Faculty at the Rocky Mountain Leadership Program include accomplished practitioners, leadership experts and nationally renowned educators. A sample of RMLP faculty is included below.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bill Barker has been interested in Thomas Jefferson since his youth. Barker attended the University of Pennsylvania and received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Villanova University. Attracted to the stage at an early age, he became a professional actor, director and producer. He was cast as Jefferson in many different venues including the musical, 1776. Barker is the same height, weight and general appearance as the man who has so long interested him.
Over the years, Barker has evolved a repertoire of Jefferson presentations tailored to corporate and government audience, as well as school, societies and festivals. He performed as Jefferson at the White House, the Palace of Versailles and throughout the United States, Great Britain and France. He presented for Chautauqua and has been featured as Jefferson in several magazines including Time, People, Atlantic, Philadelphia, Southern Living, Reader’s Digest and the Colonial Williamsburg Journal. Bill has been cited in various newsletters and reports, among them those of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, The Remnant Trust, The Jefferson Legacy Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He appeared as Jefferson in programs aired on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN and C-SPANN. He has received commendations from the City of Philadelphia, The City of St. Louis, and the Hellenic Ideals Foundation. He enjoys historical research, archaeology and traveling.
Over the course of a decade, Luis Benitez has emerged as one of the most experienced and respected adventure guides, leadership development consultants and outdoor recreation professionals in the world. To date, Benitez has summited the top of the famed “Seven Summits” a cumulative 32 times, including being a six-time summiteer of Mt. Everest.
Early in his career, Benitez was hired by Outward Bound where he conducted courses in mountaineering, climbing and skiing techniques with the underlying goal of teaching leadership, communication, and problem solving to participants. He led expeditions and was Director of Operations USA for Adventure Consultants (AC), a highly respected New Zealand-based firm with a long history of trips to summit Mt. Everest.
Benitez first summit of Everest was to climb with the blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer on his historic 2001 Everest summit, chronicled in the feature film “Farther Than the Eye Can See” and also in Erik’s book Touch the Top of the World. He also has led disabled veterans to the top of Mt. Lobuje, out of which was born the Soldiers to the Summits non-profit organization. He has been featured in films such as “Visions of Everest” (2002) and “Shadow of the Condor” (2002), has reported from Mt. Everest for ABC-TV News, and has filmed segments for an episode of National Geographic’s weekly TV series “Wild Chronicles”. In 2006 while guiding a group in Tibet, his witness of a tragic and historic attack by Chinese soldiers on Tibetan refugees led to Benitez’s firm commitment to dedicate his time to educating and helping people be their own leader. He is featured in a BBC documentary about that tragic event, “Murder in the Snow.”
Benitez championed Talent Management and Leadership Development for Vail Resorts and served as a town Councilman in Eagle, Colorado.
In 2015, he was appointed to his current position by Governor Hickenlooper, leading the brand new Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry for the state of Colorado. In addition, Benitez is the founder of Endeavor Consulting. He manages and leads an annual critical thinking and leadership development seminar in Ecuador and Chile for the Wharton School of Business and volunteers his time as a guide for the nonprofit Trekking for Kids. Regardless of the constituent, Benitez’ primary message is the same: “If you really challenge yourself, you can truly change your world.”
Wendy Bolyard, PhD
Dr. Wendy Bolyard currently serves as faculty program director for the Bachelor of Arts in Public Service program and as senior instructor in the School of Public Affairs at CU Denver. She has worked in higher education for more than 20 years and founded her own consulting company, K-20 Consulting. As a champion for higher education, Wendy works with colleges and universities to develop best practices in recruiting and admissions, model business processes, and create financial aid leveraging strategies. She also works to solidify the technology infrastructure to support automation of routine tasks and report on performance.
Wendy has consulted with numerous higher education institutions on performance management and constituent relationship management. She has worked for three public universities, a private urban university, a Fortune 500 company, a small non-profit organization, she sat on the Nonprofit Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida, and served on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Colorado. She currently serves as treasurer for a nonprofit evangelism and discipleship ministry. Emergenetics International, an organizational consulting company specializing in workplace assessments, certified Wendy in 2016 as a trained Associate in the proprietary Emergenetics psychometric assessment and methodology.
Mr. Brooks owns his own consulting firm, Tiger Bee specializing in leadership training. In addition to leadership training, he specializes in the areas of cultural diversity, tolerance, suicide prevention and intervention, self-esteem issues, and violence prevention training for adolescents and adults.
He has worked with a number of organizations nationwide, in Colorado, in New York City, and in South Africa, including the Spring Institute for International Studies, the Anti-Defamation League, PeaceJam, and the Shaka Franklin Foundation for Youth.
His achievements have been recognized by honors and awards from Denver Mayor Wellington Webb for fighting hate and discrimination; from the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference for promoting the ideals of peace and understanding among the youth of Colorado; from the Colorado School Counselor Association for "Outstanding Service"; and from the Contemporary Learning Academy for his volunteer work and commitment to children.
Kelly J. Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber represents approximately 3,000 businesses and their 300,000 employees in Colorado.
Prior to joining the Chamber, Brough served as chief of staff for the City and County of Denver and Mayor John Hickenlooper overseeing a general fund of $857 million. Kelly also served as deputy chief of staff and director of the Denver Office of Accountability and Reform for the City. In this role, Bough’s key responsibilities were to implement the new 3-1-1 customer service system and create an organizational culture that embraces performance management and continuous improvement. Brough was also the director of human resources for the City of Denver. She successfully moved the human resource department from an authoritarian culture to one based on service delivery and focused on outcomes. During her two years in this role, she led significant reforms including moving the City to a full pay-for-performance system and establishing the City’s first bonus plan program.
