Good Leadership and Science Matter in a Pandemic

In the challenging times of this pandemic, Coloradans have received the best from two leading medical doctors, both of whom happen to be female. That's why the Business and Professional Women (BPW) of Colorado just named them 2021 Women of the Year. Congratulations and thank you to:

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, MD, MPH, State Epidemiologist and Communicable Disease Branch Chief, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Dr. Herlihy is currently leading COVID-19 surveillance, case investigation, and outbreak response activities for the State of Colorado.
Dr. Michelle Barron, MD, Senior Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control at UCHealth. Dr. Barron has led the charge against infectious diseases including the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 and Ebola in 2015. Since January 2020 and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked around the clock with fellow leaders to protect patients, staff and providers across UCHealth.

During a virtual celebration on April 28, 2021, these two medical doctors shared some important lessons learned and words of wisdom.

Dr. Herlihy shared:

DATA DRIVES POLICY. It's a process: ask questions, go to the data, answer questions, and use this information to drive policy. We lacked a data infrastructure. We have a patchwork of systems. With funds coming in, we can build a robust informatics / data infrastructure.
PEOPLE MATTER. This pandemic requires all hands on deck. My organization grew from 50 to 450 people in a few months. We can be very proud and trust the team. We meet every day, two times per day for 30 minutes in morning and afternoon.
TEAMS WORK HARD. We found new leaders. We built a team, which never met face-to-face. We worked remotely and found ways to come together, communicate, and share. Together we tried to reduce the stress. Good leadership is an example.
COLLEAGUES GAVE SUPPORT. Collaboration came from local public health leaders, Colorado School of Public Health, the Governor's Office and others in the state, and so many more.
VACCINES ARE TO BE TRUSTED. The vaccine trials typically have three phases. To bring the COVID-19 vaccine to market faster they overlapped the phases. They did not cut corners. This approach will be used going forward.

Dr. Barron shared:

GOOD SCIENCE MATTERS. Media wants a headline and wants you to just watch, which led to distrust of good science. Be careful of what you watch.
HAVE CONFIDENCE. Remember FDR's quote, "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself." Imagine how the world will be if we are not afraid.
WE KNOW ENOUGH TO HELP PEOPLE. We are more prepared than most knew. We did a lot right. Past pandemics, such as H1N1 and Ebola, taught us where to improve so we don't struggle with pandemics.
MENTAL HEALTH IS SO IMPORTANT. We all need access to help sometimes. Debriefing on a daily basis can release what happened. When you get home, listen to your breath.
VACCINES ARE BUILT ON DECADES OF RESEARCH. Known to colleagues as Kati, Katalin Kariko, Ph.D. has emerged as one of the heroes of COVID-19 vaccine. Her work, with her close collaborator, Dr. Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania, laid the foundation for the stunningly successful vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. "Science builds on science," Kariko says. "We always built on the people who came before us, and people will use our data. Of course, everything was important that those people did. I would hug them if I could."


Good leadership and good science both matter during troubled times. It is a pursuit of passionate purpose. More pandemics are forecast. People and teams are important collaborators. We are preparing the data infrastructure. Lessons learned:  We know what to do, data drives policy, mental health is important, vaccines are safe and build on decades of research, and be confident,  

by Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D.  @2021 copyright.  All rights reserved. 

Innovation as a Strategy for Success

This is a time of great need. It's a time of great innovation. But what is innovation? defines it as something new or different. The act of introducing new things, devices, or methods. Novelty.
Influential scholar Everett Rogers, author of the classic Diffusion of Innovations book, defines innovation as "An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption."

Why is Innovation Important?

A particular innovation alone is not enough. It needs to solve a problem or provide value. When implemented successfully, the new or novel idea delivers efficiencies, quality of life, productivity, growth, income, and/or other rewards to society and the economy. Organizations, whether they be governments, non-profit organizations, or for-profit corporations, thrive based on innovation.

The best innovation in the world is worthless if it sits on the buyer's shelf unused or, worse yet, if it sits in your garage unsold collecting dust. To make an impact and produce results, your innovations must be successfully introduced and implemented in the workplace, marketplace, and world. How do you do this?

