Get to know the Puksta Team

John Mulstay, Executive Director

John Mulstay is a Senior Vice President with a prestigious investment firm.  John began his practice in 1995 and currently manages over $650 million in assets and operates out of their Denver, CO office.  John’s practice is focused on assisting high net worth families, foundations and endowments with all aspects of their wealth management.  He specializes in creating and managing customized investment portfolios for his clients utilizing the capital markets group and the alternative investment team.  Prior to joining his investment firm, John was coaching the snowboard program for Team Summit.  John founded the Team Summit snowboard program in 1993 for a handful of very talented young men and women living in Summit County, CO.  The program is now one of the largest and most successful snowboard programs in the country.

John’s initial involvement with The Puksta Foundation began at the very beginning.  Harry and Eva Puksta were clients of John’s.  While working with Harry and Eva on their estate planning and wealth transfer the idea of a scholarship program for “good kids” in the community began to take shape.  In the early part of 1999, Eva was diagnosed with an untreatable form of cancer.  At this point, Harry and Eva asked John, that should anything happen to them, if he would create this foundation for them.  Harry and Eva Puksta passed away just hours apart from each other on July 3rd and July 4th of 1999.  With the assets that Harry and Eva left behind, John built the Puksta Foundation and it was incorporated in the state of Colorado in 2000.  The first gifts to the Puksta Scholar program were made in 2001 and those scholarship grants continue through to this day.

John grew up in New York and earned his B.A. degree in Business and Economics at the State University of New York at Oneonta.  Upon graduation he made his way to Colorado and currently lives in the city of  Denver with his girlfriend and his little dog named Molly.  He is still passionate about snowboarding and also loves to scuba dive.


NiChel Meis, Director of Development

NiChel is a first generation graduate with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Colorado at Denver. She is always pursuing her love for learning. Before becoming Director of Development with The Puksta Foundation she volunteered with the development committee for 3 years. Falling in love with the genuinely inspiring stories she is passionate about working with the Puksta Scholars and watching them succeed in life and through the scholarship program. A Colorado native, NiChel enjoys snowboarding, hiking & camping but must travel for her love of scuba diving.





Advisory Committee

Bland, Michael – Estate planning attorney HRO Bryan Cave

Kevin's head shotCarroll , Kevin - Dean of marketing and communications DU

Kevin A. Carroll is currently the Vice Chancellor and Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Denver, a post he has held since July 2011.   Responsible for raising the profile of the University at the National and Global level, Carroll led the launch of the new University brand and “shield” visual identity that gained worldwide attention and acclaim, as the University hosted the first Presidential Debate of 2012.  Carroll was previously Vice President and General Manager, Global Web Channel for Western Union Financial Services, Inc. in Englewood, Colorado. Carroll began his career in sales and marketing with NCR Corporation and the Procter & Gamble.   In 1987, he joined the Thomas J Lipton Co. as a marketing trainee at their U.S. Corporate headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. While at Lipton, Carroll held several marketing positions, developing new products and marketing campaigns for the Wishbone salad dressing and Lipton Cup-A-Soup name brands.

In 1991, he joined Maybelline, USA at their Worldwide Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, as a Senior Product Manager.  In 1994, Carroll was promoted to Vice President of Marketing for Maybelline Canada, where he relocated to Toronto.

Joining Western Union in 1996, Carroll served in several marketing capacities for Western Union, managing the consumer to consumer money transfer businesses in Mexico, the U.S. and in Canada, as well as the consumer to business payments category, growing all to record results. Carroll also created and was the first to hold the position of VP Global Pricing, a successful initiative to rationalize pricing for the business around the world, as well as the Global VP of, expanding the web business to 25 countries around the world. Carroll received his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Tulane University. A first generation American, Carroll resides in Cherry Hills, Colorado.


Chavez, Jim – Executive Director of Latin American Educational FoundationJim suit 8_04

Photographs ©2010 Barry Staver 303.880.8063Close ,DJ – Puksta Scholar Alumni Representative – United Way

DJ is responsible for running Colorado Reading Corps, a strategic program of the School Readiness initiative at Mile High united Way. Colorado Reading Corps is an AmeriCorps program that provides one-on-one, research-based literacy interventions to K-3rd graders. Currently, the program consists of 70 AmeriCorps members serving in Jefferson County, Adams County, Arapahoe County and is excited to start its first year in Larimer County.

Graduating from the University of Denver, DJ has his bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Communications, Leadership and Chinese. After graduating from the University of Denver, DJ was accepted into El Pomar Foundation’s Fellowship Program, which led him to work in the Lt. Governor’s Office where he helped form a statewide early literacy initiative called Colorado Reads. Born and raised in Colorado, he loves the outdoors and looks forward to being engaged in shaping the future of Colorado.  DJ is motivated by empowering others, building strong relationships in the community and is a firm supporter of youth advocacy.