Brough is also a former director of the Rocky Mountain Program. During her tenure at the University of Colorado Denver, she served as a consultant to many local governments facilitating decisions, managing large public processes and comprehensive planning efforts, mediating disputes and providing strategies to build stronger public/private partnerships. This work took her to Hungary (working with 50 local mayors) and allowed her to work with a number of local governments throughout Colorado and the west.
Brough earned a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Colorado at Denver in 1989 and a bachelor’s degree in sociology, criminal justice from Montana State University in 1986. Brough was recently named as one of Colorado’s 10 most influential women by The Denver Post, and one of Denver’s most influential people by 5280 Magazine. In 2012, Brough received the University of Colorado Denver Campus Alumni Recognition Award. She has attended a number of leadership programs including the JFK School of Government’s program at Harvard for state and local public officials. She was also named an American Marshall Memorial Fellow in 2001.
Brian is the author of Peak Performance and the Director of Peak Academy and Analytics for the City and County of Denver. He specializes in process improvement and has more than 15 years of experience providing political, policy, legislative and program management expertise to government agencies, elected officials, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. Brian started his career in public service after graduating from Regis University and joining the National School and Community Corps (AmeriCorps) as a team leader. After working in Washington DC for AARP, Brian moved back to his hometown and served as the Assistant Director of Government Affairs at Denver International Airport.
Brian is a certified Lean Black Belt, a Six Sigma Green Belt and Change Management Professional. In his current role as Director of the Peak Academy, he developed curriculum, training and consulting services that focus on employee-led performance management and continuous improvement. Since its inception in 2011, Peak Academy initiatives have saved the City & County of Denver almost $25 million and the Academy has provided training to over 5,500 public and nonprofit professionals.
Jeff Evans takes the audience on a journey guiding blind climber Erik Weihenmayer on mountains around the world, culminating with the summit of Mt. Everest. He draws on many of the metaphors hidden in the world of adventure and brings them to his audience in a humorously inspiring way. These messages are funny, potent and tactile; reminding his audiences that it is critical to focus on creating a powerful and selfless team, seek out opportunities to be a leader and disregard the expectations others create in order to achieve your own potential.
Jeff Newsome is an engaging and impactful individual who serves to inspire and encourage others through training and mentoring. He has spent the last four years coordinating, designing, and facilitating training on everything from assertiveness to meditation to emergency preparedness. He was the recipient of the "Outstanding Achievement in Local Government" national award from the Alliance of Innovation for his development of a holistic and unique trainings. He is a passionate, dynamic trainer who truly cares about helping others to excel in the areas in which they seek improvement. While he may thrive in training roles, his purpose and commitment lies deeply in helping others to become their best selves. He is certified as a Master Instructional Designer and has a bachelor's degree in business management. When he's not working or spending time with his family, Newsome is backpacking, biking, and disappearing on trails in the desert and mountains.
Gil Vondrasek has over 25 years of experience in cutting edge organization innovation, design and performance improvement work. He has held corporate director roles and now serves as an external consultant. He has a successful track record with corporate wide transformation work in a field where it is estimated that only 25% of change is successful.
As the Director of Organizational Development at Digital Equipment Corporation(DEC) a Fortune 50 company, Vondrasek initiated, managed and acted as a change agent in an extremely successful corporate initiative that resulted in the company becoming the world’s best service organization as judged by JD Powers. Vondrasek led a global transformation of DEC’s Service Sector, moving it to a multi-vendor service organization; produced 90% of the company’s profits with 20% of its employees and increased revenue by 55% over a four-year time period.
His track record includes enabling companies such as Hewlett Packard, Compaq Computer, Dish Networks and Ingersoll Rand to make significant improvements in operational effectiveness and employee satisfaction.
He has served his community as a board member and active volunteer in Friendship Bridge, Metro Volunteers, Rotary Club of Colorado Springs and the South Sudanese American Orphaned Rehabilitation Organization (SSAORO),
Vondrasek works with groups to provide: organizational assessment, organization design and transformation, breakthrough performance improvement, systemic thinking, change leadership, team development, leadership development, culture change, group facilitation, strategic planning and executive coaching.
Vondrasek holds a bachelor’s and MBA degree from Washington University in St Louis.
Allan Wallis, PhD
Allan Wallis is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, where he directs the concentration in local government. He currently teaches courses in leadership and ethics, urban policy, growth management policy, and innovation in public management. He has also taught courses in architecture, city planning and urban design.An active researcher, Dr. Wallis focuses his work on emerging forms of metropolitan regional governance, leadership development, and methods for improving collaboration among nonprofit organizations. He is currently working on a metropolitan regionalism project in South Florida and Chicago under a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. He has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and a book-Wheel Estate: the Rise and Decline of Mobile Homes.
Professor Wallis holds a Bachelors in Architecture from The Cooper Union, a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Dr. Wallis has also taught at The Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Ball State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Annie Davies is a Michigan transplant who has called Colorado home for the last decade. She graduated from the University of Michigan (BA) and the University of Colorado (MPA) and has over 15 years of communication, marketing, program implementation, strategy, development and event planning experience. Named to Denver's Forty Under 40 list in 2013 and a graduate of the Denver Community Leadership Fellows program, Davies currently leads the Rocky Mountain Leadership Program, the CU School of Public Affairs (SPA) Executive MPA program and provides communication & development consulting. Past and current clients include Craig Hospital, Alpine Bank and Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS). Previously, Davies served as Director of Communications and Development at RMHS and Director of Marketing, Outreach and Alumni Affairs at the SPA.