Barely five feet tall, Michelle Sie Whitten is petite and unassuming; however, that has never stopped her from dreaming big and adjusting to life’s inevitable curveballs. She is the executive director of Global Down Syndrome Foundation which she co-founded with her parents after the birth of her daughter Sophia, who has Down syndrome.
On March 7th at the Sheraton Downtown she was honored as the 2014 Excelsior Youth Center’s 2014 “Triumphant Woman,” an award recognizing women who have made “the difficult journey of overcoming challenges to achieve greatness.” Now celebrating its 41st anniversary, the Excelsior Youth Center has been recognized for its work in treating young adolescents with social and emotional problems.
This year’s event hosted more than 600 supporters who packed the Denver Sheraton Downtown hotel ballroom for a cocktail reception, hundreds of silent auction items, and live music from violinist Jeffrey Hughes and the band Soul X. Gala Chairs Maureen Regan Cannon, Bonnie Mandarich, and Lois Paul oversaw the details for Excelsior’s signature event. Other volunteer leaders were: auction Co-Chairs Pamela Helm and Rochelle McNaughton; Corporate Chair Nancy Boland; Entertainment Chair Terri Fisher of 5 Star Entertainment; and Triumphant Woman Chair, Jamie Angelich.
In support of Excelsior the Anschutz Foundation issued a $50,000 challenge grant to match funds raised at the gala to support substance abuse treatment for Excelsior’s girls.
Like her immigrant parents, Michelle Sie Whitten is a pioneer with a keen understanding that we play the cards that are dealt and that it’s important to invest and share with one’s community. In fact, the Sie family has a long tradition of philanthropy throughout Colorado. Her father, Chinese immigrant John Sie, is considered the father of digital TV and is founder and former chair of the Starz Entertainment Group. And, her mother, Italian immigrant Anna Maglione, established the Maria and Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award presented by the Denver Film Society. Established in 2005, the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation has contributed to many educational, technical, artistic and cultural institutions.
In keeping with Excelsior’s motto of “Safety, Structure, and Success,” the organization provides a safe haven for troubled teen girls. A structured treatment program provides tools to transition back to their communities and more than 90% of participants complete the program. For more information visit www.triumphantfaces.org