Using the principles from my research and books, here are Practical Pointers for Innovation using my last Chief Information Officer (CIO) position as a case study.


Jim Collins, author of the best selling book Good to Great, believes that "Core values are not something people buy into. People must be predisposed to holding them." In his Mars exercise Collins explains, "One way to identify your organization's authentic core values is to form what I call the Mars group. Imagine you've been asked to recreate the very best attributes of your organization on another planet, but you only have seats on the rocketship for five to seven people. Who would you send?" Answer: a powerful, credible group that does a super job of articulating the core values precisely because they are exemplars of those values.

When I was appointed State of Colorado CIO, I led the executive team through the Mars exercise in order to discern the core values of the Governor's Office of Information Technology. In addition to five previously articulated values OIT had been living (Service, Integrity, Team Work, Respect, and Courage), we discovered that Innovation was another key, shared value. It was always there. It just needed to be articulated and honored.

We defined this value as, "Innovation: We foster new ideas. We challenge the status quo and continuously ask, How can we do this better? Then we take action and make a difference through novel processes and technology."

The intersection of values and gifts (or talents) describes what you are passionate about. Passion, intense enthusiasm, zeal, fervor, and interest determine how effectively you pursue purpose.


At OIT we next ran a strategic planning process. We conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. We did a thorough assessment of what was and was not working. Once the values were clarified, we drafted our Mission ("Together we enhance the lives of all Coloradans") and Vision ("Be the best public service technology organization innovating today for tomorrow").

Stay tuned. We'll continue with additional Practical Pointers for nurturing innovation next time. Using the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose framework, we'll show how to align passion with a meaningful purpose and then pursue it persistently. Innovation as a pursuit of passionate purpose delivers great rewards.


With a clear approach, innovation can be nurtured and implemented. Innovation will positively impact public and private sector organizations and help build a stronger state, nation, and world. Strategy based on innovation delivers extraordinary results.  Establish an innovation culture with the right core values, vision, and mission.

What's Next

In the meantime, I'm seeking the right organization to make an even bigger innovative and meaningful impact through the right C-level position and/or board seats in the private or public sector.

Colorado Announces 2019 Girls Go CyberStart Program

Lt. Gov. Primavera and Office of Information Technology announce 2019 Girls Go CyberStart Program

Over $200,000 in scholarships will be awarded to high school girls

The State of Colorado is again partnering with the SANS Institute to offer the Girls Go CyberStart program and encouraging high school students across the state to participate. In 2018, 250 students from 24 high schools in Colorado participated in the girls-only online cybersecurity competition through which prizes and scholarships are awarded. Students and schools can learn more and register at

“Women are underrepresented in the tech and cybersecurity industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. “We hope this fun challenge will encourage more young women to test their skills and explore opportunities in this field.”

The Girls Go CyberStart game is an online series of challenges that allow students to act as cyber protection agents to solve realistic problems and puzzles and explore exciting, relevant topics, such as cryptography and digital forensics. Participating students (and their teachers) do not need prior knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to participate. All that is required is a computer and an internet connection.

“Cybersecurity is a fascinating and ever-evolving field,” explained Dr. Theresa M. Szczurek, Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology. “I encourage young Colorado women to participate in Girls Go CyberStart and uncover a passion for information technology, because cyber experts are in great demand.”

The Girls Go CyberStart program is free for schools and students. As an added incentive for this year’s program, another $200,000 in college scholarship money will be awarded to high school juniors and seniors who perform well in the game. At least ten high school girls in Colorado will win scholarships, and the top three high schools in Colorado with the most participants will win awards of $1,000, $750, and $500, respectively.

All Colorado high school girls in grades 9 to 12 are invited to play. Registration opens February 18. Play begins on March 20.

