Distinguished Alumni Awards



Celebrating Distinguished Alumni

The Colorado State University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Awards program recognizes CSU alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally, brought honor to the University, and have made significant contributions of time and/or philanthropy to the university and their community.

The Alumni Association looks forward to honoring these wonderful alumni and showcasing their talents and achievements! Help us celebrate these amazing individuals on Thursday, Oct. 3, in the Lory Student Center.

Sponsorships Available

Please contact Lisa Hansen at (970) 491-3591 or Lisa.Hansen@colostate.edu to request information about becoming a Distinguished Alumni Awards sponsor. Click here for sponsorship level information. 

Nomination Forms & Award Descriptions

Nominations are being accepted through Friday, May 31, 2019 (5 p.m. MST).

2018 Recipients

The CSU Alumni Association would like to congratulate the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.

William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award

Kim Jordan

Kim Jordan embodies the characteristics cherished at Colorado State University: hardworking, innovative, and dedicated to making the world a better place. That’s why she was an easy choice to win the William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award.

Jordan, co-founder of New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, is the most successful woman in American craft brewing. Since she, along with former husband Jeff Lebesch, launched the company from her basement in 1991, Jordan has vaulted New Belgium into the craft brewing stratosphere: NBB is the fourth-largest craft brewer in the nation and ranks 11th overall among American brewers in total sales.

Under her leadership, NBB has created some of the country’s most iconic beers, including Fat Tire, Voodoo Ranger, Trippel, and Dayblazer. In 2017, NBB partnered with CSU to create Old Aggie Superior Lager, which has become tremendously popular despite being sold only in Colorado.

But while Jordan has enjoyed enormous success, it was her unique style of ownership that set her apart from other entrepreneurs. From the beginning, NBB has been dedicated to environmentally friendly and sustainable business practices. And unlike pretty much every other major brewer, NBB is 100-percent employee-owned.

Jordan, though, didn’t stop there. She is a dedicated philanthropist and, in 2013, she launched the New Belgium Family Foundation with her two sons as a way to continue to express their commitment to social and environmental impact through mission-aligned investing and philanthropy. And she is a passionate supporter of her alma mater, making significant contributions to CSU’s fermentation science program and to athletics. The New Belgium Porch at Canvas Stadium is an enormously popular gathering spot for CSU fans on Game Days and other campus occasions.

Jordan stepped down as NBB CEO in 2015 but remains chair of the board and oversees long-term strategy. She serves as secretary on CSU’s Board of Governors.

Charles A. Lory Public Service Award

Dennis Graham (B.A., philosophy, ’68)

Dennis Graham retired from the Colorado Court of Appeals earlier this year after serving for 16 years as one of the most respected judges in the state. His time in this position concluded a 42-year career in law  rooted in his undergraduate experience at Colorado State University.

Graham grew up knowing he wanted to practice law. His experience at CSU, where he was mentored by influential faculty, only reaffirmed that commitment.

After receiving his B.A. at CSU, he pursued a Juris Doctor at the University of Nebraska’s law school, only to have his education delayed for three years by the Vietnam draft.

After completing his service, Graham finished law school and returned to Colorado in 1975 to begin his career clerking for U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit Judge Robert H. McWilliams. He spent the next 26 years in private practice in Denver, primarily focused on complex commercial law with an emphasis on securities.

In 2002 he was appointed to the Colorado Court of Appeals by Gov. Bill Owens and worked for the following 16 years building his reputation as a fair and knowledgeable jurist. In 2014 he received the Judicial Excellence Award by the Denver Bar Association; and in 2017 was honored with the DBA Judicial Excellence Award from the Denver Business Journal.

Always a proud Ram, Graham is happy to share his expertise with students at CSU and support the College of Liberal Arts. He has been a frequent guest speaker in classes and CSU’s Pre-Law Club meetings. Since its inception in 2008, Graham has served on the Rams Juris Doctor Steering Committee, promoting alumni engagement and philanthropic support of CSU students through the group’s annual networking event. Graham continued his legacy of support by serving on the Liberal Arts Development Council under former Dean Ann Gill until 2016.

“I can think of no one more deserving of the Charles A. Lory Public Service Award than Judge Graham,” said alumna Janinne Mohr, a senior associate legal counsel for the CSU System and a former clerk for Graham. “He represents the very best that CSU has to offer, and I am proud to add my name to his long list of admirers.”

