Twin leaders: Murphy Robinson named Denver Deputy Mayor, Brittaney tackles education issues

What happens when twin siblings both get Colorado Academy educations? In the case of Brittaney Robinson ’06 and Murphy Robinson ’06, the world gained two passionate and powerful leaders.

Brittaney co-founded a school in a Colorado neighborhood with poorly performing schools–and led it to become the #1 public school in the state for growth in math and #4 for growth in reading.

Murphy started a sustainability program in Brighton that received recognition from President Obama–and has recently been appointed Deputy Mayor for the City and County of Denver.

Their parents must be proud. The faculty and staff at CA are beaming.

The Santa Claus of education

Brittaney Robinson finds places where students are not getting the education they deserve and works to change that. Her process goes like this:

  1. Become the school leader.
  2. Work tirelessly with students, educators, and community members to fix the problems.
  3. Turn over the reins to other existing competent leaders.
  4. Go find another place to help.

Having worked as a consultant for education nonprofits, she’s now a little like Santa: going around the world giving the gift of high-quality education. She started in Aurora, Colo., in a neighborhood with a 96-percent refugee population, 13 different languages represented, and fifth-graders who didn’t know the English alphabet.

To fill the neighborhood’s need for free high-quality education, she and another educator created Vega Collegiate Academy. The charter school opened in fall 2017 and within a year, test results showed Vega students had improved more in math than any other school in Colorado.

“It is the most rewarding, most difficult thing I’ve ever embarked on in my life,” Robinson says. “There are moments of wondering if you’re doing it right, but getting those results back and seeing our hard work with teachers and students paying off, we know we’re doing something right.”

With a complete leadership team in place at Vega, Brittaney is now helping a school in Guatemala improve academic performance and offer professional development opportunities for teachers.

“I love to help organizations attain their dreams,” she says.

The new Deputy Mayor of Denver

When he was a student at CA, Murphy Robinson happened to meet Charlie Gallagher on Grandparents Day. From that day forward, Murphy saw the well-known Colorado businessman as a mentor. Gallagher helped him get a college scholarship, gave him advice at their quarterly meetings, and encouraged him to reach for the stars.

This mentorship–and his rigorous education at CA–have sustained Murphy through undergraduate studies at Xavier University, five years as a police officer, graduate work at CU Denver, and a rise to municipal leadership in the Denver area.

He first held city management roles in Brighton and Englewood. Through focus and hard work, he rose quickly through the ranks, skipping eight levels of management at one point.

Then one day, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called Murphy and asked him to join his cabinet. As Executive Director of the Department of General Services for the City and County of Denver, Murphy has overseen city facilities management, energy efficiency initiatives, and goods and services procurement.

On January 1, 2019, he was promoted to Deputy Mayor. “Murphy has been a phenomenal Executive Director for the General Services team, and he’s become a valuable leader within my administration,” Mayor Hancock says.

Murphy will continue his Executive Director duties, but he will add more community engagement duties and will exercise the duties and responsibilities of the Office of Mayor whenever the mayor is unable, for any cause, to perform the duties of the office.

“I like being able to affect others’ lives in our community on a big scale,” Murphy says, and he believes CA helped foster his drive to become a leader. He calls his new position “humbling.”

“I learned that hard work counts and to keep on grinding until you get what you want,” he says. “Because of CA, I’m able to conquer anything.”

The CA impact

For both Brittaney and Murphy, CA marked a turning point in their education.

In Murphy’s case, he developed meaningful relationships that motivated him and impacted his career. He keeps in touch with longtime CA Choral Director Cindy Jordan, who helped him to write symphonies which were performed by CA’s students. He was one of the first students studying under CA’s Music Composition Coordinator Brian Golden at the dawn of CA’s music composition program in 2005-2006.

“CA was a blessing,” Murphy says. “I made connections, friends, and lifelong relationships I wouldn’t have made elsewhere.”

In Brittaney’s case, she learned how to learn–and how to teach.

“I was a slower-paced learner. It took me a little longer to get certain concepts and to study for exams,” she says. “But I didn’t give up, and that was because of the support of my teachers. CA taught me how to be a determined, resilient learner.”

Now, Brittaney transfers those lessons into her own teaching. And she dreams of every student getting a CA-caliber education.

“CA is committed to supporting every student in their process and giving them the opportunity to attain their goals and dreams–this is the culture,” she says. “Since I’ve stepped into the shoes of an educator, I know that CA showed me what a high-quality education looks and feels like, and I truly appreciate the hard work they put into helping me succeed as a student. Now, I’m paying that forward.”