On Tuesday, March 8, 9NEWS and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation jointly announced Dr. Ryan Ross, dean of Student Development and Retention with the Community College of Denver, as the 2016 9NEWS Leader of the Year. The award was given in front of more than 600 guests at the annual Celebrating Civic Leadership Luncheon benefiting the Leadership Foundation’s emerging leaders scholarship program. And different from year’s past, hundreds of Leadership Foundation alumni cast their votes through an online voting process, selecting Ross from three impressive finalists.

Ross has committed his career to advocating for education equity in Colorado. In his role at the Community College of Denver, Ross ensures students have the support services they need to be successful and complete their degrees and certificates. Ross’ passion continues to increase awareness of the barriers facing low-income students in Colorado. In part as a result of his efforts, over 1,000 traditional and non-traditional students have achieved their educational aspirations.

As stated by Ross immediately following the award presentation, “I am totally humbled being named 9NEWS Leader of the Year. This is an honor I hope to really live up to one day. I am thankful for the support of so many people, especially my wife and kiddos, and am truly inspired by the thought of what leaders in Denver can accomplish working collectively.”

“We are thrilled to present Dr. Ryan Ross with this year’s 9NEWS Leader of the Year Award,” said Leadership Foundation Executive Director Dan Lewis. “Dr. Ross truly exemplifies what it means to be an inspiring, visionary leader — and we are grateful for all he has done for our community. He is a role model for each of us aspiring to make positive change in the world around us.”

The 9NEWS Leader of the Year award celebrates outstanding and inspirational leadership in Colorado. In addition to Ross, this year’s other two finalists were:

• Heather Lafferty, executive director and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver
• Michael Mitchel, executive director and commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1 and managing partner of OC Consulting

Selected from a group of impressive nominees, the three finalists each exemplify what it means to be a leader and possess a strong passion for positive community change. And to learn more about how you can cultivate leadership skills and grow your network by participating in the many programs of the Leadership Foundation.