Each year, we celebrate our alumni who best represent the following: "Extraordinary distinction and success in fields of endeavor, commitment to community service, and/or exceptional leadership in one's community while successfully carrying forward ‘excellence in scholarship and character’."
Cambrie Nelson '05
2023 Distinguished Alumni Honoree
As a member of Kent Denver’s Class of 2005, Cambrie has worked or volunteered in an astonishing number of organizations and communities.
As a Kent Denver student, Cambrie was an outstanding athlete on both the basketball and soccer teams. She was also a student leader on this campus from her earliest days in the Middle School and was awarded the Christine D. Bullard Athletic Award, the Mary A. Bogue Trophy and the Herbert Moore Student Assembly Award in her senior year.
After graduating from Kent Denver, Cambrie was part of the Ervin Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis, where she founded a number of student and community organizations focused on promoting communication, understanding and social justice. Following college graduation, Cambrie returned to Kent Denver as a Middle School teaching fellow, history faculty member and basketball coach and served as our founding Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Her career continued with an MBA at Washington University’s Olin Business School and leadership roles as a director and consultant with multiple social impact consulting firms.
Cambrie is now the Deputy Director of Strategy, Planning, and Management for the Gender Equality Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her work includes a portfolio of projects related to economic empowerment, healthcare, digital connectivity, and policy & advocacy.
Previous Distinguished Alumni Award Winners
- 2022 Honoree
- 2019 Honoree
- 2018 Honoree
- 2017 Honoree
- 2016 Honoree
- 2015 Honoree
- 2014 Honorees
- 2013 Honorees
- 2012 Honorees
- 2011 Honorees
- 2010 Honorees
- 2008 Honorees
- 2005-2007 Honorees
Chantal Weatherley-White Unfug '85
Class of 1985 alumna Chantal Unfug’s childhood was filled with countless days exploring small, rural communities, creating an early passion for community building. After graduating from Boston University and spending three years working for a public relations firm in London, Unfug returned to Colorado to work in community and economic development and neighborhood revitalization.
Unfug has now worked in government for over 20 years, including roles on Colorado’s Western and Eastern slopes, for governors, mayors, senators and commissioners, and in urban and rural communities. Among many positions, she served as the Director of the Women's Business Office with Governor Roy Romer and as the Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation under Denver Mayor Bill Vidal. On the national stage, Unfug led the planning efforts for the City and County of Denver when the city hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Now as the Director of the Division of Local Government for Colorado, Unfug has shepherded over $1 billion to strategically invest in over 5,000 local community development and resilience projects with an eye on social justice and equity in policy making to ensure communities don't get left behind. In her seven years in this role, she has identified multiple gaps and trends to successfully launch programs to address the needs of diverse communities across Colorado, including the Opportunity Zones program, Just Transitions, Rural Response, Colorado Resilience Office, Rural Economic Development Initiative and Transforming Safety—Crime Prevention Initiative.
Outside of work, Unfug volunteers with the Colorado Mountain and Arlberg Clubs, Colorado Resource Center and Globalminded.
Sarah MacDougall Hirshland '93
Sarah Hirshland ’93 began her term as chief executive officer of the United States Olympic Committee in August 2018. As CEO, Hirshland oversees the USOC in its stewardship as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States, while leading the organization in delivering on its mission to empower Team USA athletes to achieve competitive excellence and inspire Americans. Prior to her role at the USOC, she served as the chief commercial officer for the United States Golf Association.
Before joining the USGA in 2011, Hirshland was senior vice president for strategic business development at Wasserman Media Group (now Wasserman). She also previously worked in Wasserman’s consulting division, leading the development of sports marketing strategies for clients such as American Express, Nationwide, Nokia, Scotts and Wachovia. In addition, Hirshland has served in key executive positions with sports and entertainment firm OnSport, and sports news and technology company Total Sports.
Hirshland is a graduate of Duke University.
Vanessa Green Coleman '01
Vanessa Green Coleman '01 is a recognized leader in engineering, technology, investments, consulting, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. She is co-founder and CEO of FINsix, an advanced power electronics company that enables smaller, lighter power solutions for consumer devices. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Saha Global, a non-profit she co-founded to provide sustainable energy and water access to rural communities in West Africa.
