This award has been presented since 1984. The Leanne Skupa-Lee Award recognizes effective and passionate volunteers who serve the University of Colorado and the CU Boulder Alumni Association. It celebrates extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of our institution and its mission.
Barbara Cooke (Psych'75; MBA'81)
If there’s a CU game to be watched, Buffs in Los Angeles know where to show up: Grunion’s Sports Bar and Grill. It’s all thanks to Barbara Cooke. As the L.A. alumni chapter leader since shortly after its founding in 1988, Barb has ensured that L.A. Buffs have a place...
to watch the biggest CU athletic events. Today, the chapter remains one of the most active in the country.
“Barb’s enthusiasm, love of all things CU and sincere inclusiveness were the recipe for success that set a standard for other alumni chapter gatherings,” said a former Alumni Association staff member.
In addition to the watch parties — which often include a roaring rendition of the “CU Fight Song” — Barb coordinates the yearly awarding of scholarships to Los Angeles CU students, participates in high-school college fairs and admissions events, and leads a team of alumni volunteers in organizing a range of alumni activities in the Los Angeles area from networking events to concerts. To stay current with the university, Barb often travels to Boulder.
“Her leadership and mentorship as I was forming the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter was invaluable,” said a fellow chapter leader.
The L.A. chapter holds a special personal tie to Barbara too. At the first organizational meeting for the chapter, she met her now-husband Raymond (Fin’79), who also remains committed to its success.
“I’m willing to bet that Los Angeles has the longest-running CU football watch party location outside of Colorado,” said Ray. “We’ve probably outlasted four owners of that Manhattan Beach bar, and it’s Barb who keeps it going.”
Besides Barb’s involvement with the local CU alumni chapter, Barb is a former member of the CU Alumni Association Advisory Committee, and recently retired from 30 plus years as a IT Project Manager and Consultant. She also serves as a chapter leader for her Professional Organization, Project Management Institute Los Angeles, having lead that chapter as its president and now as a Trustee for the past 10 years. Barb and Ray live by the beach in Los Angeles, along with one very spoiled two year old cat, Dusty.
Svein Hasund is the volunteer organizations yearn for. Fortunately for CU Boulder, Svein is around a lot. When Svein gives his time, which is often, he’s fully committed. He’s among the first to arrive and last to leave.
At an Alumni Association event for nearly 2,500 graduating CU seniors this spring, Svein, who was then 74, stood and greeted students for four hours straight. Immediately after the party ended, he put himself to work hauling tables without a word.
“I think anyone in our organization would agree that he is our most dedicated event volunteer,” said an Alumni Association staffer.
Svein’s time serving CU has more than made up for the years he lost touch with the university during his 42-year career in the oil and gas industry, both on- and off-shore. The Norway native lived in places as far away as Alaska and the UK. However, his strongest CU tie was with him the whole time: Svein met Pauline, his wife of more than 50 years, while a student here. Their sons are also CU graduates.
In addition to their own children, the couple has contributed to the lives of more than 55 babies through philanthropic efforts and foster programs.
Since returning to Boulder in 2000, Svein has served on the Alumni Association and Directors Club boards among other CU commitments.
As a board peer put it: “He believes in the institution of CU and is willing to do whatever is needed to spread the word.”