Aparna Palmer sitting in one of her biology classrooms.
Throughout the next year, Aparna Palmer, PhD, will receive leadership training and make connections through the Colorado Governors Fellowship.


CMU professor chosen as a Colorado Governors Fellow

Professor of Biology Aparna Palmer, PhD, will join executives and leaders from businesses and organizations like Xcel Energy, the City of Boulder, the Seattle Fish Company and the Boettcher Foundation as one of twenty-four 2017-2018 Colorado Governors Fellows. She is the first professor chosen as a fellow in the programs two-year history.

"The Colorado Governors Fellowship Program provides a unique opportunity for our state's best and brightest leaders to elevate the brand of government,” said Quarterly Forum President and The Leaders Initiative Executive Director Meegan Moszynski. “By exposing community leaders and business executives more directly to Colorado's most challenging public policy issues, we are inspiring them to engage in public service and apply their expertise for the benefit of all of us."

Supported by Governors John Hickenlooper, Bill Owens and Bill Ritter, the program has three main goals: increase engagement among private, nonprofit and public sectors; promote opportunities to make a difference within public service; and develop Colorado’s public service talent. Through a blend of education, experience and exposure, the fellowship program engages the state’s leaders in an 8-month program designed to encourage them to make a difference through public service.

During her past 18 years teaching at CMU, Palmer has found a multitude of ways to contribute and be involved. Along with teaching full-time, she mentors K-12 students, just completed a term representing faculty on the CMU Board of Trustees, led the faculty senate and has served on nearly 30 different campus committees. Then she spends her summers working with with her CMU undergraduate research assistants.

“I love contribution,” Palmer said. “I want to learn how to contribute better and from a different perspective.”

She will be inducted into the program on June 21 at the McNichols Civic Center Building in Denver by Gov. John Hickenlooper with Mayor Michael Hancock and other community leaders in attendance.

Throughout the next year, Palmer and the other fellows will visit the Capitol, meet with the four living Colorado governors, shadow state officials and engage in conversations with elected officials.  At the end of the year, she will participate in a “hackathon” in which the fellows work together to present possible solutions to current policy issues.

Leadership training and making connections are two important aspects of the fellowship for Palmer. She wants to take the skills she will learn during the next year and apply them to solve issues that plague Colorado and particularly the Western Slope.

“I envision becoming more engaged in the public sector in two important ways: by helping to find innovative solutions to problems that have to do with public education, particularly the issue of funding higher education successfully, and by increasing the level of science education and the overall knowledge of science in the minds of the public.”

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