Vanessa was selected as a Boston Business Journal Innovation All-Stars Rising Star and Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy. She holds an M.Eng. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT, an MBA from MIT Sloan, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.
Brett Perlmutter '05
Brett Perlmutter '05 founded and leads Google Cuba. Perlmutter served as the principal negotiator of the first ever internet-related deal between the U.S. and Cuba, and he spearheaded Google’s first connectivity initiative in the country. Perlmutter also managed Constitute Project, a digital tool to help governments and citizens draft and amend constitutions.
Perlmutter started his career as a consultant in McKinsey & Company’s New York Office, where he advised CEOs and leaders across North and South America, Europe and Asia in strategy and corporate finance. He has lectured to students and academics in Spanish and English at Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Manchester.
In 2016, Perlmutter was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List. A native of Colorado, he received an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge and completed his BA (magna cum laude) from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, the president of his class for 3 years, and the Spoonman—the top honor given to a male student upon graduation. He is a proud alumnus of Kent Denver School, where his favorite activities were the Kent Denver Credit Union and Spanish Class.
Harold H. "Hal" Bruff '61
An author, professor and legal expert, Dr. Harold H. “Hal” Bruff ’61 has dedicated his career to the study of separation of power. His books and articles highlight his expertise on Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Legislation and Regulation. In addition to his writing and professorial work, Bruff has also served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, as an Assistant District Legal Officer, and as a legal advisor to officers of the Department of Justice, the White House and the Executive Agencies on issues of constitutional and administrative law. He was recognized for his outstanding service with a Special Commendation in 1981. Since 2011, Bruff has served as the Nicholas Rosenbaum Professor of Law at the University of Colorado. He is also the Dean of the law school.
Amy Slothower '90
Amy Slothower ’90 invests in education for future generations. Slothower was the founding executive director of Get Smart Schools, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization with the dual purpose of increasing the number of high-quality, autonomous schools serving low-income students in Colorado and creating the conditions for those schools to succeed. Slothower was also the founder and board president of Denver Venture School, and co-founder of the Denver School of Science and Technology, one of Denver’s largest charter networks. Currently, she works as an independent consultant, providing strategic planning and organizational assessment services for nonprofits, schools and school districts.
Briana Burton '95
Dr. Briana Burton ’95 has dedicated her life to medicine. After attending Northwestern University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she completed post-doctoral research at Harvard University. While at Harvard, she established the “Burton Lab” and was a professor of biology for freshmen students. Dr. Burton now serves as an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where she researches DNA molecule translocation and how bacteria import DNA from their environments, one of the primary mechanisms by which antibiotic resistance develops.
Annie Harrington Weinig '99
Since graduating from Kent Denver, Annie Harrington Weinig ’99 has invested her time in the study and practice of law. After working as a legal analyst in the Bay Area, she moved back to Colorado in 2009 to join Patton Boggs LLP, where she is currently a Senior Associate, counseling clients on a wide range of administrative, regulatory and public policy issues, with an emphasis on food and drug, healthcare, and energy and natural resource matters.
Ann Northrop '66
Growing up during the Civil Rights era, Ann Northrop ’66 always had a deep interest in the rights of others and the world around her. After becoming a journalist reporting on the federal government, ethics and justice, Ms. Northrop decided to take a more hands-on approach to the rights of others and started working at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for Lesbian and Gay Youth. Since then, she has been involved in many LGBT organizations and has even gotten back into journalism; she currently co-hosts a weekly TV news show—Gay USA—which reports and analyzes news of interest to the LGBT community.
Doug Trevor '88
Douglas Trevor ’88 has spent his time after Kent Denver studying and creating literature. As a scholar of Renaissance English Literature, he has published The Poetics of Melancholy in Early Modern England, co-edited a collection of essays, and written dozens of articles. As a fiction writer, Trevor is the author of The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space, a collection of stories, and the novel Girls I Know. The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space won the Iowa Short Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award for First Fiction. His short stories have appeared in dozens of literary journals and magazines, and have been anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Trevor is now a professor and director of the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan.
