The Reidy family

Meet Board Chair Kevin Reidy

Kevin Reidy, the Chair of Colorado Academy’s Board of Trustees, believes in heroes—the individuals and institutions that put the interests of the most vulnerable above everything else. “You never know when you’re going to meet your hero,” Reidy says. “But you will.”

He’s speaking from experience.

Kevin, Diana, and Ann Reidy

When his daughter, Diana—a graduate in CA’s Class of 2023—was two-and-a-half years old, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The news came as a devastating blow for Reidy and his wife, CA alumna Ann Benson Reidy ’88. Together, they had built a loving blended family comprising Ann’s two older children from her previous marriage along with Diana and her younger sister, Laura, now a CA Junior.

For Kevin, it was the angriest he’d ever been. Both his parents had died of cancer: first his father, who developed throat cancer when Kevin was a junior at Cherry Creek High School, and years later his mother, who succumbed to recurring breast cancer. Conventional treatments including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery had failed both of them, and he wasn’t sure he’d ever trust the healthcare system again.

But at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where Diana went to receive treatment, Reidy’s hero turned out to be someone he attended elementary school with and now met under a completely different set of circumstances—Diana’s oncologist, Dr. Kelly Maloney. He and Ann and the rest of the Reidy family stood watch as Maloney and her team proceeded to change everything he thought he knew about hospitals and doctors: They cured his daughter completely.

“I witnessed the miracle work that they do,” Reidy recalls.

Transformed by the ordeal, he and his wife immediately sought more involvement with Children’s Hospital. Kevin joined the Finance Committee as a community representative before being invited to join the Board, and Ann served on the Development Committee. When he was elected to chair the Board from 2016 to 2018, Reidy says he began “the most rewarding professional experience of my life.”

He came to that role via a route that began in Greenwood Village in the 1970s, long before the Denver Tech Center and Interstate 225 came to define that part of the metro area. His path led from Cherry Creek High School through the business program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, to a stint in public accounting with Price Waterhouse, and then to a long and successful run in telecom investment banking, right at the moment today’s wireless world was exploding.

“I remember being at a telecom conference where panelists were saying you’re going to be able to watch TV on your phone someday,” Reidy recalls of that exciting time. “I thought, ‘This is crazy—what are they talking about?’”

But much more was in store for him than a communications revolution. At Children’s, just as Diana’s cure utterly changed his perception of healthcare, so the institution itself forever shifted Reidy’s career journey. Deeply affected by the hospital and its heroes, he turned toward philanthropy, starting with his full-time position leading the Children’s Hospital Board.

“For the first time, I really got a clear sense of how loved Children’s Hospital is—how important it is in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region,” he says. “I took a lot of pride in that because I was able to play my small role.”

A view of the Anschutz Medical Campus

Witnessing the incredible growth of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus before, during, and after his time as chair—a 20-year effort costing some $5 billion—he saw how Children’s Hospital became part of “an amazing innovation center and growth engine for the Colorado economy.” He’s now deeply involved in venture capital investing at CU Innovations, the Anschutz arm that helps researchers create biomedical technology to improve the quality of life worldwide.

A hidden gem

For a second time, it was his young children, and the heroes they encountered, that set Reidy traveling down yet another path—the one that eventually put him on CA’s Board of Trustees.

As Ann recounts, Diana and Laura were thriving at Polaris at Ebert Elementary, a Denver Public Schools (DPS) arts integrated magnet school for gifted learners, and when it came time to think about middle school, they imagined the girls would continue within DPS. But on a tour of CA’s beautiful campus one day, Ann and Kevin were beyond impressed. 

Hearing Head of School Dr. Mike Davis speak about the importance of balancing the arts, athletics, and academics while challenging students to persevere through failure only deepened their interest, quickly convincing the Reidys their girls should be at CA.

“You see the arts and music facilities, the intellectual risk taking, the faculty and coaches with their commitment to excellence and resilience—that’s what education is about,” observes Kevin. “We were totally sold.”

