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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Colorado: American Indian and Alaska Native Health Center Chair Endowed

On October 25, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus chancellor, Dr. Don Elliman, welcomed more than 90 guests to the second annual Endowed Chair Celebration at the Brown Palace in Denver to celebrate benefactors and endowed chair holders.

Guest speakers included Dr. Ned Calonge, from The Colorado Trust and Dr. Spero Manson, director of the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at Colorado School of Public Health. Dr. Manson is the second eldest of 67 first cousins from his maternal grandmother’s side. Only half of them graduated from high school and nearly 60 percent are no longer alive — their lives shortened by health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. American Indian health is close to Dr. Manson’s heart and something he is dedicated to improving.

“This notion of investment is very familiar to me and the expectations that go along with that. What I’m about personally is almost indistinguishable from what I’m about professionally. I see my role as figuring out how to span the boundaries between the personal and professional to bring solutions to people,” said Dr. Manson. “I believe we are capable of addressing those challenges if we are provided with the opportunities to step forward, acquire the skills to address those issues and arrive at solutions that help people.”

Dr. Calonge, director of The Colorado Trust, holds academic appointments in both the Colorado School of Public Health and the CU School of Medicine. His passion is health equity. To continue this work, Dr. Calonge spearheaded efforts to create The Colorado Trust Chair in American Indian Health at the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health in the Colorado School of Public Health. “Aside from government and business and academia, there is a great freedom in philanthropy for taking risks that really doesn’t exist as strongly in other sectors. We have the most flexible funding available in the United States. These are the dollars that should be spent on innovation,” said Dr. Calonge.

This endowed chair accelerates the work happening at the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health under Dr. Manson’s leadership. The four central focus areas include: mentoring and educational opportunities for individuals who wish to work as health care professionals in their tribal communities; programs promoting prevention and health lifestyles; integration of diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and health promotion services that improve access and quality of patient care; and the acquisition of data to inform decisions and policies to improve program success in Native communities.

“Our mission is driven by one thing and one thing only and that is our talented professionals. Recruiting and retaining the best talent is simply the metric by which we will succeed,” said Chancellor Elliman. “Having endowed chairs through philanthropy is an integral part of that process.”