Colorado Business Hall of Fame 2017


Each year, Rocky Mountain Junior Achievement and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerice kick off the philanthropic year with the Colorado Business Hall of Fame awards. Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates are part of a league of outstanding individuals who have made legendary contributions to the free enterprise system. The values of these exemplary individuals serve as role models for the JA’s curriculum for rising young stars.

This year’s honorees are:

Sue Anschutz-Rodgers
Sue Anschutz-Rodgers serves as trustee, chair of the board, and president of the Anschutz Family Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals and communities. She has dedicated a good portion of her life to charitable work with nonprofit boards.

Joe Blake
A Denver native, Joe Blake has been a vital part of the business and educational landscape of Colorado for more than five decades. While his early career included such diverse pursuits as FBI agent, legislative aide and real estate developer, many Coloradoans know him best as the former president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. Blake also helped create Highlands Ranch and bring major league baseball to Colorado, and he served as the first-ever chancellor of the Colorado State University System.

Terry Considine
Terry Considine is a life-long Colorado entrepreneur focused on business, politics and family. An active real estate investor for more than 45 years, he has served as CEO of four Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and has served as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Apartment Investment Management Company (Aimco), since 1994. In addition to his extensive business contributions, Considine is active in politics and was elected twice to the Colorado Senate (1987 to 1992).

Curtis Fentress
An architect and business leader, Curtis Fentress has graced the city of Denver with such structures as the Colorado Convention Center, Sports Authority Field and Denver International Airport, among others. And while his business is headquartered in Denver, the work of Fentress Architects extends far beyond state lines to include structures such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle and the Arraya Tower in Kuwait City. Fentress was honored in 2010 by the American Institute of Architects with the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest award for public architecture.

George & David Griffith
In 1858, two Kentucky-born brothers, George and David Griffith, headed west in search of gold. George and David Griffith’s quest for adventure and minds for business led to tremendous financial and community development in what we now know as the communities of Georgetown and Silver Plume, Colorado.

Ronald Moore
Prior to his death in 2003, Ron Moore was an icon in the Denver community and was the chairman and owner of Denver-based Guaranty Bank & Trust. Along with his wife, Carol, Moore was a major contributor to the community and a strong advocate for education.

Congratulations to all of the honorees and their families. For more information, log on to and

Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation fundraiser at J. McLaughlin's


Dozens of Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHC) Foundation donors and supporters attended an informal fundraiser at J. McLaughlin, 2701 E 3rd Ave in Cherry Creek Wednesday, October 26 in support of hospital programs.

Thanks to hosts Cille Williams and Serena Robinson, Special Projects Manager for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, the get together provided a weekday break for a very good cause.

Cherry Creek retailer J. McLaughlin donated 15% of sales to support the Children’s Hospital Colorado, a part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals–a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for children’s hospitals nationwide.

Philanthropists Cille and Ron Williams are well-known and long-time benefactors of various community-based non-profits in the Denver metro area including healthcare and educational institutions. Serena Robinson manages logistics and coordinates CHC Signature Events year-round including third party community-based events such as the annual Children’s Gala and Courage Classic Bicycle Tour. Among other CCH Foundation fundraising events coming up in November are:

Creating Ties Dinner / November 4, 2016
9th annual auction and fundraiser benefiting the Burn Camps Program.

Costume Craze / November 5, 2016
Themed costume party

Extra Life / November 5, 2016
A day of gaming

Merry Miracles Fun Shoot / Dec 3, 2016
Clays fun shoot and toy drive

To make a donation, volunteer or learn more about how you can help CHC please call 720-777-1700 or email

Smart-Girl Annual Luncheon


“Change the world by being yourself…” That’s one of the key messages for Smart-Girls, a non-profit program that teaches leadership and self-awareness for pre-teen and teen girls. This year’s Smart-Girl annual luncheon was held at the Inverness Hotel and Conference Center, Friday, April 22, with more than 250 guests attending.

Founded in 1998, SmartGirl is a nonprofit organization that empowers pre-teen and teen girls to make smart choices. Smart-Girl is a program of the AllHealth Network, formerly called the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network.

With school bullying in the classroom and online a problem for youngsters, the Smart-Girl organization was founded to help young people “make smart choices and become confident, capable, self-reliant young women.”

The organization helps shield teens against various types of harrasment, including verbal and emotional bullying. According to data from Family First Aid, about 30 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have been involved in bullying, either as a bully or as a victim of teenage bullying. Generally speaking, female students are significantly more likely than male students to be made fun of, called names or insulted in school or online. And more than 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it very easy for cyber bullying to occur.

The Smart-Girl program measurably enhances critical thinking skills, social-emotional intelligence, optimism and resilience in adolescents. Through games, art, discussions, projects and interactive exercises, adolescents learn how to discover, strive for and reach their highest potential.

Luncheon Committee Chairs Rosalina Diecidue and Deborah Donovan introduced guests to AllHealth Network CEO Joan DiMaria who thanked guests and donors for their continued support.

Keynote Speaker Meredith Walker, a close friend of comedian/actress Amy Poehler, entertained guests with personal stories, anecdotes of her own teenage years, and a message to parents and their teen children to embrace their own unique personalities and interests.

“When a young person feels empowered with the strength to be themselves,” Walker said, “they will experience a more fulfilling and rewarding life, establish their own identity, build courage and reach their full potential.”

