Incoming Colorado Mountain College foundation CEO ‘inspired’ by opportunity
Eagle resident Matt Spencer said he is excited and inspired by his newest opportunity: as the next chief executive officer of the Colorado Mountain College Foundation.”Matt is the right person to help Colorado Mountain College move to the next level of academic achievement as we seek to offer selected four-year degrees,” said Jon Warnick, CMC Foundation Board president. “He is young, bright and aggressive and will bring new ideas to the foundation.”Spencer starts July 12 at the college’s foundation, replacing retiring CEO Alexandra Yajko. He was selected for the position following a nationwide search.In his new position, he will head up the college’s fund-raising affiliate. The CMC Foundation administers approximately 90 privately funded scholarships and provides fund-raising support for capital and other projects of the college. To date, the foundation has raised more than $34 million to assist the college and its students.Spencer has served three and a half years as the director and then vice president of membership and development at the Vail Valley Foundation, where he supervised a staff of six. The well-respected foundation supports educational, athletic and cultural endeavors.Spencer said his outreach at Colorado Mountain College will focus on letting others know that the college is a resource for all community members. Not only does the comprehensive community college award occupational certificates and associate degrees, it also offers adult basic education, lifelong learning and customized business training. The college prepares Colorado’s workforce through apprenticeships, internships and experiential learning, and works with local school districts to offer concurrent enrollment for high school students.In addition, now that the state legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter have permitted Colorado Mountain College to also offer up to five bachelor’s degrees, college administrators are seeking that accreditation in the hopes of starting to offer the first of those degrees by the fall of 2011.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the different communities in which there are Colorado Mountain College campuses,” Spencer said. He will be based at the college’s central administrative offices in Glenwood Springs, but as with other senior administrators there, will spend extensive time throughout the college’s 12,000-square-mile service area.A native of a small town in Washington, Spencer earned a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Oregon with a major in international studies and a minor in Spanish. He played two years of football as a wide receiver at Willamette and was named “Freshman of the Year” on the school’s conference-winning team in 1995.Spencer left football behind so that he could study abroad in Ecuador and Cuba. “I had to choose between holding onto those high school dreams and getting out of my comfort zone to explore the world and my interests in Latin American culture,” Spencer recalled. “My semester in Ecuador, which included travels by bus and backpack around the county and into Colombia, was probably my most life-changing experience until becoming a dad in October 2008.”The college athlete completed a Master of Science degree in sport organization from Miami University in Ohio in 2001. While in graduate school, he thought he would combine his interest in sports and international studies by working with Latin American players in major league baseball. Instead, he found his professional niche in fundraising while serving as a graduate assistant with Miami University’s Red & White Club, which supports athletic scholarships.He later worked in development, with a focus on annual giving, planned giving, leadership gifts and capital campaign management for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation in Illinois and for the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.When he is not working, Spencer enjoys spending time with his wife of almost 10 years, Natanee, and playing and taking walks with their young son, Talon. Spencer also calls himself a “golfing and snowboarding addict,” an active lifestyle that fits the bill for a leader at the college located in 11 towns on Colorado’s Western Slope.
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