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Kate Mullins Vega Collegiate Academy

Kate Mullins

Founder & Executive Director

Vega Collegiate Academy

Location: Aurora

Founded: 2016

Industry: Education

According to Kate Mullins, successful leadership relies on empathetic communication and problem-solving skills. “Successful leaders have an unwavering commitment to public service and public good,” she said. “Leaders must also be willing to do what it takes to dismantle barriers for all.”

As the founder and executive director of Vega Collegiate Academy, Mullins works day in and out to dismantle barriers for the youth of Colorado.

Vega Collegiate Academy is a K-8 college preparatory public school that serves the most vulnerable student population in Colorado. Located on one of the highest crime blocks in the state, Vega seeks to challenge the societal barriers that inhibit student success. “At Vega, we believe that demographics should not determine life’s opportunities, and are on a mission to ensure every child, regardless of background, has access to a free, high-quality, public education.

In the last year, Mullins, a two-time Titan 100, began expansion plans for the academy. In the next three to five years, Vega Collegiate Academy intends to open several additional campuses across the state to increase its impact. Additionally, the academy has increased overall performance, resulting in some of the highest growth scores in the city, and has successfully recruited and retained more bilingual staff members.

The operating revenue has continued to increase and in the past year, under Mullins’ leadership, Vega expanded services to reach many of the newcomers within the state. “More than 36% of our student population are children who are new to the country,” she said. “We recognize how critically important our work is, and what an accomplishment and honor it is to educate such a vulnerable group of students.”

This year, Mullins said her greatest leadership lesson was that failure leads to great outcomes. “Failure can be humbling and exhausting, but within each failure are lessons not learned from success,” she said. “I was a national finalist for the White House Fellowship, and failing at attaining this opportunity forced me to pause and reflect, both on my abilities and outcomes as a leader; this year, I focused greatly on continuing to expand my impact in the community, and much of that drive was due to my failure to attain the fellowship.”

Mullins and her team have also weathered challenges with a challenging employment pool and overcome a mentality that education is not a highly regarded or respected profession. “We seek to challenge the public narrative that ‘those who can’t do, teach’ and shift to ‘those who can, teach,’ because teaching is by far one of the most challenging, and purposeful, careers one can choose,” said Mullins. “I hope to be a change agent in our broader market to continue to change the narrative for our students, their families and our staff.”

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Did you know?

Whenever I’m asked this question, my initial response is that I really don’t have one. I simply do what it takes to make advancements in my field and respond to my community with necessary solutions. If I had to pick one, perhaps it would be passionate persistence. There’s too much to be done in this world to waste time on quitting.


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