About  |  Team

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Leadership Veteran is an 8-month long Post 1 Foundation program taught by University of Denver faculty, content experts from Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) and leaders from the veteran community. 

The program is designed to provide current and emerging leaders serving within VSOs the opportunity to enhance their non-profit management, leadership, communication and collaborative skills. At the end of the program, participants will have enhanced skills, resources and network to better respond to the current and future challenges of the veteran community. 

build connections
Participants will build strong connectors within the cohort, with a Leadership Veteran culture that values inclusiveness and welcomes all diverse voices. We treat all with respect and expect participants in the program to share those values.


Sessions are led and taught by experienced non-profit management faculty at the University of Denver, University College, Nonprofit Leadership Program and leaders from the business, veteran and non-profit community. The curriculum is modeled after non-profit operations best practices and will include themes such as:

  • Leadership/Management styles
  • Operations
  • Finance Management
  • Development
  • Program Development/Management
  • Social Media and Media Relations

Veteran Issues

Veteran issue topics include: Employment, Employer Veteran Group, Housing, Personal Finance Management, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, PTSD, VA Claims, Family, Education, Women Issues, Homeless Resources, etc.

VSO participants, regardless of their constituent focus, will have a 360 understanding of all Veterans’ issues to better engage and serve their respective population.

Who Should Apply?

Current and emerging leaders serving within Veteran Service Organizations, or Veteran Supporters who want to make a greater impact for the Veteran community


Applications open now. The inaugural cohort will be announced January 30, 2022.

Full-day sessions will be held at the University of Denver on the 2nd Friday of the month from March, 2022-October, 2022.

Leadership Veteran spots are limited and competitive.


We want to ensure the Leadership Veteran program is accessible and affordable. Tuition is based on a sliding scale:

$995 for highly resourced organizations

$750 for mid-level resourced organizations

$495 for entry-level resourced organizations

Scholarships may be available

get involved

If you are interested in being a volunteer for the program, or interested in being a partner/sponsor, please email Leadership Veteran Program Manager, Kathryn Wirkus.

Drake Carpenter, VSO Director of Relations
Kathryn WirkusLeadership Veteran Program Manager

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Thanks to our Partners

The Leadership Veteran Team

Headshot of Michael Mitchel, Executive Director of Post 1 Foundation

Michael Mitchel

Program Director

The Leadership Veteran concept came after Michael participated in Leadership Denver 2017 and reflecting on his learning curve as the Executive Director of VFW Post 1. With no previous experience, he learned basic non profit operations through the “School of Hard Knocks” and felt that a program was needed to provide non profit best practice education to VSOs that would facilitate their success. 

Kathryn Wirkus

Program Manager

Kathryn, a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, has extensive program management and operation experience, and she founded Women Veterans of Colorado, a Veteran Service Organization addressing distinctive women Veteran issues.

Kathryn is uniquely positioned to understand challenges that volunteer and paid VSOs face having served as a VSO Executive Director, as a Veteran Service Officer for the Colorado Division of Veteran Affairs and staffer for a member of Congress.

Kathryn holds an MA in Guidance and Counseling.

Drake Carpenter

VSO Director of Relations

A graduate of the University of Denver and veteran of the US Army NCO corp., Drake is an experienced project manager who currently works in sports marketing for a local Denver corporation. Drake’s 10 years of experience on nonprofit committees, as well as a diverse background of community involvement in the Denver area will contribute to Leadership Veteran’s goals of growth and VSO participation.

Denise Burkhardt King

Program Advisor

Denise’s program management of Leadership Denver is the template from which Leadership Veteran was formed.

As Leadership Denver’s Program Director, her invaluable experience and insight in program and curriculum development will guide the development of Leadership Veteran to fruition.

Denise holds an MS in Adult Education and Human Resources Development.

She also serves on the national board for the Association of Leadership Professionals and the Governor’s Commission on Community Service.