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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
Kathryn Mullins Vega Collegiate Academy 1

Kathryn Mullins

Founder & Executive Director

Vega Collegiate Academy

Location: Aurora, CO

Founded: 2016

Industry: Education

To Kathryn Mullins, educational inequity is one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time.

Growing up in an upper-middle class household, Mullins had the privilege to attend high quality public schools throughout her life. She assumed this access to education was available to everyone – regardless of race, socioeconomic status, zip code, or background. During college, she soon learned this wasn’t true.

“In the United States, a child’s education is determined by where they are born,” she said. “And that is simply unacceptable.”

Mullins, Founder and Executive Director, Vega Collegiate Academy, said that her job is to maintain a bar of excellence, and never, ever sacrifice that bar. Mullins is, indeed, a Titan in every sense of the word.

Her journey towards excellence began when she realized that while she could change the trajectory of the students in her classroom, changing the system as a whole was proving to be challenging. After moving to NYC to teach at Uncommon Schools, Mullins was inspired by the idea that change could be possible in education. She set out to replicate this system nationally so that every child could have access to a quality education.

In 2015 Mullins joined a non-profit, Building Excellent Schools, so that she could develop and open a high-quality, urban charter school in Aurora, CO. Currently the school that she founded, Vega Collegiate Academy, serves primarily refugee and immigrant students from all across the world, and is ranked as one of the highest performing schools in the state.

Mullins’ determination to provide equal access to a fundamental human right, education, has allowed hundreds of students to change their own future, and pursue a life of opportunity. She has succeeded where many have not.

During their founding year, Vega was ranked the #1 school for math growth in the state, and the 4th highest for reading. These performance markers have continued throughout the school’s operation, consistently ranking Vega as one of the highest performing schools for low-income students in the state. Mullins has secured over 1.9 million through fundraising efforts, including both private and public grants. She was accepted into one of the most prestigious fellowships in education through Building Excellent Schools and will begin pursuing her EdD through the University of Colorado – Denver, this summer. Additionally, Vega was named as a Center of Excellence by the Colorado Department of Education in 2018 and is currently in the running for the Succeeds Prize.
According to Mullins, having such high expectations means that, sometimes, not everyone you hire will be right for the work – and that’s okay.

“I’ve learned that there’s no room for mediocrity and it’s my job as a leader to ensure that while I remain empathetic and inspiring, I also only hire outstanding employees.” She added, “You have to find the people who believe what you believe – there’s no room for anyone else.”

“As a founder of a single site school operator, over the years we plan to grow into a more influential school network, which includes the possibility of additional school sites, as well as turn-around work. Through continued efforts aimed at public education reform, I hope we can be a national leader in challenging the status quo and closing the opportunity gap for all students.”

For her commitment to excellence in raising the educational standard and for founding one of the highest performing schools in the state, Kathryn has been named a Titan of industry.

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Fun Fact:

Kate grew up a classically trained harpist, performing throughout the US and internationally. 


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