As a Co-Founder and Executive Director of Amy Poehler’s Smart-Girls, Walker leads workshops, service days, and volunteer teams and promotes the mission year-round. Smart-Girl Past Board Chair Shawn Turner was recognized for his leadership, dedication, enthusiasm and long-term commitment. Turner, a partner in Holland & Knight’s Denver office, currently serves as Vice President of the AllHealth Network Board.

Among key sponsors this year were: Citywide Banks, Holland & Knight, Teal Pond Foundation, Alma Lantz, the Diecidue Family Foundation, Moms Fight Back, and Chuck and Debra McKenney.

For more information visit



Groovy Guests Boogie Down At Disco Daze Wine & Dine


Whether they lived it or just watched it in a movie, guests at this year’s Disco Daze Wine & Dine were whisked back to a shiny-polyester, “Saturday Night Fever” time when people were enticed to do the Hustle en masse. Even without a designated area for dancing, classic 1970s club hits inspired spontaneous boogie-oogie moves throughout the evening at Colorado Academy Campus Center.

Tim Wachuta (left) and John Fenley. Move over, John Travolta!

Tim Wachuta (left) and John Fenley. Move over, John Travolta!

The annual, themed Wine & Dine event is the primary fundraiser for Horizons at Colorado Academy, a year-round enrichment program to help disadvantaged kids achieve academic success. On Thursday, Feb. 18, more than 300 mostly costumed supporters were able to spend the evening noshing nonstop on tasty tidbits and scrumptious spirits from Denver’s best chefs, eateries and purveyors.

Thanh Luony is dressed to the nines...and the '70s.

Thanh Luony is dressed to the nines…and the ’70s.

With a sparkling array of niceties, guests placed strategic bids on silent-auction items, and the live auction was led by emcee Tom Kimball, former president of Colorado Academy’s alumni association board. The purpose of the evening wasn’t forgotten, as Horizons student Edith Villalobos spoke to the crowd about her own 17-year journey with Horizons that began in kindergarten and continued on to her college success. She was introduced by Horizons Executive Director Jessie Skipwith.

Horizons at Colorado Academy, part of a national network in 17 states, is a non-profit program that offers student enrichment designed specifically for Denver Public School children from low-income families. The program is committed to the development of the whole child through experiences that enhance self-esteem, foster responsibility, build problem-solving skills, and encourage a life-long interest in learning. It emphasizes academic enrichment, social growth with structured group dynamics, swimming lessons and sports participation, life-skills, cultural experiences and the arts. Horizons students use Colorado Academy facilities, bus transportation, dining services and educational resources, and many student and parent volunteers from the school provide program support.

Horizons is entering its 19th year at Colorado Academy and serves more than 140 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 10. The program has a proven track record providing on average 3-4 months in academic gains over just six weeks in the summer, a time during which children would normally lose up to three months of skills. Horizons can provide two healthy meals per day for each student during the summer program. Through year-round “Super Saturday” programming, students stay connected to their Horizons teachers and peers. The year-to-year retention rate of students is 98 percent.

Colorado Academy’s program is among the first in the country to develop a Horizons high school component. Students in this age group take part in activities such as as college visits, application “boot camps” and interviewing skills. Horizons faculty and staff salaries and program operating costs are provided through generous support from the community and other foundations. For more information, please visit: (select Horizons from the drop-down menu).

Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame

Each year, members of the Colorado tennis community gather to commemorate the induction of a new class to the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame, as well as to celebrate the achievements of players, organizations, volunteers and others who have distinguished themselves through their dedication and commitment to the sport of tennis.  The 16th annual Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame Gala was held on Friday, January 22, 2016.

Four inductions were made into the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame and USTA Colorado presented its 2015 annual awards to to those who have distinguished themselves through their dedication and contributions to the sport.  The 2015 Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame Indutees included Rich Berman, Bob Curtis, Andy Potter and Susan Mehmedbasic Wright.

A special moment happened before the event when Rich Berman was surprised by David Hall, International Tennis Hall of Famer.  Hall traveled from Australia to Denver to be here for Berman.  In 1993, Berman began teaching and coaching wheelchair tennis.  He served as a coach to Hall, and while working together, Hall dominated wheelchair tennis across the globe, finishing No.1 in world singles rankings for six years.  With Berman’s coaching, Hall amassed an unmatched nine Australian Opens, eight US Opens, seven British Opens, and won gold in Sydney at the 2000 Paralympics. You can see the surprise reunion in the video.

USTA Colorado Annual Award Winners: High School Players – Casey Ross & Amber Shen; College Players – Hayden Sabatka & Kelli Woodman; Players – Chris Cooprider & Simona Breutting; Senior Players – Mike Lammens & Martha Gulbenkian; Wheelchair Players – Colby Kortum; High School Teams – Kent Denver (boys) & Cheyenne Mountain (girls); Organization – Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs; Family – Dr. Tarek Arja; Volunteer – Jim Scott; Media Excellence – Telemuno Denver; Sportsmanship – Mavis Edwards, Kosta Garger, Samantha Matinelli, Ignatius Castelino, Atsadang Deebunmee Na Chumphae; Contributions – Bill Trubey, Gonzo Garcia, Randy Ross; Umpire of the Year: Deborah Weinstein.

Dollars raised on event night benefit the Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation.  Through the lifetime sport of tennis, the CYTF promotes the physical, emotional and social development of all youth to aspire to become active, productive and responsible citizens. The Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation is a fundraising arm of USTA Colorado.

