Vice President for Engagement
Dr. Lou Swanson is Vice President for Engagement, Director of Extension and Professor of Sociology. He oversees CSU Extension, CSU Online, Office of Community and Economic Development, the Colorado Water Center, and the Office of Engagement international initiatives. He received his bachelor's degree in political science at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, his master's of technology in international development from North Carolina State University and his doctorate in rural sociology from Pennsylvania State University. He was a professor in the University of Kentucky's Department of Sociology before joining CSU in 1997. He has served as professor and chair of the CSU Sociology Department and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He has spent the majority of his career focused on public policy associated with agriculture and rural community studies. A past president of the Rural Sociological Society, he maintains his academic interest in policy issues associated with agriculture and rural development and community change. He has written numerous journal articles and book chapters and has authored or co-authored six books on rural communities in the United States. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, as a Resident Fellow at Resources for the Future, and in 2009 was recognized as an Outstanding Alumni in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University.
Kathay Rennels, Associate Vice President for Engagement, works to advance collaborative networks across the state and create economic development opportunities. She has significant experience fostering public and private partnerships in regional and rural workforce development, with particular attention to Larimer and Weld Counties. Rennels previously served three terms as a Larimer County Commissioner and is now leading the Food and Agriculture Key Industry Network for the State of Colorado. Rennels helped initiate “The Value Chain of Colorado Agriculture” project, released in March 2013, co-authored the November 2014 follow-up study, “The Emergence of an Innovation Cluster in the Agricultural Value Chain along Colorado’s Front Range”, and planned and implemented the recent “Advancing the Agriculture Economy Through Innovation” summit held at CSU. She also currently serves on the Northern Colorado Economic Development Council, Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, El Pomar Foundation, The Matthews House, Larimer County United Way, and Colorado Youth Conservation Association.
Ashley M. Stokes
Dr. Ashley M. Stokes is Assistant Vice President for Engagement and Deputy Director of CSU Extension. Her responsibilities include food and agriculture systems initiatives, fostering applied scholarship opportunities, and developing strategies for university-based extension that broaden and deepen engagement across CSU’s eight colleges. Dr. Stokes received her bachelor's degree from theUniversity of Alabama and her D.V.M./Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, where she was on the faculty at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to joining CSU in 2015, she spent six years at the University of Hawai’i, where she was the sole veterinary extension specialist serving Hawai’i as well as neighboring countries throughout the Pacific. From 2014 to 2015, she served as the interim Associate Dean/Director of Extension at the University of Hawai’i. In July of 2015, she joined CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as the Assistant Dean for Veterinary Admissions and Student Services. She has written numerous journal articles and book chapters, has been an invited speaker internationally on livestock transportation, and serves on national committees regarding animal health and welfare.
Tom Johnson is the Associate Director for Community and Economic Development. He joined CSU in 2018. Previously, Johnson held positions as Southeast Regional Director and Chief Performance Officer for the Wyoming Business Council (WBC), and was a former planning commissioner and small business counselor with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Johnson also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming (UW) in community and economic development and was on the advisory board for UW’s College of Business. He is a past board member for The Wyoming Humanities Council and is a 2016 Graduate of Leadership Wyoming.
Senior Project Manager and Coordinator, Provost’s Council for Engagement
As a senior project manager at Colorado State University, Paula Mills works with the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Office of Engagement to connect CSU with Coloradans working to address social, economic, and workforce issues in their communities. Mills directed Colorado State’s successful pursuit of a 2016 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and presently serves on the Executive Committee of the APLU Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP). She also coordinates the Provost’s Council for Engagement on behalf of the Office of Engagement.
At the College of Agricultural Sciences, Mills serves as liaison for the college’s efforts at the revitalized National Western Center campus and directs CSU’s Agriculture Innovation Summit, an annual event convening 400+ leaders from industry, government and higher education. Her career prior to CSU includes sales and marketing management roles in the consumer packaged goods industry and leadership of small business ventures.
