THE OPPORTUNITY COALITION LEADERSHIP
Northstar was founded in 2000 by its CEO, Brian Watson. Mr. Watson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Real Estate from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mr. Watson then joined Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado, Inc. (C&W), an international commercial real estate firm. During his seven-year tenure at this firm, Mr. Watson had the distinction of being the youngest broker in company history to qualify for a Directorship title.
For the majority of his career at C & W Mr. Watson primarily focused on landlord representation. He represented clients such as Lend Lease Real Estate, CarrAmerica Realty LP, P&O Investments/Denver Technological Center, Mission Viejo Companies, Shea Properties, Terrabrook, ERE/Yarmouth and acted as agent for two major Colorado office parks, Highlands Ranch and Stonegate. Mr. Watson also received C&W's prestigious Service Excellence Award for his superior ability to handle complex, high value transactions. Mr. Watson's extensive education and experience in the real estate industry has been instrumental to the success of Northstar Commercial Partners.
Mr. Watson has positioned Northstar as an acquirer of vacant assets and/or value-add properties in markets throughout the United States. The company focuses on buying these assets from lenders, corporations, and other owners, improving these assets and placing them back into productivity to create jobs and opportunities in their local communities. In addition, Northstar has been very instrumental in working with companies to maximize the value of their real estate holdings. Brian Watson is an active member on the Advisory Council of Marcus & Millichap, the nation’s leading firm specializing in commercial real estate investment sales, financing, research and advisory services. Click here to view Brian Watson's Wikipedia profile.
Kyle Henderson is an accomplished entrepreneur, advisor and executive with extensive experience in a wide array of industries. Throughout his career, he has been instrumental in the development, growth and financing of a multitude of entrepreneurial and established ventures.
He is the Co-Founder and Board Member of the Opportunity Coalition™ nonprofit. The Opportunity Coalition is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that is specifically designed and actively managed to promote and facilitate a business friendly environment that encourages free enterprise, entrepreneurship and collaboration.
Kyle is the Co-Founder, Principal and Board Member of the social-entrepreneurial organization, Xcel Companies™. Xcel Companies is a privately-held merchant solutions, procurement, expense-reduction and lending organization.
He also serves as Northstar Commercial Partners' Chief of Staff. Founded in 2000, Northstar Commercial Partners is a privately-held commercial real estate investment organization that has grown to become one of the largest, strategic owners and acquirers of commercial real estate in the United States.
Kyle is a Board Member for various, additional organizations that include, but are not limited to: Community Funded™ (crowdfunding organization), Teakoe® (high-end teas), and Uncomplication.com™ (lifestyle merchandise and apparel).
Kyle was one of the very first team members and Directors with XJet® (rated as the #1 private jet company and fixed-based operation in the United States) and helped to write and develop the organization's business plan. He is also the Former President of the Academy of Young Investors.
Kyle is a first-generation Irish American, with his father being born in Northern Ireland and much of his family living throughout Europe. He and his wife, Mandi, and their children, Presley and Greyson, are all Colorado natives.
OPPORTUNITY COALITION ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
Advisory Board Members are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Founder, Innovation Pavilion
Vic Ahmed is a serial entrepreneur that has built several companies from scratch with his unique ability to translate ideas into sizable business opportunities. He has consistently demonstrated the commitment and energy required to raise angel, venture and private equity funding with world-class teams.
In both large corporations and startups alike, Mr. Ahmed formed a reputation as a visionary by articulating concepts and plans to investors, employees, partners, and customers alike. A leader that is hands-on, results-oriented, technically skilled and experienced, he is at home in a high-growth, high-tech business environment. He has raised tens of millions of dollars and managed hundreds of employees, with the ability to quickly adjust to market changes by balancing between strategic planning and focused execution.
Mr. Ahmed is currently the Founder and Chairman of the Innovation Pavilion, an 80,000 sq ft entrepreneurial incubator that has already helped launch over 80 companies, he is the CEO of BusinessGenetics, the world’s first scientific methodology and tool for describing business to gain a precise understanding of an organization.
