Exceptionally qualified leadership.


Hi, I’m Lesley Smith, and I’m running to be your University of Colorado Regent because I have the courage and the experience to make a difference in our state. As the first woman aquanaut to live and work in the Aquarius underwater research lab, an eight year local school board veteran, and a career scientist and educator, I am exceptionally qualified to take on the challenges facing Colorado’s flagship university system. I will:

  • ensure that CU offers students an excellent, relevant education that equips them with the skills to be workforce-ready,

  • work hard to attract strong funding for a strong CU system and

  • fight for affordable, accessible pathways to success.

CU is the third largest employer in Colorado, and it’s an economic driver of our state contributing over $12 billion annually to the state’s economy and brings more than a $1 billion in research funding. A strong CU system makes a strong Colorado!

First woman aquanaut at the Aquarius underwater research lab. Higher education creates pathways to success and a workforce ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges, but we are not giving all our students a fair shot to get on that path. I was fortunate to have access to a good education and plenty of encouragement to pursue my love of science. I worked hard, finally earning the honor of being the first woman aquanaut in NOAA’s underwater research habitat, Aquarius. I was the only woman in our team of six. Working in a male-dominated field and learning leadership skills, toughened my resolve to make the STEM fields more diverse. Education offered me a pathway to success, and I will ensure that CU offers all students an excellent, relevant education that equips them with the skills to be workforce-ready.

Eight year local school board veteran. During my eight years of service on the Board of Education for Boulder Valley School District, I managed a $300 million budget, increased community trust and engagement, and strengthened funding for public education. Frustrated by a lack of broad stakeholder input from the seven communities BVSD serves, I led the charge to develop an effective community engagement process from the mountains to East County. It worked. An independent survey showed greater community trust as a result. Despite the 2008 recession, which cut $34 million from the budget, the district’s financial health remained strong during my tenure. The voters passed a $298 million bond and we successfully negotiated the district’s first-ever three year contract with the teacher’s association under a new collaborative bargaining model. I am a champion of public education, and I understand the importance of strong funding and wise management of funds. I will work hard to attract strong funding for a strong CU system.

Career scientist and educator. Over nearly 30 years at CU Boulder I have worked my way from Research Scientist to Associate Director of the Education & Outreach Program at CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science. I have taught undergraduates, mentored graduate students, and helped prepare our state’s teachers to use innovative science curricula in the classroom. Currently, I am helping create seamless pathways for community college students across the state to transfer to 4-year institutions through summer scientific research experiences in STEM fields at CU.

Education has been my lifelong passion. I am retiring from CU in April in order to focus all my time and energy on fighting for affordable, accessible pathways to success for all our CU students.

CO Clean Primary Campaign Pledge

Learn more about me in my bio and where I stand on the issues. You will see that I am the exceptionally qualified leader in this race. Learn how you can help elect a strong leader to the CU Board of Regents by donating and volunteering for my campaign!.

Please vote for me, Lesley Smith, for CU Regent at Large.