CU Denver at 40 Under 40
City StoriesOnce again, the University of Colorado Denver produced an impressive group of business leaders who were honored as members of the 2018 class of “40 Under 40.”

Four honorees are graduates of CU Denver and a fifth – Maria Delgado – is currently a PhD candidate in design and planning in the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP).

For the seventh consecutive year, CU Denver was lead sponsor of the event, which took place at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver on March 21. Leanna Clark, vice chancellor of University Communications, herself a former 40 Under 40 winner, handed out awards to the honorees.

Clark also welcomed the attendees in the packed ballroom, noting that CU Denver is Colorado’s only public urban research university. “Educating the leaders of tomorrow is our business at CU Denver,” Clark said. “Our graduates will grow our economy and strengthen our community.”

This year’s group of 40 Under 40 honorees from CU Denver represent a spectrum of our university’s schools and colleges, including CAP, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of Public Affairs and the Business School. All five of them earned graduate degrees.

Here are the honorees’ thoughts on receiving the 40 Under 40 honor and how CU Denver contributed to their professional success:

Maria Delgado, PhD candidate, CAP:

What does it mean to you to receive the 40U40 award?

Maria Delgado
Maria Delgado

Receiving the 40 Under 40 award for my civic engagement, is both humbling and inspirational. The award reemphasizes the importance of responding to community needs and fostering innovative solutions that benefit people on a large scale. The award also inspires and motivates me to continue instilling a positive impact in my local community. I am passionate about being an engaged citizen and I am honored to have received this recognition.

How do you feel your education at CU Denver has contributed to your professional success?

My education at CU Denver has contributed to my professional success by way of skills, connections and experience. First, it has advanced my scholar abilities in both hard and soft skills. I have interacted with the latest computational design programs and technology, as well as been challenged to ignite my personal leadership, communication and problem-solving skills. Second, my education has afforded me the opportunity to make connections with wonderful people and build a professional network. There is something to be learned from every person you meet. Third, my education at CU Denver has given me real-world work experience. This outside classroom experience has prepared me for professional success. I believe professional success is a journey; I am thankful my CU Denver education is the platform for the next chapter of my life.

Janiece Mackey, co-founder and executive director of Young Aspiring Americans for Social & Political Activism:

What does it mean to you to receive the 40U40 award?

Janiece Mackey
Janiece Mackey

Receiving this award means a lot to me because of the issues of self-efficacy I navigated in building Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA). I was told many times that I would not be able to build or sustain such an organization due to not having a business degree and being a family woman. However, it is my desire to model the ability to be innovative for the purposes of transformational change while being a wife and a mother. The 40 under 40 award affirms that to me.

How do you feel your education at CU Denver has contributed to your professional success?

My educational experience at CU Denver reinvigorated my critical ways of seeing the world and of engaging civically. It was through my educational experiences at CU Denver that I fell in love with being an educator and found an intellectual home in critical race theory. I was able to look in the mirror with vulnerability and increased self-efficacy through my CU Denver experience and build my comfort level of straddling the fence of community activism and academia.

Josett Valdez, chief operating officer, American Red Cross:

What does it mean to you to receive the 40U40 award?

Josett Valdez
Josett Valdez

Receiving the 40 Under 40 was such an honor. I have had the privilege to work with so many other past recipients that being included in this group means a great deal. It is also my reminder that it is my responsibility as a community leader to help mentor and develop the future leaders.

How do you feel your education at CU Denver has contributed to your professional success?  

The MPA program at CU Denver helped solidify my love for nonprofit work and working in disaster management. I had the opportunity to work with some talented professionals that encouraged my work within the disaster management field and with the Red Cross. To this day I still take the lessons I learned in my MPA program and apply them directly to my work at the Red Cross.

Shan Venkatsammy, senior business analyst, Population Health, UCHealth:

What does it mean to you to receive the 40U40 award?

Shan Venkatsammy
Shan Venkatsammy

It’s certainly a tremendous honor to be selected from all the candidates that were submitted from across the city, but receiving the award is the recognition that I have made the correct decisions in my career. Secondly, it is the validation that what I do matters – others see me as an individual who is leading the way in my industry.

How do you feel your education at CU Denver has contributed to your professional success?

Simply put, without my education at CU Denver, I would not be the leader I am today; the executive MBA program at CU Denver allowed me to assume roles that challenged me and at times made me feel like the stupid person in the room. Without those experiences I would not be able to lead my community, my organization, my peers, and my friends from a unique and humble mindset.

Dominic Weilminster, principal, Business Center Discipline Leader:

What does it mean to you to receive the 40U40 award?

Dominic Weilminster
Dominic Weilminster

First off, considering the impressive list of both nominees and winners, it is humbling to be even considered as part of this group. Beyond that, however, this award signifies for me that those of us working in the design profession really have a significant platform on which to impact our communities, and if we approach our work with a sense of civic responsibility, that sort of thought leadership will not go unnoticed. Also, and more personally, I take this sort of recognition as motivation – if I’m really such a great leader, I better walk the talk.

How do you feel your education at CU Denver has contributed to your professional success?

When I went into the architecture program at CU Denver, part of my interest was being able to leverage design school in my home city as a way of making a mark on that city through my professional work. My education within Denver helped me to connect with the profession locally, and now I can say that I really am in the process of impacting change on the city I love, which is pretty cool. And now, since I’m still nearby my alma mater, I can give back to students following my same path, which I do through guest lectures and studio critiques. I even got to design a renovation for the school, which turned out awesome.

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