Meet the 2017 Ph.D. Cohort!

SPA welcomed eight new students into the Ph.D. program on Aug. 17, 2017. You can read more about their backgrounds in the brief bios below. We wish them the best of luck in their studies!

2017 PhD Cohort

Pictured L to R: Kristin Wegner, Stephanie Bultema, Sojeong Kim, Alex Osei-Kojo,
Jeff Burton, Jason Robinson, Laura Wolton and Jacob Herrera.

Kristin Wegner
Kristin has nearly 15 years of experience leading international community-based environmental projects. Since 2012, Kristin has worked as a project manager at The GLOBE Implementation Office, a NASA-supported international science education program in 117 countries, based out of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. She manages national and international partnerships, leads community-based citizen science environmental monitoring projects, and conducts professional development for scientists and educators related to climate change communication, STEM equity, and community-driven, place-based education approaches. Kristin has a B.S. in environmental engineering from Purdue University, an M.A. in environmental leadership from Naropa University, and studied at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Kristin served as an Environmental Awareness Education Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 2004-2007.

Stephanie Bultema
Stephanie has served as a public health professional since 2010 and has worked and volunteered for numerous nonprofit organizations in the health, education, and environmental sectors. Through her current position as an epidemiologist with Spokane Regional Health District’s Data Center, Stephanie has worked with dozens of public, health care, and community-based organizations on a wide range of community assessment, planning, and evaluation projects. Recent projects include conducting health systems studies for Eastern Washington’s Accountable Community of Health organization, providing a wide range of data management, continuous improvement, and performance management services for Spokane County United Way’s education-focused collective impact initiative, and conducting comprehensive, multi-year program evaluations for the region’s largest food distribution center. From 2015-2017, Stephanie served as president of the School Health Care Association of Spokane County and as a member of Communities in Schools of Spokane County’s board of directors. She has extensive experience in: end-to-end project management; leading nonprofit governing boards; program planning and evaluation; continuous quality improvement; performance management; designing and conducting network studies; survey development, implementation, and analysis; and conducting focus groups and key-informant interviews. Stephanie earned a B.A. in English writing and an M.A. in administrative leadership from Whitworth University.

Sojeong Kim
Before joining the Ph.D. program, Sojeong worked as a research assistant at the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. She also served as a research assistant at the National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) conducting research on forest policies related to people’s welfare. She is particularly interested in how policies impact society in environmental, social, and economic ways. She earned her B.A. in economics at Ajou University, and an MPP at KDI School of Public Policy and Management in South Korea.

Alex Osei-Kojo
Currently an assistant lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management (DPAHSM) at the University of Ghana Business School since January 2015, Alex previously worked as a teaching assistant in the same department and a research assistant at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), a research and governance think tank in Ghana. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration, all from the University of Ghana. He is presently teaching undergraduate public administration courses including Democracy and Policy Making; Political Setting of Public Administration; and Public Administration in the DPAHSM. He locates his research in the broad areas of public management and natural resource management examining topics such as e-government, public sector innovation, co-production, collaborative governance and stakeholder engagement, implementation of mining laws and political economy of mining respectively. His publications have featured in journals including: Resources, Journal of Public Affairs, African Journal of Public Affairs, Administratio Publica and Sage Open. Alex has also participated in several international research workshops and conferences in Norway, Hong Kong and South Africa, with the most recent ones being the 21st International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) conference in Budapest in April 2017 and the 14th Development Dialogue Conference in The Hague, in November 2016.   For leisure, Alex likes to listen to music (classical and hymns), bike, and go on nature walks.

Jeff Burton
Jeff brings over 15 years of experience as a senior leader and director of real estate asset management entities, with direct responsibility for affordable housing oversight activities in both the public and private sectors. A native of Wyoming, Jeff honorably served seven years with the U.S. Navy before beginning his housing career. As the President and Founder of American Dream Development (ADA), Jeff focused on building and developing affordable housing in rural communities, specifically those impacted by Dept. of Defense Base Realignment and Closure. Over a three-year period, the organization developed more than $6 million of affordable housing units. Jeff’s company was chosen from numerous contractors to participate on Extreme Makeover Home Edition: Chapman, KS. ADA donated materials, helped construct a new home for an injured veteran and his family, and even rebuilt sections of town devastated by a F5 tornado. An accomplished writer and dynamic public speaker, Jeff has written articles for: Developer Magazine, Professional Builder and Military Family Magazine. He has been an invited speaker at a number of conferences, including: National Non-Profit Roundtables, Colorado Housing Now, the Colorado Mortgage Banker’s conference, and the U.S. Army Housing Academy. He is now the Director of the Program Support Division at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is directly responsible for the determination and prioritization of more than 45 key HUD stakeholders (internal and external), the development and sustainment of those relationships by more than 175 HUD employees, and the oversight of all joint activities. He is also responsible for the promotion and edification of stakeholders to promote operational strength and community engagement through the provision of federally funded and directed services.

Jason Robinson
Jason has been with the University of Colorado Denver for the last 11 years in a number of administrative roles and has been part of the CU family, on and off, since 1990. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business with a B.S. in business administration and has a Master’s degree in political science from the Center for New Directions in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Colorado Denver. Jason’s professional background is extremely diverse, crossing over from the public sector to the private and back. Over the last two decades he has worked for multiple nonprofits (Colorado Special Olympics, The National Football Foundation), helped launch a few start-ups (,, Aspire All-Natural) and is currently the Director of K-12 Outreach for CU Denver. He is the father of three children: Alexis 19, Grayson 11, and Kai 8. He is an avid outdoor hobbyist, a member of the 1990 University of Colorado Football National Championship team, an amateur home remodeler, and an old man pick-up basketball enthusiast.   Jason will be expanding his academic and professional career by joining the CU Denver School of Public Affairs Ph.D. program in Fall 2017.

Laura Wolton
Laura wants to live in a world filled with humans that tread lightly but laugh loudly, where clean air is a basic right, and journal articles allow you to choose your own adventure. As a consultant, Laura assists clients in the preparation of climate change and renewable energy policy documents. She holds degrees in marine science (B.S., Texas A&M at Galveston), astrophysical, planetary and atmospheric sciences (M.S., University of Colorado), and a graduate certificate in science and technology policy (University of Colorado). Her background as an air quality scientist at NOAA and climate modeler at NASA prepared her to provide research support, data analysis and visualization, and technical writing services to clients. Laura’s career shift into policy reflects a desire to use science to increase equity and quality of life for the inhabitants of this spinning oblate spheroid. When she’s not analyzing air data, you can find Laura speaking at Toastmasters, playing in a flute quartet, doodling whiteboard videos, or training her dog to stay away from the throw pillows.

Jacob Herrera
Jacob has been a Denver Police Officer for ten years, and is currently in an investigative assignment. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in political science and has a master’s degree in criminology from Regis University.  Jacob will come to the SPA program hoping to specialize in criminal justice, and police legitimacy in particular. Most importantly, Jacob has a wonderfully supportive wife, Sherikera, and a two-year-old son, Christian, who is a source of absolute joy. He really looks forward to meeting new people in the program and learning how to conduct academic research.

Categories: Students

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