Denver Scholarship Foundation: The Power of the Possible

“So many things in education are hard to do, and when you discover something that works you want to be a part of it. Denver Scholarship Foundation works.”

— Cathey McClain Finlon, Chair, Denver Scholarship Foundation

In 2020, 74 percent of Colorado jobs will require post-secondary education. Dymond Ruybal is one of 4,500 Denver Scholarship Foundation scholars now ready for this wave. She’s already earned her bachelor’s degree in integrated physiology and is moving onto her master’s degree. She did it through a lot of hard work and by earning an academic full-ride scholarship to University of Colorado Boulder.

“I am not only very proud, but also so grateful,” shares Phyllis Ruybal, Dymond’s mother. “My daughter always worked hard in school and now she has the chance to go after her dreams. I couldn’t have done this for her.”

Solidifying dreams is strengthening our state for the future. “Colorado is an extremely educated state, but that statistic comes from people moving here. All our scholars stay in Colorado. We are building the base within the state,” said Angrith Na, DSF advisor at East High School. In his role, he helps students navigate the college application process. “The process can be daunting. We help make students aware of their options and of various funding revenues. It’s incredible how lives can be changed through this guidance.”

Lance Hostetter, also with DSF, echoes Angrith’s sentiment. “It’s about workforce development. We are strengthening our future by helping students get to, and complete, college. We know this work is vitally important.”

He’s not alone in showing his confidence in the program. The Ed. Gala earned $1.2 million for Denver Scholarship Foundation coming from an incredible array of sponsorships, ranging from $200,000 to $2,500. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Denver Scholarship Foundation’s (DSF) mission to inspire and empower Denver Public School (DPS) students to achieve their postsecondary educational goals by providing the tools, knowledge and financial resources essential for success. All this proves to be a worthy investment as every dollar invested in a student who graduates with support of the Denver Scholarship Foundation returns nine times that amount to the Denver community. In addition, by increasing the number of college graduates, DSF increases the number of people who historically have healthier children, rely less on social services, and earn nearly $1 million more in their lifetimes compared to those who do not pursue college.

The evening was a night to honor Noey and Tom Congdon. The pair is known to most as quiet philanthropists. For more than 50 years they have made strategic investments in nonprofits serving the key educational and cultural needs of the growing population of Colorado. Expanding educational opportunities for young people has long been a focus for the Congdons. When the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) was founded in 2006, they immediately recognized its potential. They were among the very first major investors in DSF’s endowment, and have maintained close ties to the organization ever since. They are true believers in DSF’s mission of making college possible for all Denver Public School graduates.

Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC news magazine Primetime John Quiñones served as keynote speaker. Logging nearly 25 years with the network, he is the sole anchor of the Primetime limited series What Would You Do?, one of the highest-rated newsmagazine franchises of recent years. During his tenure he has reported extensively for ABC News, predominantly serving as a correspondent for Primetime and 20/20.

Over the years, DSF has awarded $25 million in need-based scholarships to 4,500 Scholars. Three-quarters of all DSF Scholars have completed their degree or persist in college. About 80 percent of our scholars will be among the first generation in their family to graduate from college. Since DSF was founded in 2006, the number of DPS students who enroll in college the fall after graduation has increased by 34 percent.


Aurora Mental Health Center's 9th Annual Student Art Contest & Show


The Aurora Mental Health Center this year celebrated its 40th Anniversary along with its 9th Annual Student Art Contest at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora.

A record 450 artworks from 23 Aurora-area schools displayed the power of creativity from K-12 students, recognized for their imaginative contributions. In total 14 award ribbons went to students followed by recognition of teachers, staff and board members.

“It’s phenomenal!” said AUMHC board President Peter Cukale, “Every year this event gets bigger and bigger.”

AUMHC was founded by a group of concerned Aurora residents lead by Ellin Mrachek who were determined to bring mental health services to the city in the mid-1970s.

The 9th Annual AUMHC “Living Life to the Fullest” student art show and contest featured works based on this year’s theme of “What Fills Your Heart with Joy?”

The annual event, sponsored by Citywide Banks, selected first and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories from Kindergarten to 12th grade, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients, a holiday card selection, and teacher recognition for four instructors. Winners received a certificate and were recognized on stage before a crowd of more than 200 guests, friends and family members and several Aurora and Arapahoe county representatives.

First Place Winners were:
K-3: Dakota Fink
4-6 Annie Nuetzel
7-8 Emily Merrell
9-12 Janet Najar

2nd Place Winners:
K-3: Mackenzie Price
4-6 Munirah Kramer
7-8 Lexi Lowe
9-12 Renee Pugh

Honorable Mention Winner: Justin Roach
Holiday Card Selection: Mariana Carvallo
Teacher Recognition: John Breeding, Brooks Mullen, Genevieve Deits, Sarah Grundemann

Director’s Choice Award Winners:
Taylor Davidson, 2nd grade, High Plains Elementary
Caitlyn Bradley, 4th grade, Altura Elementary
Grace Ko, 8th grade, Fox Ridge Middle School
Taryn Montgomery, 11th grade, William Smith High School

Near the close of the event, Dr. Stith handed a letter from Colorado Senator Michael Bennet to Board President Cukale who read it to the crowd. Bennet’s letter praised the organization’s commitment to expanding mental health services and recognized its four decades of award-winning service. Staff and board recognition and awards were followed by board elections.