About the Governor’s Office of Information Technology

The Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT) is a dynamic organization responsible for the operation and delivery of information and communications technology services and driving innovation across Executive Branch agencies in the State of Colorado. OIT delivers smart technology solutions, provides quality customer service, and supports state agencies whose missions are critical to serving Coloradans. OIT oversees technology initiatives at the state level and recommends strategies to maximize efficiencies and offer cost-effective services through the application of enterprise technology solutions. The Office’s enterprise approach also enables the agile delivery of new applications to state agencies that improve the overall customer experience and citizen access to government services while increasing accountability and transparency.

OIT is also home to the Office of Information Security and the Colorado Broadband Office, and manages the Public Safety Communications Network which includes the Digital Trunked Radio System, a statewide wireless system that enables direct communications between first responders and agencies.

Find OIT online at, and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About Girls Go CyberStart

Girls Go CyberStart is an extracurricular learning competition for high school girls, designed to ensure that many more young women enter the cyber security profession in the coming years.

NBC News published an in-depth analysis of the 2018 Girls Go CyberStart program that is available at

Student testimonials can be found here:

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 60 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates a practitioner's qualifications via over 30 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers master's degrees in cyber security. SANS offers a myriad of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system--the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community. (

Six Steps to Creating the Life Your Want

Assess and Plan

What time is it? Now is the time. If not now, when?

Think back to one year ago. You were on the verge of ending the year. Perhaps you were finishing up loose ends. You were on the cusp of starting a fresh New Year. Was the year all that you dreamed and wished? Why? Why not?

One thing is for sure — the year flew by more quickly than expected. Each month, week, and day had great potential. Did you achieve what you wanted? This New Year has 365 precious days, days that you can choose to live life to the fullest or not.

As we end one year and transition to the new one, here are a few things to do.

Six Steps to Creating the Life Your Want

ASSESS. What were your goals? How did you do in attaining them? Looking back, what would you change / release / purge if you could? Don't over analyze this. Just let it flow. Write it down.
CONNECT. Ask for feedback. What people whom you respect can provide you with valuable insights on your last year? Give them a call. Or if they're not reachable, ask yourself what would that person say to me? Is this what you need to hear?
GO DEEP. Inside each of us are seven chakra centers. Many people believe, including the Native Americans, that there is a symbolic power animal associated with each chakra and it has great wisdom. Get to know your animals through a meditation and invite them to share their wisdom with you. What do they tell you about your last year and about priorities for the New Year?
PREPARE. Gather all the insights from within and outside yourself. Put them in the back of your mind. Sleep on them. Meditate and let them percolate. Pray and ask for guidance. Take notes. Let a new understanding emerge.
ENVISION. See yourself living the New Year and standing at year's end. What does your vision look like? How does it feel to you to fulfill it?
PLAN. When you are ready and with your vision in mind, put together a list of your top 3-5 areas of focus to attain your vision. What do you need to do to bridge the gap from where you are now to where you want to go? Create a written list of the steps in your plan. What is a word or simple phrase that encapsulates its theme?


The time is now to create the life you want. Don't wait. Assess, connect, go deep, prepare, envision, and plan. Then as Lao Tzu says, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Take that first step.


Theresa Szczurek (,,

all rights reserved.  Copyright 2016 Theresa Szczurek


ENERGIZE: How to Live to Be 100

Passionate pursuers, those people who find and successfully pursue their purpose to reap the real rewards of life, increase, focus, and use energy. Ask yourself,' do I have the energy to do what I need to do?'




My theme in 2015 is “Be a SUNFLOWER.”  Each letter of the word aligns with one of the traits of successful Passionate Pursuers.  E stands for Energy..  From page 52 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, “The capacity to do work--energy--is a habit of vigorous activity and forceful expression.  Your head, heart, and hands are your energy centers.  There are simple ways to increase your energy levels.  David Hawkins, MD, PhD, explains in Power vs.  Force:  The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior that energy levels can be calibrated into a map of consciousness.  Low energy levels manifest as shame, guilt. grief, and fear.  Courage, acceptance, love, and enlightenment align with high energy levels.  Positive jumps in energy are possible through intention, will, choice, and motivation.  Many spiritual disciplines of the world are interested in approaches to ascend these levels. ”


Seven Practical Pointers to Increase, Focus, and Use Energy

  1. Be Aware.  The first step toward increasing the strength of your energy is being aware of what energizes you.  Note what makes you feel alive, engaged, and energized and what does not.


