Advisory Board

  • Cathy Garcia
    Cathy Garcia is president and CEO of Action 22, Inc., a regional advocacy organization in Southern Colorado. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Colorado, Pueblo, and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Academy for Organization Management at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is on the board of directors of the Bessemer Historical Society and board chair of Unidos Por La Salud/United for Health.
  • Cathy Shull
    Catherine “Cathy” Shull is presently the Executive Director for Progressive 15 as well having been an active member since its inception in 2001. Progressive 15 advocates for and affects legislation and policy that is important to the citizens of 15 counties in Northeastern Colorado.Based in Fort Morgan, Colorado, Cathy also owns a consulting firm called Sage Strategies which specializes in social media marketing, strategic planning, business coaching, one time project management and nonprofit administration. She also owns Morgan Now, a mobile event guide. Her goal is to support her rural roots while building economies in her own backyard.Ms. Shull has also served as a member of the Governor’s Transportation Implementation and Planning Committee, the State Freight and Passenger Rail Planning project team; and currently serves on the business advisory council for Morgan Community College.Ms. Shull has long been involved in issues affected rural areas and has served as a past chair of Colorado Rural Development Council; past executive board member of the National Rural Partnership; A 2nd generation native of Northeastern Colorado Cathy comes from an Ag background and then going on to work in the banking, hospitality and nonprofit fields.

    A graduate of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas with a B.S. in Hotel Administration, Cathy is currently working on an M.S. in Organizational Leadership at Colorado State University – Global Campus.

    Ms. Shull was also named Citizen of the Year in 2002 in Fort Morgan, CO

  • Dr. Clarissa Arellano
    Clarissa currently serves as the Director of Government Affairs, Media and Public Policy for the Pikes Peak Association of REALTORS®. She has held a variety of public and private sector  positions at all levels of government doing nonprofit management, fundraising, political analysis, and leadership development. She has worked in political campaigns in Texas and Colorado in the areas of research, strategy, forecasting, speechwriting, and is frequently called to serve as advisor to candidates and elected officials.Clarissa appears as a political analyst for Univision-Colorado, TV Azteca, various Spanish-speaking radio stations in Denver, has done commentary in Colorado Springs television affiliates KRDO, KOAA, KKTV, the Rocky Mountain PBS Emmy Award winning show Colorado State of Mind, appeared on a weekly hour segment as the political commentator on Castle Rock Radio’s the Big Fat Radio Show, and on The Sean Rima’s Show, San Antonio, Texas. 

    In addition to her political involvement, Clarissa is affiliate faculty of the College for Professional Studies at Regis University-Master of Non-Profit Management, is a parliamentarian and serves on numerous state and community boards and coalitions in the areas of elections administration, fiscal policy, workforce development and business affairs.


    In 2007 Clarissa was recognized as “50 for the Future, Movers and Shakers” by the Colorado Statesmen, a Rising Star by the Colorado Springs Business Journal, and presented the “Extra-Mile Award” by the Pikes Peak Association of REALTORS®, and is a 2010 graduate of the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute.

    Clarissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, specializing in International Affairs and Diplomacy, a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Policy Analysis, and a Doctorate in Public Policy and Administration with a specialization in Elections, Public Opinion, and Voter Turnout.

  • Dr. Paul Teske
    Paul Teske assumed the role of Dean of the School of Public Affairs on July 1, 2008 at the University of Colorado, Denver. Prior to his appointment, Teske served as the Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) and Director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) Denver at UCD’s School of Public Affairs in addition to his teaching and research activities as a Professor. He received the 2005 Distinguished Research Award from the 250 college member groups NASPAA/ASPA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration/American Society for Public Administration). He also won the 2005 Excellence in Research and Creative Activities award from the University of Colorado Denver. From 1988-2003 he was a professor of political science at SUNY Stony Brook. He earned his Ph.D. (1989) and MPA (1982) degrees in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He earned his B.A. in economics and political science, with highest honors in economics, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a James Johnston Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa.Teske is very active in real world public affairs issues in Colorado.   He has advised the state’s Department of Regulatory Affairs on the regulation of professions.   He was a member of the DPS’s School Improvement Grant committee from 2006-2008, was appointed by Governor Ritter to the state’s P20 System Transformation Committee from 2009-2011, and advised the Legacy Foundation’s 2011 development of guidelines for implementing SB 191 for teacher evaluation.  He is currently a member of the Board for Great Education Colorado and is vice-chair of the Board of Get Smart Schools.Teske’s public policy research has centered on education policy, regulatory policy, urban policy, and economic development policy. He has written 8 books, 50 articles, and 20 book chapters on these topics. His most recent book, Pay for Performance Teacher Compensation: An Inside Story of Denver’s ProComp Plan (Harvard Education Press, 2007, with Phil Gonring and Brad Jupp) analyzes the entrepreneurial policy development of the nation’s leading market-based teacher pay plan. His co-authored book, Choosing Schools (Princeton University Press, 2000, with Mark Schneider and Melissa Marschall), won the Aaron Wildavsky Award for best book from the American Policy Studies Organization. His most recent journal article, in Public Administration Review in 2007 (with Christine Martell), assesses the impacts of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

    His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Academy of Education, Brookings Institution, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Manhattan Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Smith Richardson Foundation, and IBM Endowment for the Business of Government. He is currently a Co-PI for an National Science Foundation IGERT grant for $3.2 million for a multi-discplinary PhD and research program in Sustainable Infrastructure and Development. Teske’s research has been discussed in various media outlets, including the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, New York Times, New York Post, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Education Week, and National Public Radio.

