If you have ever wondered who drives the car that is often the last to leave Welborn parking lot, now you know—it’s Chief Financial Officer and Business Manager Alanna Brown. After 28 years of devoted service to Colorado Academy, Brown is stepping down at the end of June and beginning a well-deserved retirement.
In her nearly three decades at CA, Brown has usually toiled behind the scenes—but the impact of her hard work has touched every student and every member of the faculty and staff. The list of her areas of responsibility fills a page and inevitably leads to the question, “Does one person really do all that?” Yes, she does.
“It’s always been interesting because I do have a wide variety of responsibilities,” she says. “But I am an accountant at heart. The rest I learned on the job by necessity.”
When Brown looks back and remembers the day it all started, she credits then-Head of School Chris Babbs for sealing the deal. It was August of 1994, and she had come in to interview with CA’s Business Manager for the new position of Controller. He picked up the phone, called Babbs, and said something like, “There’s someone here you should meet.” Babbs was on summer break, but he dropped everything and came in to do the interview. Brown got the job, was promoted to Business Manager within two years, and now, 28 years later, the accountant in her can look back at a long list of successes in her column.
Wearing many hats
Before CA, Brown had worked in the Business Office at Pomona College, but she wanted to move back to Colorado to be closer to family. At CA, in her initial role as Controller, she was responsible for budgets and financial accounting. Through the years, she added a long list of responsibilities: Risk Management, Human Resources, Security, Child Care, Student Health Services, the Bookstore, Operations, the support staff for the Smith Center Reception area, and Sodexo, the company with the contract to provide food services at CA. Each responsibility brought with it a learning curve.
“Among everything else, I learned a lot about construction and facilities,” she says. “The fact that I know something about water rights law is interesting.”
The very first construction project during her tenure was remodeling what is now the Pre-Kindergarten Cottage. After that, she had her hand in remodeling or new construction of every building on campus: major renovations to the Lower and Middle School, building and renovating Smith Center, the renovation of Welborn House, the construction of Schotters Music Center, the Upper School, the Ponzio Arts Center, the Campus Center, Raether Library, the Athletic Center, and the Leach Center for the Performing Arts. She was also key to the development of multiple athletic fields.
“What’s great about this campus is that the Sculpture Garden and Stamper Commons are exactly the same as when I came,” Brown says. “Years before I got here, someone had great insight into the core layout of CA.”
Since February of 2020, Brown has been integral to making COVID-19 health plans for CA and enforcing policies—a job for which no amount of training could have prepared her. As she had done for decades, she learned on the job and somehow found more hours in her day to keep CA students as safe as possible during a pandemic.
Putting on her travel hat
In 2015, Brown was honored by the National Business Officers Association with the Will Hancock Unsung Heroes Award, which goes to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools. She was nominated by Head of School Dr. Mike Davis, who also orchestrated a nice moment for the presentation, bringing all of Brown’s colleagues into an Administrative Committee meeting to witness her honor.
“Alanna has served this institution with integrity and a selfless manner,” says Davis. “The school is in solid financial shape with new buildings and facilities and zero debt. She has guided the day-to-day operations, providing me with insightful counsel. During the pandemic, she has been a rock, keeping CA open and fulfilling its mission. We will miss her greatly and are so thankful for her service.”
Brown and her husband plan to take a year to think about their future plans. They want to see more of the National Parks in the U.S. and do some international travel—no matter what month of the year it is.
“Even the summers in our office are very busy,” she says. “One thing I am looking forward to is not being tied to a school year calendar.”
She says she will miss the people, the excellent food, and the beautiful campus at CA. “When you walk out of Welborn and you look west at the sunset,” she says, “that is pretty nice to see.” Let’s hope she gets a very nice sunset that last day she pulls her car out of the Welborn lot.