Regis to Host 2017 Opus Prize Foundation Award Ceremony

Read our feature stories showing how the 2017 Opus Prize is inspiring the Regis community. 

What is the Opus Prize

The Opus Prize is an annual faith-based humanitarian award, recognizing leaders and organizations that develop creative solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems. The Prize is awarded in partnership with Catholic universities, providing new opportunities to inspire the next generation of servant leaders. Opus Prize laureates are motivated by remarkable faith to create new opportunities for transformation. The Opus Prize is given not only to expand the humanitarian efforts of the recipient, but to inspire others to pursue lives of service.

Opus Prize laureates combine the spirit of innovation with amazing faith to inspire long-term, local solutions to address poverty and injustice. Opus Prize laureates prove change is possible, empowering and inspiring us all. The $1 million award and two $100,000 prizes make up one of the world's largest faith-based awards for social entrepreneurship. While the Opus Prize Foundation partners with Catholic universities to award the Prize, the individual or organization receiving it may have roots in any faith. To learn more about the Opus Prize, visit

As the 2017 partner, Regis has completed a worldwide search for the individuals who be honored as the 2017 Opus Prize recipients, with thanks to our compassionate and involved alumni, faculty, staff, friends and community members who submitted nominations. The 2017 Opus Prize Jury, consisting of greater Denver business and faith leaders, then carefully selected three finalists whose work is currently being evaluated in the field by the Opus Prize Foundation along with a delegation of Regis faculty and students. The finalists were announced on July 14, 2017. During the week of October 8-11, 2017, our finalists will be on the Regis campus where they will be engaged with our faculty, students and greater Denver community. 

The announcement of the $1 million and two $100,000 prizes will take place at the Opus Prize Ceremony on October 11, 2017. 

Opus Prize Values

The values of the Opus Prize Foundation are apparent in the recipients of the Prize, and are embedded in the following selection criteria:

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP  These innovators have the clear vision and ethical commitment necessary to drive change. The Opus Prize seeks to recognize faith-based social entrepreneurs who go beyond the immediate problem to fundamentally change individuals, families and communities.

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP Opus Prize laureates are agents of change who motivate others to do more than what initially seems possible. She or he leads in a way resulting in the transformation of their community as a whole.

SUSTAINABLE CHANGE The Opus Prize Foundation recognizes the impact of organizations that provide direct services to those in need. The Prize focuses on honoring individuals who are successfully addressing the root of social problems in ways that drive locally owned, short- and long-term change.                 

FAITH Faith is not restricted to a church, synagogue, temple or mosque— it is revealed in prayer, thought, commitment to justice and service of those in need. Prize recipients demonstrate faith through their principles, actions and belief that human life at every stage is sacred.

UNSUNG HEROES Often, those impacting their communities are not widely known. They work quietly and humbly, focused on bringing change. The Prize identifies “unsung heroes,” without broad recognition and financial support, acting as a catalyst to bring support to the individual’s organization, inviting attention and investment.

LIFE OF SERVICE Opus Prize recipients demonstrate through actions their belief in the value of each person, and that a person’s faith is evidenced by their commitment to justice and compassion for others.

Opus Prize recipients are expected to operate out of certain business principles essential to the accomplishment of the Opus Prize aspirations:

An entrepreneurial approach that transforms personal vision into a life-long commitment fueled by innovation and a willingness to take calculated risks in the service of achieving humanitarian goals.

A commitment to integrity that emboldens and attracts supporters through open and honest communication, shared responsibility, the meticulous honoring of commitments, and the modeling of one's values and faith.

A focus on excellence and resultsaccomplished with little fanfare, which transforms the lives of people who are served, by efficiently stewarding the earth's resources to achieve the best possible outcome.

Administrative capacity that warrants the organization’s ability to manage a substantial grant.


Opus Prize laureates are agents of change who motivate others to do more than what initially seems possible. She or he leads in a way resulting in the transformation of their community as a whole.


Opus Prize laureates are agents of change who motivate others to do more than what initially seems possible. She or he leads in a way resulting in the transformation of their community as a whole.


Opus Prize laureates are agents of change who motivate others to do more than what initially seems possible. She or he leads in a way resulting in the transformation of their community as a whole.


Opus Prize laureates are agents of change who motivate others to do more than what initially seems possible. She or he leads in a way resulting in the transformation of their community as a whole.

What is the Impact for Regis

The Opus Prize is awarded on college campuses, providing an opportunity to inspire a new generation of leaders. Through identifying Opus Prize finalists, students build meaningful connections, experience personal transformation and are challenged to live lives of service.

Regis President John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J., who was instrumental in bringing the Opus Prize to Regis, said the award reflects Regis’ values as one of the top Jesuit universities in the country. “The Opus Prize exemplifies what this university is about,” Fitzgibbons said. “This is in our DNA. The prize not only expands the faith-based humanitarian efforts of the recipient’s organization, but also inspires others to pursue lives of service. They really answer the question ‘How ought we to live?’”

Opus Prize finalists are leaders who carry an unshakable faith, believing the problems they see around them not only can be resolved, they will be. It's a promise to inspire our students and the entire Regis community who are poised to impact the future. It's when faith takes root and innovation happens. It's an opportunity to champion change and be changed.

2017 Opus Prize Jury Members

Regis University is proud and honored to introduce the members of the 2017 Opus Prize Jury, an impressive list of business, non-profit and faith leaders.  

