Associate Professor Regis University School of Pharmacy Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Gonzaga University-BS in Biology Eastern Washington University-MS in Biology City University of Seattle-MBA University of Northern Colorado-PhD in Biological Education
I have always been interested in logical policy making and enjoy being a student of history and US politics, but I would not consider myself politically active. I am neither a Republican or Democrat, and have voted for both parties for various positions in my life. I have donated money and helped with one political campaign; that of Mike Johnston when was running for Governor of Colorado. I believe the amount was $20 when I co-sponsored a neighborhood meet and greet with Mike. At the time, I felt that he would be the most willing to reach consensus and compromise with both political parties.
In addition to the list below, I invite the selection committee to review my curriculum vitae. As a college professor, many of my professional organizations tend to be those pertaining to science or education. However, I have tried to serve our greater community at large by volunteering with organizations such as my local police department, American Red Cross and local school district. Volunteer Organizations: Broomfield Communities That Care, member American Red Cross Government Liaison to the City and County of Broomfield, Colorado City of Broomfield Police Department Victim Advocate Pet Partners Therapy Dog Handler Adams 12 School District School Improvement Team Professional Organizations: American Association of Immunologists Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Socity Team Based Learning Collaborative Immunize Colorado Colorado Parents for Vaccinated Communities American Society for Microbiology Gonzaga University Alumni Association Appointed Boards Colorado Student Leadership Institute Executive Board
Much of my experience in these areas tends to be around science and education. However, I also try to also work with organizations the help those in need. One of the organizations I am most proud to work with is Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) and my local police department. Pet Partners is an organization that trains pet/owner teams to provide therapy for those in need. Teams may go to hospitals to visit patients, nursing homes or other places. The goal is to simply use your pet to comfort others in times of need. My dog and I passed the examinations and began to volunteer with the Broomfield Police Department as victim advocates. As advocates, we are often called to cases in which a person has been victimized or traumatized. This may be through a death, domestic violence or sexual assault to name a few. Our role is to provide comfort, a listening ear and also help victims know what their rights are in a given situation. Sometimes it may be helping a spouse deal with an unexpected death, or helping a victim find resources for emergency housing and food. I have also been a very active member with Colorado Parents for Vaccinated Communities. As a scientist, my main research interests are how viral infections affect those with Down syndrome. Many people may not know that individuals with Down syndrome are much more likely to die from a respiratory infection compared to typical adults. I am also acutely aware of Colorado’s low immunization rates, and that this may put other individuals (such as those with Down syndrome) at risk. Hence, I have provided testimony to the Colorado House and Senate regarding vaccines and their safety, as well how vaccines work. Additionally, I used to coordinate what I called a “Lunch and Learn” with legislators at the Capitol. Each year I would arrange for scientists to give short presentations about their work in Colorado. Past topics included Alzheimer’s disease, Mosquitoes and Zika virus, Use of Prosthetics in Limb Amputees and other. The goal was to organize and provide legislators an opportunity to learn about scientific topics without input from lobbyists or other organizations. This program later merged with the Colorado Cancer Caucus (although I am considering restarting it again.) In 2015 I was nearing the end of a 3 year tenure volunteering with the Adams 12 District School Improvement Team. I served as both a committee member and president of this organization whose job was to represent parents and community members, providing feedback to the Board of Directors on topics such as the district budget and student improvement. We provided feedback on improvement and turnaround plans, as well as budget concerns. As president I coordinated meetings with the community providing them informational sessions, as well as seeking their input on district matters. I also helped coordinate an effort to welcome every new kindergartener to the district by working with St Anthony North hospitals to purchase a new book for each child. Following my time with Adams 12, I became a board member for the Colorado Student Leadership Institute (COSLI) and was later appointed to the executive board by the Governor. This is a program for high school students in affiliation with the National Conference of Governors Schools, which is an academic program to help develop leadership skills in students. This program was codified by SB290 in 2015. As a board member, I helped review applications as well as provide input on host colleges and hosted participants at my university for a day.
