Elizabeth Ann Paulus (Liz) was born Elizabeth Ann Cooley on December 10, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio, and was raised in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. She is the youngest of four children. Her father, James E. Cooley, served in World War II and, while serving, met Joan Nurse, who became a “War Bride.” They returned from Europe together and raised their family in the United States. James’ military service influenced Elizabeth to join the U.S. Army after her brief exploration of being an apple farm worker in Manson, Washington. Paulus’ military career began as a private in the Women’s Army Corps in 1975. After three years of active military service with the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Provisional), 1st Infantry Division, Paulus moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she continued her military service in the reserve component of the US Army. She earned a Paratrooper Badge in 1980 while in the 297th Military Intelligence Company and the 12th Special Forces. Her airborne training coincided with the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, causing the trainees to complete training wearing face masks to keep the dust from overwhelming their lungs during their rigorous training. She also began College and graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in 1988. She attended Officer Candidate School and received a commission as a Quartermaster Second Lieutenant in the Arizona Army National Guard in 1986.
Upon graduating college, Paulus began her career as a civil servant for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs as the Environmental Officer for the newly formed office. She soon rebranched and was assigned as Engineer Officer. Employed for seven years, Paulus established operations for the full range of environmental programs. To assist the transition of 27,000 acres of training and storage areas to the Arizona National Guard identified in the first round of the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), Paulus authored the 1993 environmental assessment, Reuse of Navajo Depot Activity by the National Guard of Arizona which allowed the National Guard to take full control of the Army Depot. In 2005 Paulus deployed as the onsite commander and state liaison for 300 Arizona National Guardsmen in Louisiana during Operation Pelican, recovery operations for the Hurricane Katrina and Rita disasters. Before retiring, Paulus had completed 31 years in the U.S. Army, spanning conflicts from the Cold War to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Most of Paulus’ time was served both in the military and in pursuit of a concurrent career. Paulus retired from military service in 2008 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Paulus’ husband Gerald and her two children also served in the military.
Leaving the Civil Service, Paulus then became an Environmental Specialist with the city of Phoenix. In this role, she developed a comprehensive multi-discipline Facility Assessment program for environmental compliance of over 200 city facilities. She led the citywide team for establishing the Environmental Data Management System to track over 20,000 chemical line items and oversaw the migration of the database from network to internet technology. Paulus developed the policy to implement the city’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program and retired upon the program’s successful implementation after 20 years of equivalent service with the city.
Paulus is a lifelong public servant. Following active military service and working in the city of Phoenix, the Paulus’ founded College Bound in 2010, a nonprofit 501c3, where she began a new career as the Executive Director to help improve postsecondary education opportunities for disadvantaged youth. In 2018 after earning a master’s degree in Education Leadership and receiving a Certified College Access Professional certification, she designed a curriculum for College Bound’s RISE Scholars initiative and facilitated partnerships with local middle schools and high schools to provide one-on-one college advising to low-income and disadvantaged youth throughout the region. Over the years, thousands of underrepresented high school youth matriculated to College under the RISE Scholars program through a partnership established with the Career and Technical Education School District, the East Valley Institute of Technology. She was the mastermind behind another College Bound initiative aimed at food-insecure students to keep youth in college and on track to a brighter future through education. That initiative, called Fueling Minds with Heart, continues to provide food and hygiene items to local College students. The College Bound AZ programs serve over 1000 students monthly throughout the year.
These programs proved invaluable during the pandemic years 2020-2021. Paulus, through RISE Scholars, continued to serve students one-on-one to streamline the college-going process and expanded its impact to include any post-secondary school. Hundreds of low-income students continued to be served when EVIT remained open throughout the COVID crisis. In 2022 alone, College Bound helped over 400 youth attend college and garnered more than $13 million in financial awards for the students.
During this period, Paulus launched an acclaimed laptop drive for RISE Scholars students to improve the available technology for high school completion and college admissions. Paulus secured funding through grants and collaborated with local IT companies to obtain laptops with the necessary specifications. Once updated and imaged for immediate use, Paulus hand-delivered laptops to students isolated by the pandemic.
