The Legacy Lives On

The PLC alumni have always been very proud and dedicated to the current PLC program, its history, and its future. Class members from all four decades engage with the program through selection interviews, class lectures, guest seminars, PLC special events, hosting experiential weekend overnights, giving donations, networking with students, providing internship and job connections, and serving on the Board of Advocates. Now, through the PLC Alumni Club, the alumni are more engaged than ever.

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Laurie (Taylor) Cantillo, PLC 1976

Featured Alumnus

Laurie (Taylor) Cantillo ('76)

Deputy Director, Communications & Education, NASA JPL

Written by Caitlyn Mendik - Social Media Coordinator

“It was love at first mission,” is how Laurie Cantillo describes her first job with NASA working as a public affairs specialist for the New Horizons Mission to Pluto. Getting to work for NASA took years of hard work, but Laurie’s time at the University of Colorado Boulder was influential. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism and was a member of the 1976 Presidents Leadership Class. 

Growing up, Laurie was the editor of her highschool newspaper during the Watergate era. This opened her eyes to the power of journalism and the ability of the press to hold authorities accountable. It sparked a passion that carried her to internships for Denver’s Channel 9 News and Boulder’s KBOL during college. Working late nights and early mornings led her to a successful career in the media that took Laurie to live all over the country. 

Laurie’s space-loving son encouraged her to apply for a job with NASA. Their family loves stargazing, meteor showers, and star parties, so the job seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new. Working with NASA has been an incredible experience. Laurie remembers, “I was hooked on space story-telling- I went from covering the worst of humanity to the best.” She was the first person to spot and write about Pluto’s “heart!” Since then she worked to help produce the Gravity Assist podcast with NASA chief scientist Jim Green, and is currently working on communications for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

Aside from being entranced with space, Laurie grew up in Colorado and loves the outdoors. You can find her hiking, traveling, bird watching, or doing nature photography. One of her favorite memories of PLC was climbing Longs Peak with a new group of friends during freshman orientation. This close-knit group led to many other fun days including acting as street performers on Pearl Street! 

After being in the program, Laurie’s biggest piece of advice to current students is to “dare to fail.” She explains that there are two types of failures- those that come from a poorly executed plan and those that come from aiming high. The latter is the key to innovation and success as she knows it is valuable to learn from setbacks and overcome challenges. Growth is critical to ensure success on the next attempt. With her insight, she says “innovation comes with risk and daring to fail, so fail forward!” 


Past Featured Alumni

Dr. Joe Pesce - PLC '84 Cris Jones - PLC '99 Alexandra Alonso - PLC '06 Jospeh Arora - PLC '09 David Davenport - PLC '90
Nikki Ferraiolo - PLC '03 Lisa Powers - PLC '11 Doug Price - PLC '74 Katie Larson - PLC '01 Dr. Larry Allen - PLC '90
Tom Carroll, Esq. - PLC '01 Kyle Hybl - PLC '90 Lisa Dengerink - PLC '98 Colin West - PLC '06 Romain Vakilitabar - PLC '10
Devon Tivona - PLC '10 Clint Folsom - PLC '88 Michael Kercheval - PLC '74 Graham Fuller - PLC '01 Paul Zeckser - PLC '05
Jill Bagley - PLC '79 Andy Klein - PLC '92 Abby Robertson - PLC '98 Colleen Church - PLC '94 Melissa Chiappetta- PLC '99
Chris McCabe - PLC '00