2020 Leadership Lessons
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719-634-5905 Chairman of the Board
John Weiss Publisher and Executive Editor
Amy G. Sweet Editor-In-Chief
EDITORIAL Managing Editor
Helen Robinson Staff Reporters
Erinn Callahan Jeanne Davant Zach Hillstrom Copy Editor
Mary Jo Meade Contributor
ADVERTISING Advertising Director
Jason Janc Account Executives
Tammy Fogall Monty Hatch Kristin DeCocq
ART AND PRODUCTION Art and Production Director
Melissa Edwards Graphic Designers
Zk Bradley Rowdy Tompkins Elena Trapp
MEMBER SERVICES Digital Director
Jessica Kuhn Circulation Coordinator
COLORADO PUBLISHING HOUSE Executive Editor Emeritus
usiness is the lifeblood of every city: It provides a tax base for services, jobs for residents, funding for nonprofits, a pool of volunteers and support for the arts. Without local businesses stepping up, our city would be a barren place — just a collection of people, with few common goals. But thanks in large part to the people you’ll meet in these pages, Colorado Springs is thriving. It’s a magnet for entrepreneurs, mid-market companies, established firms. It’s known nationally as a place to raise families, create jobs and to embrace the outdoors. Each of the 12 people highlighted here has created a life of service, whether to a specific industry, nonprofit or business. The Colorado Springs Business Journal believes in connecting the business world; we share its stories, challenges and opportunities. That’s why we’re pleased to report the storied career of Chris Liedel, the new CEO at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame. We want to introduce you to the second generation of Hybl at El Pomar — Kyle Hybl — who is heading up the city’s largest nonprofit. Inside you’ll meet Aikta Marcoulier, head of the region’s Small Business Development Center and Gina Cimino, president of Kip Hampden Properties and Mt. Carmel of Colorado, both part of the largest auto dealership in the region, Phil Long Dealerships. Jill Tiefenthaler talks about the challenges at Colorado College while Barbara
Myrick shares her story of being CEO of a construction firm and a woman in a male-dominated field. Jeff Greene discusses the future of the city of Colorado Springs and his history as chief of staff for both the city and El Paso County. Lisanne McNew discusses the small business arena, and Debbie Chandler talks about her long career in health care. Kristie Bender-Carey talks about her transition from banking to owning a burgeoning firm that provides lending and other business services. And Delta Solutions’ brand-new CEO, Mark Stafford, talks about taking the reigns from a founding owner and his vision for the firm. But the conversation will continue beyond the stories in this magazine. The Business Journal will follow up with 12 events to connect business people throughout the city with these leaders. We believe that creating a place for conversation can drive the development of new ideas for our growing city and new connections for young professionals and seasoned leaders alike. Our goal remains the same: Read the Business Journal today and make better business decisions tomorrow. Follow us for news on local industries, young professionals and everything that’s happening in the Colorado Springs business community. Let us help you grow your business and improve your revenue. Together, we’ll all prosper. Amy Gillentine Sweet Publisher & Executive Editor
Photographing the powerful women of our community for over 10 years. www.stellarpropellerstudio.com
2020 COS CEO LEADERSHIP LESSONS JAN. 8
El Pomar Foundation
McNew & Associates
Matthews-Vu Medical Group
Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center
Mt. Carmel of Colorado and Kip Hampden Properties
Pikes Peak Library District
4:30-6 p.m. • $25/person The Pinery at the Hill (775 W. Bijou St.)
MARCH 12 Jeﬀ Greene
City of Colorado Springs
US Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame
Delta Solutions & Strategies
B&M Construction Inc.
Kristie Bender-Carey Bender-Carey Group
Jill Tiefenthaler Colorado College
RSVP at CSBJ.com/Events
Kristie Bender-Carey Bender-Carey Group
ristie Bender-Carey was the first female stockbroker in Iowa, so it’s not surprising that she’s known for hard work, ingenuity and upending the status quo. Breaking that barrier “was out of the box as it was,” Bender-Carey recalls. “I mean that was in the early, early ’80s, so it was like ‘Holy smokes!’ And to work out how I was going to run in a man’s world and compete — or beat them, because I was very competitive — I always had to figure out creative ways to bring more business. Being the first one there before the bell rang, being the last one there. How could I market smarter? Not necessarily work harder, but market smarter. And then when I came to Colorado and started my company, it was: How can we be different? What can set us apart from everybody else?” What would set her new company apart, she decided, was commercial real estate lending. It was mostly the domain of banks at that point, but Bender-Carey leveraged her securities background and experience to get into the business and build a reputation. Bender-Carey was owner and president of that company, American Finance Inc., for 20 years before moving into the banking world. She was VP for business development with ANB Bank, then market president for two other banks — one of them Midland States Bank. When Midland States abruptly pulled out of Colorado, Bender-Carey felt the timing was right. She was ready to retire, she said, and “about fed up with the banking life” — disappointed with the internal decisions banks were making, and frustrated with “this mountain of handcuffs that kept you from educating your clients and helping them win.” The retirement idea didn’t last long. “In 2017 I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up,” she said, “and it took me right back to where I was, which was the advisory end of things. … I took my knowledge as bank president and I thought, ‘What are the weaknesses of most of the businesses that couldn’t get a loan? Why are these clients were being turned down? Why wasn’t it a good risk for the bank?’ They’re missing the foundation, typically: a good business plan; a strategic plan; the financial knowledge… . They know what they know really well — but I said, ‘We need an advisory firm that can help in all the areas that I saw a weakness in when I was a banker.’ “In forming Bender-Carey Group,” she said, “we came together to cover the full gamut of things that, as a bank president, I constantly saw that made companies fail.” Today, those services include not only business advisory, but an elite marketing group, a CPA division, capital division and commercial properties division. What’s your leadership style? I definitely lead by example. I don’t ask my employees to do anything I’m not prepared to do. … We pull a lot of hours and I ask a great deal from them. With that being said, I try to be one of the first ones there, and I’m always the last one to leave — and I’m the first one to dive into a deal and try to help someone understand how we need to deal with it, or what’s the best avenue. ... I don’t always have the right answers — and a lot of times I don’t have