Geniphyr Ponce-Pore, M.S., is Director of the CSU Regional Hubs and the Workforce Specialist for CSU Extension. With 15 years of experience working in community, economic and workforce development in Colorado, she joined CSU in 2010. Having lived and worked in both rural and urban Colorado, Ponce-Pore has pulled together teams to develop and implement projects that address community, economic, and workforce development issues ranging from strategic planning for regional tourism, emerging workforce needs and developing next generation talent, small business development, and training to support new and seasoned entrepreneurs.
Jill Garber is Director of the Regional Engagement Center at the Collaboration Campus in Castle Rock, Colorado. Prior to coming to CSU she was the Director of Extension Campuses at Arapahoe Community College and helped to open the Castle Rock Campus in the fall of 2011. Garber was formerly the Director for Community College Partnerships at Regis University, where she was responsible for articulation partnerships between the university and 117 community colleges throughout the United States and Belize.
A proud resident of Castle Rock for 17 years, she is passionate about serving in her community, the success of students on campus and contributing to the economic and workforce needs in the region. She enjoys the parks and open spaces in Douglas County with her husband, son and their dog, Sawyer.
Karen Ramey-Torres is Director of the Northeast Regional Engagement Center in Sterling, Colorado. She is a graduate of Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Ramey-Torres is a native of northeast Colorado with a strong history of community involvement. Prior to joining CSU in 2014, she founded and directed a non-profit family resource center in Sterling. In that role, she fostered public/private/non-profit partnerships in Logan County and expanded the resource center to four programs while forming 15 major funding partnerships. Ramey-Torres had a prior 17-year career as a child welfare caseworker in Washington and Logan Counties. In that role, she co-developed an intensive treatment program for families and was chosen for the excellence in practice award from the Colorado Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division in 2007.
Peggy Stoltenberg is the Operations and Events Coordinator at the CSU Northeast Regional Engagement Center in Sterling, Colorado. She is a graduate of Caliche High School and Colorado State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Information Systems.
Her degree took her to J.D. Edwards in Denver, where she worked as a software engineer developing and programming enterprise financial software. Stoltenberg moved back to Sterling to be near her family and enjoy the small town community life in Northeastern Colorado. She fueled her passion for helping people and the community while holding office positions in several local healthcare facilities and also worked as an event specialist.
She enjoys reading, learning, and volunteering for programs helping at-risk populations in the community.
Bridget Julian is the Director of Operations for the Vice President Office of Engagement. She is responsible for internal reporting, budgets, and manages special projects as directed by the Vice President for Engagement. She received her M.S. in Journalism and Technical Communication from Colorado State University.
Martha Thomas is the Executive Assistant to Kathay Rennels, Associate Vice President for Engagement, and provides office administration for the Office of Engagement. Prior to joining the Office of Engagement, she worked in the CSU College of Engineering as the Dean’s Office Assistant. Before joining CSU, she taught elementary general music, private flute and piano lessons, and instrumental and fine arts enrichment classes. She has a Master’s degree in Music from CSU.
Yvonne Bridgeman serves as the Executive Assistant to Louis Swanson, vice president for Engagement and director of Extension, and manages the administrative functions of the Office of Engagement which is comprised of six areas (CSU Extension, CSU Online, Community & Economic Development, Colorado Water Center, Northeast Regional Engagement Center, and several international initiatives). Yvonne has been with CSU since 2001, and prior to joining CSU Extension she served as assistant to the vice provost for faculty affairs. She has a BA in Sociology from CSU.
Brandi Gonzales serves as the Engagement Center Coordinator for the CSU Regional Engagement Center at Castle Rock, focusing on developing and coordinating financial, personnel, and administrative functions for the division.
Brandi Gonzales came to CSU from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan with ample experience in student services and administrative functions within higher education. At WSU she assisted with unit budgets until she earned a promotion as an HR Specialist, shifting her primary focus to managing departmental personnel and payroll actions, contracts, ensuring departmental compliance within university policies and procedures, and grant contract administration. Prior to WSU, she worked for the Parker Extension Campus of Arapahoe Community College, focusing on extension campus development, including academic support services, advising and community resource referrals, and other related services to support student persistence and retention.