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Lori Herrera, alumna and new MSU Denver Foundation CFOO, is motivated by numbers she doesn’t like.

By Doug McPherson

March 12, 2020

Lori HerreraWhen Lori Herrera was a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver in the 1990s, she expected to travel the world as a pilot. Her first love – and major – was aviation. After shifting her academic focus to finance and accounting, however, Herrera had opportunities to work for great organizations and still explore the globe. 

Now, she’s returned to her alma mater as chief financial and operating officer of the MSU Denver Foundation and University Advancement.

“I feel a high level of nostalgia and anticipation to be back,” Herrera said. “I’ve always loved the diversity and the urban setting, and I know I received a world-class education here.” 

She also feels at home at MSU Denver, and for good reason. Her mother and brother are also alumni, her niece is a few credits from graduation, and now her son is a freshman. 

Still, Herrera never thought she’d return to the campus. She previously worked for more than a decade with the Outdoor Industry Association in Boulder and then transitioned into estate planning and settling. 

In rejoining MSU Denver as an employee, Herrera adopted a full plate and is prepping for growth and looking to improve processes. She plans to tap into the resources of University Advancement, the MSU Denver Foundation and community partners to expand the University’s impact. While she was with the OIA, the organization quadrupled thanks in part to her efforts. “That’s my goal for the MSU Denver Foundation’s endowment,” she said. “I like the number of $100 million – perhaps (we’ll get there) within 10 years.”

Her motivation to reach this goal comes from numbers she doesn’t like. The Bell Policy Center, a public-policy organization, reports that Colorado’s per-student higher-education spending is the fourth-lowest in the nation. “I’ve always been proud to be a Colorado native, but I’m not proud of this number,” Herrera said.

She adds that MSU Denver receives the lowest level of funding among the state’s four public universities, despite serving the highest percentage of Colorado residents, the greatest number of students of color and the most first-generation college students. “The Foundation’s role is to help bridge the gap between our public funding, student tuition and the cost of providing a high-quality education,” she said. 

In response, the Foundation is in the planning stage of a comprehensive campaign to address these issues.

“It’ll take heavy lifting from all aspects of the University to successfully complete the campaign, but I can already tell that it’s possible,” she said. “Every employee can have a hand in spreading the word, donating and lobbying legislators.”

Topics: Advancement, Arrivals and departures, Community, Funding, Hiring

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