Roxana "Roxy" Rogers De Sole '69
Roxana “Roxy” Rogers De Sole ’69 has dedicated her life to global health programs since leaving Colorado for Washington D.C. The Kent School for Girls alumna has worked tirelessly with the Peace Corps and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) helping families around the globe plan and ensuring they have the care they need. In 2011, De Sole became Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS for USAID, where she oversaw programs to combat HIV/AIDS and served as Deputy Principal for President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Currently, she works as an International Development Consultant for a number of agencies around the globe.
Stephen Grynberg '80
Stephen Grynberg ’80 is a filmmaker and writer. He wrote and directed his first feature film, the critically acclaimed “Love From Ground Zero” in 1998. In 2005, he was selected to participate in Envisioning the Future, a city-wide art project curated by renowned artist Judy Chicago. This resulted in the creation of the documentary film and video installation, “Past Forward.” His most recent film, the feature length documentary “A Life Ascending,” about the life of an acclaimed mountaineer, won 10 international film awards. Mr. Grynberg is also a founding member of The Men’s Advisory Council of The Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica UCLA Hospital.
Duke Beardsley '88
A fifth-generation Coloradan, Duke Beardsley’s western roots have always been integral to the subjects he has painted. Mr. Beardsley is known for his unique blend of modern art styling and traditional western iconography, and his artwork has been featured in exhibitions across the United States and beyond. In 2008, he was honored by the Colorado Council for the Arts when he received the Colorado Governor’s Art Award. His work is collected worldwide; it can be found in the Forbes Collection, at the Denver Art Museum, The Booth Western Art Museum, in Colorado government buildings and elsewhere.
Steffie Allen '55
Steffie Allen, Kent School for Girls’ Class of 1955, has dedicated her life to being a leader and developing leadership skills in women all over Colorado. Ms. Allen has been involved in the development of many of Colorado’s women’s organizations, including serving as founder of the Colorado Women’s Coalition and president of the Women’s Forum of Colorado, the Junior League and the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Allen also worked as a Principal at LeaderWise, Inc., an organization that helps participants discover their true leadership potential.
Miriam Budinger '55
Dr. Miriam Budinger ’55 made so many career moves that she lost count, but after taking time off to raise three children she made one final move—which she described as “fascinating”—to clinical research. The move resulted in a career in medicine of over 30 years, and allowed Dr. Budinger to focus her efforts on helping others by studying infectious disease complications in patients undergoing bone marrow, renal, liver and heart transplantation. She later collaborated on a book about medical ethics with her husband, Dr. Thomas Budinger; Ethics of Emerging Technologies: Scientific Facts and Moral Challenges was published in 2006.
Lara Merriken '86
A member of the class of 1986, Lara Merriken was not satisfied with the energy and sports nutrition bars on the market, so she decided to create her own based on the fruits, nuts and other snacks she would eat while hiking. She founded LÄRABAR in May 2000, initially producing bars in her own kitchen. Today, LÄRABAR is owned by General Mills, and produces millions of bars each year in a variety of different flavors, all made with natural ingredients.
Chris Gibbons '96
Chris Gibbons ’96 is the founder and CEO of STRIVE Preparatory Schools, a Denver-based charter network dedicated to closing the achievement gap and preparing at-risk students for success in college and beyond. With Mr. Gibbons at the helm, STRIVE ranked No. 1 in academic growth for seven straight years. By 2022, he hopes the network will grow to 17 schools capable of serving 7,500 K-12 students across the Denver metro area. Mr. Gibbons also served as director of Denver Summerbridge, which is now Breakthrough Kent Denver.
Pamela Davis Beardsley '54
Pamela Davis Beardsley graduated from Kent School for Girls in 1954 and has always been a strong community leader in Denver. Ms. Beardsley has served on boards across the state, including as a trustee for the Boettcher Foundation and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and as President of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She also served as President of Kent Denver’s board of trustees and was a founding member of Breakthrough Kent Denver (formerly Denver Summerbridge).
