We advance the mission of the university, as well as its reputation and identity as a leading academic and research institution.
Through strategic communications planning, media relations, branding, marketing, executive communications, and a wide range of digital media, we tell the stories of the university and its people.
Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications
Marie Williams, a marketing communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in the field, is Vice Chancellor for University Communications. Marie leads the team responsible for external and internal communications, media relations, marketing, brand strategy, social media, and web development.
Marie joined CU Denver from Saint Joseph’s University, where she served as Vice President for Marketing and Communications and led the university’s brand image, marketing and advertising initiatives, public relations, and internal communications. Earlier in her career, Marie served as a Senior Vice President at Edelman, a communications and marketing firm headquartered in New York City, and as a Senior Managing Director at RF|Binder.
She holds a BA in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania and has participated in several leading professional communications organizations.
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Marketing & Digital Strategy
Vivek is a creative and innovative leader with over 12 years of experience in the ever-changing web technology and marketing domain. With a proven track record in managing complex projects and maintaining high team morale, Vivek brings critical thinking, problem-solving, and technical expertise to guide web and marketing projects successfully.
At CU Denver, Vivek oversees the areas of web design, digital strategy, marketing, advertising, and paid promotions and serves as a key advisor in enrollment-generating creative campaigns.
Beyond professional expertise, Vivek has also been involved in academics, teaching web design fundamentals, web content and SEO strategy, application development, and database design at two renowned higher education institutions.
Graphic Designer & Studio Specialist
Assistant Director of Internal Communications
Alex is responsible for finding and telling the stories of CU Denver’s people, programs, and research. She primarily oversees CU Denver News, the university’s e-newsletter and website. When she’s not pitching stories or writing on deadline, she’s tracking audience engagement and collaborating with her team members in University Communications.
Alex brings nearly four years of experience as a reporter at a community newspaper in south metro Denver, where she covered suburbia, mental health, and public education. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from CU Boulder and spent a stint of time in New York City before settling in Denver.
Alex was born in Boynton Beach, Florida and raised in Basalt. In her spare time, she enjoys catching up with friends over a good meal, jogging around Washington Park, and planning her next outdoor adventure.
Olivia Earle is a skilled UI/UX designer with over seven years of experience in the fields of web design and digital marketing. Originally from Rome, Georgia, Olivia relocated to Colorado in 2021. Throughout her career, she has consistently demonstrated her proficiency in overseeing a variety of projects and fostering team morale. Olivia possesses a unique combination of creativity, problem-solving abilities, and technical expertise, which plays a pivotal role in ensuring the successful execution of web design initiatives for the University Communications team.
In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, baking, and going on outdoor adventures with her family.
Editorial and Content Director
Natasha Gardner is an award-winning writer, editor, and content producer. She has more than 15 years of experience with telling stories that matter in Colorado. A longtime editor at 5280, Denver’s magazine, she was also the managing editor at History Colorado before joining CU Denver’s University Communications team. Here, she helps develop stories and content that resonates with our students, faculty, staff, alums, and community.
Natasha has a master’s degree in news gathering from the University of Colorado Boulder and a B.A. in sociology from Smith College. When she’s not typing away on a laptop, she might be hiking in the Rocky Mountains, skate skiing, reading, or trying new recipes.
Director of Chancellor Events and Engagements
Prior to joining CU Denver, Laurel served as the assistant director of advancement event experiences at the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder. She has also owned an event planning company, Page Turning Events. She holds a bachelor’s of science in business administration with an emphasis in Operations Management and a minor in Religious Studies from the Leeds School of Business at The University of Colorado Boulder. In her free time, Laurel loves to be outdoors, travel, and foster dogs.
Senior Web Developer
As UComm's Sr. Web Developer, James is responsible for ensuring that CU Denver's web properties are optimized for great user experience. He brings technical and design expertise to the web portion of the Marketing and Digital Strategy team. His goal is for all visitors to easily do whatever they need to do on CU Denver's websites, particularly requesting information to become a Lynx.
James has managed CMS templates, written web standards, and he enjoys finding solutions to his teammates’ problems to make their work lives a little easier. Previously, James worked as Web Services Manager for the business school at the University of Texas at Dallas, an artist in a custom glass studio in Las Vegas, a K-12 art teacher at a Dallas-area charter school and a graphic designer.
He earned a BFA in Drawing and Painting and a BA in English Literature from the University of North Texas, and an MFA from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. When he’s not working on the web, he enjoys drawing comics, painting, watching the Dallas Mavericks (and, now, the Denver Nuggets!) and hanging out with his three favorite people – his wife and their two children. He also has two art practices - James Hough Studio and Hough Slattery - which have websites where you can see some of his artwork.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications
Social Media Manager
Melinda is responsible for managing our institutional social media channels. She works closely with groups across campus to ensure we are supporting and celebrating our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Melinda is passionate about social media and its significance in building a strong community while acting as a tool to share important university information with our followers.
