Tina Kleespies
Kleespies has served as the CMU Foundation's COO and director of annual giving since late November.


Staff profile: Tina Kleespies has a new angle on CMU

Tina Kleespies is no stranger to Colorado Mesa University. She joined the university’s staff in 2011 as director of the University Center, but for the past few months, she’s seen a new side of the institution. In November, Kleespies left the UC to take on a new role in the CMU Foundation, where she serves as chief operating officer and director of annual giving.

A few months in, Kleespies is adjusting to her new position.

“Any time you take a new role there’s such a learning curve to begin with. Those first few weeks you’re going, ‘Oh my, I have a lot to learn,’” she said.

But with four years of experience facilitating large-scale events and operating the University Center, she was well-suited to fulfill the foundation’s needs. She manages the development and alumni association staff and organizes annual giving events.

“This is a neat challenge,” Kleespies said. “I can take all the contacts that I gained as the director of the University Center, and my experience in overseeing the professional staff and all the students, and apply it in a totally different aspect.”

Her enthusiasm for student success was another motivating factor when she was considering the move. In the University Center, she enjoyed working with the student staff.

“When I had a student come to me with some academic hardship going on, to be able to get them over that hump and see them succeed — see them graduate — was a whole new experience for me,” she said. “I realized how much I liked that and that I can come over here and really make a difference in our funding and be able to provide more scholarships for our students.”

At the moment, Kleespies is focusing her energy on Entrepreneurship Day, held on April 27 in the University Center and featuring eclectic entrepreneur George Gillett. Kleespies said it will be interesting to be on the other side of coordinating the event.

Her transition to the foundation has brought on several shifts in her perspective on things. “The thing that has been neat about my role is meeting alumni and donors who have such a passion for CMU. We all have our roles on campus and you kind of get a little tunnel vision,” she said. “It’s been really great for me to see and go, ‘Wow. There’s a lot of passion for CMU outside of campus.’”

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