He serves on the boards of the Colorado Governor’s Innovation Commission, he Secretary of Technology of Colorado’s IT Commission, ICAST – a nonprofit focused on sustainable development in under served communities, as well as ACE the joint venture between CAMT, NASA and NREL. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman of TiE-Rockies and the former Chairman of the Colorado Technology Association (CTA). Vic earned BSC degrees in Computer Science and Systems Engineering from Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, and has participated in numerous management programs including Stanford University’s Executive Leadership program.
Director, Business and Community Partnerships, EKS&H
Scott has more than 30 years of experience building relationships and developing partnerships while leading publications for the American City Business Journals. Most recently he served as the president and publisher for the Denver Business Journal, a position he held since 1996. Scott represents EKS&H in many organizations and efforts in Denver and around Colorado and will focus on further extending the firm’s unique brand of high-caliber expertise and unparalleled service to current and future clients.
Scott is distinguished by of the District Director's Award from the Small Business Administration (SBA and an Honorary Doctorate, Business from Johnson & Wales University.
CEO, Stellar Restaurant Solutions
Steve Bigari is the Founder and CEO of Stellar Restaurant Solutions. Stellar Restaurant Solutions is the premier restaurant carry-out order processing organization in the world. Steve was mentioned in the book The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, and resides in Colorado Springs.
Steve Bigari is a tireless entrepreneur and innovator who has successfully started 14 companies and has made his mark on the quick service industry over the two decades. As 19-year McDonald’s operator of 12 restaurants and innovation chairman at McDonald’s, Mr. Bigari helped inspire, instigate or innovate now familiar products such remote call center ordering, credit and debit card acceptance, Ronald’s Playplace, and the Made For You™ production model. Mr. Bigari still holds the Drive Thru world record of 374 cars in one hour!
Mr. Bigari’s reputation in the restaurant industry as an expert in convenience has catapulted him into the top 5% of all consultants in the restaurant industry with the Gerson Lehman Group (GLG) of 150,000 consultants. He is the winner of the 2006 Colorado Springs Business Citizen of the Year, the owner of three restaurant industry patents, and a graduate of United State Military Academy at West Point. He has been inducted as an Ashoka fellow (www.ashoka.org) a lifetime honor for his philanthropic efforts.
Mr. Bigari is the author of The Box You Got: Transforming the World You Live In. A highly sought-after speaker, Mr. Bigari has spoken before the Bankers Association International the US Treasury and the FDIC on the support for the need for greater collaboration and innovation in America.
Mr. Bigari founded Stellar Restaurant Solutions out of his twenty years of experience as an operator and consultant. SRS is a disruptive model of innovation designed to help transform leading restaurant companies like Chipotle and PF Chang’s sell more food and make more money.
He is the proud husband of Brenda, father of 5 amazing children and 4 beautiful grandchildren.
Founder & CEO, Dovetail Solutions
A Denver native, CEO Andy Boian founded dovetail solutions, a full-service communications, branding and public relations firm that works with businesses to build mutually beneficial relationships for maximum opportunity. He has been referred to as a natural “connector,” a term coined in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.
He has maintained the fundamentals of success—hard work, determination and grit –throughout his career. In his mid-20s, Andy was named senior vice president for a large telecommunications firm in Denver, responsible for corporate communications, marketing and community investment in 11 nationwide locations. His team grew significant revenue for four consecutive years. Later, he was instrumental in several companies exceeding their business development and community investment goals, and assisted numerous senior-level executives in becoming well integrated into the communities in which they lived, worked and served. He has been the recipient of the Denver Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” award, the Colorado Statesman’s “Fifty for the Future” and Metropolitan State University of Denver’s“Mover and Shaker” award. Additionally, Andy was recognized by his alma mater as an Alumnus of Distinction in 2011, the first in political science in the history of the university.
In 1999, he was asked to run as a Colorado representative of the Democratic National Committee. After a successful campaign, he served four years at the national level. There were numerous issues on which Andy voted on behalf of Colorado, including the DNC’s choice of Denver as the site for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Presently, he is engaged in electoral politics at both the national and regional levels, working with numerous constituencies. He serves as a senior campaign advisor and speechwriter, and in these capacities, he has worked on numerous presidential, U.S. Senate, gubernatorial and mayoral campaigns for more than 20 years. Additionally, he served on the transition teams for both the nation’s forty-second president and a United States secretary of the interior. Andy is also a faculty member for the Daniels College of Business M.B.A. program and an adjunct professor at the distinguished Korbel Graduate School of International Studies, both at the University of Denver. He has previously taught at the University of Colorado, Arapahoe Community College and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
John Brackney has 26 years of Public Policy and Community Problem Solving experience and believes that Colorado is the leader in economic health, responsible and effective government, entrepreneurial activity and effective decision making that maintains and enhances our vibrant quality of life. “Our best days are ahead of us because we are going to make them."
