Five questions for Ken Montera

Vice chair of Board of Regents took lessons in leadership from corporate world, the campaign trail – and a CU education

Five questions for Ken Montera
Photos courtesy of Ken Montera
President Todd Saliman and Regent Ken Montera at last year’s CU Boulder commencement.

Ken Montera’s first run for a seat on the CU Board of Regents may have fallen short, but it wasn’t without useful lessons. His 2018 campaign for the at-large post led him into all 64 counties, where he met people who embodied the diversity and complexity of Colorado. The experience helped him understand what it would be like to govern, he said.

Five questions for Ken Montera
Regent Ken Montera

Now he knows firsthand what that’s like, having been appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to fill a board vacancy in late 2021. A Colorado Springs Republican, Montera represents the 5th Congressional District, where voters elected him to the seat last November; he’ll serve at least the last two years of former Regent Chance Hill’s six-year term.

During his first year on the board, Montera was elected vice chair, serving alongside Chair Lesley Smith – the victor in that 2018 at-large race. Montera chairs the board’s treasury investment group and is vice chair of two board committees, Finance and University Affairs.

A graduate of the CU Boulder Leeds School of Business, Montera spent over 30 years as a senior executive in four Fortune 200 companies leading strategy, multi-billion-dollar budgets and direct responsibility for over 40,000 associates.

Five questions for Ken Montera
Ken Montera, center, with son Michael, left, grandson Henry and son Brien. Brien’s son Henry is the fifth generation of the Montera family to be born in Colorado.

Montera is the proud grandfather of two grandsons, the second of whom just arrived last month. In his free time, he’s an avid skier.

“I don’t think there is a greater sense of freedom than carving new snow on a bluebird Colorado morning,” Montera said. “I also like to fly fish and enjoy upland wing hunting when I get the chance. And I’m an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction history – it’s a great way to end a busy day.”

Five questions for Ken Montera
Ken Montera fly fishing on a recent trip to Chilean Patagonia.

1. During your first campaign for regent, in 2018, you ran for an at-large seat. As you met with voters across the state, did you sense differences in how CU is viewed by different populations?

Absolutely. We live in an extremely diverse state, from the eastern plains to the San Luis Valley to the Front Range. The diversity of thought and backgrounds is significant. That diversity is what makes Colorado such a rich place to live.

The commonality of this state is that in all 64 counties I visited, parents want the best possible education for their children at a reasonable price. It is our key responsibility as the governing board of this institution to provide that to all Coloradans. Every decision we make has to keep that front of mind.

2. Can you single out a highlight from your first year as a member of the Board of Regents?

One of the biggest highlights was participating in the selection process of our President Todd Saliman. The bipartisan approach demonstrated the effectiveness that a highly functioning board can have in making key decisions that prioritize the students, faculty and staff of our state’s flagship university.

I was also humbled by being unanimously elected vice chair of the board in my first year.

3. What were your takeaways from the board’s recent winter retreat?

How much commonality we as a board and administration have.

Every person I interact with cares deeply about CU and only wants to see it thrive and continue to serve our state. We have strong alignment on our strategic plan and the work it will take to bring it to fruition.

I also believe we have a high degree of trust within the board and administration, which is critical to achieving our objectives.

4. What are the most pressing issues you expect the Board of Regents to deal with in the coming months?

One of the most important responsibilities we have over the next few months is the selection of the CU system’s new treasurer, who reports to the board.

Although most people probably don’t know the detailed responsibilities of a treasurer, it is an extremely critical position that oversees the financial management of investment strategy and debt management, among other responsibilities.

Regent Nolbert Chavez and I will co-chair this process, leading a selection committee that will have co-governance representation.

5. What are your memories of college life during your time at CU Boulder?

My greatest memories are centered around the thought-provoking conversations I had with people of differing views. Whether it was a professor, another student or an adviser, the challenging debate of ideas and opinion led to a much higher degree of critical thinking skills. Those conversations also fostered the idea of how important it is to remain curious and open: That trait has stayed with me my entire life and served me well as a corporate executive throughout my career.

CU also helped me understand what truly was possible. I will forever be grateful to the professors that helped me see horizons I didn’t know existed.

Five questions for Ken Montera
Ken Montera climbing Wayna Picchu, mountain behind Machu Picchu in Peru.

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