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About Innovation at CC

Find out how we are making an impact

What is Innovation at CC?

Students, faculty, and staff at Colorado College are part of a vibrant community characterized by an adventurous spirit and love of learning. As one of the cornerstones of CC’s strategic plan, Innovation at CC offers the collaborative focal point for new ideas and creative visions.

Innovation at CC provides students with tools, resources, expertise, and mentorship to put their ideas into action. We offer curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities that range from attracting alumni and industry leaders as resources, to offering courses and workshop opportunities to help channel raw creativity.

We believe any student, in any academic discipline, has the potential to create change through innovation. Our goal is to help students tap into the value of their liberal arts education to create a culture of creativity and innovation on campus where students can not only dream, but can also turn their ideas into action – and generate impact.

Our Staff

Dez Stone Menendez ’02

Director of Innovation

Dez Stone Menendez ’02 started as director of Innovation at CC in September 2016. She began working as an entrepreneur at age 23 and the orienting principle of her work is to empower people to lead larger and more creative lives. She is the founder and owner of the Possibility Room, which began as a startup incubator in Seattle focused on executing new businesses and expanding existing businesses.

Dez graduated from CC with a self-designed major in poetry and visual art titled A New Language: The Architecture of Word and Image. She has started several other businesses and served as a consultant focused on fostering growth in artisan and trade-based businesses, developing systems for new and established businesses to enhance efficiency, workspace organization, and project management.

Our Advisory Board

Ryan Raul Bañagale
Assistant Professor, Music

Bañagale is an assistant professor of music at Colorado College, where he offers classes on a range of American music topics, including musical theatre, jazz, popular music, folk music, and media studies. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University with support from the American Musicological Society’s AMS-50 and Howard Mayer Brown Fellowships. His first book, "Arranging Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and the Creation of an American Icon" (Oxford University Press, 2014), focuses on the ongoing – and surprising — life of Gershwin’s iconic "Rhapsody in Blue" over the course of the 90 years since its inception. He currently sits on the editorial board of the "George Gershwin Critical Edition" and will be editing at least three separate arrangements of "Rhapsody in Blue." His research also appears in journals such as Jazz Perspectives and the Journal of the Society For American Music.

Emily Chan
Associate Dean, Academic Programs & Strategic Initiatives

Emily Chan received her Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she worked with Oscar Ybarra and Norbert Schwarz. She came to Colorado College in 2004. Her research interests include stereotype threat, culture and cognition, social cognition, judgment and decision making, and the two fundamental dimensions (warmth and competence) in personal and corporate perception.

As associate dean of academic programs and strategic initiatives, Chan's primary duties include the Summer Session, Off-Campus and International Programs, and inclusion initiatives from the Dean's Office, such as the Bridge Scholars Program and the Riley Fellows Program. Chan is interested in promoting and increasing academic excellence in these three domains, as well as supporting and guiding faculty and staff as they develop new initiatives.

Henry Fricke
Associate Professor, Geology

Henry Fricke is “the geochemist” in the Geology Department at Colorado College. Before arriving at CC he was a postdoctoral research scientist in Washington D.C., both at the Smithsonian Institution and at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution. Fricke did his graduate work in stable isotope geochemistry as a student of Jim O’Neil at the University of Michigan, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago.

Marie Davis-Green
Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance

Davis-Green received her MFA from Yale University in 2003 in the areas of set and costume design. She was chosen to present her designs during the International Prague Quadrennial 2011, Veletržní National Gallery and USITT’s 50th anniversary design exhibition 2010. In 2013, original devised works: "Loss of Habitat/Loss of Language," "The Spirit of Caliban," "Frozen Forms," and "Requiem" were chosen for the World Stage Design Exhibition, taking place in Cardiff, Wales.

Her design work and research focuses on dialogical and eco-conscious performance designs and the study of impermanence and spatial constraints.

Steve Hayward
Associate Professor, English

Hayward specializes in and enjoys creative fiction writing, Shakespeare, and Canadian literature. He has published three books thus far: "Don’t Be Afraid," "The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke," and "Buddha Stevens and Other Stories." He has also won and been a finalist for multiple literary awards. In his free time, Hayward enjoys mountain biking, skiing, playing guitar, and playing squash.

