Gates Fellowship - Gates Family Foundation

Gates Fellowship

Senior executives in state and local government are under more pressure than ever to take on increasingly complex problems with fewer resources and a greater degree of public scrutiny. To find solutions, bring about change, and help people in organizations and communities face difficult challenges, public officials must strengthen their ability to exercise effective leadership in rapidly changing political and social environments.

2018 Gates Fellows at Harvard

2018 Gates Fellows at Harvard (Photo courtesy of Mary Coleman)

Since 1980, the Gates Family Foundation has partnered with Harvard University to send a total of more than 260 of Colorado’s civic leaders to the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. The fast-paced, three-week program brings together a diverse group of prominent public leaders to find solutions to the critically important challenges they face — and lead their public agencies and communities toward effective results.

Participants leave this program with new skills and strategies for tackling complex challenges and a new passion and sense of purpose for public service. The interactive classroom allows participants to share ideas and gain insight from one another as they develop their ability to exercise effective leadership in rapidly changing political and social environments.

Program Details

Eligibility: Executives working with state and local governments in Colorado — elected, appointed, and career officials — will find the program extremely valuable.

Selection: Gates Fellowships are awarded annually to residents of Colorado by an admissions committee at the Kennedy School, based upon the recommendations of a nominating panel of distinguished Colorado residents assembled by the Foundation.

Costs: The total program fee is $16,500 — which includes tuition, housing, curricular materials, and most meals. For each Fellow selected, Gates pays $15,600 of the discounted tuition costs directly to Harvard. Participants or their employers must fund the balance.

For more information, contact Lisa Rucker at Gates (303-722-1881) or Taylor Woods-Gauthier at Harvard (617-496-9280).


Unfortunately, Harvard has been forced to cancel its 2021 summer programs due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. Gates Fellows selected for the program in 2020 have been invited to attend in 2022.

If we have any open spots in the 2022, applications will be due to Harvard in March 2022. As the deadline approaches, we expect to know more.

2019 Fellows

Yolanda Avila, Colorado Springs City Council, District 4
Jennifer Bacon, Denver Public Schools Board of Trustees, District 4
Greg Felt, Chaffee County Commissioner, District 2
Dominique Jackson, Colorado House of Representatives, Member, District 42 (Arapahoe)
John Messner, Gunnison County Commissioner, District 1
Rebecca Mitchell, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Director
Angelika Schroeder, Colorado Board of Education, Board Chair

Gates Fellowship 2018 Selection Committee. L-R: Chantal Unfug, Taylor Woods-Gauthier, Christopher Herndon, Joe Blake, Dan Gibbs, Tom Gougeon, Lisa Rucker

2018 Fellows

James Burack, Director, Colorado Dept. of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division
Richard Cimino, Commissioner, Grand County
Mary Coleman, School Board Member District 11, Colorado Springs
Kari Distefano, Town Manager, Town of Rico
Ernest House, Executive Director, Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs
Jovan Melton, State Representative Colorado General Assembly
Rachel Richards, Commissioner, Pitkin County
Amanda Schoultz, Senior Council Aide, City and County of Denver
Tom Strand, Councilman, Colorado Springs

2017 Fellows

Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Transportation
Barbara Bynum, Commissioner, Colorado State Land Board, Division of Natural Resources
Crisanta Duran, Speaker of the House, Colorado General Assembly
Lisa Flores, School Board Member, District 5, Denver Public Schools
Christopher Hansen, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Lois Landgraf, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Rebecca McClellan, State Board of Education Member, Congressional District 6, Colorado Department of Education
Dominick Moreno, State Senator, Colorado Senate
Scott Vargo, County Manager, Summit County

2016 Fellows

James Eklund, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board
John Kinkaid, County Commissioner, Moffat County
Jackie Lecce Miller, Director of Youth Programs, Great Outdoors Colorado
Lynn Padgett, County Commissioner, Ouray County
Ellen Roberts, President Pro Tempore, Colorado State Senate
Anita Seitz, Councilmember, City of Westminster
Sky Stuart, Senior Policy Advisor and Legislative Director, City and County of Denver

2015 Fellows

Aaron Huckstep, Mayor, Town of Crested Butte
Sallie Clark, County Commissioner, El Paso County/National Association of Counties
Rhonda Fields, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Veronica Figoli, Chief Officer Family and Community Engagement, Denver Public Schools
Tobin Follenweider, Deputy Director, Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners
Brittany Petersen, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Matt Sturgeon, City Manager, City of Rifle

2014 Fellows
Kathy Nesbitt, Personnel Director, State of Colorado
Katie Baldassar, President of the Board, Lake County School District
Mike Bordogna, County Commissioner, Lake County
Thomas Davidson, County Commissioner, Summit County
Kathryn Hill, Chief Operating Officer, History Colorado
April Montgomery, Program Director, Telluride Foundation
Jennifer Sobanet, Chief Operating Officer, Colorado Department of Higher Education
Larry Wolk, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
2013 Fellows

Lynn Johnson, Executive Director, Jefferson County Human Services
Nancy Jackson, County Commissioner, Arapahoe County
Matt Jones, State Senator, Colorado General Assembly
Nicholas (Nick) Mitchell, Independent Monitor, City and County of Denver
Chris Nevitt, City Council Member, City and County of Denver
Janice Sinden, Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Hancock, City and County of Denver
Mary Beth Susman, President, Denver City Council, City and County of Denver

2012 Fellows

Irene Aguilar, State Senator, Colorado State Senate
Christopher Herndon, City Council Member, District 8, City and County of Denver
Claire Levy, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
John Lucero, Deputy Director, Office of Economic Development, City and County of Denver
Dan Pabon, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Christine Scanlan, Director of Legislative Affairs and Senior Education Policy Advisor, Colorado Governor’s Office
Larissa Chantal Unfug, County Administrator, Mesa County
Angela Williams, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly

2011 Fellows

Dan Gibbs, County Commissioner, Summit County
Scott Gessler, Secretary of State, State of Colorado
Elizabeth McCann, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Eric Hansen, County Commissioner, Adams County
John Kefalas, State Representative, Colorado General Assembly
Elaine Mariner, Director of Creative Industries, Office of Economic Development and International Trade, State of Colorado