  1. Build.  Intentionally nurture and build your positive, energizing forces.  Do more of what makes you feel energized and do less of what zaps your energy.  Say NO to zappers and distractions.  Say YES to energizers.  Be good to yourself.


  1. Meditate.  Hawkins notes that one technique to increase energy levels is meditation.  It also increases your ability to focus and concentration. Do you have a regular practice?  Even one minute each day is infinitely better than no minutes.  Find a teacher or a support group.  Improve your meditation posture.


  1. Surround Yourself with Energizers.  Ask yourself, 'what people energize me?'  Spend time with those supporters that provide encouragement and external validation.  As Kit Fox summarizes in the article "How to live to be 100 (or pretty damn close) in Men's Fitness, "Finding a healthy partner could actually save your life.  University College London researchers studied 3,722 couples and found that 67% of men became more physically active if their partner was." Smiling is an energizer! 


  1. Sleep More.  After decades of burning the candle at both ends, and surviving on 5 hours of sleep / night, I realized the price I was paying because sleep is important,  Not only does it feel good, sleep improves your cognitive and physical abilities.  It gives you energy.  For an even bigger energizer, try jumping out of bed in the morning, clapping your hands,  and saying, "I feel energized.  Today is a great day."


  1. Move More.  Exercise, even just a 20-minute walk, increases your stress robustness and resilience.  It provides a source of energy.  Ask yourself what movement works best for you? Using energy creates more energy.  Too much media zaps energy too -- turn off the TV, smart device, or computer, get off the couch, and move!  While you are at it, breath.  Oxygen is an energizer.


  1. Eat Well.  There are certain foods that zap energy.  Fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits are energizers. Pure, clean water energizes -- are you drinking enough water per day?  Too much fat, salt, and sugar reduces your energy.  Fake sugar zaps energy.  Too much food in general reduces energy -- do you have the ability to stop eating when you are full?  Be aware of what works best for you.  When did you last have your blood tested?  Make sure you have enough iron and other important elements are in balance.




People who find and successfully pursue their purpose are energetic.  They have tremendous energy and know how to increase, focus, and use that energy.  What are you doing to increase your energy? Start now.


Theresa M. Szczurek (,,

copyright 2015 Theresa Szczurek.  All rights reserved.


We call it the 100-year flood. Others are calling it the 1000-year rain. Northern Colorado, and especially Boulder County, was hit hard. What started as an exceptionally warm and dry month of September became the wettest month in Colorado history. The National Weather Service recorded rainfall amounts exceeding 8 inches in Boulder on September 12, and amounts exceeding 4 inches the next day. The result: four dead in Boulder County, hundreds of homes destroyed, thousands of homes damaged, thousands of people displaced, and millions of dollars in damage to roads and bridges. Another result was that people learned profound lessons.


