CMC dean spreading her skills everywhere
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The dean of the Aspen campus of Colorado Mountain College may not have a lot of free time on her hands, but what free time she does have she donates to a number of nonprofits in the valley.
For that dedication to volunteerism, Dr. Ann Harris has been recognized with the Leadership Aspen Alumni Award, which acknowledges her leadership skills and her involvement in, and dedication to, the community.
The award comes with a $1,000 donation to be given to the charity of Harris’ choice. She decided to split the donation between two of the nonprofits she has worked with: the Advocate Safehouse Project in Glenwood Springs and the Pitkin County Senior Center.
Harris grew up in Baltimore, where she was on the board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Physically and Mentally Handicapped. She had been invited to get involved with the Baltimore Symphony when she decided to move to Aspen in 1978.
Although a single parent with a 2-year-old son at the time, she took a job as a secretary at Colorado Mountain College. She took the job with two master’s degrees in elementary education and a certificate of advance study in reading and learning disabilities on her resume.
“I had a young child, and I needed money to support him,” she said. “That was much more important to me than what my title was. I also thought that working at a college would be very exciting, and it has proved to be.”
Harris worked her way up the ladder at CMC in Aspen until she reached her current dean status in 1982. She also went back to school to receive her doctorate degree from Colorado State University.
“It’s always a challenge, juggling what you want to do,” she said. “My son is now 26, and I got remarried 10 years ago. You just have to choose what your priorities are.”
For Harris, her priorities became continuing a community service spirit she says she learned from her parents. Just after moving to Aspen she got involved by sitting on the board of the Pitkin County Community Center – the former hospital at the base of Red Mountain. She chaired the Children’s Carnival for the center, and began ushering at the Wheeler Opera House and selling lemonade at the Aspen Music Festival concerts because of her love of the arts.
Harris has gotten involved in a number of other community organizations as well. This last weekend she was in Denver, training incoming Rotary presidents for 55 Rotary Clubs in southern Colorado. In July 2004 Harris, who’s been past president of the Snowmass Village Rotarians, will become a district governor of the Rotary Club.
The rest of Harris’ past and present community involvement reads like a laundry list: right now she is the chair of the Aspen Valley Hospital Institutional Review Board, a volunteer for RESPONSE, and she sits on the board of directors for Kids First. As Aspen’s CMC dean she chairs the college’s technology committee, is in charge of the search for a chief information officer and sits on the budget committee.
In the past, she has been a board member for Asistencia Para Latinos. She said she sometimes does feel overcommitted, but manages to fit everything in by doing some things less, and some things more.
And does Harris have time for anything else? She claims she does, just because she’s learned the art of juggling her own interests with those of the community.
“I’ve been called a culture junkie before – I collect contemporary art, Native American pottery and ancient Greek coins,” she said. “I also love to surf the Net late at night. I probably manage to get around six to seven hours of sleep a night, but I cram a lot into my time.”
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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