Founded in 1975, Aurora Mental Health Center provides community mental health services through 16 clinics, residential facilities, schools, and county human services. AUMHC has more than 400 employees and about 100 volunteers–recognized as among the best by the Colorado Division of Mental Health.

For more information or to donate please visit or call 303-617-2300

Mile High Academy Golf Tournament


Life is Good when You’re Golfing

Golfing with friends on a beautiful fall Sunday is one thing but, golfing for your children’s school and its goal of greater education is quite another idea. That’s why the (mostly) men folk of Mile High Academy enjoyed the day even more, the golf game was for family and the beloved school.

The Ridge, a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, south of Denver, was at its peak on September 27th. Since 1997, the Castle Pines’s course has received national and statewide recognition for its excellent 18 hole golf challenge and stunning views. 

The 15 Mile High Foursomes who battled it out on the exquisite greens and fairways, were there to show support for the Mile High Christian Academy.  Each donating time and money to be used for improving the Mile High experience for current and future students. By participating in the tournament, their golf day would provide additional opportunities for those in the community to attend the academy. The proceeds from the golf tournament will be used for the new school facility as well as scholarships and learning tools. 

The tournament ended with a lunch catered by The Ridge overlooking the spectacular back nine while golfers enjoyed camaraderie and guffawks as winners picked up their awards for: Putting Contest – Rick Hale; Longest Drive – Ed Barnett; Closest to the Pin – Jeff Mautz; Foursome winner: 1st –Jeffrey Mautz, Brian Duncan, Chad Petersen, Andrew Dunbar; 2nd- Colt Easley, Reggie Ragsdale, Paul Easley; 3rd- Eric Nelson, Dave Kennedy, Craig Carr, David Martinez.

For information on the Mile High Academy, visit their website:; call 303-744-1069. Located at 1733 Dad Clark Dr, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126



ArtReach 7th Annual Dine & D'Art


The ArtReach 7th Annual Dine & D’Art proved once again that the passion of Denver artists, long-time supporters, volunteers, and donors are more important than a fancy, sophisticated venue. Creative artistry (or wizardry) converted an old, abandoned Walgreen’s on Colfax Avenue in Lakewood into a kaleidoscope of colorful artworks from some of Denver’s most creative painters, mixed-media artists, sculptors and ceramicists, to name a few.

Some 300 guests attended the event for ArtReach, a 41-year old non-profit that provides access to Denver art venues and exhibits with its free ticketing program and arts education through after-school programs and summer art camps.

Established  nearly a decade ago, the Dine & D’art event allows participants to review artworks during a cocktail hour, enjoy dinner and at evening end get called in an auction system to run or “dart” to select their selection.

This year more than 60 artists donated nearly 100 pieces with a minimum value of $400 for auction.

Emcee Lauren Whitney of CBS4 introduced guests to the proceedings while artists Lonnie Hanzon and Brad Ramsey worked throughout the night on live paintings on multiple canvases spread some 30 feet across the back of the room.
Executive Director Karla Johnson-Grimes thanked guests and urged them to be polite as they raced to claim and capture a favorite painting or customized wooden furniture piece, ceramic platters or mosaics.

ArtReach Board Member and Event Chair Jeff Horvorka of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts described the organization’s impact and Board Member Brad Ramsey provided first-hand stories of working with at-risk youth. Auctioneer Tracy Weise lead the live auction and coaxed multiple bids from long-time supporters.

This year’s sponsors included CBS4, 92.5/The Wolf , Mix 100.3, Kool 105, Jay’s Valet, Callahan & Associates, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, The Denver Post, Frame de Art, The Wizard’s Chest, Liberty Waste Management, Table Mountain Inn, Scott and Shannon Pope, Cindy and David Hayes, Swingle, and Mesch Commercial Real Estate.

ArtReach’s unique ticketing program works with local schools and other organizations to access to the visual and performing arts and venues throughout Denver by providing free tickets to various cultural events including theatre, concerts and exhibits. ArtReach also funds and organizes after-school programs, art workshops, and summer camps to increase exposure to the arts for at-risk youth, developmentally disabled, seniors and other groups.

Hovorka announced the return this December of ArtReach’s Festival of Trees, a key signature event and popular citywide Denver attraction in the 1980s and 1990s. On hiatus since 2005, guests cheered their approval for the revival of the December holiday exhibit/fundraiser that auctions off decorative holiday wreaths and Christmas trees created by Denver artists. For more information about the organization visit


Sending S’More Kids to Camp

Sarah and Mark Krick and their two young sons are a tight-knit, endearing family of four. At this year’s 2nd annual Campfires & Cocktails – a dressy affair at the Wellshire Inn to benefit Camp Wapiyapi– they took the stage wearing shorts and T-shirts. Within moments, Mark sheepishly shrugged off the claim they decided to come in camp-attire. The truth behind their dress was that earlier that day they had to make an unplanned trip to the hospital. Choking back tears, he brought home the reality of what it means to be a family with a child with cancer. It’s tough. Continuously. Hard. Bring on Camp Wapiyapi, the summer solution to a vacation from the hospital. It’s a pass to play. Hard. Camp Wapiyapi makes sure every single camper – kids with cancer and their siblings – comes first and has a great time. It’s a week of smiles and giggles with zip lines, high ropes courses, crazy colorful paint wars, as well as crafts and laughs.

“They know how to live in the moment and have a good time at Camp Wapiyapi. They remind us to enjoy where we are, right now,” said Sarah Krick. She also emphasized what a gift the camp is to the couple.