Jim and Nadine Henry Award

Norm (B.S., veterinary science, ’77; D.V.M., ’80) and Ann Jorgensen

It’s difficult to imagine more ardent supporters of Colorado State University than Norm and Ann Jorgensen.

The Jorgensens not only love CSU and all things green and gold, they put their money where their heart is, supporting everything from Norm Jorgensen’s beloved College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to Rams athletics.

The Jorgensens were among the very first to throw their financial support behind the building of Canvas Stadium, pledging $2 million in 2013 – a move that inspired other donors to jump on board. They are also passionate supporters of the men’s and women’s basketball programs and the CSU men’s golf team.

And, in 2015, they made another significant gift, creating the Jorgensen Laboratories, Inc. Chair in Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. This endowed chair supports a faculty position in emergency and critical care at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Norm Jorgensen spent several years in private veterinary practice before returning to work for his father, Irvin, at Loveland-based Jorgensen Labs. With the help of his brother, Hans, and brother-in-law, Earle Sethre, Jorgensen expanded the veterinary supply company well beyond the garage-based business his father started. The company now employs more than 60 and distributes veterinary supplies all over the world.

Jorgensen has served on both the CSU Development Council Board and the Athletic Director’s Cabinet. He was also the 2008 recipient of the CVMBS Distinguished Alumni Award and 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Athletics Award.

Ann Jorgensen is a tennis enthusiast and retired flight attendant who worked for Delta and Western Airlines. The couple’s daughter, Annelise, is a CSU alumna (B.S., business administration, ’12) and current student in the online MBA program. Annelise lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a model and actress.

Distinguished Graduate of the Last Decade Award

Zubaida Bai (M.B.A., business administration, ’10)

Zubaida Bai has been busy changing the world since earning her M.B.A. from Colorado State University in 2010. An engineer by trade – she has a master’s degree in engineering from a Swedish university – the native of India grew up watching mothers giving birth in unsafe, unsanitary conditions. Working with her husband, the mother of three children established Fort Collins-based ayzh, a company aimed at providing simple, low-cost, clean birth kits to mothers in India. Since the company’s inception, ayzh has sold more than 400,000 units and prevented countless deaths due to infections caused by unsanitary conditions. She has won dozens of international social entrepreneurial awards after raising more than $20 million from the private and public sectors to support her projects. Bai is a sought-after international speaker on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to women’s health to sustainability. In 2016, she was named by the United Nations as one of its nine Sustainable Development Goals Pioneers. Most recently, Zubaida received an Honorary Doctorate from Claremont University and founded Happy Woman Foundation, a nonprofit to support underrepresented female entrepreneurs, especially mothers. Her company continues to explore new ways to provide affordable health care options and, to date, has introduced six products while providing meaningful jobs to underemployed women in India.

Distinguished Athletics Award

Terry Nugent (B.S., physical education, ’85)

Terry Nugent was one of Colorado State University’s greatest quarterbacks, setting numerous records during his four years of leading the Rams. But his contributions to his alma mater go well beyond his impact on the football field. After playing two seasons in the NFL, the California native settled in Denver and began a successful career as a private wealth advisor. Currently the managing director of wealth management for the Nugent Group with UBS, he has been ranked by Barron’s as one of the top 15 financial advisers in Denver and has built a large and loyal list of clients. Throughout his career, he has been an enthusiastic and generous supporter of his alma mater, donating to the College of Business, Alumni Association, and athletics. He has been an ardent supporter of the on-campus stadium project and established the Terry Nugent Football Scholarship – one of the first of its kind at CSU. Beyond that, he has been a tireless volunteer and advocate for CSU, primarily in the Denver area. He’s also a competitive triathlete and marathoner, having completed the Hawaii Iron Man five times, including a third place finish in 2011.

College of Agricultural Sciences Honor Alumna

Leann Saunders (B.S., agricultural business, ’92; M.Agr., beef industry leadership, ’94)

Along with her husband and CEO, John Saunders, Leann Saunders is the co-founder, president, and COO of Where Food Comes From Inc., the leading agricultural and food verification and certification company in North America. Before that, she worked for PM Beef Holdings, where she developed the first-ever USDA Process Verified program for beef in the U.S. Saunders also worked for McDonald’s Corporation and Hudson Foods Corporation. Currently, she sits on the International Stockmen’s Education Foundation board of directors, the University of Nebraska’s Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship board of directors, and the CSU Agriculture Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council. In 2015, she served as the chair of the United States Meat Export Federation, a culmination of four years as an officer and three more years on the board’s Executive Committee; she’s one of two women to have served in that position. Saunders also stays involved with her family’s ranching and stocker operations and is part-owner of the Mayfield Ranches near Playas, N.M. She works side by side with her husband every day, and together they have three children. Saunders says of all of her accomplishments, she is most proud of her family. She and her husband remain active in their kids’ academic and athletics activities, and she sits on the Douglas County High School Career Tech Department Advisory Board and is the president of the Girls’ Basketball Booster Program. She and her husband are passionate about the community and giving back, and together, with another local family, started Summer Jam, a local music concert series designed to benefit the Douglas County Task Force in their hometown of Castle Rock, Colo.