any answers. I have to ask, ‘What do you guys think?’ and then we cultivate an answer; we come up with the best strategy for a client. There’s no way you can always know all the answers. I wish I could say I did, but my experience over the last 30-plus years has taught me a lot — and one of the things that’s taught me is, you’re never going to know all the answers. What’s the best advice you’ve received? Believe it or not, it did not come from one of my mentors — although they agreed with it — and it didn’t come from my father. It came from Ross Perot. I was at the Mesquite Rodeo, where [my company was] working on some of the financing. This gentleman and I kept catching each other’s eye and I knew I knew him — I was young and I was new in my business and I couldn’t picture where I knew him from. He left the suites and I chased after him, poor guy, and caught him at the elevator. I said, ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but I know you and I don’t know why.’ And he starts in this soft Southern voice, ‘Well, ma’am, my name is Ross Perot...’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. Is there any way you would give me like five minutes?’ He started laughing. He said, ‘I’ll sit right down here next the elevator with you and I’ll talk to you.’ He gave me 45 minutes. The man was a breath of fresh air. I said, ‘Here I am, a young entrepreneur, brand new, I just started this company. We’re helping with the Mesquite Rodeo; that was a big play for me, it was scary, I made some mistakes going in blind, and I didn’t make as much money as I should have. What would your advice be to me?’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s easy. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do — however, never lose control. Learn what they learn. And then surround yourself, again, with people who know more than they know — and again, learn what they know.’ So I’ve always surrounded myself with people who are extremely educated in different areas that I am not, and who have a lot of value that they can add to not just to our inner team, our company, but to all the individuals that walk through the door and become clients. Every one of us has something different we bring to the table. You and your husband run a working cattle ranch as well. Tell us how that’s important to your life. Being from Iowa, I’ve always been a farm girl. I was single for quite a while and then I married this flyboy — that’s what I always call him — my fighter pilot, a retired colonel with the Air Force. He flew the F-16 and F-4 and OV10... He’s extremely intelligent, an Auburn graduate with a degree in engineering, and he just blew me away with his concept of life. He lived in Monument and I had a ranch out here in Calhan and I went, ‘I’ve got horses and I’ve had cattle and I tried living up there and I couldn’t do it, I felt like I was being suffocated with the population and the driving and the people.’ ... So we found a nice ranch, and he has been unbelievable. He went from a sky cowboy — which he is still is, he still flies — to honest to goodness, on horseback rounding cattle up. ... It just gets me back to the feeling where I always felt grounded — the Iowa mentality. I can take a deep breath because I have horses on one side and cattle on the other side. It’s my relaxation. It’s my balance. — Helen Robinson
ealth care administrator Debbie Chandler is a multitasker with a track record of building large medical practices, including Colorado Springs Health Partners and the Colorado Health Medical Group, a physician-led group that serves UCHealth hospitals and clinics. As CEO of Matthews-Vu Medical Group, she is working in a smaller arena, but it’s one that aligns with her values and lifestyle. Chandler was born in Gainesville, Fla., and grew up “a surfer girl” in Daytona Beach. She attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and planned to be a veterinarian. “That didn’t pan out too well, because the abstract math classes didn’t agree with me,” she said. But she was attracted to health care — her mother is a nurse — and switched to Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville to study nuclear medicine technology, where the math was more practical. Fresh out of school in 1984, she took a job with a cardiology practice in Sarasota, where she set up an outpatient cardiac nuclear medicine lab. When the manager left the practice, Chandler started running the office. She oversaw the growth of the practice from two to 18 cardiologists and supervised the construction of an outpatient heart center. At the same time, she enrolled in night classes at the University of South Florida and completed a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1992, earning straight A’s in her coursework. She left Sarasota in 1993 to become CEO of the Orlando Heart Center, while also completing an executive MBA at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College. In 1998, she joined a multispecialty group of 12 physicians in Naples, Fla., and spent the next 10 years building the practice to more than 80 providers and eight locations. Chandler and her wife and two daughters moved to Colorado Springs in 2008 when Chandler was hired as the CEO of Colorado Springs Health Partners. She joined Colorado Health Medical Group in 2016 and built the practice into an organization with more than 600 employees and offices up and down the Front Range. What led you to leave such a large practice and join a much smaller one? It was a huge job, and I was on the road a lot. I ended up leaving there in the summer of 2017 and took a little time off. About that time, Rick Vu contacted me and said, ‘You know, I’ve been building this little group for 14 years and I really see an opportunity to take what I like to do to care for patients and grow it.’ So I’ve been here two years, and we have pretty much tripled the group size. We’ve acquired four practices, … and we’ve been able to do things that I’ve always wanted to do in health care, which is to integrate behavioral health. In all my other practices, I’ve done more of a financially driven model. Rick is a very mission-oriented doctor, and he believes in taking care of everyone the same and making sure they have the same advantages as any patient. … We do a lot of outreach and we have navigators who help pa-
tients with access. We’ve talked about social determinants of health — any patient that needs access to food or housing or transportation, we work with them to make sure our patients have everything they need. It’s not easy, it’s expensive, and it’s not something we ever went out to make money on. It really is just making sure that our patients have access to that service. What are some of the accomplishments you’re proudest of ? I like to think of myself as leading on the bleeding edge of innovation. When I built the group down in Naples, it was very innovative because we were putting together a specialist with primary care, and we were putting in urgent care. When I was able to help Colorado Springs Health Partners be part of the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative [a national program to strengthen primary care], that was very innovative. And I was proud of that because we were just kind of inventing it as we go. What major trends do you see in the health care industry? Well, I think probably the biggest trend — and I think Colorado Springs is no exception — is the consolidation of health care. We’re a rarity — an independent practice. The larger systems have bought up smaller systems. Is that a good thing? It’s a mixed bag. I think it’s good because they have a lot of resources, and they are putting a lot into things like telehealth and big data and access for patients. But at the same time, I think patient choice begins to get limited and … price competition is minimized. So that’s starting to drive the prices up for hospital services, in particular, in the state of Colorado. How would you describe your leadership style? I really like to mentor and engage people. I always tell young people, if somebody gives you something to do, don’t say no. All you can do is fail, and if you haven’t failed, you’re not pushing yourself. … I like to find people that have potential and give them an idea and let them run with it. I’m not a detail person; I’m an idea person, and I tend to surround my people myself with people that make up for my weaknesses. What skills does a good leader need to cultivate? I think you have to be strategic and think outside the box. I like to listen to what other people do but I like to try new things and look for better ways to do it. I think to be a good leader, you really have to like people. Do you think it’s important for business leaders to be involved in the community? Absolutely. I don’t know how you can be a business leader and not be involved with the community. We all have to take responsibility as leaders because most leaders are in a privileged position. And so you need to take that privilege and use it to better your community and help people that aren’t as fortunate or as blessed as you are. — Jeanne Davant
Debbie Chandler Matthews-Vu Medical Group
Mt. Carmel of Colorado and Kip Hampden Properties