John is a lifelong resident and native of Colorado. He managed state legislative races while attending law school.
He enlisted in the Colorado Army National Guard in 1991 during the first Persian Gulf War. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1993 and became the Company Commander of the 147th Combat Support Hospital in 1995, later serving as a Captain at the National Guard State Headquarters. John received the Meritorious Service Medal twice during his twelve years of service and was honorably discharged 2003.
John was elected to first term as Arapahoe County Commissioner in 1996. In 1999 he was re-elected to a four-year term and served as chairman in 2000. He served as chairman of the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority (Centennial Airport), and as President of the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority. He served as the Director of Public Policy at the South Metro Denver http://www.bestchamber.com/ in 2003 and then served as the President and CEO and member of the Board of Directors of the South Metro Denver Chamber from 2004 to 2014.
Currently John is the Director of Strategic Community and Governmental Engagement at Webolutions, and strategically helps businesses and organizations become more productive and efficient in the navigation of a number of challenging areas including: Strategic Community Engagement, Relationship Building, Community Investment, Governmental Affairs, Public Policy, Public Affairs and Media Relationships.
John received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law in 1993; his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Northern Colorado in 1988 and is a proud Graduate of Littleton High School in 1984.
John currently serves on the Community Boards for Metropolitan State University of Denver, the Community College of Denver, Arapahoe Community College, the Advisory Board for the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, the American Lung Association of Colorado and as a founding Board member for the Rocky Mountain Clean Tech Open. He also was a founding Board Member for the Cleanlaunch Renewable Energy Incubator and VITAL for Colorado.
John was selected Freshman Commissioner of the Year by Colorado Counties Inc. in 1997, received the NACo/FEMA Building Disaster Resistant Communities Award in 2001, the Award of Excellence from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department and the Dorothy J. Vogt Award for Extraordinary Contribution to the Community both in 2003 and the Centennial Mayor’s Award of Excellence in 2012.
Some fun facts about John: Founding Father of the City of Centennial, Can swim two laps underwater (however he gets to choose the pool), selected as the MVP in high school for gymnastics! He and his wife Meredith have two daughters (Taylor and Jordan) and are following their dad in school down the same halls of elementary school, Jr. High/Middle school and now Littleton High that he attended. He has traveled to 22 countries mostly for government, business and military service.
Vice President, BBVA Compass
Papa was born in Dakar, Senegal. He is drawn to leadership because of his commitment to help others achieve their dreams. The Ethiopian Community Association recognized Papa for his outstanding commitment to the Community.
Papa Dia, is the President and Founder of the African Leadership Group based in Colorado and its Mission is: Helping the African Diaspora integrate and prosper by connecting cultures.
Papa Dia is the President and Founder of Voice for Africa, an organization to allow African to be politically involved in any election in Colorado and have a voice for the changes we want in our community.
Papa Dia is a Board Member at Highline Academy Charter school.
Partner, Xpand Worldwide
Nicole Gampp oversees Corporate Relations for Global Energy Options Xpand and is the Founder of GOOD NRG. Nicole is a passionate connector and has helped to raise capital for various organizations including, but not limited to: Certified Minerals, Gekko Boats, iProjectMobile and GEO. She has contracts promoting over a dozen leading companies in the Denver Metro area and has been a leading, strategic revenue driver for Designs By Sundown and a multitude of other organizations.
Nicole serves on the Boards of 5280 Professional Alliance and Give 2 Orphan Kids. She also enjoys volunteering for the Cancer League of Colorado, Project Cure, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Birdies to the Brave, Global Down Syndrome, Wounded Warriors, the Denver Ballet Guild, and Mount Saint Vincent.