College of Business Honor Alumnus

Arthur Valdez (B.S., business administration, ’92)

Arthur Valdez was a first-generation college student from southern Colorado and has had a remarkable and distinguished career since his time at Colorado State University. Currently, he serves as the chief logistics officer at Target, having previously served in a similar role at Amazon. He has served on the College of Business Global Leadership Council since 2014, providing valuable insight and counsel on the college’s supply chain management program. As a passionate advocate for first-generation students, Valdez served as the keynote presenter at the College of Business First Generation Scholars Dinner in 2016. He provided an inspirational message about hard work and humility to CSU business students. In 2014, Valdez created the Valdez First Generation Scholarship to support a high-achieving first generation student from southern Colorado. Wanting to make a bigger impact, Valdez committed to supporting a second student scholarship in 2017. An avid football fan, Valdez returns to Colorado to catch his two favorite teams, the Rams and the Broncos, as often as he can. Valdez and wife, Edi, have two sons, Marc and Travis, and reside in Minneapolis. 

College of Health and Human Sciences Honor Alumna

Danette Reagan (B.S., nutrition and food science, ’87)

Danette Reagan worked as a registered clinical dietitian at Exempla St. Joseph Hospital in Denver from the moment she graduated until her recent retirement. She is a dedicated alumna who has served on Colorado State University’s Campaign Leadership Council, the College of Health and Human Sciences Executive Leadership Council, the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center board, and the Denver Athletic Advisory Board. Her generosity has helped grow the Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center, which provides service-learning opportunities and training for students in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, while enhancing community health through nutrition outreach, collaboration, and research. Reagan has been a longtime Rams fan and supporter of CSU Athletics. She and her husband, Monty, are proud members of the 1870 Club and the Lory Society, and they have a brick on the Colorado State University Oval.

College of Liberal Arts Honor Alumnus

David Freed (B.A., technical journalism, ’76)

David Freed began his journalism career as a student in the Department of Journalism and Media Communication, working for the Rocky Mountain Collegian before graduating with a degree in technical journalism. Upon graduation, Freed joined The Los Angeles Times where he served as their lead police reporter, reporting from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. At the LA Times, Freed was an individual finalist for the Pulitzer Gold Medal in Public Service and later shared a Pulitzer for the newspaper’s team coverage of the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. As a freelance writer, Freed continued to write as an associate field producer for the Los Angeles bureau of CBS News, helping cover the O.J. Simpson case before selling a feature-length screenplay to 20th Century Fox. He authored more than a dozen feature-length film scripts and worked as a contractor for the nation’s intelligence community, including the CIA, DIA, and the Army’s Battle Command Battle Lab. He then branched out into writing stories for national magazines including The Atlantic, where his 2010 exposé “The Wrong Man,” was named a finalist in feature writing by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2016, Freed was inducted into the Colorado State University Media Hall of Fame. Five years ago, Freed began teaching as an adjunct instructor at CSU in the department from which he graduated. In 2017, Freed and his wife, Betsy, were inspired to support the next generation of student-journalists and established the David and Elizabeth Freed Print and Digital Journalism Scholarship Endowment that supports Department of Journalism and Media Communication students who focus their studies on print and digital journalism.

College of Natural Sciences Honor Alumni

Brent Keeler, M.D. (B.S., physical science, ’71) and Marianne Keeler (B.S., biological science, ’73)

Brent Keeler, and his wife, Marianne, met at Colorado State University and have since spent their time giving back to the College of Natural Sciences. Dr. Brent Keeler is a Colorado native and received his bachelor’s from Colorado State University in 1974, with a major in physical science. He earned his M.D. from the University of Colorado in 1977. He is board certified in OB-GYN and has delivered more than 5,000 babies during his career. With Marianne’s support, he has held leadership positions in the medical community, including chief of staff at The Medical Center of Aurora, president of the Colorado Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, and president of the Colorado Medical Society. Marianne worked at the Women’s Clinic that was his professional home. Together, they are longtime supporters of the College of Natural Sciences’ Women in Natural Sciences program. As parents of two daughters with science undergraduate degrees, one of whom has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Brent and Marianne are very passionate about supporting women in the sciences. They truly believe in improving the future through higher education, have encouraged others to give, and are longtime supporters and advocates of the College of Natural Sciences and CSU.