ina Cimino was born in Colorado Springs — and channels her deep love of the city to aid its veterans and help grow its commercial sector through a dual role in her family’s business, Phil Long Dealerships. As the president and broker of Kip Hampden Properties, she’s responsible for all the real estate for the 14 Phil Long locations. She’s also president of Mt. Carmel of Colorado, a nonprofit that assists veterans with centers in Trinidad and Colorado Springs. “I was born here, but my parents moved around,” she said. “We spent seven years in Pueblo and seven in Santa Fe [N.M.]. When Phil Long recruited my dad to the dealerships, we moved back in 1975.” Her roots here are deep. A graduate of Cheyenne High School and UCCS, she found business success in high school — and for years worked in marketing and advertising. But she discovered her third career working on the philanthropic side of the family business, owned by her father, Jay Cimino. Talk about your first professional experience. I was fortunate enough to find a job I fell in love with during my senior year of high school. I worked part time at an ad agency and I just fell in love with advertising. I went to school at UCCS and worked my way through college as a media buyer and working in trafficking the ads — making sure everything was out to clients and media as needed. It was an agency that specialized in the automotive industry, and Phil Long was one of the two clients. I was very lucky to be able to work there and to learn that side of the industry. I loved the work far more than the education. So by the time I graduated, I had four or five years under my belt, working as a traffic director, media buyer and account assistance. ... When I left in 1997, I was vice president of the agency and oversaw 65 employees. Why did you leave? It wasn’t really because I wanted to. I have three daughters — including a set of twins — and I went back to work immediately after they were born. We had to find a new nanny so I thought I’d take six months of leave to find one, and then come back. Those six months turned into about eight years. So you’ve had more than one career? Yes, my first career was at the advertising agency, working car dealerships around the country. My second career was as a mom. This is my third career. When did you start at Phil Long? When I was looking for my third career, I decided to take a look at real estate. I got my brokerage license and started working on the real estate side of things. It’s weird how it worked out. The man who ran the real estate side fell ill immediately after I started and I ended up filling his shoes. And for the last decade, I’ve been involved with the two Mt. Carmel centers — and formed the Trinidad Downtown Development Group. Where does Kip Hampden Properties fit in? Kip Hampden Properties holds all the dealerships, and
also handles all the development work in Trinidad. So for the past 10 years, my third career has been in real estate, historic development and in nonprofit work. No college could have prepared me for what we leaped into — it’s been the school of hard knocks. I’ve had to figure things out and work through it, no matter what. How does that play into your leadership style? I’m very collaborative. I don’t feel like I’m the boss. We are a team; I welcome input and I try to get a lot of feedback. I really am all about teams, working well as a team. I won’t ask anyone to do anything I’m not willing to do myself. Can you explain what you are doing in Trinidad? Mt. Carmel in Trinidad is celebrating its 10th year next year. The mission is to serve an underserved population. ... One of the factors in the redevelopment of Trinidad, we realized, was a lack of health care. Families won’t move somewhere without doctors; young people will leave. So we jumped right in. We didn’t know how to run a clinic, so we talked to everyone. We hired doctors, front-office staff and then just opened the clinic. We learned a lot in the process. We added wellness as well. We realized you have to play offense. You can’t just take care of people who are sick; the goal is to keep people healthy. We’ve made a lot of progress — we have cooking classes, balance programs, children’s programs and a leadership program for high school students. It’s made a real difference in Trinidad. And I’d like to tell you we did it with a profit, but we didn’t. So we found a federally qualified health group named Salud — they run 11 clinics in Colorado. We still run the wellness side, and now we’re focusing on dental care. What role does Mt. Carmel play in Colorado Springs? We have a full-service center for veterans. Our goal is to meet the needs of 100 percent of the veterans in El Paso County. We offer job training, counseling, housing assistance. There are 400,000 veterans in Colorado and 100,000 of them live in El Paso County. ... And we have partnerships throughout the state to help us meet those needs — to help us create a one-stop shop to help change and save lives. To date, we’ve helped just under 6,000 veterans out of the 100,000 who live here. We have a long way to go. Why do this sort of work? We are of a culture that we’re all part of this community, of this state. We want to give back. We’ve been here — Phil Long [dealerships have] been here — since 1945. We’ve forged partnerships and the enterprise is extremely philanthropic. We want to identify needs and fill those needs. We are part of this community, so helping people find jobs, housing, mental health counseling, financial counseling — those are tools that people need to be successful. But we don’t do it alone. Phil Long Dealerships doesn’t fund these nonprofits, although it does help. We rely on our partners, on our community. It benefits everyone. No one can do it alone. — Amy Gillentine Sweet
eff Greene’s easy Southern twang belies a certain tenacity, and the contrast between those traits has served him well over almost two decades in city and county administration. “Some people say I’m like the velvet hammer,” said Greene, now chief of staff for Mayor John Suthers and the chief administrative officer for the city of Colorado Springs. “I can be very genteel, I can be very kind — but at the same time, I can be very forceful.” A Nashville native, Greene studied economics and finance at the University of Tennessee before being commissioned into the Army upon graduation. The Army brought Greene to Fort Carson, and he took a position with what is now UnitedHealthcare Services after his eight years in the reserves came to an end. Did you ever expect to work in governmental administration? If you’d asked me 20 years ago if I’d be doing this, my answer would be no. Around 2000, I was offered a position in San Francisco and another in Phoenix. I was thinking long and hard about that. The county administrator, Terry Harris, and I made acquaintance, and I was retained to be the director of employee benefits and medical services for the county. I was promoted to assistant county administrator, then deputy county administrator and then became administrator upon Terry’s retirement. It gave me a wealth of knowledge and an understanding of what our community is all about. Then Mayor Suthers recruited me when he made the decision to run for mayor. He had a conversation with quite a few individuals and … based upon my experience in the community and the involvement in development of the community, hired me. How is your role in community development different on the city level? When you think about community development, you think about how you are addressing the social needs of the community, but also economic. How are you growing your job base? … Are the needs being met through social services and workforce development? As the county administrator, you play much more of a regional role in how you work and address the needs of the entire region. As chief of staff, it’s on a more micro level because you’re addressing those same needs on a city level, but also addressing the individual impacts and concerns involving neighbors. Last night I was at a town hall meeting and the neighbors were concerned about manufacturing projects and the impacts on surrounding particular areas. As chief of staff, you have more of those type of conversations. How would you describe your leadership style? I will tell you, I do not accept ‘no’ very easily. If somebody tells me no, I’m going to get somewhat perturbed. If I have a suggestion or make a recommendation, I want somebody to say, ‘Jeff, Mr. Greene, it’s not going to work quite that way — but how about this?’ and they come up with alternatives. To me, that’s what being innovative is about. You’re not using the regulations of the city to form an answer of no, but you’re using the regulations of the city to be able to help individuals.