Friedman, Marc – Investment advisor council member Mt. Yale Capital


Hartnett,PhD, Stephen - Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at Hartnett webThe University of Colorado Denver


Stephen John Hartnett is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at The University of Colorado Denver, where he is the editor of Captured Words/Free Thoughts, an annual magazine of poems and stories crafted by imprisoned writers.

He is one of the co-founders of PCARE, a national group of scholars who work on Prison Communication Activism Research and Education. In recognition of this work, he has received numerous awards, including the Northwest Communication Association’s 2008 Human Rights Award and the University of Colorado’s 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award.

Working with the Department’s partners at the International College Beijing, Hartnett has developed a passion for working, teaching, and studying in China, where he has traveled each summer since 2009. This work led, in the summer of 2012, to a research trip to Hong Kong and Tibet, and has resulted in his launching a research project about the China-U.S. relationship. With the support of the Waterhouse Family Institute (affiliated with Villanova University), Hartnett and his research team returned to Tibet, Nepal, China, and India in the summer of 2013 to continue their research into modes of artful dissent on the “Roof of the World.”


enlarged victoria-keller-newKeller ,Victoria – Retired from CSU but developed their service learning institute

A double alumna of Colorado State University, Victoria founded CSU’s Office for Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs (SLVP- now SliCE), and served as Director for 18 years. Now, she provides fundraising leadership to the College of Health & Human Sciences (CHHS) as part of the development team. Victoria designed and coordinates the CHHS Legacies Project, which preserves and shares the history of college emeriti and retirees.  Victoria is a member of CSU’s Puksta Steering Committee.






Menjivar, Aminta - Puksta Scholar Alumni Network Representative – 1st Bank 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMower, Richard – Investment advisor council   meridian wealth management

Chip began his career as a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley. And prior
to co-founding Meridian Wealth Management in 2005, he specialized as a
Certified Financial Planner practitioner with the Wells Fargo Private Client
Group assisting corporate executives, business owners and high net-worth




Nash, Andy – Nationwide financial VP regional sales


Nealson, Jennifer - Denver Center for the Performing ArtsJenniferNealson

Jennifer K. Nealson is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), one of the largest arts organizations in the Nation. She oversees sales, marketing, communications, customer experience, box office & call center operations, theatre operations and community outreach.  Jennifer has management responsibility for over 70 employees, 400 volunteers and a $15M budget.

Nealson has served in executive leadership roles over the past 15 years of her career, prior to DCPA was the Chief Marketing Officer at Trust Company of America. Previously she was Vice President/Managing Director of Marketing & Communications at Republic Financial Corporation. Jennifer has proven success growing companies through an aligned and inspired workforce.

Nealson’s experience covers strategic planning, branding, integrated marketing, lead/demand generation, public relations & media, event planning, sales enablement, sponsorships and multi-media strategies. While at Republic Financial, she managed the Marketing & Communications efforts of the Company’s five divisions as well as oversaw marketing efforts of more than 20 affiliate companies. This experience positioned her well to oversee marketing efforts for 40+ theater productions and the extensive educational programs, which serve more than 50,000 Denver students each year.

Nealson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Communications from the University of Nebraska and a Certificate in Finance and Accounting from the University of Colorado. She is a contributor to the Forbes CMO Network and has been featured in a cover story of a financial services trade publication.

Jennifer is the past President of the Colorado Business Marketing Association (BMA) and a Board Member of the BMA International Board. Nealson currently serves on the Denver Chamber’s Leadership Foundation Board, Colorado CMO Advisory Council, North American CMO Council, Puksta Scholar Foundation, and, in years past, served as Regent and a member of the Alumni Board of Directors at the University of Nebraska.


Mark Potter_004Potter, PhD, Mark – Community outreach coordinator Metro State Univ                        

Dr. Mark Potter is Associate Vice President of Academic and Civic Collaboration at Metropolitan State University of Denver. In this role, he oversees several programs that enhance the undergraduate experience, often through community engagement, and he leads efforts within the framework of the American Democracy Project to prepare students to be engaged and informed citizens in our globally connected democracy. Mark has also been a professor of European history, and he was the founding Director of MSU Denver’s Center for Faculty Development from 2008 to 2012.





Simons, Todd – Former GM Earl’s restaurant downtown Denverimage

Todd Simons is from Vancouver, B.C. Canada. He is a MBA graduate from DU Daniels College of Business and most recently was the Managing Partner of Earls restaurants.  Through great leadership and development of young leaders he and his team were able to build a business of annual sales upwards of $7.8 million. He is extremely honored and excited to be a part of the PUKSTA family and looks forward to the incredible opportunity of this foundation and its future leaders.




Simons, Peter – Retired 12 years CU Puksta Scholar program coordinator unnamed










Whitcher, PhD   Jenny – Professor Illiff school of theology and former Puksta Scholar program coordinator DU

Whitman, Dylan – CU Puksta Scholar















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