College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Honor Alumnus

Bill Lance (M.S., fishery and wildlife biology, ’71; Ph.D., pathology, wildlife disease, ’81)

As a wildlife veterinarian, Bill Lance founded Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Inc., as the first company devoted to the development of specialized pharmaceuticals for nondomestic species. Today, Wildlife Pharmaceuticals dominates the world market for drugs used in the capture and anesthesia of wild and exotic animals. Dr. Lance has written more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has made numerous presentations at scientific meetings. He was elected a fellow in the American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 1995. He was also the 2003 recipient of the American Academy of Zool Veterinarians Utility Achievement Award in Wildlife and Zoological Medicine. Before his career as an entrepreneur, Dr. Lance served as a veterinary medical officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1965-73, including service in Vietnam where he earned  the rank of captain. He finished his Air Force career as the staff veterinarian for the USAF Special Operations Wing, working in counterinsurgency and counterintelligence operations. Dr. Lance met his wife of more than 50 years, Sharon, on a blind date. He was immediately and permanently smitten. They were married by an Air Force chaplain three months later. The couple has a daughter, Dawn, and a son, John. Dr. Lance was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Clinical Sciences from 1990 to 2002, lecturing on anesthesia, analgesia, and wildlife. He has mentored many students who are interested in wildlife medicine, pharmacy, and innovation.

Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering Honor Alumnus

Chris Christopher (B.S., electrical engineering, ’68; M.S., electrical engineering, ’74)

Chris Christopher was born in Greece and  came to the United States on a student visa after completing high school. Education has always been important to Christopher, and in 1968, he earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Colorado State University. After college, he got a job with Hewlett-Packard and earned his master’s in electrical engineering at CSU in 1974. Later, Christopher completed the Executive Management Program in the prestigious Insead School of Business in Fontainebleau, France. While a student at Colorado State, Christopher was an active member of Eta Kappa Nu, the Engineering College Council, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers student chapter. Later, he served as a member of CSU’s College of Engineering Industrial Advisory Committee. He was also instrumental to the success of endowing the Budak Scholarship, which honors faculty emeritus Aram Budak. In 2008, Christopher was nominated by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and selected as the winner of the ECE Distinguished Alumni Award. During his time at HP, he had a variety of leadership and general management roles, and retired as SVP in 2008. He currently serves as a director of the Rocky Mountain Innosphere incubator and as a director of CloudGen. He also serves as a director of Asetek A/S, and has been its board's vice chair since March 2018. He has been a volunteer adviser to entrepreneurs for the Rocky Mountain Innosphere for the last 10 years, and a guest lecturer in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering and the College of Business at CSU. Christopher and his wife, Georgia, now reside in Lone Tree, Colo., where he enjoys reading, fishing, hiking, and traveling. 

Warner College of Natural Resources Honor Alumnus

James Hubbard (B.S., forest management, ’69)

In April 2018, James Hubbard’s nomination was announced for undersecretary for natural resources and the environment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since 2006, he has served as U.S. Forest Service deputy chief for state and private forestry. In this position, he is responsible for fire and aviation management, cooperative forestry programs, forest health protection, conservation education, urban and community forestry, and the Office of Tribal Relations. Hubbard joined the Forest Service after serving as the director of the Office of Wildland Fire Coordination within the Department of the Interior, where he oversaw implementation of the National Fire Plan. Hubbard was a member of the Colorado Forest Service for more than 34 years before his federal career. He served as Colorado state forester from 1984 until 2004. As state forester, he held governor-appointed positions on numerous natural resources committees and chaired the working group on wildland-urban interface fire as well as the Governor’s Conference on Forest Health. Hubbard was also a member of the National Research Council Study on nonfederal forestry in the United States. During his tenure as Colorado state forester, Hubbard served as president of the National Association of State Foresters, chaired the Council of Western State Foresters, and was liaison to the Western Governors Association. In 2011, the Jim Hubbard Fire Management Building was dedicated on the CSU Foothills Campus.

Nomination Forms & Award Descriptions

Nominations are being accepted through Friday, May 31, 2019 (5 p.m. MST).


