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Women in Higher Ed Leadership Symposium

Release Date: September 18, 2014

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

(719) 549-2810

Press Release

PUEBLO – The dynamic experiences and the educational pathways of five female higher education leaders will be the focus of a symposium next month at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Southern Colorado is the only region in the nation to employ five women leading a variety of educational institutions, CSU-Pueblo President Dr. Lesley Di Mare, Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec, Air Force Academy Superintendent Major General Michelle Johnson, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Chancellor Dr. Pam Shockley Zalabak, and Colorado College President Dr. Jill Tiefenthaler.

The Women in Higher Education Leadership Symposium will be held from noon-2 p.m. on Monday, October 20 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom at CSU-Pueblo. The Symposium will include lunch and a moderated conversation about the educational paths and career choices that have led to their current leadership roles at Colorado higher education institutions. The event is free to the CSU-Pueblo students and $15 each for anyone else wishing to attend. The event is sponsored by Student Engagement and Leadership and the Diversity Resource Center.

According to organizer Jennifer DeLuna, director of the CSU-Pueblo Diversity Resource Center, the symposium aims to empower audience members to pursue their academic and career goals by hearing stories of these individuals’ successes and challenges.

Colorado State University-Pueblo President-Dr. Lesley Di Mare

Lesley A. Di MareOn December 1, 2011, Lesley A. Di Mare became the 14th president and first permanent female president of Colorado State University – Pueblo.  Before leading CSU-Pueblo,  Di Mare served as the Interim President & CEO at Nevada State College (NSC) in Henderson after first serving for three years at the Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs. 

While at NSC, Di Mare spearheaded a number of initiatives to enhance the college’s academic standing and visibility in the community.  She also has held administrative positions at California State University Los Angeles and at Arizona State University, where she served as Department Chair of Communication Studies for 11 years, Interim Dean of the College of Human Services for two years, and Associate Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies for two years.

She has published articles on American and Japanese communication styles, gender and communication, and rhetoric and persuasion. Di Mare earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from California State University-Chico (1972), a master’s degree in speech communication from California State University-Hayward, East Bay (1981), and a Ph.D. in speech communication from Indiana University (1984).

Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec

Patty ErjavecPueblo native Patty Erjavec has served as President of Pueblo Community College (PCC) since June 1, 2010. She oversees PCC’s main campus in Pueblo as well as its Fremont Campus in Canon City and its Southwest Colorado Community College East Campus in Durango and West Campus in Mancos/Cortez. The college’s first woman president, Erjavec has worked to improve student access, retention and graduation rates.

Prior to coming to PCC, Erjavec worked 11 years at El Pueblo … an Adolescent Treatment Community including the last nine as its President and CEO. Before starting at El Pueblo, Erjavec was employed in a variety of responsible capacities with three Pueblo companies. She held several positions with PCL Packaging, Inc., including six years as its general manager; was Controller for Magnum Gas & Oil, Inc.; and was Cost Accountant/Supervisor for Alpha Beta Packing Company.

Patty has a master’s degree in non-profit management from Regis University, where she graduated with Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society honors, and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with an emphasis in accounting, from the University of Southern Colorado (now Colorado State University-Pueblo).

Air Force Academy Superintendent Major General Michelle Johnson

 Lieutenant General Michelle D. JohnsonLieutenant General Michelle D. Johnson is the Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, a four-year undergraduate institution of nearly 4,000 students that graduates officers ready to lead in the United States Air Force. In her role as Superintendent, she serves as both college president and military installation commander, overseeing a rigorous program of military training, academics, athletics, and character development, whereby students earn a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

Prior to becoming the Superintendent, General Johnson served as an airlift and tanker pilot, was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the Air Force Academy, and held a variety of senior military executive jobs. She had the privilege of serving as the Director of Public Affairs for the Air Force and as Air Force aide to both President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton.

General Johnson was a distinguished graduate from the United States Air Force Academy in 1981, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Research. She attended Brasenose College at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a Master of Arts in Politics and Economics. She also holds a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and has attended multiple senior executive programs. A native of Spencer, Iowa, Johnson graduated from Spencer High School as a National Merit Scholar and as an avid athlete who excelled at basketball and track. General Johnson is married to John Hargreaves, a retired aviator. They are the proud parents of twin boys, Preston and Mitchell.

University of Colorado Colorado Springs Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak

Dr. Pam Shockley-ZalabakA professor of communication, wheat farmer, grandmother, author, television producer, and advocate. These are some of the words one could use to describe the Chancellor of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Dr. Pam Shockley-Zalabak.

Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Dr. Shockley-Zalabak can still describe in detail dry land, no-till farming practices. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in communication from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. Later, she earned a PhD. in Organizational Communication from University of Colorado, Boulder. In addition to Chancellor duties, Dr. Shockley-Zalabak continues to teach and research with students. The author of nine books and more than 100 articles and productions focusing on organizational communication, Shockley Zalabak's research focuses on organizational trust. Her latest book, "Building the High Trust Organization" was published in 2010.

She is the recipient of several awards to include the Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Faculty, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Women in Business Award, the 2005 Student Choice for Instructor of the Year, the 2008 Colorado Springs Business Journal Women of Influence Award, and the 2013 Pikes Peak Range Riders Silver Spur award for contributions to the community.

Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler

Jill TiefenthalerJill Tiefenthaler became Colorado College’s 13th president on July 1, 2011. During her first two years, she began the extensive process that led to the strategic plan titled “The Colorado College Plan: Building on the Block.”

Tiefenthaler is a leading scholar in the field of the economics of higher education, and is also regularly called on to speak about the value of the liberal arts. After receiving her Ph.D. in economics from Duke University, she joined the faculty of Colgate University in 1991, also serving as department chair, associate dean of the faculty, and senior adviser to the president. Before becoming president of Colorado College, she served as provost and professor of economics at Wake Forest University, where she led the implementation of the university’s strategic plan and key initiatives, including diversity in admission, establishing new models for enhanced interdisciplinary research and collaboration, and integrating the university’s undergraduate and graduate business schools.

An Iowa native, she grew up on a farm and worked for her family’s popcorn business before attending Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. She is married to Kevin Rask, a research professor in economics at Colorado College. They have two teenaged children, Olivia and Owen.

For more information, contact DeLuna at or call 719-549-2658.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.

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