Dorothy Ortner Horrell is a trailblazer, educator and community builder, with a history of transformational leadership in education and philanthropy. Her career has been dedicated to empowering individuals, organizations and institutions to achieve their full potential. Currently serving as Chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver, Horrell sees education as the instrument of hope. She says, “It changes lives, not just for this generation but for generations to follow.” She holds three degrees from Colorado State University–a BS in home economics, and a MEd and PhD in educational administration.
Starting as a high school teacher in Adams County, Horrell quickly moved into administrative roles with the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education.
Horrell became the first female Director of the Occupational Education Division and was named to the inaugural position of Vice President of Educational Services. Horrell then served for 10 years as President of Red Rocks Community College before becoming the first female President of the Colorado Community College System. For the next 12 years, she was President of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, guiding its evolution as a leading arts funder and being recognized in 2007 as Colorado’s Foundation of the Year. Horrell received a gubernatorial appointment to the Colorado State University System Board of Governors including a two-year term as chair. She retired briefly before being recruited to become Chancellor of CU Denver in 2016.
Horrell has an enduring passion for creating healthy families and communities. Raised on a family farm with seven siblings, she competed in 4-H at the local, state, and national levels. Her extensive community involvement includes serving on boards for organizations focused on education, homelessness, and women’s leadership, as well as hospital systems, banking institutions and economic development entities. As a lasting civic legacy, Horrell established the Livingston Fellowship Program and was instrumental in founding the Institute for Leaders in Development, two programs that advance high-potential nonprofit leaders.
Horrell’s numerous honors include the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce Top 25 Most Powerful Women, the 2016 ATHENA leadership award, and the Colorado 4-H Hall of Fame. She and her husband, Ted, have one daughter and one granddaughter.