It didn’t take long for the family to become deeply engaged across practically every area of the school, from the Parent Association to the Field Hockey community and REDI Lab, and from the CA Concert and Auction to the See It Through campaign that built the Athletic Center and the Leach Center for the Performing Arts. “Be careful what you sign up for!” the Reidys joke.

They were unhesitatingly all in. “The community and involvement at this school are like no other,” Ann explains. “Our whole premise in the world is to enable our kids to have a full life, to discover who they are, to learn how to face challenges and setbacks, hard conversations, with conviction and independence, and to understand the importance of giving back. That’s CA.”

Their commitment soon saw Kevin joining the Board, where he became known as someone with a gift for nurturing relationships. Ann says, “There’s a comfort people feel with Kevin. He listens; he’s compassionate. He engages with whatever the issue might be and isn’t afraid to put his ideas out there.”

Almost immediately, Reidy and his colleagues faced an issue they never expected: COVID-19. He turned to a lesson he’d learned well at Children’s: “When you do what’s in the best interest of children, making tough decisions comes easy.”

Throughout the spring and summer of 2020, Reidy recounts, the Board, under Erika Hollis’ amazing leadership, met frequently to support CA’s desire to safely reopen as soon as possible—and they did, he notes with pride. “It’s easy to forget how much fear there was at the time, especially among the faculty,” he says. “But we brought the teachers on board, and we got past the fear. We were the first in the area to reopen—not to set an example for everyone else in the city and the state, but to serve the best interest of the kids.”

Measuring a school’s impact

Today, with CA Board Chair as just one of his “four day jobs”—he is also the Director of LP Relations with the CU Healthcare Innovation Funds, an Advisory Board Member at the Gates Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and helping manage Ann’s fine art advisory business (though Kevin notes that he is not allowed to touch any art)—Reidy often relies on the good counsel of his wife as he and his Board colleagues envision the role the school must play among the state’s most impactful institutions.

The founder of Ann Benson Reidy + Associates, a fine art advisory that guides corporate and residential customers on their art collections and programs, Ann explains, “We’re really fortunate that Kevin’s mind and my mind play off each other so well.” She was an art history and American studies major at Smith College, and her successful business affirms her view of education as a way to enrich life and discover new passions.

It’s a perspective that complements Kevin’s own: Education is the way we learn how we can make an impact in the world. That’s why, he says, he views his job, and that of his fellow Board members, as critically important in supporting the mission of the school.

“I want to make sure that Dr. Davis and his Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Whitney Johnson, have the resources they need to make CA successful, including access to the incredible pool of talent represented on the Board. People are our greatest asset here at CA—whether that’s someone on the Board with a law degree or a finance background, or a classroom teacher with decades of experience. Without the very best people, what are our parents paying for?”

Aspirationally, Reidy continues, CA is positioned to be the best in Colorado. And that’s measured not only by the ever-increasing demand to enroll, or the 100% college-attendance rate among CA graduates, but also by the unique brand of teaching and learning that’s on display in every classroom, every day.

“I see CA as a place where civil discourse is real, not just a phrase we use. Young people are being taught to respectfully state their beliefs and opinions, and to deal with whatever discomfort they might get back from the listener. That’s our great issue as a country right now,” Kevin asserts, “so strengthening a culture where we excel at this is central.”

CA is “graduating some amazing young adults,” he says simply. “They emerge with a rigorous education that has pushed their thinking. They enter college classrooms more prepared than many of their peers across the nation. I don’t ever want us to lose that—the education and the experience that our families support, and our students earn.”

School changes lives; and it saved Reidy’s. When his father died, it was the members of the Cherry Creek High School football team who stood by his side, helping him get through the loss; to this day, he still stays in touch with many of those teammates.

To be sure, Kevin has had the joy of witnessing everyday heroes throughout his collective experiences at CA and at Children’s Hospital Colorado. But to him there are no greater heroes than those who persevere and welcome challenging moments, and his true heroes are his family: Ann, Diana, Laura, Jack, and Kate.