President's Cabinet

The purpose of the President's Cabinet at Naropa University is to be an executive management body that provides informed, effective and responsive leadership for the university. The cabinet shall advise the president on such matters as university-wide policy, establishment of priorities, and the evaluation and creation of institutional objectives on matters of broad significance and strategic relevance to the university. The cabinet's responsibility also includes the following:

  • Ensuring that timely, accountable progress is made toward the strategic goals and objectives of Naropa
  • Cultivating a contemplative institutional climate that reflects integrity, openness, responsiveness and accountability
  • Safeguarding the university's financial, legal and reputational integrity
  • Establishing ethical standards and appropriate institution-wide performance expectations;
  • Evaluating matters that have long-term, broad institutional consequences—e.g., affects the university's reputation, strategic planning goals/objectives, financial viability, etc.

The cabinet reports to the president, who has the ultimate decision-making authority. The cabinet's ultimate purpose is to further the mission of the university. The cabinet serves as an advisory body to the president on all areas related to the university programs and operations. The cabinet provides a forum for discussing institutional strategy and issues. The cabinet reviews the University's progress in meeting articulated goals.

Cabinet Members

Yvonne Gates, Associate Vice President for Budget and Financial Affairs

Yvonne Gates comes to Naropa University with 28 years of budgeting and finance experience coupled with policy development and administrative expertise. Yvonne previously served as Deputy Executive Director at the Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach (Trio programs) for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Yvonne has obtained a BA in political science and journalism, a Master of Public Administration, and a PhD in public affairs from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Yvonne is excited to be a part of Naropa; she sees Naropa University as a unique institution of higher learning that enhances students' educational experiences to make a difference in today's society and centered on global sustainability.

Ann Marie Klotz, Vice President for Development, Enrollment, and Student Success

Ann Marie Klotz, PhD, has served in higher education for the last 20 years, most prominently within the division of Student Affairs.  She has served in senior leadership roles at The New School and Radford University, and was previously the Dean of Students at the New York Institute of Technology.  Her background includes leadership of several university departments including Housing and Residence Life,  Student Life, Orientation and Parent Programs, International Student and Scholar Services, Health Services, Student Conduct, and the Women's Center. She earned her BA from Grand Valley State University (Political Science) and Master's degrees from Michigan State University (Student Affairs) and DePaul University (Women and Gender Studies) respectively.  She earned her doctorate from DePaul University where she studied the career trajectory and leadership styles of ten female university presidents.  

As a first-generation college student from Detroit, MI, she is passionate about helping underserved students find personal and professional success through education. She is a frequent speaker, keynote, consultant, and trainer for universities and corporations on areas of leadership and development.  

Regina Smith, Vice President for Mission, Culture & Inclusive Community

Regina Smith, MFA, MA, is a spirited educator committed to serving the Naropa community in a way that is inspired by poetic vision and grounded in heart-and-body-centered clarity and compassion. She currently serves as the Vice President of Mission, Culture, & Inclusive Community and teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate psychology programs.

Joy Valania, Special Advisor to the President

Joy Valania has served as the Special Advisor to the President at Naropa University since 2012. As Special Advisor, Joy oversees institutional policy development and interpretation, manages university compliance with federal and state regulations, directs risk management programs and consults with campus leadership, faculty and staff regarding legal and risk management best practices within their functional areas. Joy serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet, the Student of Concern and Threat Assessment teams, and the Exception to University Policy Committee. She is also the Secretary to Naropa’s Board of Trustees. Raised in Pennsylvania, Joy holds a BA of Journalism from The Pennsylvania State University and a JD from Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, DE. Joy is happily married and, together with her husband, is busy raising three daughters.

Sue West, Chief Academic Officer

Sue Hammond West, MFA, is the Interim Chief Academic Officer and Vice President for Academic Affairs as well as a Professor of Visual Arts at Naropa University. A painter and mixed media artist, West has been faculty at Naropa for more than twenty-six years, teaching leadership, business, career and life skills, as well as mixed media and contemplative art-making within the innovative studio-based curriculum. As Dean of the School of the Arts, a position she held for eight years, she oversaw the Visual and Performing Arts programs, undergraduate Art Therapy, Education, and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. As Chair of Visual Arts (2002–2018), West expanded the art galleries and facilities, and led ArtTank, an art-making open studio, which she hosted for more than ten years.

West’s leadership experience began in roles at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as Assistant Director of Ox-Bow and the Registrar/Bursar of Extended Studies. She came to Naropa in 1995 to create the School of Continuing Education. Additional leadership positions include the Director of Education at the Rolf Institute and Operations Manager at Maruca Design.

Lama Tharchin Rinpoche was West’s contemplative practice mentor from 1996 onward. Contemplative leadership training includes Acharya Dan Hessey (2014), Center for Positive Change (2016), Non-Dualism with Rupert Spira (2019), and Malidoma Somé (1997) in holding one’s seat. West emphasizes a holistic view for organizational change, balancing reality with energetic presence. A transformative leader and builder of creative teams and inventive systems, West employs a human approach where relationships and truth come first. She is a fierce advocate for social justice and strives for excellence for all. Her ultimate goal is to ignite the lived experience and be a zeitgeist to create an exquisite future.

Learn more about West’s approach to art making: