The Office of Advancement connects those who are passionate about education and research to the people and programs at CU Denver who can excel with their support. We serve as a trusted campus and community resource that inspires alumni pride and private support to advance CU Denver's mission, and we work to ensure a bright and promising future for CU Denver through robust engagement, transformative philanthropy, and a deep sense of pride in the university.
Vice Chancellor for Advancement
Melisa sets strategies for the university’s fundraising initiatives, including annual giving, major gifts, corporate giving, foundation relations and gift planning. She also oversees Donor and Alumni Engagement and Advancement Communications. With more than 25 years of experience as a university development professional, Melisa has contributed to growth in fundraising results in every position she has held. She has vast experience in setting the strategic direction and managing the operational execution of fundraising campaigns. Melisa previously worked in advancement at Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and University of Florida.
Melisa lives in downtown Denver and enjoys all the urban setting has to offer. She also enjoys skiing and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.
Chief of Staff
Assistant Vice Chancellor
Managing Director, Advancement Communications
Associate Director, Advancement Communications
Campus Program Manager, Central Annual Giving
Liz is a member of the CU Central Advancement team supporting the CU Denver campus through crowdfunding initiatives, annual giving data requests, and key performance indicators management. She is a liaison to our student call center, assists with the implementation of annual giving campaigns, and collaborates on the annual spring day of giving.Liz was born and raised in South Dakota and has been living on the front range since 2019. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Augustana University (SD) and a master’s degree from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). Prior to this role, she worked in alumni engagement at UCCS. Liz is passionate about supporting student success and sees annual giving as a means to make a big impact on the student experience. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and backpacking with her husband, baking sweet treats, and playing board games.
Assistant Director, Events & Engagement
Coordinator, Events & Stewardship
Bry’ona assists with the execution of event and engagement opportunities, and aids in the coordination of donor and alumni programs, stewardship, and annual giving efforts. She supports the team by working with partners and other areas of the CU Denver to identify activities that meet strategic priorities and takes ownership of the planning, preparation, and execution of the engagement activities.
Bry’ona was born and raised in Colorado, and spends her free time going to concerts, exploring new eateries, and spending time with friends and family. She recently graduated from UCCS with a dual degree in Psychology and Women’s & Ethnic Studies, as well as a certificate in Gender and Sexualities Studies. After seeing the impact donors generosity had on her campus, Bry’ona is excited to be apart of the change happening at CU Denver.
Associate Director, Donor Engagement
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Major Gift and Partner Relations
Shira oversees the major gifts fundraising team and finds inspiration in helping donors match their philanthropic passions with CU Denver’s strategic priorities. She stays abreast of faculty
activity, research direction, and academic programs to advise on fundraising priorities and assists campus units in building and maintaining strong volunteer boards.
Shira brings more than 12 years of development experience to her role, with extensive experience in marketing and communications, industry and foundation relations, board development, and nonprofit management. Prior to joining CU Denver, Shira served as Director of Industry Relations on CU Boulder campus, where she worked with corporations and foundations to create mutually beneficial strategic partnerships.
Originally from the Boston area, Shira holds a BS from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MS in Management from Lasell University. She spends her leisure time climbing mountains or skiing with her two sons, husband, and dog.
Senior Director of Development, College of Engineering, Computing and Design
Associate Director of Gift Planning
Susan has long been a higher education advocate, working for over 11 years as a Higher Education Counselor and English Teacher, mainly overseas. Most recently she’s been a Major Gifts Officer and managed the Planned Giving program at the United Service Organizations (USO) in Washington, DC. She’s delighted to combine her passion for higher education, and experience in fundraising, to be the conduit for donors managing their own estate plans. Susan completed her Master’s Degree in Education with Bowie State University and her undergraduate at University of Delaware. With her eldest brother being a CU Boulder alumnus, she’s excited to be moving to Colorado herself, to start a new pollinator garden and find new camping spots. Susan is excited to join the CU Gift Planning team and the CU Denver Advancement team.
Director, Foundation and Corporate Development
Anna directs the strategy and implementation of foundation and corporate development for the university. Her goal is to secure financial resources for programs and activities that advance equity and serve under-represented communities.In previous positions, Anna has served as a fundraiser for Native American student programs and tribal colleges, an ESL teacher for immigrants and refugees, an editor at a university press, and a university rhetoric and composition instructor. She serves her community by sitting on nonprofit boards and volunteering for causes that advance gender, racial, and economic justice.
Senior Director of Development, Business School
Brendan directs the fundraising strategy for the Business School in partnership with Dean Scott Dawson and members of the faculty/staff. He is driven by a desire to match CU Denver’s donors with their philanthropic passions and to provide all students with the opportunity to enrich their experiences on campus.
Prior to joining CU Denver, Brendan served in multiple major gift fundraising roles, where he focused his work on managing donor portfolios and engaging with diverse constituents and funders. A Colorado native, Brendan received his BA from the University of Washington and his MA from Northwestern University, where he began his development career working for the annual fund. In his free time, he enjoys a good powder day on the slopes, spending time with his wife, and chasing after his toddler daughter and Sato pooch, Walter.
Director of Development, School of Public Affairs
Principal Gifts Officer
As the Principal Gifts Officer, Adrian cultivates and solicits a portfolio of top prospects and donors. She manages a network of relationships with donors in partnership with advancement colleagues, university administrators and faculty. Adrian is highly collaborative and utilizes a team-mentality to increase donor engagement and gift size. Adrian has worked in advancement for 17 years, most recently at the University of Denver, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, and Denver Rescue Mission and was awarded the Rotary Foundation International Fellowship and El Pomar Foundation Fellowship. Adrian speaks Portuguese fluently and enjoys gardening and travel.
Director of Development, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Director, Finance and Administration
Advancement Project Manager
Gabi supports the team with managing cross-area projects, human resources, and operational tasks. She also oversees the office’s Development Assistants.
Devon supports the Office of Advancement as a Development Assistant. She assists with the donor acknowledgement process and donor recognition. She also assists with all aspects of stewardship including providing data for donor reports, coordinating donor programs, and stewardship and engagement plans. She is a primary point of contact for day-to-day operations in the Advancement office and gift handling at CU Denver and CU Foundation.Initially from Virginia, Devon holds her BS degree in Environmental Biology from Christopher Newport University. She has a strong passion for the outdoors and four years of experience working in environmental conservation. Devon is also an avid skateboarder, snowboarder, and trail runner. She enjoys spending time at the local parks and inspiring other women to pursue boardsports. Devon loves to put miles on her Subaru adventuring in the mountains of Colorado with her friends.