Co-Founder and Principal, Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs
Hanfling has been active in the Colorado political, business and non-profit communities since 1993. Prior to co-founding Sewald Hanfling, Hanfling served as the founding CEO of an international foundation focused on health, education and culture. Prior to that, he was CEO of Qube Visual, a Denver based sign and Graphics Company, which he founded in 2001 and sold in 2012. He stepped down as CEO to run for the Colorado State House in 2008.
Since moving to Denver from Washington D.C. in 1992, Hanfling has been active with a number of non-profits, political organizations and committees. Hanfling was involved at a high level with John Hickenlooper’s run for Mayor and Governor and Michael Hancock’s race for Mayor. He serves on the boards of the Denver Justice Council, Friends of the Denver Fire Department, The Denver Health Foundation and Democrats for Education Reform. Past boards include The Denver Hospice, National Jewish Health, Concerts for Kids, The American Transplant Foundation and a number of other community organizations.
Hanfling founded his first business, a wood recycling company, while in college and has built or revitalized a number of companies since that time. He is the founder of www.setameeting.com and has been involved in many other companies in Colorado, Washington DC and London.
Named the Honorary Consul General to Colorado for the Kingdom of Morocco and a former member of the Clinton Global Initiative, Hanfling was named one of Denver’s 25th most powerful people by 5280 Magazine, elected to the 40 under 40 by the Denver Business Journal, named one of Colorado’s “Hottest Politicos” by Face the State, voted one of Denver’s ‘Movers & Shakers” by the Colorado Statesman and one of Colorado’s top philanthropists by Colorado Company Magazine.
Hanfling spent 2012 living and working in London to focus on the global work of the foundation while working with a private equity firm based there.
Hanfling grew up in Washington, DC and has a BS in management with a major in Entrepreneurial Studies from Babson College.
President, See It Thrive
Sue Kenfield is President and Founder of See It Thrive™, a performance improvement consulting company specializing in transforming the human dynamic through leadership and team development, conflict management, and behavioral intelligence consulting. With over twenty years of corporate experience in leadership, training, strategic planning, sales, business development and coaching, Sue understands the opportunities for, and impact of, maximizing performance and results.
Sue has been professionally involved in the area of human behavior for twenty-five years. She has helped individuals and teams break through their limitations and transform their performance through her skilled consulting and dynamic, interactive training. Sue is a highly regarded speaker, trainer, executive coach, and workshop facilitator. Her clients benefit from her real world knowledge, expertise, and unique insight. She is passionately committed to helping individuals and businesses improve their performance to achieve their greatest success.
Sue also brings those skills to raising the level of conversation regarding public affairs and minimizing divisiveness. She works to support collaboration among those who are interested in moving the ball forward and capitalizing on opportunities for resolution and success within businesses and communities. She is the Chair of the Cultural Business Alliance and also serves on the Advisory Board for Women in Business.
CEO, Prime Capital Solutions
Michael loves finding niches for new businesses and filling a gap where needed. To that end, after 10 years with Wall Street (Merrill Lynch) he started Bonus Book, a coupon book sold as a fundraiser by Boy Scouts, schools, Special Olympics and Muscular Dystrophy in Austin, TX. Upon selling Bonus Book, he moved back to his beloved Colorado and Founded Harvard Mortgage Group, a mortgage banking company, and then Vanguard National Mortgage and Title until June 2008. He served for five years on the Boards of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers (incoming, current and immediate past-President) and the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.
In August 2008, Michael consulted with and became National Sales Manager of TransBioTec, a startup, where he assisted with Wall Street and other sources to capitalize the company. The product of TransBioTec was SOBR (Sobriety OnBoard Recorder), a finger tip sensor wired to the starter of cars, trucks, etc. that detected alcohol in the blood of drivers, preventing the engine from starting.
In 2012, Michael started Prime Capital Connections, a consulting firm that assists entrepreneurs in finding capital to start or to expand a business.
President, Teegarden Financial Corporation
David Prichard is a highly respected, heavily involved Denver-area business leader and community influencer. David serves as the President of Teegarden Financial Corporation, a specialty finance and investment firm that partners with high net worth business owners, families, and executives throughout the country.
