2018 Medal Recipients

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Vanguard Legacy Medal Winner

Dana Crawford

Award-winning preservationist Dana Crawford initiated a concept of urban renewal that was one of the first of its kind in the United States. She pioneered the redevelopment of Denver’s historic Larimer Square in the mid 1960s, creating a festival shopping area from the neglected and abandoned buildings of Denver’s original main street. Today, Larimer Square serves as a prototype for the revitalization of forgotten main streets and architectural landmarks throughout the country.

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Emerging Community Leader Medal Winner

Sara Gebretsadik

Sara came to the United States when she was 10 years old from Ethiopia. Leaving her life for one she knew nothing about was the greatest risk she had ever taken. Transitioning to the American lifestyle, while trying to hold on to her beloved culture, was extremely difficult, especially when she began high school. Attending Denver South High School, a school that celebrates diversity and culture of all kinds, led her to embrace from where she came as her culture contributed significantly to who is today. She found her passions through recognition of her culture.

At school, she discovered new passions such as being an activist and representing minorities. Her significant involvement in the Rising Rebels club is a clear example of these passions. Rising Rebels was founded to increase the number of students of color in AP honors and concurrent enrollment classes. For a school with 73 students of color in these courses, change was pressing and necessary; Denver South recognized this need, and Sara acted. The population grew from 73 students of color to more than 600 students in these courses, a more than 700% increase. Sara continued to strive for something she knew would positively impact the lives of others. She now aims to bring Rising Rebels to the collegiate level.

Sara was also co-president with her sister (founder) of a school club with a mission to spread self-love and positivity. For Sara, self-love was personal topic as she struggled with her identity when she first arrived in the United States. Feeling uncomfortable as if she stood out, Sara faced personal challenges accepting her past. As an example, she disliked her natural hair for some time, which was heartbreaking as it was a symbol of home. However, she knew her experience was valuable to share with others who face similar challenges, so she joined the Rebel Buddies club to serve as a mentor to new students to support their transition into high school.

Along with her many accomplishments at Denver South, she was an active member in a multitude of extracurricular activities including, the Black Student Alliance, Minds Matter, varsity sports in Track and Cross Country, dance, and student government. These programs kept her involved at school, allowed her the opportunity to meet incredible people, and hone her skills.

Sara volunteers regularly with Special Olympics, Balarat, and the Denver Club of Humanities. In her free time, Sara enjoys spending time with family, watching movies, reading and occasionally just doing nothing. Sara is now a freshman at the University of Colorado-Boulder, majoring in Business Law, with an ongoing passion to give back to the community.

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Public & Community Service Medal Winner

Russell "Russ" George

Russ served as president of Colorado Northwestern Community College, with campuses in Rangely and Craig, from 2010 to 2017. From 2007 to 2010, Russ was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to serve as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. It was Russ's opportunity to lead the state in finding transportation solutions and building relationships with local governments statewide to identify and implement long-term sustainable funding sources and programs. He was responsible for the direction and management of the 3,300-employee department with an annual budget of $1 billion.

Russ served as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources having been appointed by Governor Bill Owens in 2004. Russ was charged with protecting and enhancing Colorado's natural resources. In this role he oversaw the operations of nine agencies: Division of Wildlife, Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, State Parks, Water Conservation Board, Division of Water Resources, Division of Minerals and Geology, State Land Board, State Forest Service and State Geological Survey. He served as a board member of Great Outdoors Colorado, the Water Conservation Board and the Ground Water Commission.

From 2000 to 2004, Russ served as director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. This agency, then with a $100 million budget and 750 employees, managed and supported a wide range of wildlife recreation, species conservation, game and non-game management and wildlife education programs.

Russ was elected to the Colorado House of Representative for four terms from 1992 through 2000. He served District 57 representing the citizens of Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin Counties. As a House member Russ served on the judiciary, agriculture, local government and capital development committees. In his fourth term Russ was elected by his peers to be Speaker of the House of Representatives.

From 1976 until 2000, Russ practiced law in the firm of Stuver and George, PC., in Rifle which handled water, real estate, oil and gas, business and related legal matters. Russ is a fourth generation western Coloradoan and a graduate of Rifle High School, Colorado State University –  where he was a Boettcher Scholar – and Harvard Law School. He was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1972 and the Montana bar in 1975. He served as a VISTA Volunteer for the Crow Tribe of Indians in Montana, as a municipal judge in Rifle, as general counsel for the Rio Blanco and West Divide Water Conservancy Districts and as a board director for the Silt Water Conservancy District.

Over the years Russ has received various awards including being named Water Leader of the Year by the Colorado Water Education Foundation and the Rams Juris Doctor CSU Career Distinction in Law award. The Colorado State University Institute for Learning and Teaching has named a portion of its facility as the Russell George Great Hall. Russ currently serves as trustee and chairman of the Boettcher Foundation and as trustee or director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Western Colorado Community Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation.

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Growth & Innovation Medal Winner

Paul Major

Paul Major has served as the President and CEO of the Telluride Foundation since its inception in June 2000. Major leads the Foundation’s multi-million-dollar development, grantmaking, capacity building,  initiatives and investment efforts.

Prior to the Telluride Foundation, Major worked as the Director of Business Development for Booth Creek Ski Holdings six resorts. Major's ski industry experience began in 1984 with the U.S. Ski Team in Park City, UT. He served as the Vice President of Athletics and Alpine Olympic ski coach, directing and managed all athletic aspects of the 6 Olympic sports of the U.S. Ski Team including 200 athletes, 60 staff and 50,000 members.

Major is a board member of the Caring for Colorado Foundation and EPIC (Executive Partnering for Investment in Children), Founding Member of the Entrepreneurship Funders Network, Co-Founder of the Telluride Venture Accelerator, and a general partner of the Telluride Venture Fund LP. He is formally a Board member of Mobile Accord Inc., Colorado Association of Funders, and the Council on Foundation’s Community Foundation Committee and chaired the Technology Task Force.

Major holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, studies towards a master in Mechanical Engineering and letterman athlete, alpine skiing, University of Colorado. Major lives in Telluride, Colorado with his wife, Lois Whitesel Major, J.D. They have three college age children.

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Corporate Citizenship Medal Winner

GE Johnson

For more than half a century, GE Johnson has been dedicated to enriching communities by leading and building projects with the best people and ideas. A commercial contractor dedicated to delivering unmatched results and a remarkable project experience, GE Johnson is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has five regional offices. Having completed more than $8 billion in construction projects across 12 states to date, the company embraces the power of ingenuity and trusting relationships, and value integrity, safety, collaboration, and excellence.


Founded upon a legacy of giving back, GE Johnson invests its time and talent in the communities where they work, forming lasting bonds. The company supports the arts, education, environment, health and human services, and sports and recreation through volunteerism, community engagement, and other contributions.  Each year, GE Johnson supports hundreds of charities and causes, and invests thousands of hours of employee volunteer time. The organization takes great pride in investing in the. community and making it a better place to work and live. Among the many non-profits and charities GE Johnson has supported in its history are some of the most visible and impactful organizations in the community. Proud of the involvement with these organizations, the company strives to provide organizations the support they need to continue improving quality of life.