… I feel like my responsibility as a leader, and as a manager and senior officer, is to ensure our department heads have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, but also getting out of their way. It’s the ability to bring different personality types together, but then you determine and find out what that common ground is and then you work from there. … It’s been a very strong belief system for me [that] you have to work through a collaborative environment. Through that, you can have very positive outcomes. That’s how most of the mayor’s objectives have been accomplished. … It can’t be just your individual vision — it has to be a shared vision. … My main job here at the city is to ensure that when we are looking at very specific objectives, not only do we have the right people at the table and everybody is very clear on what we’re trying to accomplish, but we’re doing it together. How does the city’s rapid growth impact your job? I think we have to really put a lot of thought into what the future of the city is going to be. A lot of communities in this state have grown overnight and the appropriate infrastructure isn’t in place. With all the individuals moving to the state, it is time for the city to say, ‘How do we think about our future?’ We have to think about the conservation of our assets, but also we have to have growth. If we’re not growing, we’re dying. But at the same time, we have to have the forethought to ensure we are growing and developing the appropriate way. We have to have adequate services to support the population. … The key is, are their needs being met? Do we have the utility and transportation infrastructure so we are meeting their personal as well as professional needs? What accomplishment are you most proud of ? One of the things I’m most proud of is the [Quad Innovation Partnership], which brings those four higher educational components together [to] work on specific programs and projects. Walt Disney was a very creative and innovative individual. Over time, because the corporation grew very large very quickly, it felt very bureaucratic, so he established a separate enterprise where he could experiment and he didn’t lose that creative innovativeness. Then, based upon the success of those projects, he could roll that in and implement that in the corporation itself. I look at the Quad as the same thing — as an opportunity for city staff to work with students. How do we look at innovation, but also use the skills of individuals to address problems or issues like an affordable housing plan or smart city initiatives? Any parting thoughts? When I interview directors or managers for the city, one of the things I am very interested in is not just the successes they were involved in, but also how they managed failure. ... By understanding how you manage that, it makes you a better leader. In this day and time … how you manage failure, to me, is being just as successful as bringing a successful project home — how you use the understanding of that failure to ensure success for the future. We have to keep that very much in mind. — Erinn Callahan
City of Colorado Springs
Downtown • Family Medicine • Pain Care
629 N. Nevada Ave. 719-473-6171
Healthcare for Children and Adults Matthews-Vu Medical Group is a multi-specialty practice providing exceptional healthcare for children and adults from all walks of life.
We embrace a philosophy of compassionate, individualized care for families in the Pikes Peak Region.
Rockrimmon • Family Medicine • Internal Medicine • Women’s Health
104 Pro Rodeo Drive 719-522-0707
• Behavioral Health • Family Medicine • Internal Medicine • Pediatrics
1050 S. Academy Blvd. 719-574-7083
• Behavioral Health • Dermatology • Family Medicine • Internal Medicine • Pain Care • Pediatrics • Podiatry
4190 E. Woodmen 719-632-4455
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El Pomar Foundation
yle Hybl stepped into the role of president and CEO of El Pomar in December 2018 and immediately had some big shoes to fill — his father’s. But Kyle Hybl knows there is much to be learned from family — in his office he keeps a chair garnished with recognitions his grandfather earned during his time as a Maytag salesman. “When my grandfather died in the early 2000s,” Hybl said, “my grandmother was going to throw out the chair. “I told her, ‘You cannot throw out the Chair for Outstanding Achievement. It’s the Chair for Outstanding Achievement!’” That legacy of hard work and commitment to Colorado Springs and the greater Centennial State was not lost on Hybl. The attorney and Colorado native has taken the reins of one of Colorado’s largest philanthropic foundations. He shared with the Business Journal some of the lessons he’s learned along the way. Are you originally from Colorado Springs? Yes, I was born here and I went to Cheyenne Mountain High School. I grew up here when Ski Broadmoor was open, went to its ski school there and was part of its ski racing program. ... I did that when I was 14 or 15 and was second or third in the country for my age group. I started my undergraduate degree at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine — they had a Division I ski team. Then I transferred to Boulder. My now-wife and then-high-school-sweetheart was at Fordham in New York. She transferred to Boulder and we finished up our undergraduate degrees there. Talk about your relationship with El Pomar. In a significant sense, I’ve grown up at El Pomar. In 1972 or ’73, my dad was here at El Pomar — he was born in Iowa and his dad came out here as a regional salesman for Maytag. My dad grew up in Pueblo, went to Colorado College and law school in Boulder. He was in the Army and was stationed in Ethiopia during the Vietnam War. He was in the [District Attorney’s] office and ended up No. 2 in the DA’s office and served in the Colorado Legislature. From there he was recruited to The Broadmoor/El Pomar Investment Company and Foundation. The Penroses, at the time, owned The Broadmoor and various other assets. Tax law now requires that a foundation can’t own more than 20 percent of an operating business. In 1989 El Pomar sold 80 percent of the hotel to the Gaylords of the Oklahoma Publishing Company and sold the remaining 20 percent in 2003 to the Gaylords. Anschutz bought it in 2011. What are some things that have El Pomar’s fingerprints on them? In everything we do we try to honor the legacy of our founders. Look at El Pomar being a major funder — I think it’s around $32 million — into the World Arena. The [first] Broadmoor World Arena was opened by Spencer Penrose. The Ice Palace was opened in 1938. We really appreciate when we help carry on something they started. Colorado College hockey had a great run there, the 1980 hockey try-
outs happened there, Peggy Fleming trained there — a lot happened there. When The Broadmoor took it down in the early ’90s there was a community campaign and El Pomar came alongside the community to help develop that. It was open land and has led to economic development around it. … In 1977 the trustees gave $1 million to attract the United States Olympic Committee here out of New York. We continued to help support that when they moved to their new location on South Tejon [Street] and we support the United States Olympic [& Paralympic] Museum, which is carrying on the desires to have the athletic component that Spencer Penrose truly appreciated. Julie Penrose was more on the arts side. She built Pauline Chapel; her daughter’s name was Pauline. She was a founder of the Fine Arts Center, the Broadmoor Art Academy. When we’re making grants in the arts, we feel we’re honoring her memory. ... And take Children’s Hospital coming into Colorado Springs — that’s a wonderful asset for the community. We provided some support to them and when we looked at our grant history, the first grant to Children’s Hospital was in 1942. That has Julie Penrose’s fingerprints on it. It’s important to the trustees that we honor that legacy. Talk about your responsibilities. I’m ultimately responsible for the operations, the interaction with the board, helping the board with strategic directions, and encouraging the staff to pursue a direction. In large part I think leadership is bringing people together and creating a common vision for the future and empowering people to stretch themselves and pursue that vision — supporting them when they ask, and holding them accountable for the results. I also represent the foundation at events. The city is home to a lot of nonprofits. Does that make your job more challenging? I’ve heard, per capita, Colorado Springs has the second-largest number of nonprofits in the country behind Washington, D.C. I think it poses a challenge in trying to determine where to apply our limited resources. We have a general grant making function where people submit grant applications. Those could be $2,500 to $10 million per request. We vet those and at each meeting we probably have a couple hundred grant requests to consider, all from within Colorado. So I look through the lens of those three things: Are we honoring the Penrose legacy? Is the mission of the organization good? And how is the leadership? We try to look for those three things so that dollar we send them can turn into $3, which is a great result. Sometimes in the Pikes Peak region we work toward helping nonprofits while trying to come alongside economic development issues like our support of the National Cybersecurity Center or the Ent Center for the Arts. Colorado College is one of our larger historic grantees too because higher education — whether college or university — is important for the economic health of an area. We have supported those two organizations certainly in their efforts to ensure we have a vibrant Colorado Springs. — Bryan Grossman
