Celeste Thurman Archer, Executive Director

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Celeste is a constant on the education reform scene. She founded and was volunteer director of Women for Education. In Governor John Hickenlooper's first term as mayor of Denver, he appointed Celeste to the Early Childhood Education Commission.

During a brief stint in Little Rock, Arkansas, Celeste taught at Historic Little Rock Central High School where she was appointed Teacher-Ranger-Teacher by The National Park Service Foundation, serving at The Little Rock Central National Historic Site. She was named by The Clinton Foundation as a Presidential Timeline National Archives Scholar for 2012.

Upon returning to Denver, Celeste founded the Colorado Student Leaders Institute, an affiliate of the National Conference of Governor's Schools. In 2014, Celeste was named a Director for CU Denver National History Day.

Prior to education, Celeste enjoyed a successful career in the fundraising & event planning business. She is married to Shawn Archer. They have a son who is a budding activist and athlete. Celeste received a B.A. in History from Principia College and a M.A. in Secondary Education, specializing in urban students, from The University of Texas.

Kayla Gabehart, Associate Director 

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Kayla is a Colorado Native and grew up on the Eastern Plains. She earned BA degrees in psychology and history, as well as an MA in environmental and economic history from the University of Colorado Denver. She has been with COSLI since its inaugural summer institute.

Kayla is also the Associate Director of National History Day in Colorado, an organization she began volunteering for her freshmen year of college. National History Day sparked her passion for education through non-profit outreach, and she has been working in the field ever since. She believes that the best way to empower young people is to equip them with skills, knowledge, and resources to succeed not just in college, but in the post-secondary world. 

In her free time, Kayla enjoys reading, acrylic painting, hiking, yoga, and spending time with her fiancé and puppy.

Current Boards and Governance

Executive Board:

Brian Yates, Chair.  Aurora Public Schools.

Genia Herndon, Secretary.  University of Colorado Denver.

Carl Einhaus.  Colorado Department of Higher Education.                                       

Rebecca Holmes.  Colorado Education Initiative.

Kristen Waters. Denver Public Schools.

Dean Pamela Jansma, PhD.  University of Colorado Denver.

Marina Kokotovic.  Colorado Department of Education.

Jennifer Hufman.  Dolores Public Schools.

Skip Thurman. DaVita.

Elizabeth Palmquist. EAMP Consulting.

Stephanie Flynn James, PhD, MBA. Regis University.


George Sparks, Chairperson, Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Susan Kiely, Founding Chairperson, Women With a Cause.

Nora Neureiter, Zoeller Consulting.

Rosann Ward, Public Education and Business Coalition.

Susan Miller, Jefferson County Association for Gifted Children.

Representative Jim Wilson, Colorado State Representative, Salida.

Senator Nancy Todd, Colorado State Senator, Aurora.

Honorable Anne Rowe, Denver Public Schools Board of Education, President.

Honorable Theresa Pena, Denver Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services.

Rich Martinez, Young Americans Bank.

Eric Anderson, SE2.

Elizabeth Palmquist, EAMP Consulting.

Ernest House, Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

Stephanie Flynn-James, MBA, PhD, Regis University.

Matt Kaspari, Principal, Kaspo Inc.  

Elizabeth Whitehead, Children's Hospital Colorado.

John Valdez, Tava-Wu-Cuttum.

Honorable Jack Kroll, University of Colorado Regent.

Diane Carlson-Robinson, SMART Colorado.

Honorable Heidi Ganahl, University of Colorado Regent.

Representative Chris Hansen, Colorado State Representative, Denver.

Paul Teske, PhD, University of Colorado Denver.

General John J. Barry, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.

Brian Yates, Aurora Public Schools.

Darren Spreeuw, PhD, Ratio Wealth Group.

Jason Hanson, History Colorado Center.

Chrissy Faraci, Faraci Government Relations.

Pamela Jansma, PhD, University of Colorado Denver.

Skip Thurman, DaVita.