A serial entrepreneur, David is also a Co-Founder of Lazy Bee Ranch Honey, available on your local Whole Foods and King Soopers shelf, as well as an owner or partner in a variety of other successful businesses including Aqua Terra Culinary, Medovina, several bars and restaurants, and many other exciting ventures as well. He is an active investor in the private equity space around town, and serves on the board for Mountain Valley Grocery. David prides himself on bringing solutions to the table that effectively connect people and resources as they work to turn ideas into reality.
David began his business career in the wireless communications industry. In 2006, he made a leap into the insurance and financial services industry and hasn’t looked back since. David has consistently been a Million Dollar Round Table qualifier and achieved Top of the Table level production multiple times. Fewer than 1% of the nation’s insurance agents reach this level of production.
David also has a passion for people; spending a lot of time and energy where it really counts. He is an advisory board member for Helping Hands for Freedom, an organization dedicated to supporting military children and families facing difficulties, and Ambassadors of Compassion, a program that equips youth with personal leadership skills. David’s firm Teegarden Financial sponsors a school, where David volunteers as a coach. David is also on the board for the Opportunity Coalition, providing leadership, collaboration and support to help grow businesses and create economic vitality.
David moved to Colorado in 2004, he loves spending time with his kids (and all the band, basketball, karate, etc... that goes with that!). In addition to family activities, he loves sports, is an Avalanche season ticket holder, and an avid Broncos fan. The Prichard family loves to travel, ski, and enjoy the Colorado outdoors together
Sabrina Risley founded CERTUS Professional Network, the Denver Metro area’s longest standing grassroots networking organization, offering high-level professionals, from companies of varying size and industry, a platform through which to convene and collaborate with well-connected business leaders, influencers, key resources, potential partners, and new prospects. More than 22,000 professional have attended CERTUS Networking Events since 2003.
The CERTUS community culture is one of benevolence and abundance, attracting professionals to their Denver networking events who set out to add value to others, without expecting anything in return. Sabrina Risley shares her networking insights in Strategic Networking for Success.
Alongside CERTUS, Sabrina Risley joined The Alternative Board (TAB) Denver DTC as Managing Partner in 2015, facilitating Peer Advisory Boards for company presidents and CEOs, providing them access to the level of guidance and advice typically afforded only large, public organizations.
Her areas of fascination and expertise include: business networking; rapport building; vendor relations; referrals; staffing and recruiting; marketing; social media; team building; relationship management; customer service; membership communities; collaboration vs competition; service mindset and culture.
Sabrina Risley is a Denver Business Journal 2015 Outstanding Women in Business nominee, 2014 Aspire Award Nominee, 2012 Connection Maker of the Year, 2012 Champion of Free Enterprise-Sales Professionals International, and 2011 Go-Giver Award recipient from Burg International. She shares her story on the TEDx platform and is a contributing author to three books: Speaking Your Truth, Soulful Marketing, and Forty and Wiser.
Originally from Orange County, CA, Sabrina Risley relocated to Colorado in 1997. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Her mother was born and raised in Germany, affording Sabrina Risley the opportunity to learn German at the tender age of four. Her time is spent raising her two sons and her spare time involves health and fitness related activities, hiking, supporting Colorado's professional sports teams, volunteering in the Denver community and she served on the non-profit Board of Directors for Dolls For Daughters and Kenzis Kids.
Sabrina Risley is thrilled to serve as a member of the Advisory Board for the Opportunity Coalition.
Senior Vice President, Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry
Founder, Pro Business Colorado
David Tabor is Sr. Vice President, Business Partnerships, at the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, the state chamber of commerce. His responsibilities at CACI (pronounced “KAY-see”) include leading the membership team, establishing and maintaining partnerships with key Colorado business leaders, Board development, and engaging Colorado businesses in advocating for Colorado’s economic prosperity. Dave hosts “Pro-Business Colorado” on “Denver’s Money Talk,” 1690 AM.
Prior to joining CACI, Dave started, grew and then sold, Tabor Interactive, which created Internet and multimedia products for major corporations in the U.S. and abroad. Dave’s career began in the cable television business working for cable pioneer Bill Daniels.
Dave is a former college and Denver Broncos mascot. He earned a business degree from Drake University, and an MBA from the University of Colorado. Dave and his wife, Cheryl, live in Littleton. Their two sons both attend University of Colorado, Boulder studying engineering and business.