  • Prioritize. This flood has given the opportunity to question: What are the important things in life? What are your priorities? Take a look at what is most meaningful to you. Discern your values.
  • Pivot. Be open to change. Many a mountain river or creek totally changed its course as its overflowing water sought the fastest way to escape downhill and carved a new path. Some roads and bridges were washed out as a result and now the civil engineers are contemplating how to rebuild inline with the new course. What pivots can you take that will help you go with the flow?
  • Prepare. Our home had just a little water that came in the basement through a window well; many of our neighbors were flooded badly with basements requiring complete do-overs. Was this luck? I call it preparation. The first owner of our house experienced a small flood soon after taking ownership; he took appropriate action which served us well even today. He brought in experts and did what the builder should have done knowing the location of this house close to downhill water drainage. The experts put in a French drain which was buried around the foundation wall on the external side of the foundation, an exterior sump pump, and alarm should the system encounter more water than it could handle. We also had our back-up pump on hand. Oprah Winfrey reminds us, “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” What preparation can you do now so that you can create better luck in your business and personal life?
  • Take Action. When opportunity or disaster hits, make a decision on how to respond and then act. Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great and co-author of the new book Great by Choice, states “Luck, good and bad, happens to everyone, whether we like it or not. When we look at 10xers [companies that are 10 times more successful than expected] we see people who recognize luck and seize it, leaders who grab lucky events and make much more of them.” Take advantage of the circumstances. For example, the alarm went off from our sump pump at midnight September 11 and we were able to take immediate action for the next few hours when 10 inches of water had filled one of our basement window wells. What action should you take now with your business and life?
  • Surround Yourself with Proper People. Since our house was in good shape, we and many other neighbors spent the next few days helping others divert water flow, siphon water out of precarious ponds that was collecting next to houses, give encouragement, pump water out of basements, and remove damaged goods. The next morning when we got to the house of one neighbor, who was away traveling, we found that their sump pump, improperly installed, was pumping water INTO the basement. By cutting off their power, we were able to stop more damage. There are hundreds of cases where neighbors came to the rescue. Less than a mile from our house, a mud slide without warning hit a house perched on the side of a hill. The wife got out before the house collapsed, but the husband who went in the basement to grab his computer backup drive was trapped. 911 could not respond quickly enough because they were overwhelmed with other calls. The woman found neighbors to immediately come over with jack saws and other tools to save the man. Two blocks from our house a fire fighter driving to work down a road that had turned into a river, helped a man climb to safety. The man was hanging on for dear life to a tree as he tried to escape from his car. They then came back with more neighbors and saved a woman in the car. Two teenagers from that same car were swept away to their death. As Jim Collins would say, “Do you have the right people on your bus?” If not, with whom should you surround yourself?

SUMMARY. The 100-year flood is hopefully a once in a life-time event. It brings an opportunity to ask, “Are you living the life you want? If not, prioritize, pivot, prepare, take action, and surround with proper people. Life is short. Follow your heart, in harmony with your head and hands. Live your passion. Enjoy the process. Begin now!

Theresa M. Szczurek (; www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose;

Ten Tips To Go Beyond Stress to Happiness and Productivity

If you at times feel stressed out and overwhelmed, you are not alone. As highlighted in Greg Easterbrook’s book The Progress Paradox:  How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse,  “Stress is the dirty secret of success:  as life gets better than ever, people are feeling worse.”  The result is negative for the workplace and home life.  Here’s what to do about it.


Impact of Stress.


“In the short-term, acute stress can boost cardiovascular performance.  If the stress is not too severe, the brain performs better.  Its owner can solve problems more effectively and is more likely to retain information.  If the stress is too severe or too prolonged, however, stress begins to harm learning.  Stressed people do not do math well, don’t process language very efficiently, and can’t concentrate.  Stress attacks the immune systems, elevates book pressure, and can cause depression, which alters the ability to think. Stress causes companies to lose between $200B and $300B a year – as much as $75B of red ink a quarter,” summarized Dr. John Medina, author of the New York Times bestseller Brainrules.  “The perfect storm of occupational stress appears to be a combination of two malignant facts:  a) a great deal is expected of you and b) you have no control over whether you will perform well.” 


Easterbrook states, “Research also shows that those who enjoy career success and exhibit stress symptoms are twice as likely as the population at large to describe themselves as ‘very unhappy.’  That the stressed-out are likely to be unhappy is a warning sign, because stress, measured either by emotional state or by cortisol (i.e., stress hormone) levels is rising in society.” 


Ten Practical Pointers:  What Can We Do to Reduce Stress?


These suggestions to move to a healthy level of stress include both short-term lifestyle changes as well as longer-term goals.


  1. Exercise.  Engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.  Medina’s Brainrule #1 is ‘exercise boosts brain power.’


  1. Turn off TV / media.  Media presents us with information to worry about.  Bad news sells.  There are then even more entries on your list of worries, activating more stress.  Zac Bissonnette presents five things every high-school graduate should try to remember (these apply to people in general) in his 5/22/2011 article in the Denver Post Wall Street Journal Sunday article and “No 5:  TV makes you feel poor.  One of the fastest ways to make yourself better with money is to smash your television—or just watch it less.”


