Stories

2016-2017 Class of 5280 Fellows – Featured Professional Projects

This last year, our 27 Fellows culminated their 9-month experience with both a professional development project, and a personal development project.

Professionally, we asked them to solve one problem in their workplace, industry or community over a period of three and a half months. Personally, we asked them to create an intentional growth plan addressing a spiritual or moral issue in their lives.

We are thrilled with the work all of our Fellows are doing!

Here are a few examples of final 5280 Fellowship professional projects and their impact on the city.

Blythe Scott
Church Relations and Development Assistant, Lutheran Family Services

Overview: Created a bi-monthly event called City Forum with expert speakers on a specific topic each time sharing about their opposing views. The goal is to provide a space for both Christians and non-Christians to come together and discuss tough issues with grace and civility, to be encouraged to put “theology over ideology,” and to be challenged to think deeply and thoughtfully about some of the most important issues of our day, for the betterment of our city and wider culture.

Theological Justification: Christ is renewing all things, and calls his people to salt and light in society. Moreover, we are called to have a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2) and to position theology over ideology.

Project Outcome: Two sold-out events, one in immigration and the other on the legalization of marijuana. Project will continue in partnership with pastor Brandon Addison.

Personal Reflection: “The Fellowship overall has been so refining, focusing, encouraging, and challenging, helping me better discern my calling for this season, and our projects in particular have been so helpful for me.”


Christiana Farrell
Urban Planner, Jefferson County

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Overview: To make the government more accessible to the average citizen by empowering government workers to engage citizens with more empathy so that they are participants with and not subjects of the government. This was accomplished by holding two training sessions on how to interact with citizens and have better customer service skills as well as how to diffuse conflict and direct cases to out-of-court mediation.

Theological Justification: God established governments. God’s governance allows us to participate in his own work. God is both just and merciful, and Jesus advocates for law breakers. All people are made in God’s image and have value.

Project Outcome: Positive feedback from supervisors. Co-workers feel empowered to find solutions for citizens. Less compassion burnout.

Personal Reflection: “My posture towards my work has changed from being pessimistic about how the bureaucracy of my workplace will never change, to seeing it as a broken system that I have been put into to help make it change through enabling my coworkers to their capacity to change it.”


Paloma Douglas
Support Technician, Jeffco Public Schools – ESL /Dual Language Department

Project: A video resource for those in the Denver area to learn more about the makeup of our refugee population, challenges they face, and the services provided to them. This knowledge will help people engage this population intelligently rather than ignoring them or fearing them.

Theological Justification: Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

Project Outcome: Deeper understanding of the refugee crisis and a deeper connection to refugee partner organizations. An original documentary.

Personal Reflection: “I feel like I have an additional lens to think about the marginalized – whether that is employing them or intentionally seeking them out as those we can serve. I am able to remind myself that people are far more complex than stereotypes.


Laura Bernero
Assistant Account Executive, Weber Shandwick Graphic Design

Overview: A focus on the office culture to create a more connected, culture-rich and creative environment through the sharing of company values, collecting cultural insights from other company offices nationwide, and conducting a local idea-sharing session for employees. This was accomplished by visiting company offices in Chicago, Seattle, Dallas and St. Louis and interviewing colleagues to learn best practices for building strong office-culture, which has shifted buy-in for culture creation within the Denver office.

Theological Justification: God is relational: He delights in relational connection. God is a communicator: he delights when truth is shared among people.

Project Outcome: A shift in perspective, and deeper adoption of our company’s core values at our office. New lens of connection.
Personal Reflection: “By using my voice and ideas to identify a need and works towards its solution, I feel more deeply committed to fostering meaningful connections with my coworkers and clients, even across geographic boundaries.”


Catherine Alvarez
Business Development Officer, Red Rocks Credit Union

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Overview: Create a selfless sales environment within the credit union with a compensation plan and a training place. The loan officers who have already implemented the “selfless sales” model have already seen an increase in their numbers.

Theological Justification: We are called to serve others in humility (2 Cor. 1), and therefore to work as a selfless team rather than putting ourselves first.

Project Outcome: New commission structure put in place for sales team. Hired two new team members. In process of implementing the “selfless sales” model into a new mentoring program. Promotion to executive leadership.

Personal Reflection: “My whole perspective on sales, coaching and leadership has changed, and I feel empowered to change the industry!”


Paul Frank
Manager of Product Management, GHX

Overview: Provide a framework for connecting, ‘mentoring,’ and coaching up the next generation of young Millennial workers, so that they can understand the vision/mission of what we do, why we do it, and its importance to the healthcare industry. This was accomplished by assembling a group of 5 ‘coaches’ who began meeting with young professionals within their department to talk about mission/vision and the daily work’s tie to the corporate goals as well as establishing “lunch ‘n learns” to create a space for connection and sharing within the organization.

Theological Justification: Coaching is rooted in shepherding. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We are called to “glean” to the next generation and allow all people, not just leaders, to bear the image of Christ.

Project Outcome: Established lunch and learns open to anybody in the company, allowing employees to “connect the dots for multiple business units.” Created a new HR learning module. Increased sense of collaboration and employee engagement.

Personal Reflection: “I’ve found that there is an extremely strong desire for many folks to connect, irrespective of the demands of modern day corporate America. I will continue to approach work and the employees that I can impact with a ‘love your neighbor’ mindset.


Other professional projects this year included:

  • Jessica Stern, a child psychiatrist, opened a biblically-informed private treatment center.
  • Rachel Moran, a law professor and criminal defense attorney, did original research on police accountability and transparency in Denver.
  • Rachel Anderson, an attorney, created a web resource outlining a biblical approach to conflict resolution.
  • Candice Whitely, an assistant principal, created a resource for parents trying to determine the best educational choice for their children.
  • Jason Beck, an engineer, created a new feedback system to allow better communication between two teams of co-workers.
  • Cameron Cannon, a psychologist, launched a faith and spirituality subcommittee with the cultural competency committee at his community mental health clinic

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Filling Our City with Disciples

Throughout Denver and Boulder, church leaders are engaging in conversations about the integration of faith and work, and inviting young professionals to do the same – to connect Sunday to Monday. To see all of life in light of the gospel. To invite Christ into day-to-day work, no matter the sphere or industry.  

As one cohort leader from the 5280 Fellowship shared earlier this year, the The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016 shows that today’s young professionals prioritize improving the skills of the workforce, providing services/goods that make a positive difference in people’s lives, and generating and supporting jobs. These priorities reflect a desire to build into the common good.

Hear from a couple of Denver Institute’s church partners about how these values play out for the flourishing of our area in the 5280 Fellowship:

Do you feel challenged to connect your deepening faith to the work you do? Do you know a young professional looking to dig into discussions about faith and work alongside other Christians?

The 5280 Fellowship is a rigorous and selective leadership program in Denver and Boulder for full-time professionals who are committed to applying the gospel to their work. The curriculum is a mix of theology, community, cultural analysis, leadership development, and Christian spiritual formation.

Learn more and invite young professionals in your network to an upcoming 5280 Fellowship info session or join our email list to stay up to date.

Applications for the 2017-2018 session are accepted through April 30, 2017.