Each year the CU Denver Alumni Board honors several individuals who have a record of distinction with the University of Colorado Denver and/or in their profession, community, and society at large. Learn more about your 2023 Alumni Award Recipients in their bios below.
For questions regarding the Alumni Awards and the awarding process, please contact CU Denver Alumni at 303-315-3601 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CU Denver is proud to honor Jennifer Leitsch MS, MBA '08 with the 2023 Business School Distinguished Alumni Award for her dedication in advancing sustainability strategies.Jennifer is an accomplished sustainability executive and recognized thought leader with more than 15 years of experience leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, programs, and reporting. As a Managing Director in the Climate Change and Sustainability Services practice at Ernst & Young (EY), she leads engagements advancing sustainability strategy, climate-related initiatives, and ESG reporting with clients across the country.
CU Denver is proud to honor David Dowall MURP '74, PhD with the 2023 College of Architecture and Planning Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to urban land use and planning management.David received his master's in urban and regional planning in 1974 from CU Denver and a PhD ’1975 from CU Boulder. Dowall was a professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley from 1976 to 2012, and subsequently a professor emeritus. He was also director of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at UC Berkeley from 2004-8.
CU Denver is proud to honor Courtney Ozaki '06 with the 2023 College of Arts & Media Distinguished Alumni Award for her success and contributions to Japanese Art in America.Courtney Ozaki is an independent creative producer/experiential designer, a Japanese taiki drum musician, and the founder of the Japanese Arts Network, a national resource for artistic collaboration and connection which provides access to resources and develops programs and platforms that support, advance, and strengthen visibility for Japanese Artists in America. She holds a master of fine arts degree in performing arts management from Brooklyn College and a bachelor's in music management from CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media with a dual emphasis in recording arts and music management as well as a partial piano performance degree.
CU Denver is proud to honor Akram Atallah '84, MS '86, MBA '94 with the 2023 College of Engineering, Design and Computing Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to the domain name industry.Akram Atallah is the President and CEO of Identity Digital, a leader in the domain name industry. Prior to Identity Digital Akram was at ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, where he served as the first president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division and oversaw the management of generic domain operations, domain name industry engagement, and web services. Previously, Akram served as ICANN’s Chief Operating Officer.
CU Denver is proud to honor Erik Lucero '05, PhD with the 2023 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to quantum computing and helping to create AI opportunities for CU Denver students.Erik designed, built, and operates Google’s Quantum AI campus in Santa Barbara — with the mission to build an error corrected quantum computer for the world to enable humankind to solve problems that would otherwise be impossible. He is one of the scientists on the Google Quantum AI team who demonstrated humanity’s first beyond-classical computation (Nature 2019), recognized as one of the Breakthroughs of the Year. He has two decades of experience in quantum architectures: controlling SQUIDs and qubits at Google, HRL Laboratories, IBM T. J. Watson, the University of California, Santa Barbara, NIST Boulder and the University of Colorado Denver.
CU Denver is proud to honor Lisa R. Roy MA '96, EdD '16 with the 2023 School of Education & Human Development Distinguished Alumni Award for her dedication and commitment to advancing early childhood education in the State of Colorado.Lisa is the newly appointed Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Early Childhood. The Department will manage Colorado’s new universal preschool program, serving children in the year before kindergarten statewide starting in the summer of 2023. The Department will also manage comprehensive programs and services for young children, families and early childhood professionals, utilizing a "one-stop shop" application process.
CU Denver is proud to honor Joe Pelle MCJ '87 with the School of Public Affairs Distinguished Alumni Award for his dedication and service to the safety of his community.Joe grew up in Boulder, Colorado. He received bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in public administration from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a master’s degree in criminal justice from CU Denver. He has 43 years of public safety experience and has served five terms as the elected Sheriff of Boulder County.
CU Denver is proud to honor Patrick Browne '10, MA '18 posthumous with the Graduate of the Last Decade Award for his service and advocacy of Veteran and military-related students.Patrick was a two-time CU Denver graduate, receiving his bachelor's in Business Administration in 2010 and his master's in Administrative Leadership & Policy Studies in 2018. He also worked at CU Denver in the Office of Veteran & Military Student Services (OVMSS) for 12 years. Patrick’s life was full of service – to his country as a U.S. Army Veteran, to other Veterans at CU Denver, and to his family. He was an amazing colleague who worked tirelessly to support student Veterans. His teammates considered Patrick the heart of the Office of Veterans & Military Student Services who always engaged the military-connected population in a very positive way.
CU Denver is proud to honor Lola Ann Salazar MA '92 with the 2023 Mack Easton Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Board's highest distinction, for her commitment to improving her community.Lola Salazar grew up in Denver, a product of Denver Public Schools. She married her high school sweetheart and they moved to Alamosa, Colorado. Even at the age of 18 and having just graduated, the Salazars focused on their values — to rely on each other, prioritize education, and work tirelessly towards their goals. After moving back to Denver, Lola received her bachelor's from Metropolitan State University and her master's from the University of Colorado Denver. Lola taught in Jefferson County for eight years, and then decided it was time to be with her family full time.