  1. Meditate.  Stop and be in this moment.  Meditation, which involves observing what is and then accepting it, brings tangible results of improved concentration, energy, relaxation, and more positive emotions.  Andrew Weil, MD, reports, “Meditation may not only make you happier, but also keep you healthier.  It can benefit health concerns ranging from stress and anxiety to atherosclerosis and chronic pain.” 


  1. Connect.  Use the “Connections Strategy” described in Chapter 11 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose to surround yourself with positive people who care about you.   Be part of the interconnected web of life and connect with your true self as well as spiritual sources and other beings such as animals – your stress level will be more manageable.  Get in nature.  Open to grace also called serendipity, synchronicity, divine intervention, intuition, or random opportunity.


  1. Sleep.  Brainrules #7:  Sleep well, think well.  Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.  Since reading Medina’s book, I have started sleeping more, rather than working late into the night.  The result is very positive.  Try it.


  1. Divide and Conquer.  You don’t have to do everything on your plate now.  Use the “Persistence Strategy” described in Chapter 9 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose to mindfully persevere with focused determination using a divide-and-conquer tactic.  Rather than being overwhelmed with a huge project, divide your purpose into parts, focus your attention, and choose to accomplish a small section well.  This increases the likelihood you will get a sense of choice, competency, and progress.  These three attributes build intrinsic motivation, which build passion and more desire to continue.


  1. Enjoy the Journey.  Tap into life as a river flowing. Laugh at yourself and the situation, if possible. Have a playful attitude. Take a break.


  1. Be Grateful. Have gratitude for what you have, rather than regret over what you don’t have.  Change your attitude.


  1. Cut Debt.  The burden of debt and finances run amuck can be very stressful. Whether you are managing a business or your family, live within your means.  Cut your expenditures and cash flow.  Avoid debt and payoff whatever debt you have.  Bissonnette’s No. 1 recommendation:  Debt is slavery. 


  1. Review Your Long-term Goals.  What do you really want with your life?  Are you living the life you want?  If not, consider modifying your plans.  Perhaps the job and life anxiety is not worth what you are gaining.  How can you establish reasonable expectations of what is expected of you and gain more control over producing the end result? Should you slow the hectic pace and not buy into the societal rat race? “Lives of thrift and conscientiousness lead to less stress, great enjoyment of the things we do have, and a lighter carbon footprint, “ says Bissonnette in his recommendation No. 4:  Materialism is misery.


Radish Case Study.


Yes, Radish, as any entrepreneurial venture, is at times stressful.  So much to do, so little time.  Lots of responsibility, little control.  Increasing expenses, limited cash flow.  What do I do as CEO to reduce the stress?  All of the 10 tips above.  Additionally, I work to attract a talented team of people who can help us make progress.  Radish just announced hiring outstanding industry talent:  Tom Colamonico, VP of Sales; Jackie McDonald, Director of Customer Care; and John Meteer, Channel Sales Manager.  Read more at




Some stress boosts performance.  Too much stress negatively impacts. Take action now to reduce your and your employees’ stress to the right level.  You and your people will be more happy and productive in both the short-term and the long-term.


Theresa M. Szczurek (,,


When David Davenport was in high school, he discovered something that changed his life—he was good at math and science and enjoyed solving real-world problems with these tools.  This insight came as a result of participating in Colorado MESA.  Now an IBM engineer, David also became chairperson for the Denver chapter of National Society of Black Engineers. 


The Need.

If Colorado is to maintain its high-tech edge, it needs a properly trained and motivated work force prepared to pursue the passionate purpose of innovation creation. What people, employers, and the state need are MESAs—programs which encourage students to reach their potential in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  Education and support are the answers.


What is MESA?

Colorado MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) is a state-wide pre-college program that provides after school math- and science-based learning activities to over 3,600 preK-12 students(in 2009), over 78% of whom are from ethnic and gender groups that are under represented in engineering career fields.  Founded in 1980 as a part of the non-profit Colorado Minorities Engineering Association (CMEA), MESA's mission is to increase the numbers of economically disadvantaged and at risk students who graduate from high school fully prepared for post secondary education in math- and science-based fields. 


