Behind the scenes, one of the biggest movers and shakers at the CU Denver Business School is Malena Brohm. Before coming to the Business School, she worked in the corporate world at a start-up when the economy took a downturn. Funding ran out, and Brohm decided this was the perfect opportunity to consider what she wanted to do next. A position opened at the Business School, and she took it, marking the beginning of a remarkable 22-year career. 

With her corporate experience and new role in external relations, Brohm set out to create a space for business school alumni. Alumni networks are more than just communities; they are essential role models for current students and serve as important ambassadors for the school. The CU Denver Business School, a relatively young institution, needed this valuable resource. With only $5,000 and a team of 4 alumni volunteers, Brohm founded the Business School Alumni Network (BSAN), a testament to the power of alumni engagement and the impact it can have on a community. 

It was important for the Business School to welcome back graduates, who until 2015 were not receiving communications or invitations to engage as alumni. Brohm and her team looked inward to discover what the mission of their newborn network should be. They put their heads together and decided the BSAN should work towards alumni engagement, connection, participation, and contribution. With this goal in mind, committees were formed to help create events, build engagement, provide alumni-specific communications, and, more recently, provide a way for alumni to give back through philanthropy.

Through the dedication of Brohm and alumni volunteers, BSAN now has a governance committee of 18 alumni volunteers and current students who manage each mission item. The BSAN, now with over 28,000 business school alumni, communicates regularly through email communications, a quarterly newsletter, and social media, hosts events throughout the year, and provides a way for alumni to give back to students with a new classroom panel initiative.  Most recently, the network has turned its gaze to philanthropy to create more opportunities for alumni programming.

Kerri Ungemah ‘02, one of the founding members of BSAN, said about Brohm, “With her unwavering support of alumni, Malena coined the name of the Business School Alumni Network (BSAN) and served as the driving force to ensure continued support and prioritization across six dean administrations. Not only was the BSAN the first to implement a schoolwide alumni organization at CU Denver, but it is now the model for the rest of campus. Her vision, dedication, and enthusiastic support shaped the foundation and success of the BSAN. In my opinion, without Malena, the BSAN would not exist today.”

Current BSAN Chair Mason Kolby ‘19 said, “Malena has shown remarkable dedication and leadership in shaping the Business School Alumni Network. She has played a pivotal role in the engagement and involvement of alumni in the CU Denver Business School and has strengthened our alumni community. Her contributions to the Business School Alumni Network have been instrumental in creating a positive and collaborative environment, which has led to the overall success of CU Denver Business School. She has led by example by positively influencing those around her, inspiring a culture of continuous improvement, and setting a standard for others, ensuring that efforts are executed with precision and efficiency.”

Looking back at BSAN, Brohm is proudest of its humble beginnings. “We went from zero to where we are today.”

“Although I’m not an alum of the University of Colorado Denver, I am an alum of the University of Colorado, and in the end, that means we’re all alumni together.” Through the network, Brohm has made “wonderful, lasting friendships,” and as a founding BSAN member, she will always be an honorary Lynx. 

BSAN isn’t the only shining star in Brohm’s career. Another significant change she enacted was creating the Empowering Women in Business (EWiB) course. Despite legal and social advancements, women still face unique challenges in the workplace. To help equip students to rise to these challenges and provide allyship for each other, Brohm and her co-dreamers created the EWiB course. Since its creation, two cohorts have graduated from the course at a day-long symposium culminating the student’s learning. “Women in business still don’t have the same access to C-Suites that our male counterparts have, and we still have a wage disparity. We wanted to have a program that builds the tools for women to build their confidence, skills, and knowledge.” The program is inclusive and open to all students, regardless of gender identity and major. 

Mentorship is a vital part of EWiB. “Mentoring helped me when I was growing up in Business. I had a mentor, and she helped guide me through goal-setting and networking.” Mentors pair with EWiB students who help them learn to navigate the business world for themselves and provide them with the tools to help eliminate barriers to success and become agents for positive change. 

Brohm is now beginning what she calls her “second act.” She wants to remain involved and plans to continue to work with the dean in a fractional capacity. Beyond that, she wants to give back through non-profit work before kicking back. 

“I love our students. I love it when students become alumni. That’s the most important thing, student success.” Brohm’s commitment to student success is paramount, and the Business School is grateful for the impact she has made in the lives of students and alumni.

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