TFAS alumnus John Carson (ICPES 82) is making the difference in the lives of college students of Colorado. In the fall of 2014, Carson was elected by the people of Colorado to serve on the University of Colorado System’s Board of Regents.
“It’s always exciting to run for office,” Carson said. “You have to network with a lot of folks, convey your ideas and develop a campaign. A lot of the skills for that you can learn through the TFAS programs. I really enjoyed running for office, getting elected and serving, and this gives me a chance to stay active in politics.”
In 2015, Carson began his six-year term on the Board of Regents for the University of Colorado System. This board is an oversight committee of the university’s operations. Regents serve as volunteers who meet periodically throughout the year to vote on the budget, academic programs and the direction of the university.
On the board, one of Carson’s main focuses is making sure the university does everything they can to get more political, intellectual and philosophical diversity among professors and programs at the university.
“I think that’s an important thing I learned from TFAS, that we want to have a vigorous dialogue on campus, we want to have a lot of different political views and we want to have a lot of conservative and libertarian professors, as well as liberal professors.”
In addition to striving for a diversity of thinking at CU, Carson also focuses on trying to keep college tuition affordable by keeping the growth of the university budget under control.
Carson says he’s remained fond of TFAS, and that the lessons he learned as a student have helped him succeed in his career over the years.
“I think the reason I like TFAS so much is because it gives students an important perspective that they don’t get on a lot of college campuses: the unique and important history of the United States and its contribution to the world and human liberty.”
Carson serves on the board with fellow TFAS alumnus and chairman of the Board of Regents, Kyle Hybl (ICPES 91, AIPES 93). Carson says he thinks both he and Hybl were attracted to serve on the board because TFAS encourages an interest in academia and universities.
“If someone goes through the program, they’re more likely to be interested in the universities and making sure that we’re offering students a good diverse dialogue and debate in politics and economics,” Carson said.
In addition to his service to the University of Colorado, Carson is a corporate practice attorney for Cherry Creek Mortgage Company in Greenwood Village, Colorado. He earned his law and bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, and received a degree in tax law from Georgetown University.
Carson has played an active role in the political process since his days as an undergraduate at the CU-Boulder. During his TFAS summer, Carson interned for the Senate Steering Committee, where he learned “an awful lot about how the U.S. Senate operates.”
After he completed his studies, Carson returned to Capitol Hill to work for several members of Congress and senators including Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado, Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin and Rep. Joe Knollenberg of Michigan. Carson says his time as a TFAS student helped him realize his next steps for his future.
“[TFAS] got me pretty excited about things, and I went back to work on Capitol Hill partly because of the excitement I experienced that summer,” Carson said. “A lot of the seeds to that were planted through my participation in ICPES and TFAS.”
Carson’s outstanding political involvement doesn’t stop at his time on the board and working on the Hill. After working on the Hill for more than 11 years, Carson returned to Colorado to serve in the George W. Bush administration as the Rocky Mountain Regional Director of Housing and Urban Development in Denver. From 2009 to 2013, Carson also served as president of the Douglas County Board of Education, and served on its board beginning with his election in 2005.
Carson led the Douglas County Board of Education in its education innovation programs focusing on parental choice, pay for performance, online learning and a rigorous 21st century curriculum. The Denver Post named him Top Education Thinker of 2012 for his work serving the state’s third-largest school district, with more than 65,000 students.
Given his longtime passion of helping students and young people, Carson has some advice for current TFAS students and young alumni who want to follow in his footsteps:
“Use the education, skills and excitement you experience in the TFAS programs and use those to help to further your career,” Carson said. “Stay involved in politics, government and your community, and it will certainly serve you well as a good foundation for your career and future studies.”
Carson says it’s also important to continue to give back to TFAS.
“I think it’s absolutely critical that we support programs like TFAS that give college students and young people a perspective that they often don’t get on mainstream universities in the U.S.,” Carson said. “They don’t hear a lot about free-market capitalism and the importance of political and economic systems in the United States and all of the tremendous contributions that our country has made, and continues to make, to the world.”
He says TFAS programs are just what students need to continue to thrive in a free society.
“You get a lot of negativity on college campuses these days, and I think TFAS programs offer young people a cause for optimism and excitement about the future of our country, its place in the world and the contributions that they can make to continue our democratic and free-enterprise system.”
Among his many accomplishments and commitments to his country, Carson served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1979-1985. Carson has also been a delegate or alternate to the last three Republican National Conventions.
Carson and his wife, Eileen, live in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and have three children, one of whom is currently a student at the University of Colorado studying political science.
To support the TFAS education of future John Carsons, please visit www.TFAS.org/support.