Concurrently, Paulus reorganized Fueling Minds with Heart in response to the community college’s switch to curbside pickup. College Bound’s Meal Kit and the COVID Cookbook containing ten recipes, invented by Paulus, allowed an agile response to continue services. Meal Kits include all the ingredients and a recipe for feeding a family of four and are packed in a bag for curbside pickup. Over 5,000 meals, including the Meal Kits packed by volunteers, were delivered to the community college for families during the COVID crisis.
Following the pandemic, RISE Scholars’ growth was met by Paulus forming a consortium of in-state schools and resources such as Mesa United Way to streamline ongoing collaboration. As a result of these efforts, by 2022, 1,000 students transitioned to college through the RISE Scholars program with $23 million in financial awards.
In 2022 Paulus and her husband Gerald organized Chicago Fest West to help fund College Bound AZ programs. The event is a music and food festival celebrating the culture of Chicago in Mesa, AZ, where the Chicago Cubs Spring Training is held annually. During its inaugural year, the festival drew about 5,000 visitors, and it is expected to grow into a signature fundraising event to support College Bound’s mission.
Paulus holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Arizona State University (1988) and achieved a master’s in Education Leadership from Upper Iowa University (2018). She enjoys mentoring, family genealogy, rock collecting, travel, road trips, and hiking.
Paulus chose to participate in the deep space Enterprise Mission as a participant in the inevitable, mankind’s exploration of the universe. “Wanderlust has been a fascination of mine from an early age. As a child, I drew the navigational controls of a spaceship on the inside walls of my closet, shut the door, and journeyed onto other planets. After high school, I hitchhiked across the U.S. to try something different. I left suburbia to live and work on an apple farm, maybe in response to the hunter-gatherer in me and my innate urge to press on. Initially, in college, I wanted to study meteorites to find evidence of other life in the universe. I research my own family genealogy and have retraced some of my ancestors’ steps to try and understand what made them press on. My DNA analysis tells me I’m descended from Vikings, maybe the most traveled people on Earth. My pursuit to answer my own questions is personified in the Star Trek television series. I was and still am an avid watcher of the earliest series that streaming services make accessible for viewing daily. I’ve been to the Star Trek Museum in New York. The journey into space gives me the ability to press on. It’s possible my husband and I could be some distant planet’s ‘Adam and Eve.’”
Born: December 10, 1956, Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Children: Drew Trojanowski, James Gilman, Krysta Paulus (stepdaughter), Erika Velasquez (stepdaughter), Matthew Paulus (stepson)
Spouse: Gerald E. Paulus, Jr (2001 – present) (Previous married names: Elizabeth Akens until 1983, Elizabeth Trojanoswki until 1989, Elizabeth Gilman until 1998, then Elizabeth Paulus in 2001)
Parents: James E. Cooley, Joan Nurse
Siblings: Phillip A. Cooley, Dianna L. Sharps (born Thomas A. Cooley), Michael L. Cooley
Gerald E. (GE) Paulus is a Utility Director, Certified Energy Manager, Engineer, Military Officer, Philanthropist, and business professional He was a Natural Gas Director for Mesa Natural Gas Utility, the City of Winfield Gas Division and Gas Division Manager within the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. He is the founder and President of ET/Energy Technologies LC., founder and President of the Institute of Energy, founder of ShipWreck Fashions, co-founder of 29 Minutes Corporation, Co-Founder and past President of the board of directors for College Bound a 501c3 not-for-profit; and owner and CEO of Arizona Chip Company and the Grand Canyon Sherpa, LLC. Paulus is a philanthropist, a program manager, and a retired military officer who has served in combat zones throughout the world. He and his wife Elizabeth have a blended family of seven children—Krysta, Erika, Drew, Matthew, Ashley, James and Cassidy.
In addition to his military service, Paulus served on Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan during OIF and OEF as a Senior Energy Advisor for the US Department of State. he and his wife Elizabeth founded College Bound a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to helping underrepresented youth achieve their dream of a brighter future through post-secondary education. He is a member of Rotary International, Sister Cities International, the Mesa HoHoKams, Association of Energy Engineers, a youth mentor, tutor, a world traveler and is an instructor for New Frontiers for Lifelong Learning in Mesa, Arizona.
