the Hickenlooper for Colorado gubernatorial campaign. He is also the founder and Executive Director of the Global Livingston Institute, a non- governmental organization in East Africa designed to engage students and community leaders to develop innovative solutions to poverty and is a Senior Research Fellow with the Buechner Institute at the University of Colorado Denver School Of Public Affairs. He became a Fulbright Scholar in 2013.​27 | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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