Jane Hilberry
Professor, English

Hilberry studies how creativity works, does her own creative work, and fosters creativity in others. She enjoys creative writing and teaching arts-based leadership development in organizational contexts. Hilberry has received four awards and grants of distinction. Additionally, she has five published works in print.

Dan Johnson
Associate Professor, Economics and Business

Johnson’s most notable research accomplishment has been accurately creating predictions about the number of Olympic medals any given country will receive at the Olympics. His other research interests are microeconomic analysis (with emphasis on business development), commodity analysis, technology growth, and innovation. In 2012, he formed BookCheetah, an online textbook trading service. Johnson has numerous publications, honors, awards, and presentations.

Mary Frances Kerr
Assistant Vice President/Special Assistant to the President

Kerr functions as the president’s primary liaison with the college community to support the vision and goals of Colorado College. She serves as the principal aide to the president, overseeing the day-to-day functions of the President’s Office, working closely with both the special assistant to the Board of Trustees and the assistant vice president for institutional planning and effectiveness.

Kerr was associate director in the college’s Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations for almost six years before joining the President's Office. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science and religious studies from Agnes Scott College, and she did graduate study in American religious history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kristine Lang
Associate Professor, Physics

Lang is an experimental physicist specializing in the use of scanned probe microscopy techniques. As their name would imply, these techniques rely on moving a small (nanometer scale) probe across the object of study and then using a computer to render the images and functional maps of that object thereby obtained. Objects she has studied using scanned probe microscopy include impurity atoms and electron densities in high temperature superconductors, metallic oxides, and currently, bacteria and the appendages they produce. She enjoys involving CC’s undergraduate students in her research and subsequently mentoring them through the process of jointly presenting and publishing their work with her. In addition, she teaches an innovative first-year course that allows students to do original research in their first college course.

Jean Lee
Assistant Professor, Environmental Program

Lee's main research interests involve understanding the consequences of multinational agreements (especially at a local level), the role of institutions in the governing of common property resources, and the ways in which sustainable development can be equitable. Based on extensive work in sub-Saharan Africa, she is also interested in the concept of gender equity in sustainable development, drivers of farmer participation in payment for ecosystem services, and the institutional barriers local communities encounter when trying to manage their natural resources.

Vanessa Muñoz
Assistant Professor, Sociology

Muñoz’s main areas of research are the sociology of health and illness, families, and gender. She is particularly focused on how families make health decisions and navigate institutions for their health needs as well as parenting and the transmission of resources to children via healthcare and schooling. She has two publications thus far, and is currently conducting a study on the management of children’s life-threatening food allergies.

Dylan Nelson
Assistant Professor, Film and Media Studies

Nelson has been recognized for her documentary productions. The upcoming documentary film "Mississippi Messiah" was co-directed and produced by Nelson. She also co-produced "Merchants of Doubt," which premiered in 2014 at the Telluride Film Festival. Multiple documentaries she has either produced or directed have aired on television, on channels such as PBS and Showtime. Additionally, her film "Soundtrack for a Revolution" was shown at the Tribeca and Cannes Film Festivals, and received numerous festival honors, a Writers Guild Award nomination, a Producers Guild Award, a Grierson Prize, a Humanitas Prize, three International Documentary Association Awards, and was short-listed for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Megan Nicklaus
Director of the Career Center

Nicklaus began working for Colorado College as the director of the Career Center in 2013. Previously, she was the associate director of the Center for Student Development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She has extensive experience both with career coaching and campus recruiting programs. Nicklaus holds a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Dayton and a master of arts in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of several professional associations, including the National Career Development Association. When she is not helping students with their transition, you can generally find her enjoying the outdoors rock climbing, hiking, or trail running.

Brian Young
Vice President for IT, Chief Technology Officer

Young started his career in higher education at the University of Dayton as its first lead technologist, then became the youngest VP/CIO in the country for Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2000. He was hired away by Creighton University as the vice president and CIO for the university and the Creighton/ Catholic Health Hospital. In 2005, Young was recognized by Computerworld Magazine as one of the top 100 IT leaders, and in 2009 he was recognized by InfoWorld magazine as one of the top 25 chief information officers in the country. Young currently serves as the vice president and chief technology officer for Colorado College, and holds several technology patents for software applications.

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