his isn’t Christopher Liedel’s first time around the block. The CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame (which is expected to open in spring 2020) has also helped build up brands such as National Geographic, where he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and as president of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-producing arm of the Smithsonian Institution. In Colorado Springs, Liedel will be in charge of a venue projected to draw 350,000 visitors annually — one that is expected to revitalize southwest Downtown. “The great thing about this project,” Liedel said, “outside of being part of the Olympics, which is an attractor, is when I stepped back and looked at what we were trying to accomplish for the community and what the teams were already doing. That was really compelling to me.” And Liedel may be taking the lead when it comes to one of Colorado Springs’ most anticipated projects, but he often interjects his feelings about the importance of his team, adding teamwork is one of many life lessons to be taken from athletics. How would you describe your leadership style? There are a few areas I try to focus on. One is being growth-focused. I like to help organizations that are in mature industries try to grow bigger and find new avenues for revenue. Another is, with startups or business models that are new and emerging, I try to be a good steward of fostering those. I’ve realized, through my experiences not only here but with various companies around the world, that there is not a prescribed model for success. You have to let organizations find the right cadence. If I ever write a book it will be about corporate cadence — the pace at which an organization can change based on its market and management team. Those are important attributes. Why is teamwork important to you? Over the last 20 years, the composition of teams and team structures has really changed. Before you’d build members of your team, like players on a basketball court. Now I see success comes from bringing teams together based on skill sets. Members of the team may be part of a consulting firm or maybe another small company that can bring expertise. When I look at how the museum has grown, we have those who built the collections, those who built the museum, those who design museums, those who do storytelling. Those combinations don’t all have to be under the same legal entity. I’ve really embraced this concept of networked organizations where sort of legally independent companies come together with specific skill sets to help us as the core business, the museum, be successful. Colorado Springs is known as Olympic City USA. What does that mean for the museum? It’s the reason I wanted to come here — the City for Champions. I remember during my interview process when they showed me the project. When I saw the slide of where the museum would sit in southwest Downtown — the vision for that — in my heart I said, ‘I want to be here and be part of making that real. How do I bring the skills and talents I have to this community? But also, how do I bring in other
talented people and create diversity?’ That’s where my team philosophy comes in — I like the team to have the freedom to share their ideas. I believe that significant innovation comes from people standing on the fringe of a project. A number of our key innovations have come from the Millennial crowd that’s walked through and shared ideas of what makes the museum important to them. We’ve gotten athletes’ feedback about how to tell their stories and make them more real and authentic. What are some challenges you’ve faced? A challenge I think any CEO deals with is translating vision into execution. As you try to create change in an organization, you need a significant amount of support in understanding where the organization can go, what its future state could be, and a strategy to get from the current state to that future state. Along the way some may not buy into it. But we’re unique here because we can really focus on vision together because there isn’t an existing enterprise we’re managing. Typically, when you create change, people still have to do their day jobs. You still have to run what makes the organization great now and prepare for where you want it to be. I think every CEO is having to adapt. You have to adapt to your environment. Time is getting compressed when it comes to product development, whether that’s a museum experience or an exhibit or a widget made in a factory. I think CEOs also need to adapt to new talent. Talent is shifting in terms of where you get resources and what they can do. … The last challenge is resources, whether money, talent or infrastructure. Every CEO is trying to manage those three things. It’s the classic puzzle of time, talent and treasure. Can you offer insight into running successful fundraising campaigns? For fundraising, know your purpose. I think a lot of nonprofits get tied up with the mission of the organization, which is always important, and the vision is how we do it, but the purpose is the why. Why do we do this? Why do we get up every day and tell these stories? Our purpose is to fuel people’s passions, whether it’s sports or something else, to be their best. I think fundraising in the future will be all about the why. What can small businesses learn from sports? Think about innovation in sport. Think of Dick Fosbury and the Fosbury Flop and how he changed the high jump. Now, technology helped because years before they used to land in sawdust and you’d probably break your neck. But he changed the sport. So what does a small business operator take away from that? Also, ask yourself: Can you, in your company, be the best out there? What does it take to create excellence? And finally you can go back to the Olympic values like friendship. How, as a business, are you building your network? How are you creating a greater experience for your customers? There are so many lessons that can be learned from sports. — Bryan Grossman
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame
Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center
or Aikta Marcoulier, taking the reins as executive director of the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center was a “total step out of the comfort zone” — but finding success in unexpected places has been a pattern throughout her life. The daughter of two physicians who moved from India to the West Indies to Illinois, Marcoulier was born in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines and grew up in Iowa, where her mother had her own practice. Marcoulier stayed in Iowa for college, but she didn’t pursue medicine. “I was interested — and how do we put it nicely? I failed all my classes in college,” she said. “I’m not shy about talking about it. It wasn’t my thing. I did horribly. I decided that wasn’t for me. After I failed miserably at everything premed, I became an economics major — and it all made sense again. It totally clicked.” Discovering economics was far from the last twist in the path Marcoulier had laid out. She was all set to be an investment banker. The life-changing moment came, she said, when she went to stay with friends in New York City so she could hit eight job interviews in four days. “I was interviewing down by the towers on 9/10, and 9/11 was going to be my fun day because I was flying out on the 12th,” she recalled. “And then my friend says, ‘Oh my gosh, my mom said turn on the TV. You’re not going anywhere.’ ... And so we saw on TV, the first plane had hit. Their apartment was like 3½ miles away from the towers. We went to the roof and we saw both towers fall. And this lady dropped her knees and was crying hysterically because her husband worked down there. ... We saw this happen and my friend’s like, ‘It’s got to be a terrorist attack.’ … “We remember a lot of turning points growing up. But that was the one that — you grow up really fast because everybody around you thinks you’re a terrorist. If you’re East Indian of any sort — doesn’t matter if you’re Saudi Arabian, Indian, Pakistani. There were people on the news saying, ‘I don’t care who you are — if you’re from anywhere in those countries, we think you’re a terrorist.’ It was major ignorance that came out — out of fear. We tied the American flag on our bags when we were walking around because I’m like, ‘I was born Chicago, I was born here, I’m as American as you are.’ But people didn’t think like that. I was profiled getting onto airplanes for at least another year. ... And so you think of that life changing moment when you learn about ignorance, you learn about racism — but then you also learn that fear creates a lot of bad things in people. You learn a lot real quick.” Marcoulier’s parents had moved to Colorado Springs by then, and she moved in with them for six months, working as a fitness center clerk at Cheyenne Mountain Resort “because I could not find a job.” After a while she “fell into sports,” working for the Native American Sports Council, followed by more than 8 years with Professional Bull Riders, helping build the sponsorship department. Her job with what would become Pikes Peak SBDC was another pivot. “The posting said it was business development,” Marcoulier recalled, “and I’m like, ‘I’ve done business development, that’s what sponsorship is.’ Oh, I had no idea. I didn’t have a lick of knowledge about small business. And I was in the second set of 100 people applying.”