The Opus Prize Jury held the important and faith-filled task of reviewing the nominations Regis received from our university alumni, faculty, staff and friends, and selecting three 2017 Opus Prize finalists. We are extremely grateful for their time, commitment and passion as we set forth to recognize some of the world's most outstanding faith-inspired champions of change.  

Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali, Imam, North Denver Islamic Center, Denver, CO

Ms. Dina Coates-Koebler, Director of Development, Community Food Share, Louisville, CO

Dr. Kate Cumbo, Director of Programs, PeaceJam Foundation, Arvada, CO

Ms. Dawn Engle, Executive Director and Co-Founder, PeaceJam Foundation, Arvada, CO

Ms. Clare Felleter, Graduate Student/Service Learning Coordinator, Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, Regis University, Denver, CO

Ms. Vanecia Kerr, Regional Executive Director, College Track, Denver, CO

Dr. Meme Kinoti, Associate Professor and Chair, Masters in Non-Profit Management, Regis University, Denver, CO

Mr. John Knott, Founder and President, City Craft Foundation, Charleston, SC

Ms. Susan Kramer, Director of External Relations, Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project, Glendale, CO

Ms. Mikaela Meyer, Undergraduate Student, Honors Program/Regis University Student Government Student Body Chief Justice, Regis University, Denver, CO

Rev. William Oulvey, S.J., Rector, Jesuit Community, Regis University, Denver, CO

Mr. Lonnie Porter, Executive Director, Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, Regis University, Denver, CO 

OPUS Prize Award Ceremony Events

OCT. 2016:  
Nomination process opens

NOV. 15, 2016:
Nomination Deadline 

JAN. 2017:
Opus Prize Jury review and selection of finalists

MAR.-MAY 2017:
Regis faculty, students and Prize Foundation evaluate finalists in the field

JULY 2017:
Three finalists announced

Sept. 19-21, 2017:
Opus Prize laureate Sarah Lance to visit campus

OCT. 8-11, 2017:
Finalists on Regis campus

OCT. 11, 2017:
Opus Prize Award ceremony

2017 Opus Prize Faculty Delegates and Student Scholars

Regis University is proud and honored to introduce our impressive 2017 Opus Prize Faculty Delegates and Student Scholars.

As part of the 2017 Opus Prize finalist selection process, these faculty and students were extended the life-changing opportunity to join Opus Prize Foundation board members in site visits to the 2017 Opus Prize finalists who were selected by the 2017 Opus Prize Jury. Regis Student Scholars were nominated by faculty and staff and selected through a competitive interview process.  Regis Faculty Delegates submitted an application and were selected by the Academic Deans Council.

The "due diligence" site visit trips fully engage the Regis team with the finalists and their organization and demands careful, thoughtful and faithful observance of their meaningful and important work. The 2017 Opus Prize Faculty Delegate and Student Scholar voices are integral parts of the final section process of award winners decided by the Opus Prize Foundation. We are grateful for their commitment and grace throughout this process - and extremely proud to have them represent Regis University's voice as we set forth to recognize some of the world's most outstanding champions of faith-filled change.

2017 Opus Prize Faculty Delegates

Geoffrey Bateman, PhD, Assistant Professor & Chair, Peace & Justice Studies and Director, Women’s & Gender Studies Program

Cheryl Burditt Footer, PT, PhD, Assistant Dean & Associate Professor, School of Physical Therapy             

Meghan Sobel, PhD, Assistant Professor, Communication

2017 Opus Prize Student Scholars

Amy Bloomquist, Graduate Student, Master’s of Nonprofit Management

Bailey Gent, Undergraduate Student, Peace & Justice Studies and Business        

Chris Lew, Graduate/Professional Student, Doctorate in Physical Therapy

David Mooney, Undergraduate Student, Economics and Philosophy                                       

Katie Skowronski, Undergraduate Student, Psychology and Neuroscience

Marley Weaver-Gabel, Undergraduate Student, International Business and Public Relations


Past Opus Prize Laureates

Past laureates have dedicated their lives to improving the quality of life of those in their community or abroad though healthcare, education, wellness and nutrition and other humanitarian efforts. 

2016 – Sarah Lance
Hosted by Creighton University

Sarah Lance founded and leads Sari Bari, a non-profit business that offers freedom to the women escaping the horrors of human trafficking and the sex trade in Kolkata, India. Sari Bari seeks the sustainable restoration of the city’s 22 red-light districts and the prevention of continued exploitation of the nearly 60,000 women and children in the commercial sex trade by offering a safe place of gainful employment including health care and education benefits.   

2014 - Sr. Tesa Fitzgerald
Hosted by Gonzaga University

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald founded and continues to lead Hour Children, an organization that councils and mentors formerly incarcerated mothers and their children on reentering their communities and reunite with their families.

2013 - Sakena Yacoobi
Hosted by Marquette University

Through her leadership with the Afghan Institute of Learning, Sakena Yacoobi enhances the lives of women and girls. She is involved with healthcare and education initiatives, as well as training women to become teachers.

2012 - Fr. Richard Frechette
Hosted by St. Catherine University

Father Richard Frechette aids 150,000 Haitian residents through his work with the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. The organization aims to improve education, healthcare services and general outreach in the nation.

Read more about these and other past laureates here.