MESA model works!

MESA after-school programs engage students in hands-on inquiry based projects such as designing mousetrap-powered vehicles, wind turbines, and robots.  MESA advisors, usually math/science teachers along with university student mentors and practicing engineers, help students discover relevant math/science principles necessary to achieve success with their project.  Local, state, and national engineering-based competitions provide additional motivation to keep students involved.


The state MESA office at the University of Colorado Denver provides advisor training, program materials, and academic resources.  MESA Centers at CU and CSU in provide stimulating project-based curriculum, career speakers, and roles models.  Field trips to business sites, colleges, science fairs, and engineering-based competitions excite students about career opportunities.  Parents are critical supporters.


MESA in Colorado.

MESA works with 156 schools in 24 school districts throughout the state in collaboration with eight universities/colleges.  Michele Towers, MESA Center Director at CU-Boulder ([email protected]), supports Boulder, Jefferson, Denver and Arapahoe counties.  The CSU Center in Fort Collins oversees northern Colorado including Larimer, Weld, and Adams counties.


While MESA has taken root in Longmont and other Weld County communities, more schools can participate. For example, programs exist at Angevine Middle in Boulder, Centaurus High in Lafayette, and Broomfield High.  Boulder County needs champions to start more programs.


How Businesses Benefit and Are Involved.

Companies are looking to hire a qualified high-tech workforce. Matthew Smith, an executive from United Launch Alliance ( a MESA sponsor, said, "The average age of the United Launch Alliance workforce today is 47. As more of our workers retire over the next 10 years, we need qualified graduates.  That is why we sponsor MESA."


Colorado MESA currently receives no state funding.  Support comes from community and corporate organizations such as The Denver Foundation, Lockheed Martin, The Daniels Fund, Xcel Energy, Ball Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, and others. 


MESA Delivers Results. 

At a time when Colorado needs a highly-skilled, technical workforce, MESA allows qualified students to enter the workforce pipeline and it does it for under $125 per student per year.


100% of MESA seniors graduate from high school and historically, more than 90% have enrolled in college with over 80% enrolling in a math/science related major.  Approximately 85% of MESA students are from families in the low-to-moderate income bracket.  Approximately 50% are from ethnic groups underrepresented in math-based careers. 


“Every experience and memory I got from the MESA club will always live with me.  I owe a lot to the MESA club, because without it, I would never had these incredible experiences,” says Ernesto Chairez, graduate from Career Education Center in Longmont, attending CU- Boulder in the Fall 2009 majoring in Aerospace Engineering. 


How You Can Get Involved?

·     Help the kids in your life learn to love mathematics and science.

·     Ask your schools to sponsor a MESA program. 

·     Volunteer, make a donation, become a sponsor, create an internship or scholarship. 

·     Become a sponsor or volunteer for the October 15-16 MESA Fall Fling at CSU-Fort Collins.  Around 250 MESA high school students will taste university life, gain valuable academic, financial aid, and career information, and participate in Boat Building and Wind Energy engineering competitions. Learn more at


Do you have MESA in your business or life?  Like David Davenport, who continues to champion multicultural engineering programs, support MESA and help build a stronger high-tech workforce.


Theresa M. Szczurek ( and


Copyright © 2009 Theresa M. Szczurek. All Rights Reserved.


WOW!  Today while participating in the MESA awards breakfast in Denver, I saw encouragement for "Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement" among middle schoolers and high schoolers from across the country. MESA,, brought these kids, mostly minority and female teens, together with a meaningful purpose. This is what our country needs -- a young generation prepared to pursue a passionate purpose of innovation creation. Education is the answer. Here's how and why you can support this effort. 