She comes to us from the University of Pittsburgh, with five years of experience in higher education. She is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned her undergraduate degree from Pitt. Currently, she is earning her Master’s in Business Administration from CU Denver. In her free time, Melinda enjoys hiking, working out, live music, spending time with friends, traveling, and cheering on her Pittsburgh sports teams from Colorado.
Director of Brand and Digital Marketing
Joining in 2022, Leigh Pinner serves as Director of Brand and Digital Marketing within the University Communications team. In this role, Leigh is responsible for CU Denver brand leadership as well as digital marketing campaign development and oversight. With over a decade of marketing experience, Leigh formerly served CU within the Office of Digital Education as Senior Brand Marketing Manager, and prior to that, worked as the Digital Marketing and CRM Manager at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Earlier in her career, she served in marketing roles at notable Virginia-based organizations. As a marketer in higher ed, Leigh is motivated by the opportunity to serve students and make a positive impact through education.
Leigh holds a B.S. in Communication from Old Dominion University and is currently working towards a Master’s in Marketing and Brand Communication at CU Denver. She currently resides in Richmond, Virginia and is an avid volunteer with the Richmond Symphony and Sofar Sounds.
Executive Director of Engagement & Events
John leads the University Events team whose focus is Chancellor-level events, University ceremonies, and campus-wide initiatives and celebrations. With 15+ years of professional experience performing event management, marketing, and public relations functions, John loves any work environment that is fast-paced, ever-changing, emotionally rewarding, and driven by strategy.
Prior to joining CU Denver, John served as the senior director of advancement and presidential events at Ohio University. He has also held event management roles at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. and Johnson & Wales University. He holds a bachelor of science in Marketing from Johnson & Wales, and a master of science in Project Management and Organization Leadership from Regis University.
Web Content Writer/SEO Strategist
Dan Ruzich, a web optimization professional and skilled content marketer, is the SEO Specialist and Content Writer on the University Communications Web Team. He utilizes SEO strategies to improve CU Denver's organic search results/rankings and improve website performance, manages existing university content, and writes for the CU Denver News publication.
He comes to CU Denver with years of experience optimizing for web and creating content for tech consulting, advertising, and IT/cybersecurity organizations. Most recently, Dan worked as an SEO Strategist at a growth marketing agency.
Dan holds a BS in Marketing with a concentration in data analytics from the University of Illinois Chicago. He is originally from Chicago but has been in Denver for five years. Outside of work, he enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, travelling, playing soccer and is an avid sci-fi nerd.
Senior Creative Director
Ian leads the creative team for University Communications and collaborates with teams across campus to develop a strategic creative vision for the institution and to help CU Denver’s brand story grow and evolve. A visual storyteller and a hands-on Creative Director, he produces compelling multimedia experiences, creative campaigns, videos, built environments, print and digital content across multiple channels.
Outside of CU Denver, Ian owns Root House Studio, a mission-driven company focused on designing experiences and telling stories about science, conservation, climate change, and environmental equity. He has worked with clients including National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, The Smithsonian Channel, and The Trust for Public Land, and has worked on a diverse range of projects from feature films, to marketing and fundraising campaigns, to museum exhibitions.
With an MLA from the University of Georgia College of Environment & Design and bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and studio art from Sewanee: The University of the South, along with 18 years of experience as a multidisciplinary designer, Ian brings a unique perspective to the UComm team.
Director of Communications
As director of communications, Jeremy contributes centrally to CU Denver’s executive messaging, storytelling, and strategic communications mix.
Jeremy’s work builds on 25+ years of experience as a professional communicator, starting as a reporter at the Colorado Springs Gazette in the late 1990s, and continuing in diverse education and nonprofit roles in each of Colorado’s four corners.
His higher education work has included eight years in advancement communications (including as executive director) for the University of Colorado System, and communications director roles with Western Colorado University and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
He earned a BS in journalism from Northwestern University and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia University. Outside the office, he will be found competing in pinball tournaments and searching for the world’s finest buffalo wing, unless he is doting on his children, Hank and Nora.
Beki Strauser is an experienced Front End Developer, with close to 10 years of experience, specializing in UI/UX, and accessibility. Beki was raised in Maine, where they taught themselves to code in high school, and moved to Illinois in 2011 to pursue a degree and career in web development. Beki has a wide variety of skills that has helped them to become a well rounded developer, and passionate advocate for web accessibility.
Outside of work, they enjoy creating digital art, gardening in their backyard, lifting weights, playing D&D, and spending time with their two partners, and cats.
Director of Executive Communications
Matt provides communications counsel and support to CU Denver leadership to advance institutional priorities among diverse and numerous audiences. He comes to CU Denver with 15 years of experience in journalism, marketing, and communications, including 10 years in higher education between Purdue University and MSU Denver. His work has been recognized with awards from the Public Relations Society of America, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, American Advertising Federation, and others.
Matt earned a master of science in communication from Purdue and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas. He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and enjoys baseball, hiking, and trying to keep up with two children and his wife’s dog.
Director of Public Relations & Integrated Media