Graphic with text, "2024 Commitment to Excellence Awards", featuring Colorado Community College System's logo.

April 9, 2024 (Denver, CO) – The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) held its sixth annual Commitment to Excellence Awards ceremony today, celebrating over 50 employees from 13 community colleges and the CCCS System Office.

“As open access institutions, our community colleges provide transformative education and training for Coloradans who need it most,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of CCCS. “That mission is powered by the incredible faculty, instructors, and staff who demonstrate true dedication and teamwork in everything they do. I am proud to recognize our Employees of the Year and acknowledge the tireless efforts of our entire CCCS workforce.”

Hosted at History Colorado Center, the event was made possible through sponsorship from the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association (Colorado PERA), which has partnered with the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges for the eighth year in a row.

“I am always impressed with the stories of our members making a difference on their campuses and in their communities,” said Patrick von Keyserling, Colorado PERA senior director of communications. “We are honored to continue our support for this event and enjoy celebrating these deserving employees who exemplify excellence, service, and leadership.”

Representing CCCS’s 13 colleges, this year’s cohort went above and beyond to support their colleges and students. Red Rocks Community College nominated Adam Forland, a mathematics faculty member, for his work to launch the college’s data science program and his thoughtful teaching approach.

“At the heart of our mission lies an unwavering commitment to our students. Every action we take is designed to enhance their educational journey, providing them with thoughtful guidance and crafting opportunities that enrich their lives,” he said. “Engaging closely with students is a profoundly humbling experience, and it is an incredible honor to be a part of their journey. This award serves as a poignant reminder of the significance and impact of our daily efforts.”

Many of the honorees were recognized for their work advocating for historically marginalized populations, including first-generation and disabled students. Aaron Lucero, an engagement coach with TRIO Student Support Service at Pueblo Community College, volunteers with several college, community, and statewide committees and organizations and helped found the college’s Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee.

“I struggled a lot with navigating college as a first-generation, low-income student. When I started working at PCC, I wanted to provide the support and guidance that I didn’t have,” Lucero said. “It is my goal to help students from their first day at PCC up until I read their name at graduation.”

Click below to view digital program with honoree snapshots.


2024 CCCS Commitment Excellence Award Honorees:

Arapahoe Community College
Administrator Lisa Christiansen Director of TRIO Student Support Services
Classified Crystal Kelly Administrative Assistant III – Career Services
Faculty Jaden Netwig Anthropology Faculty
Instructor Barb Stoner Nursing Instructor
Colorado Community College System
Administrator Mary Nero Associate General Counsel
Classified Mireya Flores Lopez Custodian
Colorado Northwestern Community College
Administrator Keith Peterson Vice President of Instruction
Classified Michelle Esser Facilities and Maintenance Coordinator
Faculty Tiffany Douglas Program Director of Dental Hygiene
Instructor Randy Marcy National Park Ranger Academy Instructor
Community College of Aurora
Administrator Tracy Mendoza Director of Academic and Internal Operations
Classified Mathew Stiles Pipe Mechanical Trades Professional
Faculty Kathleen Geise Computer Technology, Engineering & Physics Faculty
Instructor Michelle Rosenthall Math Instructor
Community College of Denver
Administrator Chase Watts Help Desk Technician
Classified Sofia Hernandez Administrative Assistant
Faculty Kurt Pond Philosophy Faculty
Instructor Gilberto Palomino Math Instructor
Front Range Community College
Administrator Jared Wyn Supervisor of Campus Security & Preparedness
Classified Taylor Couillard-Rodak Administrative Assistant
Faculty Leah Morley Early Childhood Education Faculty
Instructor Amber Herrero Literature Instructor
Lamar Community College
Administrator Laurie Ybarra Student Services Admission Coordinator
Classified Jordan Martinez Custodian
Faculty Becky Young Math and Science Faculty
Instructor Ian Blacker Communications Instructor
Morgan Community College
Administrator Maria Cardenas Director of Admissions & Advising
Classified Annette Lebsock Accounting Technician
Faculty Connie Mitchell Math Lead Faculty and Division Chair of General Education
Instructor Travis Freeman Emergency Medical Services Instructor
Northeastern Junior College
Administrator Tami Patten Technical Systems Analyst
Classified Steve Shalla Electrical Trades Professional
Faculty Brian Lewton Economics Faculty
Instructor Mike Wasson Adjunct Business Faculty
Otero College
Administrator Vince Fraker Law Enforcement Academy Director and Department Chair for Career and Technical Education
Classified Ernest Martinez Custodian
Faculty Anna Matejcek Art Faculty
Instructor Fred Boettcher History and Political Science Instructor
Pikes Peak State College
Administrator Jack Grimm Program Advisor in Advising & Testing
Classified Parker Burgess Pipes Mechanical Trades Professional
Faculty Bille Jo Giles Co-Chair of the English Department
Instructor Carolyn Owen Health and Wellness Instructor
Pueblo Community College
Administrator Aaron Lucero Engagement Coach with TRIO
Classified Lorna Jackson Administrative Assistant II
Faculty James Cordova Chair of the Automotive Technology Department
Instructor Maurie Lucero Health Information Technology Instructor
Red Rocks Community College
Administrator Elizabeth Ponce Gonzalez Program Manger
Classified Christine Najera Custodian
Faculty Adam Forland Math Faculty
Instructor Julie Papke Lab Skills Instructor
Trinidad State College
Administrator Christina Sisneros Director of Financial Aid
Classified Dan Jolly Structural Trades II Professional
Faculty Santina Frank Associate Professor in Nursing
Instructor Karl Shafer Line Instructor




About the Colorado Community College System

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to over 115,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35 locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college.

About Colorado PERA

Colorado PERA provides retirement and other benefits to nearly 670,000 current and former teachers, State Troopers, corrections officers, snowplow drivers, and other public employees who provide valuable service to all of Colorado. PERA is a vital and stable contributor to Colorado’s economy, distributing more than $5.2 billion in 2022 to more than 135,000 retirees who live in Colorado.