“When you have a child with cancer you spend a lot of time at the hospital. It’s such a big part of your life. It’s an amazing opportunity for us as a couple to be able to focus on each other while our boys are having fun at camp.”

Sarah also explained what it means to have siblings involved. “When my boys talk about a new friend from camp I’ll ask, ‘Is he a patient or a sibling?’ and my kids honestly don’t know. All the kids at camp are treated the same and that’s great for everybody.”

Camp Wapiyapi Executive Director Darla Dakin stresses that the experience is so important to siblings. “When a child is going through cancer, it impacts the whole family. The brother or sister deals with a lot of issues related to their sibling’s cancer. Our work is about supporting the whole family.”

Nicole Enderle and Tracy Nunn, both mothers of children with leukemia, have been engaged with Camp Wapiyapi for more than five years. “It’s incredible,” said Nicole.

Darla shared that more than 1,700 children in Colorado are living with cancer. Fortunately, Camp Wapiyapi is growing to help more of those children, as well as children in the region served by Children’s Hospital Colorado. In 2013, Camp Wapiyapi hosted two, 1-week sessions, serving 160 children. With nearly 60 kids on the waitlist, the organization expanded with a third session in 2014. This year, they served 223 children. The vision is to add more weeks to allow more children to foster friendships, fun and healing outside of the hospital.

This fundraiser is a powerful one for the organization. More than 80 enticing silent auction items beckoned for bids. In addition, emcee Channel 7’s Theresa Marchetta passionately shared about the aim for the evening.

“This is about money, about fundraising,” said Theresa Marchetta from the podium. “Is it startling that I said ‘money’? That’s what we are here for: to raise money so children can go to camp. Let’s remember that and give.”

Auctioneer Dani Espinosa, a graduate of University of Denver, followed suit and got the crowd rolling with a rousing game of “Auction Chicken.”

Prior to the program, the incredibly talented father-daughter duo Tex and Julie Almeria, who is a graduate of Denver School of the Arts and past member of Rocky Mountain Children’s Choir, contributed beautiful music to the night.

Karl Dakin and Bill Foss crafted the recipe for the signature drink, aptly called Bug Juice: Suavecito Blanco tequila, Midori® melon liqueur and ginger ale. It was the perfect pairing with the high-end, catchy camp-named food, which presented much more like fare from a 5-star than a campfire feast.

Wapiyapi is a Lakota Sioux word meaning health and healing. That healing goes well beyond a one week camp. It is helping families live moments that are as precious as swimming in a mountain lake or melting a marshmallow on a stick. Here’s to s’more healing for kids this summer and several summers to come!


2015 OWL TechFair Showcases Young Talent


From graphic design to movie-making to robotic demos and contests, OpenWorld Learning (OWL) students showcased their best projects for the public—and earned some nifty prizes, too. The 6th annual OWL TechFair featured work that could simultaneously dazzle, as well as demonstrate that these youngsters are on the road to bright futures.

Getting ready for a pre-competition tryout

Getting ready for a pre-competition tryout

This year’s event featured projects created by youngsters from Denver, Aurora and Jefferson County schools. Elementary students put together an e-portfolio of computer projects focusing on games and web work, while middle-schoolers concentrated on robotics, movie-making and graphic design. Overall, students were able to integrate computer technology along with art, along with reading, writing and math concepts. An OWL rep said that 47 percent of students were female, 87 percent are eligible for reduced-lunch programs and 53 percent use English as a second language.

Between staff, volunteers, parents and supporters, and bright minds from grades 3 to 8, almost 600 people participated in the fair held on Saturday, April 25, at Industry Denver. The date coincided with Comcast Cares Day, so around 100 volunteers represented the event sponsor. Stella Peterson, of Stella Marketing + PR, and State Rep. Joe Salazar served as co-emcees for the awards presentations, and OWL’s CEO, Lea Ann Reitzig, as well as Comcast rep Macio Alston also addressed the crowd.

Co-emcee Stella Peterson (left) with CEO Lea Ann Reitzig

Co-emcee Stella Peterson (left) with CEO Lea Ann Reitzig

Tech Challenge Winners:
Eagleton Elementary School

Robo Challenge Winners:
1st place: Giselle Florencio (Kepner Middle School)
2nd place: Tevita Fifita & Jacob Woods (Aurora Vista Peak Exploratory School)
3rd place: Adamma West (Aurora Vista Peak Exploratory School)

OpenWorld Learning was founded by Chris Myers in 2000 to provide a fun and challenging after-school educational program centered on teaching advanced computer technology to Denver area students. Its mission statement: to support children’s school success by tapping the power of digital technology and peer teaching to develop leadership and ignite a love of learning. One local publication honored OWL as Denver’s top non-profit of 2012. Programs offered include OWL Summer Tech Camp, with scholarships available for students on free and reduced-lunch programs. For more information, please visit:

Colorado I Have A Dream 26th Annual Gala


The Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation celebrated its 26th annual gala October 30th at the Hyatt Regency-Denver Convention Center. The theme for this year’s event was DREAM BIG! and for more than two decades that has been the mission of the CIHAD Foundation, a long-term academic and social mentorship program for youth who live in economically disadvantaged  Denver metro neighborhoods.

Guests were excited to hear from three student award winners and community leaders devoted to advancing education for underserved and at-risk college-bound students. As part of its mission statement, CIHAD tracks and helps elementary schoolchildren academically and financially through a 10-year span to ensure that they pursue higher education opportunities. The organization thus helps a small number of kids over the long haul than many in the short-term.