While I have always enjoyed policy, I only follow politics rather peripherally. I think one reason for this is that, like many Americans, I grow tired of the extremism and arguing between the two parties. I actually did not know much about redistricting until a colleague informed me of this opportunity and thought I should apply. After studying the matter a bit more using the resources provided by the Colorado Redistricting Commission and reading about the topic on the National Conference of State Legislatures website I began to grow more interested. I believe strongly that the process should be data driven, while also using logic to make sure that any new district lines make sense. For example, my understanding is that the people of Gunnison, CO wanted to be in the same district but for some reason the district line ended up being drawn straight through the town. Data might suggest that the line is in the right place to equalize populations between districts, but is it logical to divide a small town such as Gunnison? I recognize this is also an opportunity to serve the state of Colorado. As a graduate of a Jesuit university, and current employee of another Jesuit university-the Jesuit values are engrained in my personality. Challenging myself to strive for excellence, sharing my gifts for the benefit of others (especially the poor and marginalized) are values that I try exemplify every day. Being on this commission would be another way for me to serve my fellow Coloradans and try to use my analytical skills to best analyze the data and offer my interpretations on how any new districts should be drawn. Of course, like many individuals I share a concern that the commission should not be driven by one party’s potential political gains. I believe that I would be an impartial voice on the commission.
This may be one of the most challenging aspects of being on the commission. I would consider the commission a team and fall back to my experience in the classroom. In the courses I teach I utilize what is called Team Based Learning (TBL.) Briefly, students are put into teams of 7-8. They prepare ahead of class, so they can spend valuable class time working on graded case studies and applications. Students are graded not only on individual exams and class work, but are also evaluated by their peers. Thus, students need to work collaboratively to do well. Obviously, there can be disagreement between team members. My goal is to help team members find consensus while promoting active, yet respectful, dialogue. What I have found helpful, and what I believe I would contribute to creating agreement among commissioners, is that I think it is important to lay “ground rules” at the beginning of team formation. For example, who will facilitate discussions, and will this job rotate among members? Who will be taking minutes of each meeting? How can we insure that all members have the opportunity to voice their thoughts? I also think it is important to remind committee members of the common goal-that is the fair, impartial redistricting. Interestingly, the literature suggests that team work cannot be taught without prompt feedback. Thus, I think there should be actionable goals for each meeting for which the team can receive feedback. I often have to deliver instruction as part of a team as well. It definitely can be difficult, because each instructor believes their material is the most important! I often have to go back to the course objectives and review what points I really need to deliver. I would suggest that the team of commissioners reviews their goals at the beginning of each meeting and at the end review their accomplishments to generate a feeling of teamwork. I believe that I have the ability to be fair and impartial. For example, I have had to review several student appeals as a professor, and it is important that I be fair to all parties involved. I find what helps me to be fair and impartial is to thoroughly review the evidence and remind myself of what the goals are for the issue. As a scientist we often get experimental results that do not coincide with our hypothesis; it is not unheard of for scientists to falsify data just to get published. I constantly have to remind myself that my personal goal is not the main point-I must report the findings appropriately. I believe I carry this attitude into other situations such as faculty meetings and inter-departmental meetings. I remind myself to gather all the data, analyze it, and then make a decision based upon the goal of the project. In this way, I believe I am fair and impartial.
As a scientist, part of my job is to critically evaluate experimental data and use analytical/critical thinking skills to interpret said data. Some of these skills are in statistical analysis of data and interpreting if a finding is significant. This may tell me that more data needs to be gathered. I also have to look at my data in the context of what is known about a situation and determine if it seems reasonable? Or should I re-evaluate the dataset and do more experiments? Or maybe my hypothesis is completely wrong and I need to start from scratch. I use my analytical skills in data evaluation and interpretation to draw a logical next step in the scientific process. I am also asked to review research manuscripts from other scientists. To do this, I analyze their data and try to keep a very close eye on the details and if how they are interpreting it is logical. Another area I have to use my analytical skills is when I write exams and evaluate student performance on such exams. I have to make sure that my questions not only make sense logically, but do they tie back to the original learning objectives? Our students take exams electronically using a program called Examsoft. This program will return data on how a question performed on an exam-that is, what percentage of students got it correct, what was the point biserial (a measure question difficulty.) After taking into account such factors, I then have to ask if I should keep the question or throw it out. This is not always easy. For example, I may specifically recall talking about a point in class yet students miss the concept on the exam. It is tempting to think we are always right, but if the majority of students fail the question-did I really teach it that well? Logically, I have to go back to my objectives and teaching methods to make sure that I am presenting the material clearly.