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CAHSS Staff Interview: Kristy Firebaugh

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College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Get to know Kristy Firebaugh, assistant dean of academics and communication and recipient of the inaugural CAHSS Staff Award

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The CAHSS Staff Committee posts interviews with staff throughout the year to promote visibility and encourage connection. If you'd like to be involved, please submit this quick form, and a member of the Staff Committee will be in touch. For more details on the CAHSS Staff Committee, log in to Portfolio and navigate to the Staff Resources page. 

Interview by Lauren Hartog 

Headshot of Kristy Firebaugh

Q: You’re highly involved with the Inclusive Excellence Committee. Why is this DU community so important to you, and how has your involvement shaped your view of the University?

A: During my time in CAHSS, I’ve seen how large and seemingly small decisions made by staff, faculty and administrators end up shaping the ways that students and employees experience life at DU. I believe it’s within everyone’s power, regardless of our roles, to consciously decide to foster a more inclusive environment. Some people might think that they don’t have a way to contribute, or that inclusive excellence doesn’t really affect their work. But everyone can be part of contributing — it’s about understanding how an inclusive lens can help you see your work and your role as part of the DU community.

The Inclusive Excellence Committee is a mechanism for thinking about how we can systematically embed inclusive approaches into all aspects of the College, with the goal of effecting positive change for our community. In my job, I have a responsibility to contribute intentionally to policies and practices in ways that can help advance inclusion. I know I still have a lot to learn about how to be consciously and consistently inclusive, and there is plenty of work that still needs to be done across our College and campus. Being on this committee gives me the opportunity to listen, to learn from my colleagues and to contribute to the conversation about how to support progress on inclusivity across CAHSS.

Q: Given the choice of anyone in the world (fictional or non-fictional), whom would you want as a dinner guest? What would they eat and/or drink?

A: The 2019 US women’s national soccer team. They are amazing athletes, but beyond that, they chose to use their spotlight as World Cup champions as a platform to speak out about gender inequality and politics. I’d love to have the whole team over to celebrate everything they have achieved and the battles they have fought and are still fighting. I’m not a great cook (I’m much more comfortable with baking than cooking), so the thought of cooking for this dinner gives me hives... so we would get takeout! Likely from Fire on the Mountain, which has delicious food and local beers.

Q: What was the first work of art or music you remember as having had a lasting impression on you?

A: Joni Mitchell’s Blue album. I grew up in a house filled with music: records were playing, or my mother was singing show tunes at the top of her lungs, or someone was playing the piano or guitar. This album was always one of my favorites in my parents’s collection because Joni Mitchell stood out to me as a perfect combination of voice, lyrics and instrumentals and contributed significantly to my love of music. It’s still one of my favorite albums.

Q: What has been your quarantine guilty pleasure?

A: Early COVID coping mechanism: baking chocolate Bundt cakes. Here’s my favorite high-altitude chocolate cake recipe from Mountain Mama Cooks.

Current COVID coping mechanism: running and biking (and then eating chocolate cake afterwards).

Q: What’s your favorite place to go in Denver? How did you discover it?

A: I can’t pick just one place! Here are three of my favorites:

Music venue: Levitt Pavilion. It’s a nonprofit outdoor venue in Ruby Hill that puts on free concerts for the community throughout the summer. I love their mission and the space is wonderful it’s an open lawn on a hill, and I’ve seen some fantastic music there.

Bookstore: West Side Books. It’s everything I want a used bookstore to be: a cavernous space with aisles that are too close together and at right angles from each other, nooks and crannies piled with stacks of books, friendly and super knowledgeable employees, a section dedicated to Colorado writers and a good selection of travel writing.

Bakery: Wooden Spoon. Their blackberry lemon scone is the best scone in Denver.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in the last few months?

A: Three things: That I’m very grateful to have a strong support network of family, friends and work colleagues, as we’ve been supporting each other through all of the stresses this pandemic has caused. That our campus’s threshold for change and creative adaptation is impressively high; I’ve seen the campus come together in ways I’ve never experienced before this, and it’s been very inspiring. And that adopting two kittens in the middle of a pandemic was a great idea!

Q: If you could choose to go back in time and live for a day in a historical period or place, when and where would it be? Why?

A: London, on or about December 1910. I would love to be able to witness the massive cultural shifts that Virginia Woolf was talking about here.

Q: What’s your favorite cocktail or dessert? Recipes are encouraged! No healthy treats.

A: I’ve been enjoying this cocktail called a Man o’ War as my Friday evening, end-of-week treat.

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