For their efforts this year’s Summit Award winners are Anastasia Cordova of the Records-Rainaldi Class; Omar Alden of the Weill Class; and Lorenzo Quezada-Pacheco of the Denver Active 20/30 Class. The Summit Award honors a Dreamer who has excelled academically, triumphed over personal obstacles and demonstrated a personal commitment to the betterment of community.

COIHAD executive director Rachael Gazdick greeted supporters throughout the cocktail reception as four life-sized mascots representing Colorado colleges and universities milled around and posed for photos with adults and students. Emcee Reggie Rivers described the nonprofit’s history and an overview of festivities that included Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.

Besides speeches from the Summit Award students and other Dreamers, other speakers included Event Chair Anthony Price, CIHAD Board Chair Eric Sondermann and comments from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

This year’s CIHAD Community Award recipients are Navin Dimond and Noel and Leslie Ginsburg.

Navin Dimond, founder, president and CEO of Denver-based hotel management Stonebridge Companies, was presented with the 2014 Dream Maker Award.

“Navin Dimond embodies the mission and values of CIHAD,” said Rachael Gazdick. “His deep commitment to providing opportunities for all children to succeed, both in the United States and abroad, are unparalleled.”

“Every human being has the intellectual capacity to thrive,” Dimond says. “It’s just a question of whether they are put into the right environment to flourish.”

Noel and Leslie Ginsburg received the 2014 McHugh Award, established in 2010 to honor individuals for their exemplary efforts to level the playing field in education, as exhibited by Jerome and Anabel McHugh. The couple committed to sponsor the South Lincoln Dreamers, who represent 42 students over the course of 10 years. Leslie is the incoming CIHAD Chair and has served on several nonprofit boards including the CIHAD since 2007. Noel, President and Founder of Intertech Plastics in Denver, was inspired to start an “I Have A Dream” program in Denver after seeing a 1986 60 Minutes segment featuring IHAD national founder Eugene M. Lang.

The best part of the experience, he says, “is watching these kids grow up and overcome obstacles.”

This year’s Presenting Sponsor was Alvarado Holdings, LLC founded by Bob and Linda Alvarado. Other major sponsors for CIHAD’s 26th Anniversary Gala were: Platinum Sponsor AT&T; Gold Sponsor SE2 in honor of Eric Sondermann; Silver Sponsors: The IMA Financial Group, The Rob and Molly Cohen Family Foundation, Richard and Judy Weill, Stonebridge Companies, DaVita HealthCare Partners and Bronze Sponsors: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Capital Real Estate, EKS&H, Inflection Energy, Intertech Plastics and Noel  and Leslie Ginsburg, The Piton Foundation, and Valiant Products.

The keynote speaker was North Carolina native Elson Floyd, President of Washington State University. Before taking the helm at WSU in 2007, Dr. Floyd was president of the University of Missouri and Western Michigan University. He holds a BA in political science and speech, an MA in adult education, and a PhD of philosophy in higher and adult education, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Through the support of parents, teachers, and other role models Floyd’s personal motto became: “I will prepare myself and someday my day will come,” he said. He saluted all students in the room and urged them to advance their education and chase their highest aspirations. “You can accomplish anything you want…so put your minds to it!”

For more information about The Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation please visit:



OWL’s “Writing the Code for Success”


We live in a digital world that requires us to continuously adapt to changing technology. This reality inspired OpenWorld Learning (OWL) to create an enriched curriculum dedicated to motivating children to learn about computers. Since 2000, OWL programs have allowed Denver area students, many who are underprivileged, to indulge their curiosity and develop leadership qualities essential to excelling in today’s workforce.

On October 14th, at the Infinity Park Event Center, OWL celebrated 14 years of “creating possibilities through technology” with their 9th annual gala, “Writing the Code for Success.” Guests were warmly greeted by outgoing OWL students at the door. In the hallway to the ballroom, more students animatedly demonstrated their projects. The children’s fervor certainly set an uplifting tone for the evening.

Many influential community members participated in the event program. Anne Trujillo of 7NEWS provided a welcome and introduced a moving video, which featured accomplished students, as well as staff and supporters. The video explained that 50% of OWL students do not have a computer at home, but that will not stop them from being the community’s next scientists, engineers, mathematicians or technology entrepreneurs.

Board President Steve Halstedt presented Kim Patmore, the former CFO of First Data Corporation, with the Dean Abrams Leadership Award. Patmore received this recognition due to her outstanding charitable work in the community with multiple organizations, including OWL. Lieutenant Governor Joseph A. Garcia, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of High Education, went on to present Patmore with a proclamation naming the day in her honor.

Following the program, auctioneer Gary Corbett energized the crowd with an enticing live auction. Items included a chef’s dinner for 12 at Crepes ‘n Crepes, a Vail getaway, Carrie Fell artwork and much more.

Thanks to volunteers, the board, staff, students and families, OWL raised over $146,000 with this event.

For more information about OWL, visit


Urban League of Metro Denver 2014 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Annual Awards Gala


A full house of guests attended the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver‘s annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. annual gala at the Denver Marriott City Center. The theme for this year’s event— “One Nation Underemployed: Bridges to Jobs and Justice”–reflected current economic times and challenges.

