Greenhouse Scholars Alumnus Named CEO at Age 26

Greenhouse Scholars, an education non-profit that cultivates extraordinary leaders to change low-income families and communities, announced that one of its alumni, J. Ivan Hernandez, has been named president and CEO of Banner Signs & Decals, a custom signage solutions company based in Lakewood, Colo., that serves clients across the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Hernandez, a 26-year-old Scholar from the Class of 2015, partnered with Taylor Kirkpatrick, a Denver-area investor, to purchase the company. Kirkpatrick and his family are longtime supporters of Greenhouse Scholars, and the two partners met via the organization’s professional networking program, through which Kirkpatrick coached and advised Hernandez on his academics and career for 8 years.

“This is a perfect example of how the Greenhouse Scholars program is intended to work,” said Pete Burridge, president and CEO of Greenhouse Scholars. “A talented and high-performing student takes advantage of our mentorship and professional networking components to make lifelong connections that help him succeed and be an agent of change long after he’s graduated.”

In this instance, Doug Bonnette, now-retired CFO of Crestone Capital, was Hernandez’s mentor, and 8z Real Estate sponsored him through the Greenhouse Scholars program. Hernandez asked Bonnette and 8z Founder and CEO, Lane Hornung, to join the advisory board at Banner Signs & Decals. Greenhouse Scholars provides professional, personal, and financial support throughout college for students who have overcome challenges such as homelessness, poverty, and violence to become leaders in their schools and communities.

Banner Signs & Decals is a firm with a long history in its industry, but the former owners felt it was the right time to transition and both Hernandez and Kirkpatrick saw an opportunity to take the company to the next level.

“Ivan had the right drive and skill set that we were looking for,” Kirkpatrick said. “He did a concentrated apprenticeship at the company while the deal was going through and was able to learn about the risks and opportunities for the firm. With his business acumen and relentless diligence, I have no doubt that the company will be a success with him at the helm.”

“I always loved the entrepreneurial spirit that Greenhouse Scholars helps to nurture and that’s something Taylor and I have in common,” Hernandez said, “I loved many aspects of the program, but the professional networking and mentoring opportunities were the most impactful to me.”

Hernandez holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from the University of Denver Daniels College of Business.

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About Banner Signs & Decals

Banner Signs & Decals is a full-service custom signage solutions, design and consultation company that offers services in indoor and outdoor signage, cut vinyl signs, trade show displays, car graphics, banners, posters, decals, and wall and window graphics. The firm serves clients nationwide and ships its products globally. For more information, visit

About Greenhouse Scholars

Greenhouse Scholars, an education non-profit organization founded in 2005, serves low-income college students who are exceptionally high performing. Scholars are selected based on academic achievement, service to community, demonstrated leadership skills, and financial need. Through its "Whole Person" approach of intellectual, academic, professional, and financial support Greenhouse Scholars cultivates leaders to change low-income families and communities. To date, Greenhouse Scholars has served more than 250 students in Colorado, Illinois, Georgia and North Carolina. For more information, visit