Erik Myhren '84
Erik Myhren ’84 has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the community and to education in both a personal and professional capacity. Mr. Myhren started a nonprofit, Connect the Kids, that provided enrichment programs to underserved children in the community who wanted to be more involved with art and music programs than they could be in Denver Public Schools, and he helped start Denver City Lax, a program that brings youth lacrosse to Denver schools that didn’t previously have it.
Peter J. Neidecker '73
Peter J . Neidecker graduated from Denver Country Day in 1973, and now serves as Executive Vice President at Mountainside Medical, which manufactures complex medical components. Neidecker has remained highly involved with his alma mater, serving as President of the Board of Trustees for two years and as a board member for more than 10 years.
The Honorable Madeleine Korbel Albright '55
A member of Kent School for Girls’ Class of 1955, Madeleine Korbel Albright was the first woman to serve as Secretary of State and was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States’ government. In addition to her time as Secretary of State, Ms. Albright served on the National Security Council, as a Chief Legislative Assistant, and held positions as Director of Women in Foreign Service Programs at Georgetown University, President of the Center for National Policy, as the United States’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as a member of the President’s Cabinet. Currently, she is a chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, an organization dedicated to improving diplomacy around the globe.
Callae Buell Gilman '40
Throughout her life, Callae Buell Gilman, a member of the Kent School for Girls Class of 1940, was a dedicated civil servant. After growing up during the Depression, Ms. Gilman dedicated her life to helping others; her service included raising funds for polio victims, the Denver Symphony Orchestra, Central City Opera, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Mile High Red Cross, the Fornightly Club, Women’s Foundation, Kent School for Girls and Kent Denver School. Ms. Gilman was the school’s first and only “lifetime trustee.” She passed away in 2011.
Patrick A. Grant '63
Patrick A. Grant ’63 has made the betterment of Colorado a priority throughout his life. Grant served as a Colorado State Representative for eight years, during which time he introduced legislation for the future of Colorado’s resources, as well as for art and cultural heritage. Mr. Grant was also named “Citizen of the West” by Colorado’s National Western Stock Show, an award granted to those who “exemplify the spirit and determination of a western pioneer.”
Barbara Johnson Hartley '38
A member of Kent School for Girls’ Class of 1938, Barbara Johnson Hartley dedicated her life to service toward others. In addition to being a member of the Junior League of Denver and volunteering for the Visiting Nurse Association and Children’s Hospital, Ms. Hartley was also a founding Trustee and Chairman of the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, which supported Colorado nonprofit organizations for more than seven decades. During Ms. Hartley’s tenure, the Foundation benefited Colorado nonprofit organizations including children’s services, hospitals, arts and culture, caregiving, and rehabilitation. She also established annual scholarships at Kent Denver School, the University of Denver, and Colorado College. Barbara Johnson Hartley passed away in 2009.
The Honorable Rebecca Love Kourlis '70
In May 1995, Rebecca Love Kourlis ’70 was appointed as a Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, a position she held for nearly 10 years. In her time on the Court, she was active in many areas of court administration and judicial reform, including jury reform, domestic relations reform, revising the attorney grievance system, and general case management efficiencies. Judge Kourlis has remained an active member of the Kent Denver community, serving on the board.
Captain William Eric Mosley '77
After graduating from Kent Denver School in 1977, William Eric Mosley earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Colorado State University as well as an Air Force ROTC designation as a distinguished graduate. He was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force, where he served on active duty for 20 years, retiring as Major. In his time in the Air Force, Captain Mosley flew missions all around the world while earning the highest flight qualifications as a Command Pilot, Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner, and he was one of a small group of pilots selected to transport nuclear weapons around the globe.
Shanon Richard Yates '87
As a pilot with the United States Air Force, Shanon Richard Yates ’87 flew reconnaissance missions throughout North America, Western Europe and Pacific Southwest Asia, helping to secure the safety of Americans by monitoring the START Treaty with Russia and serving in “NO FLY” operations after Desert Storm and in the Iraq conflict. Mr. Yates credits faculty members Benita Campbell, Ben Cooper and Helen Yeager for inspiring him to excellence in academics and instilling the value of self-discipline that has guided him throughout his life.