Emcee LaRhonda Thomas of 9NEWS introduced guests to the evening itinerary followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee. Later, comments were made from representatives from presenting sponsors– WalMart, Noble Energy and Barclays— and members from the Urban League’s Guild and Young Professionals Group.

At the VIP reception Interim Denver Urban League President/CEO Moses Brewer thanked sponsors and individuals for their support and welcomed Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to the podium. Hancock urged those in the room to focus on solving poverty issues.

“We must do everything we can to inspire hope in our young people and to break the cycle of poverty. We must create more opportunity by addressing low wages and low workforce participation.”

The Mayor then introduced Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Senator Mark Udall who each made some brief comments acknowledging the League’s economic and social impact in Colorado.

This year’s gala also recognized the late Edna Wilson Mosley, the first African American Councilwoman for the City of Aurora and a devoted activist with deep roots in various civil rights initiatives. After being elected to the Aurora City Council in 1991, Mosley served 12 years representing her district and focusing on civil rights, gender equality, veterans’ affairs, housing and education.

Gala Co-Chairs Rita Kahn and Bob Willis introduced this year’s McKinley Harris Distinguished Warrior Awards. This year’s award winners included:

Pat Cortez, Senior Vice President PR & Government Relations at Wells Fargo Bank. Cortez oversees Wells Fargo’s charitable contributions in Colorado where nearly $4.4 million are awarded each year to more than 900 Colorado nonprofit organizations. Prior to her current position, Pat managed Wells Fargo’s business development efforts among emerging markets, including the African-American, Asian, Latino and Women’s markets, with responsibility for nearly $1 billion in consumer assets.

Lonnie Porter, Founder/Executive Director of the Porter Billups Leadership Academy at Regis University. Porter is the winningest college basketball coach in Colorado history. Porter will put together his 38th and final men’s basketball team during the winter of 2014-15. With his 533 career victories, he has served at Regis longer than any other current men’s Colorado collegiate basketball mentor, and has the state of Colorado’s all-time best record for men’s collegiate basketball.

Phil Washington, RTD General Manager. Washington oversees the entire transit system, including the buses and trains, the build-out of FasTracks , and the Denver Union Station transit center. He was unanimously selected as RTD’s General Manager in 2009 by RTD’s board and is leading one of the most dynamic transit agencies in North America. Under his leadership, RTD is implementing the FasTracks program, one of the largest transit expansion programs in the country.

Elbra Wedgeworth, Chief Government and Community Relations Officer for Denver Health. Former Denver City Councilwoman Wedgeworth today is responsible for hospital policy matters on the local, state and federal level and also for community outreach initiatives. In 2008 she served as President/Chair of the Board for the Denver Convention Host Committee for the historic Democratic National Convention. For more than five years she served as Denver City Council Representative for District 8 and as Council President from 2003-2005.

Denver Urban League Board Chair Wayne Vaden introduced this year’s Chairman’s Award which went to Robert F. Smith, Founder/Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a 14-year-old private equity firm managing $13 billion in capital and managing portfolios for some 20 software companies.

Smith gave a warm speech he said was directed to his children in the audience. He emphasized the need for parents and civic leaders to prepare for global competition and urged guests to prepare their  children to compete not just with other kids in class or even statewide but for the world’s emerging economic powerhouses such as India and China.

Besides hard work in the classroom, Smith emphasized creativity, innovation and love for one’s community.

“Love is all that matters,” he said. “It’s not just love of family, but love of community. So, express that love not just in words but in deeds, and in action. Create opportunities for those who really want to create a different life for themselves. Express that love through your activity, through your money..and through your time…”

For more information visit or call 303-377-2790 for more information.



"Starry Nights" and Campers Delights

Going to camp for the first time elicits lots of emotion. It’s a tingle of excitement. It’s a happy nervousness. It’s blissful amazement when you arrive. The John Austin Cheley Foundation’s “Starry Nights” Gala at Denver Botanic Gardens took its attendees back to that feeling. As a celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary – and its first major fundraiser – the occasion drew people together from across the country, all with the common connection of love for camp and the difference it can make in a person’s life.

“We’ve never done anything like this,” said Trustee Chair Debbie Leibold, a six-summer camper herself, who then helped her own children pack for camp. For 24 years the Foundation was entirely volunteer-driven. They’d never even held a fundraiser.

Executive Director Buffie Berger sat on the board for three years before she took the reins as ED just last year. Talking from the podium as relaxed as if it were a campfire circle, she showed off her new stylish, handmade boots bought from Presenting Sponsor Cinch. She then expressed her heartfelt awe for the evening.

“I am blown away. We are outdoors, under the stars, in nature. It’s the perfect venue. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who came,” said Buffie.

She shared how when she first connected with Event Chair Will LaBahn, who she delightfully refers to as “Will-Bill,” she cautiously hoped they’d have at least 150 attendees. The RSVPs came rushing in. More than 400 people came. The two hugged and smiled at it all. “It’s this incredible?” asked Will LaBahn with gratitude as great as Mount Massive.

Buffie Berger also gave kudos to Event Co-Chair Amy Blevins. “As you can imagine, doing something like this takes a huge amount of work. Amy did it. And she did it from California. Not only did she agree to help, but she was helping from another state. She’s incredible.”

Tandy Wood came from Overland Park, Kansas for the celebration. She reflected on how she first went to Cheley Camp in 1948 when she was 9 years old. She took the train from Missouri to Colorado and, although shaking in her boots, as soon as camp was over she wanted to go back. She returned every summer for five years. She sent her children to Cheley Camps and now sends her grandchildren.

