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The Commissioner's Executive Team

Dana Smith, Interim Chief Communications Officer

Dana Smith has more than two decades of experience providing strategic communications counsel to senior executives in the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. She started her career as a journalist in Washington state, and then shifted to providing public affairs and public relations counsel to school districts as well as businesses in the energy, sports, technology and telecommunications industries. She came to Colorado in 2000 to serve as the chief spokesperson and communications director for US West, now Century Link, and later served as the communications director for Mile High United Way.  Prior to joining the team at CDE in 2014, she served as the Deputy Director for Communications and Marketing for the Denver Scholarship Foundation, a key partner in Denver Public Schools' efforts to make college possible for Denver students. As the interim chief communications officer at CDE, Dana oversees the department's media relations, publications, web management and legislative liaison functions.


Leanne Emm, Associate Commissioner

Leanne Emm was appointed assistant commissioner for school finance at the Colorado Department of Education in 2011. Prior to joining CDE, Emm worked for Jeffco Public Schools in the areas of budget and finance for almost 14 years. While at Jeffco, she was also involved with federal programs, pupil counts, debt issuance and system improvements.

Emm also worked for Jefferson County Public Libraries running the business office and also served as the city accountant for a small Denver metro city. Leanne has a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from CU-Denver.


Katy Anthes, Ph.D., Interim Associate Commissioner of Achievement and Strategy

Ms. Anthes was appointed Interim Commissioner for Achievement and Strategy at CDE in July 2015. Since 2011, Anthes has been CDE’s executive director of educator effectiveness and has led CDE’s efforts to evaluate, support and retain highly effective educators in Colorado. Ms. Anthes has been responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of the state’s educator evaluation and development system, pursuant to Senate Bill 10-191. In her past position as a partner with the Third Mile Group, Anthes led and researched major education initiatives for state, district and national organizations on a variety of education issues and projects including; the Colorado School Leadership Academy Board, the Expanded Learning Opportunities Commission and as an evaluator for several district education programs across the state.

Anthes worked with numerous national education organizations at The Third Mile Group, such as the Council for Chief State School Officers, the National Governor’s Association, The National Commission for Teaching and America’s Future, American Institutes for Research, and many more. Prior to founding the Third Mile Group, she had seven years of research, policy work and leadership experience at the Education Commission of the States focusing on school and district leader effectiveness.  Anthes holds a Ph.D. in public policy and a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Colorado, Denver. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Oregon.


Rebecca Holmes, Associate Commissioner of Innovation, Choice, and Engagement

Prior to joining CDE in March 2013, Holmes was the CEO of KIPP Colorado Schools. KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) is a system of 125 charter schools across the U.S. with a commitment to preparing students in underserved, low-income communities for success in college and life. At KIPP Colorado, Holmes was responsible for more than tripling the size of the organization and leading the schools to record levels of student achievement. Holmes also has private sector experience as a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting, where she worked with a variety of clients on change management, talent strategies and organization design. Holmes began her career as a middle school teacher. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.


Alyssa Pearson, Interim Associate Commissioner

Alyssa Pearson has worked at the Colorado Department of Education for the past 12 years, and is currently serving as the Interim Associate Commissioner for Accountability, Performance and Support. She will facilitate the work of the state’s special education programs, federal programs including Title I, support for local school districts and improvement planning and accountability systems. Alyssa will also continue in her role as Executive Director for Accountability and Data Analysis, in which she’s served since February 2012.

Additionally, while at CDE, Alyssa has supported Title I programs, coordinated and led the No Child Left Behind accountability and data reporting requirements, written a successful proposal to the U.S. Department of Education for approval for use of the Colorado Growth Model for federal accountability, and ensured approval of the state’s ESEA waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. She has enjoyed working with internal and external partners to continually improve the work of CDE, and ensure that data is used securely, responsibly and effectively in order to improve our state education system.

Prior to her time at CDE, Alyssa taught 5th graders in Denver Public Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an elementary education certification from the University of Colorado at Boulder as well as a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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