Wildfire Participant Stephanie Kelly – “Program Has Pushed Me to Grow Both Personally and Professionally”
March 9, 2016

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been profiling this year’s CUPA-HR Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We hope you’re enjoying getting to know this dynamic group, as we have over the past few months — we think they’re destined for greatness, both in their careers and in CUPA-HR!

We’ve already met Sarah Deitz, Alisha Arnold, Bel Campos and Jaylyn Corna. Here, we’ll meet Stephanie Kelly, as she tells us in her own words about her Wildfire journey.

My name is Stephanie Kelly, and I‘m HR director for the College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado Denver. I have been with the university for almost two-and-a-half years and in this position for almost a year. Prior to my current role, I worked as the HR and payroll coordinator at UC Denver’s business school. Before that, I worked in HR at a nonprofit healthcare organization.

When I joined UC Denver, I quickly realized that working at a university was a completely different animal than working at a nonprofit, so I sought out any learning and growth opportunity available to me in order to try to acclimate and grow my skills. My supervisor at the business school was a wonderful mentor and encouraged me to apply for the Wildfire Program. Shortly after I was accepted into the program, I was given the opportunity to take on the HR director role at the College of Arts and Media. The timing could not have been better, as my move into this position coincided with the start of the Wildfire program.

CUPA-HR and the Wildfire program have been a huge part of helping me to be successful in my new position. Attending the Association Leadership Program and last year’s annual conference were eye-opening and inspiring in a way I could never have imagined. Truly amazing, highly successful HR professionals took the time to get to know the Wildfire participants and impart their invaluable knowledge and experiences to us. Wildfire has exposed me to people and ideas that have pushed me to grow both personally and professionally. My fellow Wildfire participants and I continue to connect regularly and have friendships and professional bonds that I know I will cherish and call upon for many years to come.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and everything that CUPA-HR has done to invest in me and inspire me. I am especially thankful to Ashleigh Dillon (CUPA-HR’s director of member service and HR and Wildfire program liaison) for her vision, organization and encouragement; my mentor, Kevin Fowler (CUPA-HR board member and executive director of HR at Tyler Junior College), who is an incredible wealth of knowledge and advice; and all the other leaders and mentors who have invested so much time and energy into the program.