Founder and CEO, National US India Chamber of Commerce (NUICC)
Purnima Voria is the Founder and CEO of the National US India Chamber of Commerce (NUICC), an organization formed to build bilateral trade between United States and India through business relationships. NUICC is recognized as one of the top international business organizations where members meet with visionary business and government leaders from the United States, India and other countries, become actively involved with the larger business community, and learn how to help their companies better compete in the new, dynamic global economy with the enhanced growth of U.S.-India trade relations. The membership of NUICC spans across a wide spectrum of industries, with direct membership strength of over 9,200 people worldwide.
An international business advocate, Ms. Voria is an International business owner, freelancer, educator, motivational speaker and a U.S.-India expert, and mother of three very successful daughters. She is also a business consultant to small and large U.S. corporations and industry trade associations and helps businesses market and source their products and services in India; qualifies local partners; provides a road map for businesses that are entering the Indian marketplace; provides legal, taxation and regulatory help; and offers in-company training workshops. Ms. Voria participates in many local, national and international activities.
Nationally, Ms. Voria has been appointed by Secretary Gary Locke, U.S. Department of Commerce to serve as an Advisor to the Obama Administration on the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprises for a two year term to shape future policies and programs that will set the foundation for the growth of $100 million companies across all industries that are owned and operated by U.S. minorities.
Ms. Voria has also served on President George W. Bush’s 2005 Presidential Commission and was a member of his 2006 Presidential Business Club, providing valuable business policy and trade expertise. That same year, she was awarded a Congressional Medal of Distinction for her outstanding leadership in business and her contributions to the United States economy. In 2005, The Wall Street Journal honored Ms. Voria as a Business Woman of the Year. She was also the Honorary Chairman for the National Republican Congressional Business Advisory Council and received the 2005 Ronald Regan Republican Gold Medal for her acumen as a local business leader. Adding to her stellar community service record, Ms. Voria serves as an Ambassador for Peace and is a contributing member to the United Nations Association of the United States of America.
In Colorado, where the National US India Chamber of Commerce is headquartered, Ms. Voria was selected to serve on both Governor Owens’ and Denver Mayor Hickenlooper’s Asian Advisory Councils. She is actively involved in Chamber of Americas as a strategic partner, and served as the President of Indian Association of Colorado.
An internationally recognized speaker, Ms. Voria has been featured on BBC World News –London as a commentator on climate change and the role of various nations’ stances on the issue. She also participated in Voice of America TV and Radio’s thought provoking discussion entitled Global Women’s Empowerment. Furthermore, she was featured on India Today, a leading magazine, and spoke on the importance of Non Resident Indian’s role in contributing to the rise of India as an economic superpower, The Times of India, India Abroad, The Denver Post, The Denver Business Journal and the Colorado Today Television show. Ms. Voria travels frequently between the United States and India, promoting businesses and consulting for corporations and industry trade associations. She also travelled worldwide to China, India, Israel, New Zealand and other countries as Keynote Speaker for Global CEO Business Conferences.
Loan Officer, Axiom Financial
Christina has an extensive background in residential mortgage finance and has been opening the doors of home ownership for her clients for over 3 decades. Her broad knowledge of the industry is the result of 32 years of experience encompassing everything from FHA/HUD Re-Development Block Grants to working with developers of luxury residential communities.
Christina has always had a passion for renovation, affordable housing and veteran’s issues. She started her mortgage career in her native New York, nestled between West Point and Stewart Air Force Base at a time when Hudson River towns were ripe for urban renewal. While building her mortgage business in the Hudson Valley, she became active in local government affairs and was introduced to Alice Dickinson, who became her good friend and mentor. Alice was in the process of founding Orange County RDAC, Rural Development Advisory Corporation. RDAC is a not-for-profit affordable housing development organization that since 1983 has rehabilitated and constructed more than 1,000 housing units and became an example of success in home counseling, foreclosure prevention, senior housing and administering various state and federal housing grant programs. At the time, RDAC was fighting for affordable housing laws and helped shape the economic development strategies of the area. Christina was immediately committed to the organization as it served her community and its goals and served on the board from 1985 to 1995 and held both president and treasurer positions. Her proudest moment was when RDAC received the largest state grant at the time, from then Governor Mario Cuomo, to redevelop the old, abandoned and deteriorating Middletown train station into residential mixed use housing for low to moderate-income, seniors and people with special needs.