After four rounds of interviews, Marcoulier was hired for her ability to raise sponsorships and awareness, build programs and “run a good show.” Eight years later, she’s still in her element. What do you want people to know about the SBDC? We want people to know that our strategic development experts are at a very high level. We have [business community infrastructure and customer-focused strategic consulting expert] Loren Lancaster; we have a lead veterans consultant that was a manager for equity investors, we have technology experts, we have small business innovative research grants, tech commercialization, cyber educators. We have very high level subject matter experts here. And so we’re really good at helping people who are: ‘I’ve been in business for a long time and I need strategic development to keep it moving forward.’ We do a lot of startup stuff too, which is important. ... There is not one industry or one topic we don’t cover. Describe your leadership style. [Colorado Springs Leadership Institute] taught me that I am more sensitive to people’s feelings than I thought I was, because I’m very — I don’t like big crybabies. Don’t crybaby about stuff that can be fixed. Think bigger at all times. Think beyond our means — what’s the next step? You don’t just drop it; you always think bigger. You always think about not your day-to-day but, ‘OK, what would the mayor think about what we’re doing? What would our funders and stakeholders think? What are their objectives — and are we meeting them?’ My sponsorship brain comes into effect. ... Leadership style: I have very little patience for ignorance. Once you’re told something, I expect it to be done. I push everyone to the limits until they say, ‘We can’t anymore.’ I have lots of big ideas, so somebody needs to tell me to stop when they can’t. ... One other good piece of advice was from Randy Bernard, who was CEO of Professional Bull Riders at the time. He goes, ‘I don’t care if you screw up. Just don’t make it a surprise for me.’ So I love people saying, ‘You know what, I didn’t get to it. I kind of screwed up on that one.’ I’m OK with that. I don’t yell at people. But I am really in your face — if you screwed up you’re going to know about it. Tell us about the best advice you’ve received. Jen Furda has helped a lot of young leaders. My first time speaking, it was just normal Aikta, like: ‘Blah blah, blah. I don’t know what I just said but it turned out OK.’ Jen said, ‘Never forget who you are. Be yourself. You’re not a formal speaker. Never change who you are.’ I just have fun up there, and I said, ‘I don’t wear a suit.’ She goes, ‘Then don’t wear a suit. Who cares?’ ... That was pretty awesome. [UCCS] Chancellor [Venkat] Reddy, when he was my boss at UCCS for a little bit, he told me, ‘There’s going to be times where you just want to throw up your hands and you’ll get very frustrated. Just leave. Just leave, just say you’ll be back. Leave the office, it’s no big deal. Just drive up Garden of the Gods, go to the top of whatever mountain and sit there and just reflect on all the good stuff you guys are doing. ... When you’re just fed up, leave and think about all the good stuff.’ I still think about that advice all the time. — Helen Robinson
isanne McNew had early aspirations of entrepreneurship. When she was growing up in Colorado Springs, both her parents decided to return to school after losing their jobs at the same time. Each eventually opened their own business, unknowingly planting a seed in their daughter’s mind. In 2007, Lisanne and husband Michael started McNew & Associates, a government contracting consultant firm with the tagline “Taking the stress out of doing business with the government.” Michael, a former Department of Defense auditor, is the subject matter expert, while Lisanne, the president and chief operating officer, is responsible for daily operations, business development and client relations. “Small businesses have the opportunity to do business with the government, and it’s scary, so we wanted to help,” Lisanne said. “With him as the expert and me on the business side, we were able to do that.” Lisanne has a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, sports science and exercise physiology from the University of Northern Colorado, and a master’s degree in leadership and education from UCCS. She and Michael live in Monument with their two sons. How did your parents’ experience influence you to start your own business? Growing up, we had no money, and I didn’t necessarily know it until I got older. Seeing them really pull themselves up from the situation that they were in — and really start a business and get up every day and say, ‘No, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to make it better for my kids than I had it’ — gave me that drive to do the same thing, to say, ‘You know, we can do this, and we can even make it better than how we had it.’ My husband’s grandfather was an entrepreneur as well, so he had that drive too. … You want to be able to provide for your family and help provide for other families. How would you describe your leadership style? I’m not a micromanager — I always say, ‘If I have to micromanage you, then I don’t need you anymore,’ which is kind of true, because I’m doing your job. … I like to collaborate. … Whenever we have somebody new come on the job it’s like, ‘Welcome to the family.’ We’re a family here and so we need everybody’s input, because whatever happens in the small business, it affects everyone. ... That doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen all the time, but we like to have everyone’s input. … I want people to be able to be honest with me, as I would with them. If you ask any of my employees, they always know where they stand. I’m not going to let things fester — let’s just be open and honest. What do you think sets McNew & Associates apart from other small businesses? A couple years ago, we changed our [paid time off]policy to have open PTO, so that just means that you can basically take as much paid time off as you would like — obvi-
ously it still has to be approved, but you can take as much as you want. … Another thing is that we’re very flexible. Everybody has a laptop so … I don’t care if they work from home. My biggest thing is just to get your work done — if it takes you 10 hours a week or 80 hours a week, just get the work done. … We like to have fun. You spend so much time in the office and at work that you might as well enjoy it. … We love to have group potlucks whenever we have a new employee come in. Everybody gets their own wine glass, their own coffee cup. … All of our employees get to have a retirement fund. Everybody gets to have a gym membership. We have a sports massage therapist and everybody gets to go to him once a month. … Because we are a small business, we might not pay as much as some of the larger ones, but you get the benefit of being able to go pick up your kid when you want, or work from home. Talk about some challenges of being a small business owner. I think the weight of it is that you are responsible for your employees and for their families, and if you can’t pay them, then you’re not only letting down yourself, but you’re letting down your employees and their families. There were many times in the past — not recently — where you don’t have that money. What I think people who don’t own a business don’t understand is that you don’t take a paycheck, because you have to make sure that your employees are taken care of first. So there is quite a bit of sacrifice when it when it comes to that. … At the same time, though, that’s the best part as well — that you can be a part of that. What about the rewards? For us, it’s helping small businesses. That’s one of the biggest rewards. The second thing, for sure, is being able to help support your employees … and honestly, as we’ve gotten older and as our kids have gotten older, it’s the flexibility. It wasn’t like that in the beginning — you’re working 24 hours a day, you don’t have any money, everything is going back into the business — but now that we’re 13 years in, it’s the flexibility of it. It’s being able to be there for family events. My son plays varsity soccer, and being able to be there for him and having that flexibility has been amazing, because I didn’t get to do that when they were younger, and not everybody has that [opportunity]. What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business? I think one piece of advice would be to find a mentor. … It doesn’t have to be in the same line of business — just find somebody who has been through it and really pick their brain and talk to them about it, because I think that you’ll be able to navigate some of those pitfalls that they’ve already gone through and maybe not go through them yourself. … There’s a lot of great free resources locally that you don’t have to pay for, and they can help you navigate some of that as well. — Erinn Callahan
McNew & Associates
With COS Creatives, we’re hoping to pull back the curtain on the creative industries in Colorado Springs. What does it take to make it as a musician? We’ll ask David Siegel, who grew up in the performing arts. Want to know the details behind brewing beer? Get the facts from Cerberus’ top brewer Josh Adamski. Interested in selling your artwork? Abby Kreuser will tell you how – and how she got her start. Want to sing, dance, juggle? Go behind the scenes with Jim Jackson and Birgitta DePree at the Millibo Art Theatre. Interested in directing? The fine folks at the Ent Center for the Arts will show you the way. Think restaurant life is glamorous and fun? Chefs Mike Davis and Steven Bailey will tell you how food gets on your plate at Atmosphere, Back East and Abby’s Irish Pub. The Colorado Springs Indy wants to show you the hard work, discipline and dedication it takes to perform, sing, act or cook — or even brew beer. This event is perfect for foodies and theater-goers, for young professionals and teachers — and for anyone who wants to support creativity and fun in Colorado Springs.
