Expert Panel Discusses Preparing Today’s Learners for Colorado’s Growing STEM Economy

DENVER, CO – The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) brought together nearly 275 business executives, state leaders, and education stakeholders for an expert panel discussion focused on developing local talent in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This event, sponsored by United Launch Alliance (ULA), celebrated the Colorado STEM Education Roadmap released at the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) 2014 Summit as part of Colorado Innovation Week.  

“Strengthening STEM education and experiences for all our students is key to developing an educated workforce and engaged community,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. “The Colorado STEM Education Roadmap demonstrates Colorado’s commitment to developing a strong talent pipeline rich in diversity.”

The Colorado STEM Education Roadmap advances a public-private partnership to increase local talent to meet industry demands and drive innovation. The effort, spearheaded by CEI, is working to define a state plan for improving STEM education in ways that increase opportunities for all students, meet current employer needs, and attract new businesses to our state. The effort is funded by the generous support of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, JPMorgan Chase, and United Launch Alliance.

The program featured brief remarks from Michael Gass, president and CEO emeritus, United Launch Alliance; Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia; and Amber Ptak, director of Education Programs, with the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado.

“A STEM-educated workforce is critical to United Launch Alliance. Industries, like aerospace, cannot accomplish their missions without a world class workforce with skills in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Michael Gass, ULA president and CEO emeritus.

The expert panel discussion moderated by 9News’ education reporter Nelson Garcia, featured:

•    Matt Smith, Vice President of Engineering and IT, United Launch Alliance
•    Stephanie Steffens, Director, Colorado Workforce Development Council
•    Kathleen Little, Renewable Purchase Power Analyst and STEM Mentor, Xcel Energy
•    Kathy Norton, Principal, Arvada High School  
•    Hayden Green, Junior at Arvada High School

The panelists discussed Colorado’s efforts to improve STEM education in schools, increase students’ access to STEM education, grow local talent, and fuel the state’s growing STEM economy. The program concluded with closing remarks by Leroy Williams Jr., vice president Information Technology and Services, Ball Corporation, and CEI’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Yee-Ann Cho.

“STEM education provides the building blocks to prepare students for success in an increasingly technological and complex global community,” said The Colorado Education Initiative Interim President and CEO, Yee-Ann Cho.

The Colorado Education Initiative’s STEM Champions were recognized for their contribution of $30,000 or more each to the STEM effort. These STEM champions include:

•    Ball Foundation
•    Colorado Workforce Development Council
•    Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado
•    ISSAC Corp
•    JPMorgan Chase
•    United Launch Alliance
•    Xcel Energy

Learn more about the Colorado STEM Education Roadmap at

About The Colorado Education Initiative
The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is an independent nonprofit working in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education and public education stakeholders to accelerate bold improvement in student achievement through innovation, collaboration, and capacity building. CEI believes that increased student achievement for all Colorado students requires effective leaders in every school, effective educators in every classroom and healthy and engaging environments that ignite a passion for learning in every student.

About United Launch Alliance
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 80 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. ULA – Bringing rocket science down to Earth.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at and