Gerald was born in Easton, PA to Gerald E. Sr. and Marie A. (Losagio) Paulus on December 18, 1955. As a youth growing up, his family and friends called him Ja., Later he would use the name Jerry or Gerry or simply GE. Jay had three siblings: two sisters Joanmarie, Dorene and a brother Ronald. Upon graduation from Easton High School, he joined the US Air Force with plans of seeing the world and getting a post-secondary education through the GI Bill.
Paulus began his educational pursuits while enlisted in the US Air Force where he earned the Superior and Distinguished Educational Achievement awards. He left active military service to attend Lafayette College in his hometown of Easton, PA but later transferred to the University of Colorado to finish his mechanical engineering degree. Paulus graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He received a master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and he graduated from the Air University’s Air War College with a master’s degree in Strategic Studies.
Although he left active military service, he enlisted in the US Army Reserve and National Guard where he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Paulus was called back to active service many times over his 33-year military career. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Army, where he served in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Alaska and Afghanistan with the United States Army and the US Department of State. He earned the Parachutists Badge, Jungle Operations Badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and numerous medals over his career. In 2003 while in command of the Selective Service, he was named Battalion Commander of the Year for the Western Region.
Paulus wrote several notable papers during his military and civilian career and his real-world wartime experiences during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan played a pivotal role in his life and future studies. He authored papers on the “Insurgency Paradigm in Iraq and “Creating a Sustainable Iraq” for which he was recognized for his thorough understanding of Insurgencies. He was quoted as saying, “Within 48 hours our US Military owns the Air, within 72 hours we own all shipping lanes on the sea, and within 100 hours we own the land.” His papers referred to the need for a “Marshal” plan to, as he put it, “Create A Cause To Live For That Is Greater Than Their (the insurgents) Cause to Die For” as he briefed key military leaders. His paper was recognized by General Petraeus in 2006: “Excellent Piece! Your paper on the Insurgency Paradigm in Iraq reveals an intellectual and creative commitment to solving serious military issues.” In 2007 Petraeus went on to command the multi-national forces in Iraq as a four-star general from February 10, 2007 to September 16, 2008.
Paulus' careers include directing three Natural Gas Utility companies from 1990-2008 and 2019-2020, designing an entire city infrastructure and numerous natural gas pipelines, starting more than five businesses as an entrepreneur,
In 2016-2017 Paulus was responsible for delivering the detail design of Saudi Arabia’s South Dhahran Homeownership Project, a new city in Saudi Arabia. His team of over 100 engineers prepared & completed the detailed design of the utility infrastructure including electric, fiber optic lines, water, wastewater, irrigation systems and roadway designs.
Philanthropy and Community Involvement
Paulus created three not-for-profit organizations including College Bound AZ and the Institute of Energy. He founded the Institute of Energy in 2003 and was the Co-founder of College Bound in 2010 a non-profit 501c3 organization. He has served as the director of Institute of Energy as a volunteer for over fifteen years. He also served as the Board President of College Bound in 2015-17. College Bound has helped over 2000 underserved youth achieve their dream of a brighter future through higher education. He is quoted as saying that, “We are changing the history of tomorrow for our program youth.” He also suggested that each one of us should adopt a personal mission statement that asked the question, “Whose Life are we going to change today for the better!” He lives by that philosophy and by the words, “You reveal your character by what you do with what you have.”
Paulus is a member and served on the Board of Directors of the Mesa HoHoKams a philanthropic organizations that manages Spring Training for the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics. The HoHoKams fund local non-profits and other youth programs.
He is a member of Rotary International and facilitated the international delivery and installation of over 300kW of solar modules at the Kandahar University in Afghanistan in installing more than 300 kW of solar modules while serving there in 2011-12 as part of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction team in Afghanistan. This effort was in a volunteer capacity as he served on the Department of States and USG Provincial Reconstruction team in Afghanistan.