May 6 July 1
Sept. 2 Nov. 11
Jim Jackson and Birgitta DePree Millibo Art Theatre
David Siegel Bee Vradenburg Foundation and Grass it Up
Caitlin Lowans Ent Center for the performing arts
Mike Davis and Steven Bailey Atmosphere, Back East and Abby’s
Josh Adamski Cerberus
Abby Kreuser Kreuser Gallery
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Barbara Myrick B&M Construction Inc.
hen New Jersey native Barbara Myrick retired from her career as an air traffic controller at Fort Carson, she found herself in search of a new challenge, as well as a new source of income. She first tried her hand at an at-home daycare business, which she successfully ran for about 16 years, but a few years after launching the business, Myrick saw an even greater opportunity in the construction industry. She ran both businesses concurrently for over a decade, but eventually decided to focus full time on her construction company, B&M Construction. The company got its start in 1994, specializing in residential foundation and flatwork, but has since evolved into other arenas, such as commercial construction and government contracting. They now offer furniture procurement and electrical services divisions and have expanded their business into satellite offices in four states. What began as a small business based in Myrick’s garage has since grown into a 48-employee operation netting millions in revenue each year. And it all began with $500 and a dream. You started this enterprise with just $500. How were you able to turn that into what the business is today? In Colorado Springs, it was just a license thing. If you know a trade, can get a license and insurance, you can open a business. So [my then-husband and I] started in my garage and we started with concrete, doing flatwork and foundations, and subcontracting. Back then a lot of homebuilding was going on, so that’s why we started in the homebuilding industry. And it was $500 to get licensed and insurance. After that it was a matter of getting out our marketing and hoping someone would take a chance on us. And why do you think people took a chance on you? Our integrity and the trust we established with people; because we followed through. I’ve always lived by: When you promise someone that you’re going to do something, you do it, even if it becomes a hardship or inconvenience for you. Because all you have is your integrity and your word — and if you lose that, people don’t trust you. So I really do live by that in business, even today. I recently had one of my clients meet with my team and my daughter (who is the company’s strategic business officer) asked, ‘Well why do you do business with her?’ And he said, ‘You know, I can always get an honest answer from her. She’s never going to say ‘Oh yeah, I can do it,’ but then falls on her face.’ When you first started, did you picture the company being as big as it is today? Actually, I always thought it would be bigger than what we are now. I don’t think we’ve arrived to where I think we can be, but where we’re at now in terms of steady growth and moving forward, it’s a good sign of what we can be. It just takes a lot of hard work and long hours and having your team’s buy-in to do it. Because some people don’t want to grow. Some people want to stay small because with growth, they think comes more challenges. But it takes the
same amount of work to do a small contract as it does a large contract. The dollar threshold on a larger contract is bigger, but it all requires the same amount of work. What are the keys to running a construction company? Tenacity. For a woman, we have to have tenacity. But also dedication and follow up and communication. I find when we do that, we are more successful as a team. So being well-rounded and being a good communicator is important. Some people say we overcommunicate, but I find when we overcommunicate, we’re more successful than if we’re not communicating or not finding out what communication style is best for each client. So incorporating all of that is important. That’s where we have been successful. What qualities make a good leader? I think being transparent … in all areas — emotions as well. I think sometimes people believe that because you’re at the top, that you’re in leadership, you don’t have pain and you don’t have emotions, but you do. So my team has seen me cry. My team has seen me angry. My team has seen every aspect of me. So I think being transparent in all areas of your life is important. Because I think people need to see that, especially the ones that work with you. What do you enjoy about running the business? I am a very involved owner, so I have conversations with the people who work for me. It’s not just management that I deal with, it’s the laborers. I need to know how they’re doing as individuals to see if they’re reaching their goals in life and accomplishing the things they want to do ... to make sure I’m providing what they need to be successful. That’s what’s important to me — to make sure the people that work for me are just as successful as I am. Because this might just be their starting point to learn a trade or be in management, and they might get a better job offer or move on to another job or move across the country. Making sure they are trained well and are successful — not just in their jobs, but personally as well — that’s what is important to me. I know some people tie [success] around revenue and money, and that’s great too. But the human capital investment is important to me What’s in store for the company in the near future? I would like to see our electrical division grow along with our apprenticeship program, offering apprenticeships to [young people] in low-income areas here in Colorado Springs. The Southeast is my focus, because that’s where my kids grew up. And going back to that area and helping some of the youth realize, ‘OK, maybe college isn’t for me, but maybe a trade might be.’ So I want to get them involved in our apprenticeship program, whether it’s for my company or someone else’s. And beyond that? I would love to see it become a mid-size construction company, between $50 and $100 million. That’s my big ‘Ah-ha!’ and it can be accomplished through relationships and teaming and joint ventures and things like that. — Zach Hillstrom
ohn Spears’ path to executive director of the Pikes Peak Library District was anything but linear. The Chicago native initially majored in music performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in order to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a professional bassoon player. After dabbling in social work, Spears eventually settled on a degree in musicology with an emphasis on late tsarist Russia. When job offers “didn’t exactly pour in” upon graduation, Spears decided to stick around the university’s music library — where he had been working as an undergraduate — and pursue a master’s degree in library and information science. From there, “I accidentally tripped my way up,” Spears joked. He was hired as mid-county branch manager for the St. Louis County Library, and worked for library systems in Missouri, Illinois and Utah before taking the reins at PPLD in January 2016. What are your professional responsibilities? I oversee the entire district. I’m the sole employee of the board of seven trustees that are appointed by the board of [El Paso] County Commissioners and the Colorado Springs City Council. So I’m ultimately responsible … for the operations of the library system, human resources, finance, communications. Right now we have 14 [branches] but we’re going to be opening a 15th one on Nov. 4 in Calhan. We’re the second largest system in the state after Denver and cover all of El Paso County except for Security-Widefield — they still have their own independent library. It’s a pretty big operation. We have almost 500 employees and about a $32.5 million budget. How would you describe your leadership style? I didn’t really seek out being a leader, and probably everyone says that, but I think you could tell from how I described my career path that I really didn’t seek it out. … For me, there’s two parts of how I try to try to lead. The first is to just inspire people with the shared vision of not what the organization is doing, but why the organization is doing what it’s doing. If you can get people to latch on to the why, that’s what’s important. The second part of leadership is removing the barriers that keep them from actually doing that. Those barriers can be anything — a lot of times, especially in libraries, there are a lot of policies, there are a lot of rules, and sometimes those rules existed more for our convenience than the convenience of our users. Same thing when it comes to some of the restrictions the staff might feel are imposed on them, whether those are real or imaginary, and trying to remove as many of those barriers — physical, financial, psychological. If they understand the mission, and there’s nothing standing in their way, hopefully they’ll be able to see it through. … Another part of my leadership is: Let people be themselves. We all have different life experiences, and