  • Gail Klapper
    A fourth generation Colorado native, Ms. Klapper received her B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College where she served as President of College Government.  She earned a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Colorado Law School in 1968.  Ms. Klapper was appointed as a White House Fellow by President Gerald Ford.  After her term in Washington, Ms. Klapper returned to Colorado to serve as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, running the Department of Regulatory Agencies and the Department of Personnel.   In 1982, she was a candidate in a statewide race for Attorney General of Colorado.

    She also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Western Stock Show Association and co-chairs its planning group focused on creating a new National Western Center.  Gail was the founding President of the Hotel Authority Board that built and operates the Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel in Denver.  In addition, Klapper has chaired the following Boards of Trustees: Boston-based Wellesley College, the Denver Metro Chamber, the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Public Education and Business Coalition (Founder), the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, and the Regional White House Fellows Selection Panel. Ms. Klapper was the first recipient of the annual Leadership Denver Association Award for Outstanding Achievement.  She was also the recipient of the University of Colorado’s Norlin Award for Professional Excellence, the University of Colorado’s Public Service Award, the University of Colorado Law School’s Honorary Order of the Coif Award, Urban Peak’s Maverick Thinker Award; the Denver Regional Council of Governments Service Award; the Cal Frazier Investing in Education Award, and the Downtown Denver Partnership Honorary Partner Award.

    Ms. Klapper manages the family’s 6K Ranch and Tack business in Elbert, Colorado where they raise, train and show reining horses and sell equipment and clothing for the western discipline.  Gail is married to Jack A. Klapper, M.D. They have four wonderful daughters and seven awesome grandchildren

  • Bonnie Peterson
    Coming Soon
  • Ralph Routon
    Ralph Routon, a 42-year newspaper veteran, currently serves as executive editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal, which won the editorial sweepstakes award in its class from the Colorado Press Association in 2013. He also is publisher and part-owner of the Pikes Peak Bulletin, a small weekly paper in Manitou Springs, as well as columnist and past executive editor of the Colorado Springs Independent, an alternative newsweekly. A native of Arkansas, Routon moved to Colorado Springs in 1977 and worked 24 years at The Gazette as sports editor and columnist, then later in management roles at papers in Texas and Florida before returning to Colorado in 2006. He serves on the selection committees of the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame, of which he is co-founder, and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Routon is heavily involved in nonprofits as well, having served on various boards in the Pikes Peak region. He is a resident of Manitou Springs.
  • Terrance Carroll
    Coming Soon
  • Bernie Buescher
    Coming Soon
  • Don Mares
    Donald J. Mares is President and CEO of Mental Health America of Colorado.  With nearly 15 years of experience in elected office, Mares brings with him extensive knowledge of issues of education, health care, disability rights, employment and workforce development. Previously, Mares, served in the cabinet of Governor Bill Ritter  as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.Prior to his appointment to Governor Ritter’s cabinet, from 2003 to 2006 Mares served as special counsel with Fleishman & Shapiro, P.C. In this role, Mares concentrated on business law, government relations and litigation. He provided general legal guidance, representation and counsel to small and large businesses, including general management and operations advice.His elected office positions include two terms as Denver Auditor from 1995 to 2003 and Colorado State Senator and Representative from 1989 to 1995.

    Mares has received numerous awards for his work as an elected leader, including the Junior League Legislative Champion for Children award (1996), Labor’s Community Agency’s Community Service Award (1999), the Mental Health Corporation of Denver Outstanding Political Figure award (1995), and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Government Advocate of the Year award (2000).

    Mares earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology, with honors, from Stanford University in 1979 and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982.

  • Bobbie Heisterkamp
    Bonnie has been a member of the League of Women Voters since 1993 and has served as Newsletter Editor, Treasurer, and presently, as President for LWVCO. Bonnie was also the President of the LWV Denver in the early 2000’s and served as their Treasurer and Unit Organization Chair.She sits on the Board of the Estes Park History Museum and gives presentations on the history of Rocky Mountain National Park using her extensive collection of antique postcards. She has also published a book: Shared Moments, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park as Remembered in Postcards with Jim Pickering.For 28 years Bonnie was the Treasurer of the Big Elk Meadows Association and the Big Elk Water Association (near Estes Park).





Organizations Involved


Healthy Democracy

Healthy Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating the public’s voice in our democracy. Healthy Democracy developed the Citizens’ Initiative Review in Oregon, where it has become a trusted resource used by over half of voters at election time.

Engaged Public

Engaged Public is a public policy strategy firm that provides innovative services to government, non-profits, foundations, and the private sector to create change in a complex public policy environment. Since 1998, Engaged Public has worked to create an honest, collaborative dialogue that includes civic leaders and citizens as the foundation for developing actionable strategies for better public policies.

Civic Canopy 

The Civic Canopy is a nonprofit organization that facilitates public processes using a model that focuses on results, includes relevant stakeholders in thoughtful dialogue, and develops action plans and structures for learning from the results— all within a culture of trust and collaboration.