Lowry resident Todd Neff, 53, originally from Michigan, has traveled far and wide before landing here in Lowry. As a junior in high school he was an exchange student in Ludwigshafen for a year learning German and stoking a love of travel. At the University of Michigan, he majored in business. His first job took him to Accenture, a global consulting and financial company. That was his first stop, and he hasn’t looked back.
Another year and a half later, he returned to spend time in Germany and then in Japan where he honed his Japanese. And his proficiency was good enough to translate business materials from Japanese to English. In the late 1990s he returned stateside to attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he earned a master’s degree. While there, he dipped his toes in journalism and found his calling.
With degrees and writing experience along with teaching, he is really a one-man publishing and speaking machine. When he arrived in Denver, he was with a Denver Business Journal sister publication called Front Range TechBiz, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Boulder Daily Camera, where he covered science and the environment. He produced articles on water issues, climate change, Nobel Prize winners, laser physics, and the occasional wayward bear.
A Ted Scripps fellowship in Environment at the University of Colorado Boulder, after which he freelanced and even did a TEDx Mile High talk. He taught narrative nonfiction at the University of Boulder. During the pandemic his writing for UCHealth focused on COVID and all the aspects of the pandemic story.
Along the way, he’s had time to write books. From Jars to Stars (2010) chronicles the history of Ball Aerospace and its Deep Impact comet mission. His other books include The Laser That’s Changing the World (2018) and an excerpt from that book called A Brief History of Automotive Lidar (2021). Because he’s a good teacher, he wants you to know that lidar is “a laser-based distance-measuring technology. It’s like radar, except it bounces laser light off objects rather than microwaves.” And now you know.
His most recent book is about a former University of Michigan English Professor who was fired during the #MeToo era called A Beard Cut Short (2020) chronicling his mentor’s remarkable life and teaching approach and then investigating the nature of the accusations against him (which turned out to be unjust). “I wanted to honor him, and I wanted to know what really happened,” he says.
Perhaps you saw him moderating the recent LUN community forum featuring our state attorney general candidates at the Eisenhower Chapel. He is sharp in keeping the discussions going, moving the topics along, and getting through a lot material in the time allotted for each speaker. He says he’s looking forward to doing it again.
Along the way, he married (though recently divorced), and has two daughters, Maya, 16, and Lily, 19 – both Lowry Elementary graduates.
And he loves living in Lowry ( 21 years and counting) enjoying the Beer Garden and Woodgrain Bagels among many stops. “And the parks are wonderful – we live a block away from Crescent Park, where I’ve kicked a soccer ball around with my younger daughter for years. Our back alley has hosted a lot of parties, and our and our neighbors’ kids – many of them off to college now – learned to ride bikes back there. Great memories.”
Todd manages his own schedule well—and he has to. He’s a father, a writer, an athlete, a tomato grower, and interested in a lot of ideas, topics, and projects that are still ahead of him. His education and travel experiences have shown him a lot of the world – and for him the world is not an oyster – but a world that he can translate, describe, write about and understand. He certainly is a Renaissance man, and the times are pretty good for him.
Need a moderator, teacher, writer, tomato grower for a project? Todd Neff is your man. He’s well-spoken, thinks deeply, and can analyze material and content quickly. He’s young – so more jobs are still out there. He’s a man on the go – and so far, it’s all going well.
Meet Your Lowry Neighbors is a monthly feature written by our intrepid reporter Sally Kurtzman, who knows everyone in our community.