Trustee Ellen Robinson says the common thread in all of her philanthropic work is what she calls a safety boost.
“We’ve all heard of the safety net,” she explains. “I have a passion for providing a safety boost for people.”
For instance, a college degree can give people a tremendous boost to
change their lives. Robinson cites statistics from the Pell Institute
which show that by the age of 24, only 10 percent of people in the
lowest socio-economic quartile have earned a college degree, while 71
percent of those from the top quartile have earned a degree.
“A college degree is a safety boost. You need a college education in this modern economy to break the cycle,” she says.
Robinson is getting to see that boost working firsthand, and not
just as a Metro State trustee. As a board member of Colorado Uplift,
she knows several of the organization’s graduates who are now attending
Metro State. “I see the issues they face in terms of staying in college
right out of high school,” she says. The 25-year-old Uplift
organization works with more than 3,400 youth in areas where the
population is primarily comprised of single-parent families living in
As she has learned since her four-year appointment to the College’s
board in April of this year, Metro State’s students are “bright, alert,
hard working and engaged.” She’s also learned more about the College
itself. “I am so impressed with the significant role the institution
plays in preparing a huge body of citizens to participate in our
state,” Robinson says. “So many graduates stay here and I’ve learned
how important they are to our vitality and economy.”
Retirement with a purpose
Robinson had a busy and highly
successful professional life—as general manager of the Pepsi Cola
Bottling Company of Denver, founder and CEO of EventConnex, Inc. and
president of Ascent Sports, Inc. —before “retiring” a few years ago to
spend more time with her family. The word “retiring” is in quotes
because she still works 30 hours a week serving on five boards and
actively participating in politics. “I just don’t do anything for pay
now,” she says.
In addition to Metro State’s Board of Trustees, Robinson sits on the
boards of Colorado Uplift, Denver Campus for Jewish Education, Green
Gables Country Club and Caring for Colorado¯another appointment that,
along with the College’s board, came from Gov. Bill Ritter. In politics
she’s a committee person for her precinct and a member of the finance
committee for Rep. Mark Udall’s senate campaign.
How “The Can” got its name
When most of us look at the
Pepsi Center, we think about the Nuggets, the Avalanche or maybe a
concert by a favorite band. When Robinson looks at the Pepsi Center she
sees one of her finest accomplishments as a business leader.
You see, when Robinson was general manager of the Pepsi Cola
Bottling Company of Denver, she secured the naming rights to the venue.
Quite a coup, and one that will continue to put the Pepsi name on
people’s lips for years to come.
“I consider all my accomplishments to be works in progress,”
Robinson says. “Whether it’s my children, a capital campaign, or hiring
exciting people who’ve done well, I always hope to have left a
sustainable force in place.”
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