Online form | Download PDF form

This award is named for Colorado State University’s 8th President, Dr. William E. Morgan, whose participation in and commitment to the life of Colorado State University for over 30 years has significantly contributed to Colorado State’s position as a premier institution of higher education. This award is the highest honor given by the Association and is reserved for alumni who have excelled at the national or international level. The purpose of this award is to recognize a graduate of Colorado State University who has attained extraordinary distinction and success in his/her field of endeavor, whose achievements have brought credit to Colorado State University and benefit to his/her fellow citizens.

The ideal candidate must have:
• a degree from Colorado State University
• a proven record of extraordinary distinction and accomplishment in his/her field
• demonstrated achievements that have brought credit to CSU
• demonstrated leadership and service to his/her community and society at large
• received national or international recognition
• made a significant contribution of time and talent to the University
• demonstrated value for the university’s commitment to research, education, extensionand service


Online form | Download PDF Form

This award is named for Dr. Charles A. Lory, 5th president of Colorado State University, whose leadership helped the university attain a vital balance of teaching, research and service. It is given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional and sustained leadership in his/her community, professional field, or personal commitments, and has given a significant contribution of time and talent to the University. The recipient must be a Colorado State University alum.

The ideal candidate must have:
• demonstrated exceptional and sustained leadership in his/her professional field and/or personal commitments
• demonstrated extraordinary and exemplary public and/or community service
• made a significant contribution of time and talent to the university


Online form | Download PDF form

This award is given in honor of Jim (’40) and Nadine (Hartshorn) (’41) Henry of Longmont, Colorado, who exemplify extraordinary service to Colorado State University and its academic, athletic, and alumni programs. This award is presented annually to a person who represents the highest goals of the Alumni Association and Colorado State University, and who has given significant support and service to the Alumni Association and the University. The recipient must be a Colorado State University alum.

The ideal candidate must:
• adequately embody and demonstrate the four core values of the CSU Alumni Association: Pride, Tradition, Relationships and Diversity
• demonstrate a commitment to, and involvement in, the life of the university
• have given significant support to the CSU Alumni Association and the university
• demonstrate a record of service to the university, the CSU Alumni Association and Athletics


Online form | Download PDF form

The purpose of this award is to recognize a recent graduate for his/her accomplishments made in the area of career, service, and/or volunteer efforts that have brought honor to the individual and to Colorado State University. The nominee must have graduated from Colorado State University within the last ten years and must have received at least his/her undergraduate degree from Colorado State.

The ideal candidate must have:
• obtained CSU undergraduate degree within the last ten years from the nomination deadline (2006-2016)
• demonstrated contributions that have brought honor to the individual and to CSU in the area of career, service and/or volunteer efforts 


Online form | Download PDF form

The purpose of this award is to recognize an individual for his/her outstanding commitment to Colorado State University Athletics, who has contributed to the goal of excellence in athletics, and brought honor to the university. The recipient may be a current or former Athletic Department staff member, former athlete, or dedicated volunteer and must be a Colorado State University alum.

The ideal candidate must have:
• evidence of outstanding commitment to CSU Athletics
• made significant contributions (as a staff member, athlete, volunteer or donor) towards the success of CSU Athletics
• demonstrated achievements that have brought honor to the university


Online form |Download PDF form

Each year, the Colorado State University Alumni Association honors an outstanding alumnus/a from each of the University's eight colleges. An Honor Alumnus/Alumna is a former student who, by his/her distinguished career and service to the University, state, nation, or world, has brought honor to Colorado State University and to himself/herself.

Ideal candidate must:

  • Be a former student from his/her respective college.
  • Have a record of distinction and accomplishment in his/her field.
  • Have demonstrated service to the University, state, nation, or world.
  • Have demonstrated achievements that have brought honor to CSU and to himself/herself.
  • Have demonstrated their pride in CSU through contributions of time and/or resources

Nomination Tips

  • Write a paragraph for each of the criteria listed. Include a couple of examples of how the nominee "lives" the criteria.
  • Ask multiple people who can provide different points of view or are from different parts of the nominee’s life to address the criteria. Compile these notes into one nomination. This will make it a more comprehensive nomination.
  • Try to include a full picture (time wise) of the nominee’s actions. Include some examples from the nominee’s past and some more recent examples to show the continued demonstrated commitment and actions related to the criteria.
  • Use the forms provided and follow the directions carefully.
  • It is better to put information from external sources into the actual nomination than to include additional older newspaper articles or other documents.