Dr. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner

Dr. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner is an education fellow for the Common Sense Institute in Denver.

Dr. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner is the first Mike A. Leprino Free Enterprise fellow, the Common Sense Policy Institute announced Monday.

Leprino was a Colorado dairy industry icon behind Leprino Foods that started out with an Italian grocery store in Denver. 

The fellowship was created by Laura and Matthew Leprino in honor of their late father and grandfather, respectively. Fellows will focus on issues that reflect his values and accomplishments, the institute said.

“From humble beginnings Mike built an enviable legacy and exemplified hard work, the entrepreneurial spirit and the American Dream,” Kristin Strohm, president and CEO of the Common Sense Institute, said in a statement.

Dickhoner is an education fellow at the business-focused think tank.

Before joining the Common Sense Institute, she developed and implemented policies for the Colorado Department of Education, including helping the commissioner and state Board of Education determine steps to improve the lowest-performing schools and districts.

She also helped the Education Leadership Council craft a nonpartisan, statewide plan.

“Brenda is a leader, a mom, passionate about education and an expert in Colorado public policy,” Strohm said. “She is the ideal candidate for the Leprino Fellowship.”

She has spent a decade working on education policy at the national and state level. She helped pass state legislation to bolster support and accountability for schools.

Dickhoner started her career with the National Conference of State Legislatures advising states.

She earned a Ph.D. in public policy at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs and studied political science as an undergraduate at Duke University.

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