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Program History

The idea for the President’s Leadership Program (PLP) at Colorado State University Pueblo began in 1998 when then University of Southern Colorado President Dr. Tito Guerrero and El Pomar Foundation CEO Bill Hybl, discussed the formation of an academic leadership program that would support leadership development for college-level students attending the university.   Hybl committed El Pomar staff and resources to support the work of a steering committee to design and implement an academic leadership program.

At the same time, the El Pomar Foundation began working with the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) at the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder.  In 1972, two prominent leaders in the state, Bill Coors and Bill Douglas had established SLI to run the President’s Leadership Class (PLC) at CU-Boulder in order to better prepare students to assume leadership positions throughout the State of Colorado.   Consequently, the El Pomar Foundation and SLI began a strategic, statewide effort to establish academic leadership programs throughout Colorado’s four-year universities.  The partnership between El Pomar, SLI, and member universities became known as the Colorado Leadership Alliance (CLA), with SLI officially changing to that name.

The El Pomar Foundation funded the first director of the President’s Leadership Program at CSU Pueblo (Noah Atencio) through its fellowship program.  The El Pomar Foundation “loaned” the El Pomar Fellow to the university on a part-time basis in order to help establish the program at the university.  Atencio worked closely with university administrators, community members, and Dr. Patricia Orman, a professor and former department chair of the university’s Mass Communications Department.  Lia Sissom, an assistant to the dean in the Hasan School of Business, also assisted with the program. The program was initially overseen by then USC President Dr. Ronald Applbaum.  It was then moved under the oversight of the provost, Dr. Barbara Montgomery.  Dr. Montgomery established a PLP community advisory board, which, upon the conclusion of Atencio’s fellowship at the El Pomar Foundation in 2003, named an interim director (Tony Sissom).  A permanent director was hired in 2004 (Shelly Moreschini).   Dr. Orman continued in her role as an academic advisor.

The PLP at CSU Pueblo began a partnership with Pueblo Community College in 2011 to help develop a leadership program at the community college level, which would then allow students to apply and be accepted into the program at the university, giving them the opportunity to complete a minor in Leadership Studies.  One year later, the same type of partnership was established with Otero Junior College in La Junta, CO.  The first students transferring in from this partnership joined the PLP Junior Class in the fall of 2013.

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