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Pioneer Leadership Program

Pioneer Leadership Program


Faculty & Staff

Linda Olson

Linda Olson, Ph.D., PLP Executive Director

Dr. Linda Olson began teaching at the University of Denver in 2000 and has spent the past 10 years as Sr. Lecturer and Director of the Pioneer Leadership Program. Her area of communication research has included collaborative leadership, group and team communication, leadership development, leadership and sustainability, and leadership ethics. Linda's current research is focused on assessment of leadership learning and the leadership development process of undergraduate students. She brings a vibrant interest in international and intercultural issues to the classroom. Linda has taught and led groups involved in international learning and service throughout the world. In addition, Linda is active in local elected leadership as the Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Englewood, Colorado (See the DU Magazine story here).

Paul Kosempel

Paul Kosempel, Ph.D., PLP Interim Director

Paul's professional experience includes over twenty years in institutions of higher education in various capacities including career development, leadership development, operations, and event management. He received his doctorate from the University of Denver in 2008 and his dissertation has explored the communication dynamics in mentoring relationships. Paul has presented at multiple conferences including the International Leadership Association and the Association of Leadership Educators. His research interests lie in the areas of leadership for sustainability and leadership education. One of his most significant achievements at DU is creating the Leadership and Sustainability in Belize course with Dr. Olson. Outside of DU, Paul stays active with his family and enjoys golf, volleyball, and the Denver Broncos.


Mimina (Mimi) Bailey, MBA, PLP Program & Community Relations Coordinator

Mimi is a DU graduate and an alumnus of the Pioneer Leadership Program. She received her BS in Mathematics and MBA in Global Market Finance from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. She has worked for the University since 2006, from Marketing & Communications to our Program & Community Relations Coordinator. She manages our corporate/nonprofit partnerships, community engagement, volunteer program, alumni development, and strategic growth of our program. She is very active in the community and serves on various boards and committees around Denver.  She loves working with college students and inspiring them to fulfill their dreams. Growing up in Colorado Springs, she loves running, hiking, and being outdoors!


Emily Allen, MS, PLP Program Coordinator

Emily received her BA from Syracuse University in English and Textual Studies, accompanied by minors in Policy Studies, and Sociology. She also received her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. Prior to moving to Denver, she lived in Colorado Springs and served as an eighth grade Language Arts teacher as part of the Teach For America program. Before joining the PLP team, she worked as the Assistant Director of Student Life at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. Working with students who share her passions for leadership development, civic engagement, and community service is an incredible experience each and every day. Outside of the day-to-day at PLP, Emily spends her time playing ice hockey, cooking, hiking, and biking.

Adjunct Faculty

Christopher W. Stewart, Ph.D. (ABD)

Christopher Stewart has been with the University of Denver since 2001 and teaches classes in Human Resource Management, Organizational Dynamics, Strategic Management, Global Strategy, Team Leadership and the gateway course into the Graduate Business curriculum at the Daniels College. He played a lead role in the redesign of Leading at the Edge, an experiential program for graduate student designed to develop self-awareness, team effectiveness and leadership capacity. He also worked as a Program Manger with the Institute for Leadership and Organizational Performance. He brings over 20 years of experience with business, government and not-for-profit entities working to promote individual, team, leadership and organizational development.

He holds a M.B.A. with a concentration in Organizational Training and Development from the University of Denver and is in the dissertation phase of a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies at Colorado State University. His current research is focused on the interaction between the personal and professional values of health care practitioners and market values that are espoused within health care organizations.

Christopher lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Katrina and daughters Nora and Emma. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast with strong passions for telemark skiing, whitewater rafting, biking hiking and road trips with his family.

Lisa Bardwell, Ph.D.

Lisa Bardwell has had the honor of teaching, on and off, in the Pioneer Leadership Program since 2004. Most recently, she is supporting the 2nd year program, bringing to bear her experience in community problem-solving and leadership. The bulk of her professional career, Lisa has held leadership positions with Earth Force, a national nonprofit focused on engaging young people in solving issues in their community. She earned her PhD from the University of Michigan and has taught at the University of Michigan and Utah State University. She has deep expertise in service learning, leadership, environmental problem solving, and organizational culture change.