I think back on my own experience in high school -- what a program like MESA would have done for me and many other students.  Even though I loved math and science there was no practical forum to put these skills to use to solve real world problems and to learn about career options. There was no one to encourage me to pursue a career in engineering. Not knowing exactly what I would do with it, I did pursue a degree in Mathematics.  Good fortune and a connection through a friend brought me to my first job out of college as a Member of Technical Staff with Bell Telephone Laboratories. This changed my life.  What more people need are MESAs -- programs which encourage you to reach your potential.

Companies are looking to hire qualified engineers. Matthew Smith, an executive from United Launch Alliance ( one of MESA's sponsors said, "The average age of the United Launch Alliance workforce today is 47. As more of our workers retire over the next 10 years, we need more qualified graduates.  That is why we sponsor MESA."

The program is designed to encourage minority and female students to prepare themselves for a college education and to major in mathematics, engineering or science.  MESA's mission is to increase the numbers of economically disadvantaged and at risk students who graduate from high school fully prepared for post secondary education in engineering, mathematics, science, computer science, business, and other math- and science-based fields.

What are you doing to help others to get educated in math, engineering and science?  Here are some PRACTICAL POINTERS on you can do:

  • Help the kids in your life learn to love mathematics. Encourage them. Show them that math and science are fun.
  • Ask your middle and high schools to sponsor a MESA program.  If your state does not have MESA, ask why not?
  • Volunteer, make a donation, become a sponsor, or create an internship.  Learn more at

Did you or do you have MESA in your life?  Help create one today so you and others can successfully pursue passionate purpose.

Theresa Szczurek ( and


With the historical inauguration on 1/20/2009, record numbers of Americans and citizens of the world paused to listen. President Obama's message ignited millions of people. Many were moved to tears or felt goose bumps and tingles up their spine. Why?

As summarized in the Denver Post on 1/21/09, "The president's much-anticipated inaugural speech fused inspirational rhetoric with pragmatic goals aimed at compelling Americans to act while reassuring them that the country can rise to the occasion." The inaugural address tapped into a ancient, universal and sacred process that has been proven to help people produce extraordinary results -- the results needed by America and the world. Here is an overview of how Obama's message utilized the four-step process, called the "Pursuit of Passionate Purpose" process (, to inspire hope, courage, and action.

Assess Progress.

Obama honestly assessed the current situation, "We are in the midst of a crisis..our nation is at war...our economy is badly weakened...our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and ... the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land--a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable and that the next generation must lower its sights. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met." Built from this honest assessment, the new president then reaffirmed our passion, connected it with our purpose, and established a clear plan of action to pursue.

Find Passion.

Passion is the fuel of any pursuit. It is found in the alignment of values with core competencies. Obama restated what we stand for, "We're guided on a path by core values and what our system stands for. Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true."

Our core competencies are many as Obama explains, "It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are...productive. Our minds are...inventive, our goods and services...needed. Our capacity remains undiminished." Obama also stated, "Our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth."

Align Passion with Purpose.

Passion alone is aimless, it must be aligned with a meaningful purpose. As Victor Frankl concludes in Man's Search For Meaning, "There is a human need for purpose." Obama connected our values and gifts, our passion, with a noble purpose, "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit,... to carry forward that noble idea that ...all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. We understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. The success of our economy depends not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on our abiity to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity -- but because it is the surest route to our common good. " Thus, our passionate purpose is to continue the journey toward freedom, greatness and common good.

Pursue Purpose.

In setting a plan with clear goals, the new president encouraged right action, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America." Highlighting some of the key strategic initiatives in his plan of action, the president stated, "The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and
  • We will act--not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth...

  • We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.

  • We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

  • We will transform our schools and colleages and universities to meet thedemands of a new age."

Obama continues:

  • "We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.

  • We will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

  • Those who manage the public's dollar will be held to account--to spend wisely, reform bad habits and do our business in the light of day."

Having a plan is not enough. It takes courage and action to pursue it. Obama charged Americans to pursue this passionate purpose and in so doing reap the real rewards of meaning and satisfaction, "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility--a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

And so President Obama on this historic inauguration inspired Americans and the world to 'Believe and Act' and in so doing continue to bring forth the great gift of freedom.

Theresa M. Szczurek ( and