Christina is the current secretary of Jeans4Peace, and an annual fundraiser for the Senior Assistance Center in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver. She and her husband, Terry Simone, are active in a variety of local political activities. They have 4 children and can be frequently found with their 2 grandsons at their second home in Summit County, where Terry has been a ski instructor for 18+ years.
CEO, Social Media Energy
One member of his team suggests that Luke’s candle burns at both ends and in the middle. That energy served him well in his early career in sales and training, including 12 years at Development Dimensions International, an executive talent management company. His drive has only increased with age as Luke serves today as founder and President of Wyckoff Consulting, an executive search firm, and the founder and CEO of Social Media Energy.
Luke embraces his role at SME as the Visionary. He chooses to lead by learning what motivates each team member and then managing him or her accordingly. Luke is quick to point out, though, that, “…I mentor, coach and educate, but I don’t motivate—that has to come from within.”
Social Media Energy evolved from Wyckoff Consulting’s client service of posting job description videos on You Tube and later on LinkedIn and Facebook. This was in the early days of social media and one day, when talking to a long-time client about how the company could enhance their overall corporate reputation through these same media, the company’s executives challenged him to do exactly that. Long story short…he did, and Social Media Energy was born. Now, after just two years, SME manages the social media presence for more than 75 clients with the support of 25 permanent and contracted team members.
Luke vows to keep his company on the forefront as social media evolves. In fact, he’s confident that given the talent of his team, SME will help shape social media’s next iterations. He sees the company continuing to grow, but equally important to him is the “continued development of our team members so they can enjoy a wonderful quality of life while feeling they are a part of something special.”
We’ll let Aristotle speak for Luke. ”You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” What Luke repeatedly does is build relationships, find the best people for his teams, lead by example, and treat others as he would like to be treated.
Growing up in West Michigan, Luke was inspired by his father and his grandfathers, all successful businessmen and pillars of the community. Because of their influence, he always knew he would run his own company. It all came together thanks to the support and input of trusted friends and business advisors during countless meetings over coffee at REI Starbucks in Lower Downtown Denver and other beverages at Hogs Head Saloon in Sheridan, Michigan.
Luke loves living in and feeding off the energy of ”LoDo” (Lower Downtown), a young, diverse and vibrant area of Denver. And it doesn’t hurt that LoDo is convenient to the Pepsi Center and Coors Field—Luke is an avid sports fan and supports all the Denver pro teams except when the Detroit Red Wings are in town!
Senior Partner, Polsinelli
Howard Gelt is a Senior Partner with Polsinelli with an extensive real estate practice and a trusted advisor to many businesses. Polsinelli is a business and litigation law firm with more than 700 attorneys in 18 offices spanning the country from Los Angeles to New York.
Mr. Gelt graduated with a B.S.B.A. from the University of Arizona in 1966, and received his J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law in 1969. Mr. Gelt began his legal career as an educator, teaching civil and criminal trial practice at the University of Denver College of Law, as the Assistant Director of the Clinical Education Program (from 1969–1973) and at the Duke University College of Law as a Clinical Instructor (from 1973–1975), where he began the first clinical program in the country on the subject of law and aging. From 1975–1978, Mr. Gelt was a senior staff member for then Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm. Following his service with Governor Lamm, Mr. Gelt entered private practice.
Mr. Gelt has extensive background in transportation issues in the metro Denver area. He is a past member of the State Highway Commission, Chairman of the Coalition for Smart Transit, a member of the State Economic Development Commission, and on the transition team for newly elected Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. His service as Chairman of the Board of the Metro North Chamber and the North Area Transportation Alliance (NATA), has solidified his relationships with key elected officials and business leaders in the metro north area.
In addition to his private business, economic development and civic activities, Mr. Gelt has been active in a variety of political activities. Besides serving on the senior staff of Governor Richard D. Lamm, he also served as the Chairman of the Political Action Committee for Mayor Federico Pena, the Chairman of the finance committee for Governor Roy Romer, and the Chairman of the Colorado State Democratic party and a key member of the Clinton for Colorado Committee. He is currently a member of the Finance Committee for U.S. Senator Mark Udall and a member of the Obama Leadership Circle for Colorado.