Senior Staff

Executive Director


Dr. Angie Paccione

Dr. Angie Paccione was appointed executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education by Gov. Jared Polis, assuming the role on Jan. 10, 2019, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 17, 2019.

Dr. Paccione has more than 20 years of experience in secondary and postsecondary education. She was a high school teacher, coach and administrator at Smoky Hill High School in the Cherry Creek School District before earning a Ph.D. in education and human resource studies from Colorado State University (CSU). There, Dr. Paccione served on the CSU faculty for nine years as a teacher educator in the “Project Promise” program, a nationally recognized program of excellence in teacher preparation for mid-career professionals. She also conducted research in the teacher education field, examining educators’ life events that led them to become committed to issues of diversity and inclusion. Her findings informed a teacher preparation program and were later published in Teacher’s College Press, which has been cited in over 75 academic papers.

Dr. Paccione left higher education to pursue public service and was elected to two terms in the Colorado House of Representatives, rising to become house majority caucus chair. She served on the Education Committee during all four years in the legislature, helping guide the education environment for the state of Colorado. In 2006, she ran for U.S. Congress and came within 2.5 percent of unseating the incumbent.

From 2007 to her appointment as executive director, Dr. Paccione worked for Verus Global where she specialized in the areas of leadership development, diversity and inclusion, talent development and change management. She has worked with leaders from the shop floor to the C-suite in 40 countries and all 50 states. Dr. Paccione has also co-authored two books on leadership: One Team: 10-minute Discussions that Activate Inspired Teamwork and Do Big Things: The Simple Steps Teams Can Take to Mobilize Hearts and Minds, and Make an Epic Impact.

Growing up biracial in New York City, attending college in California and residing in Colorado, Dr. Paccione bridges many divides. She was raised to believe you can accomplish anything to which you set your mind, a philosophy that runs through her life’s accomplishments. Playing basketball at Stanford University and professionally in the 1980s, Dr. Paccione’s credo is that she’s as committed to your success as she is her own.

When she’s not working, Dr. Paccione can be found reading, traveling, enjoying theater and films or gardening. She counts her family and friends among her greatest blessings.

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Chief Occupational Education Officer of the Colorado Department of Higher Education


Lorna Candler

Lorna Candler directs the seven-member governor appointed Private Occupation Board and the Division of Private Occupational Schools (DPOS).  Candler has been an attorney for more than 20 years and has served the state in various roles; most recently as an assistant Colorado attorney general advising DPOS (and other educational and healthcare agencies).  For the past eight years, she has overseen the state authorization of both for-profit and non-profit private occupational education (both degree and certificate programs that are two years or less). She has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Vermont and a juris doctorate degree from University of Denver College of Law. Candler is also serving as vice president on the National Association of School Administrators & Supervisors of Private Schools (NASASPS) Board of Directors. She previously served as a director from 2017 – 2019.

CEO of College Assist and CollegeInvest


Angela P. Baier

Since 2009, Baier has been responsible for managing Colorado’s 529 College Savings program representing more than $5 billion in assets under management and more than 330,000 families. In 2012, she was named CEO of CollegeInvest and of College Assist, a federal student loan Guaranty Agency representing more than $11.5 billion in student loans. Baier brings over 25 years of senior level management, business development, and marketing expertise to her position.

Baier’s diverse career consists of 20 years in nonprofit leadership, including serving as CEO of The New York State Zoo and as a vice president at the Denver Zoo. She served as a Hickenlooper mayoral appointee for the City & County of Denver – leading the first-ever city branding effort. She was the youngest department head in Best Western’s Corporate history, led the nation’s largest retail sponsorship program at Cherry Creek Shopping Center, was a national nonprofit liaison for the Walt Disney Company, and has been host of her own TV and radio shows – appearing with live animals.

Baier is very active in the Metro-Denver community, serving on the mayoral transition teams for both Mayor Hickenlooper and Mayor Hancock, and has served on a number of non-profit boards.

Baier earned her B.S. from the University of Kansas.

Chief Strategy and Research Officer


Lauren J. Ramsay

Dr. Lauren Ramsay joined the CDHE staff in June 2018. Her focus lies in providing science-based support for organizations, using data to understand organizational issues. Dr. Ramsay has broad experience as an academic, university administrator, and scientist-practitioner and has worked extensively with senior leaders in public and private sector organizations. She has served on the faculty of several universities, including the University of Colorado Boulder, where she served as a faculty director, as well as the University of Colorado Denver.

Dr. Ramsay earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Michigan State University. She holds an M.Ed. in counseling from University of Puget Sound and a B.Soc.Sc. in industrial psychology and economic history from the University of Natal. She is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management as a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Born and raised in South Africa, Dr. Ramsay is an advocate of equity in organizations. She is a wife, mother, and squash player.

Chief Student Success and Academic Affairs Officer


Kim Poast

Dr. Kim Poast comes to the Department with a broad background in higher education and K-12 educational systems. She mostly recently served as executive director of college and career readiness at Denver Public Schools, working to ensure that all students are ready for the next step after high school. Previously, she served the Community College of Denver as dean of students and vice president/executive director of institutional advancement. Before that, she was deputy director for CDHE, overseeing the strategic planning that led up to the strategic planning process and providing overall leadership for student services and for statewide outreach divisions and activities.

Dr. Poast earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in counseling psychology from California Lutheran University and Ph.D. in higher education, student affairs leadership from the University of Northern Colorado.

Chief of Staff


Ben Boggs

Ben Boggs previously served as higher education program principal at the National Conference of State Legislatures. In that role, he analyzed legislative trends related to postsecondary education including issues pertaining to higher education governance, finance and student aid/affordability, workforce preparation and economic development.

His professional experiences include service as nonpartisan legislative staff to the Kentucky General Assembly, director of educator preparation at the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, senior associate for academic affairs at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and President’s chief of staff at Berea College, a tuition-free liberal arts work college focused on Appalachia students with limited resources.

Ben earned his B.A. from Wake Forest University, M.Ed. from The College of William & Mary in Virginia, and Ph.D. in higher education policy from the University of Virginia.

Chief Educational Equity Officer

Roberto Montoya

Roberto Montoya

Dr. Roberto Montoya brings more than 20 years of corporate, governmental, and higher education experience to CDHE. Before joining the CDHE leadership team, he worked for Government Alliance on Race and Equity at Race Forward partnering with state and local government to implement policies, practices and procedures that focus on racial equity. Dr. Montoya has worked for the City and County of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver where he led and implemented initiatives that centered on race and social justice with the goal of positively changing outcomes for all. He has taught several undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Colorado Denver in the School of Education regarding the social foundations of race in education and society.

Dr. Montoya has 14 peer-reviewed publications and his research focuses on educational equity, speculative race fiction, and teacher education. He holds a B.S. in political science from Colorado Mesa University, an M.A. in ethnic studies from Regis University, and a Ph.D. in urban education from the University of Colorado Denver. Raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dr. Montoya is committed to community, praxis, and elevating BIPOC epistemologies. He is a father, partner, scholar, educator, and self-proclaimed jazz and hip hop head. 

Chief Performance Officer


Michael Vente

Vente works to harness connections between people, projects, programs, divisions, and organizations to ensure that CDHE is executing on the right things. He examines and develops key performance indicators, finds efficiencies and/or opportunities for connection, and creates a roadmap to fix any problems. 

He manages the research environment for CDHE as well as several specific research projects and reports related to student success. He also manages data governance activities by improving the quality and managing the protection of sensitive data and information assets.