“It changed my life. I knew it even at that early age. It gave me a strong set of values. It’s still a part of me,” said the sparkling 76-year-old.

Current campers Emelia Arnhein, Margo Bickler and Megan Smith enthusiastically all spoke about their experience at Cheley Camps: “It’s amazing. It’s the best place on Earth. The people are great. You get to try so many things like horse back riding, hiking, climbing, archery, ceramics . . .” and then Emelia ended her list because she ran out of breath. But it was clear she wanted to say more.

Actor Jason Ritter, son of late actor John Ritter and actress Nancy Morgan, proved the perfect emcee. His sentimental recollections of camp were funny and poignant. He talked about how he learned to shave at camp, as well as how he won an award for citizenship that shapes the choices he makes today.

RoundHouse, award-winning Boulder born spirits, generously donated gin. The evening’s caterers, Occasions, created the signature drink Alpenglow for the cocktail reception using gin, triple sec, and a splash of cranberry juice.  It was as pretty as it was tasty.

The mission of the John Austin Cheley Foundation is to fund need-based camperships for high potential youth. These youth then are able to attend extended-stay wilderness summer camps that have a proven track record of positively impacting youth development. More than 800 camperships have been awarded since inception to campers from 31 states and one foreign country to attend one of the six Associate Camps located in Colorado, Maine Minnesota and Arizona.

It was indeed a glorious starry night for a big bunch of wide-eyed campers. And everyone left looking forward to coming back next year, just like they did every summer.

SofTec Invitational Golf Tournament Full of Fun and Adventure


The phrase “snake in the grass” took on new meaning for golfers at the second annual SofTec Invitational Golf Tournament with a den of rattlesnakes to negotiate (i.e., avoid) on one hole. But all managed with flying colors during a day of great golf, giveaways, hearty chow, refreshing adult beverages, prizes and a little hula-hooping thrown in for good measure. More than 100 supporters hit Lone Tree Golf Club on Friday, July 18, to play for the benefit of OpenWorld Learning (OWL).

(l to r): Mike Torian, Chad Michaels, Jennifer Lewan and Jeff Pelot...BEFORE Hole No. 15!

(l to r): Mike Torian, Chad Michaels, Jennifer Lewan and Jeff Pelot…BEFORE Hole No. 15!

The day began with a breakfast buffet on the patio before an 8:30 shotgun start. Each foursome included a high-level business executive, offering a chance for some professional networking during the round. Word quickly spread about sponsored holes with giveaways, as well as those with free alcoholic concoctions to battle the summer sun.

Hole No. 15 was party central, complete with freshly made Moscow Mules, a couple of hula hoops and 1980s tunes blasting from an adjoining house—not coincidentally, the home of SofTec CEO and OWL board member Hemal Jhaveri. OWL’s CEO Piep van Heuven took to the golf course to welcome golfers and thank each one for participating.

(l to r): Neil Sanderlin, Ben Barnett, Clint Marley and Troy Oaks

(l to r): Neil Sanderlin, Ben Barnett, Clint Marley and Troy Oaks

Golfers were also buzzing about Hole No. 14, one that came with a warning about rattlesnakes hanging out in some brush just off the fairway, about 200 yards from the tee. When one golfer hit into the spot, his teammates jokingly reminded him of the snakes and he came back with, “I’ve always wanted a pet.” But when he went to look for his golf ball, it was with club in hand.

Taylor Costello blasts a drive down the fairway.

Taylor Costello blasts a drive down the fairway.

Golfers received a boxed lunch on the course and their 18 holes of play was followed by an informal cocktail reception. There, low scores and pro-worthy shots were rewarded, and “…missed it by this much” stories abounded.

OpenWorld Learning is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports children’s school success by tapping the power of digital technology and peer teaching to develop leadership and ignite a love of learning. Using interactive technology developed at MIT, programs help children invent, engineer, create and design through fun and challenging, project-based learning. The organization is committed to bridging the digital divide and developing a community of energized learners.

OWL was founded by Chris Myers in 2000 to provide a fun and challenging after-school educational program centered on teaching advanced computer technology to Denver area students. Since then, the organization has proudly served more than 5,000 students with over 550,000 contact hours, including 523 students who received more than 66,474 contact hours during the 2011-2012 school year. For more information, please visit:

Small Plates Big Heart Tasting Event Benefitting the Adoption Exchange


Guests enjoyed an array of delicious food, beer and wine tastings at the 3rd annual Small Plates Big Heart event on Thursday, March 20th at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Denver. This year’s attendees enjoyed live music from the Stephen Thurston Trio while sampling innovative dishes from eight of the top restaurants in Denver. Chefs put their dishes to the test and competed for awards including People’s Choice and Judge, with Jezebel’s Southern Bistro and Bones taking the awards, respectively. The event, which benefits The Adoption Exchange, also featured a live auction with items ranging from food, beer and wine gift packages, to a beer-centerd trip to Boston. CBS4 Denver’s Britt Moreno and Tom Mustin served as the night’s emcees and spoke about the work The Adoption Exchange does for the area’s youth in need of a “forever home.”

The goal of The Adoption Exchange is to recruit families for children who have survived abuse and neglect, support adoptive families throughout every phase of the adoption process, and train child welfare professionals. The Adoption Exchange maintains a national training presence, and connects children in eight member states CO, MO, NV, NM, OK, SD, UT and WY with American families living here and abroad.