especially in a library that is supposed to be serving the community, let people be themselves. What role do you think the Pikes Peak Library District plays in the development of the region? It’s hard to describe what a library does because there’s very little that we don’t do. When you think about what a library is … we connect people with the resources they need to make their lives what they want it to be. That could encompass anything from someone who wants to start a business, to someone who wants to continue their education, or someone who wants to learn about the world or learn about their community, or people who just want to escape for a bit through a good book. This library has always been very forward-looking in terms of creating opportunities for those things to occur. How has the library’s role shifted in the technological age, and how will it continue to shift? … We just started a culinary arts program. … We actually worked with the Department of Education, so you get your service state accreditation and then you get an accredited certificate. … How that came about was, we worked with the Pikes Peak Workforce Center to identify the skills gaps that existed in the community — and where the jobs are, because very often, you have the people who are looking for jobs and then you have the jobs, and they don’t necessarily line up with their skills. … Very often, a restaurant will open and need to hire people. They hire people, train them and then people leave. … We’re trying to help provide the businesses with people [who have] the skills that the businesses need. … A lot of people might think, ‘Well, is that really the job of the library?’ Well, yeah — what we do hasn’t changed a bit, but how we do it is so different than it was 20 years ago. We don’t just rely on the physical books anymore to give people the knowledge or the skills that they’re looking for. So many people now learn through experience, and so the library tries to provide those experiences. ... When you walk through Penrose [Library] in the morning, what do you see? You see business people, you see moms with their kids, and you see people experiencing homelessness — all sharing the same space for the same purpose. And what other institution in this area do you see that? I would actually say I don’t think there’s anywhere else where every member of the community — regardless of who they are or what their life situation is — can come here and be together… and they’re all treated the same way. I think… we can actually capitalize on that. … This is the place where you’re free of the echo chamber. Most people live their lives surrounded by people that think and act the same way that they do, and a library can hopefully break that down a bit and get people to think, to listen to each other, and to see each other as people. — Erinn Callahan
Pikes Peak Library District
Mark StaďŹ€ord Delta Solutions & Strategies
hen Mark Stafford was a college student at Tulane University, he knew he someday wanted to run his own company. Following his college graduation, Stafford joined the Air Force and served on active duty from 1994-1998, but continued to carry those aspirations. So after he left traditional service (he’s still in the Air Force Reserves as a colonel) Stafford launched a career that began in aerospace engineering and eventually led him to the industry of defense consulting. He joined Delta Solutions & Strategies LLC, an international defense consulting firm based in Colorado Springs, in 2015, and soon moved into the role of COO before being promoted to CEO in January. Since then, Stafford has helped steer the company toward unprecedented growth and financial success, with the firm having nearly doubled its 2018 revenue over the past year. And with plans on the horizon to open up a new office in Huntsville, Ala., this spring, it appears Delta Solutions & Strategies is well positioned to continue building upon its current momentum. How did you end up at Delta Solutions & Strategies? When I got out in ’98 I worked for a company called the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit, federally-funded research company. So I worked there for a few years and then moved to (information technology consulting company) Booz Allen Hamilton, where I was for about 11 years. Delta Solutions was one of their partners, and they had an opportunity and they asked me to come over and help run the company. So I jumped at the opportunity. I had a lot of respect for Delta and what Kelly [Bain] had done in founding the company, so it was a unique opportunity. To what do you attribute the company’s recent success? When I took over in January, there were definitely some things I wanted to change going forward. So we went after a couple different markets … that really helped us. But putting the infrastructure in place over the past four years and diversifying the company, it took some time to put that all in place, but once we did that and had the right employees ... that really enabled the success. Once you hire the talent, then you can win these contract vehicles and things seem to explode. But you’ve got to put that culture in place. Your reputation is really important in this industry so people know that when they partner with you, you’re going to deliver. Once we did that … the growth took off. What qualities, would you say, separate good leaders from bad ones? I think in leadership, you have to set an example. As the CEO, running the company every day, I don’t go around asking people to do things I wouldn’t do. Everyone in the company has a responsibility here. So for example, when we go out and we’re looking at business opportunities, development, marketing, or even working on the contracts, that goes all the way up to me.
Even as the CEO, I still work on the proposals. I still bid the contracts. I do business development, and I even work on some of the contracts occasionally. And I think that’s important. It keeps me in touch with everybody else and sets an example that everyone has to be involved in the company and in the direction we’re going. And I think integrity and ethics are critical. So I have to set an example for the company of what I expect from all the employees. Once you set that example, everyone buys in. How have you seen the business change over the years? One big thing is cybersecurity. We really have to be cognizant of protecting our networks, so that has been one of our big changes. That is one of the things I started about a year ago, is making sure our networks are protected and making sure our employees’ private data, and the government’s data, is protected. So that’s the biggest change on the cyber side in the last two years. As for the market, here in Colorado Springs the economy has been booming the past few years. So that has really changed everything. Previously, with housing here and the market, it was fairly easy to do business. We could find a lot of employees, salaries were reasonable, housing costs were great. But in the last 24 to 36 months as we’ve exploded here, salaries have gone up dramatically. So we’ve really had to readjust how we do our hiring. That has been the biggest change in the last 15 to 20 years working in this environment, is we’ve never seen this kind of explosion. It’s great for the city — it’s fantastic — but for us, all the employers, we’ve had to adjust. And that means better salaries and better benefits. We also have a flexible work arrangement, so we don’t have dictated hours or vacation time. We make sure our employees — we tell them what needs to be done and we trust them. It’s amazing, when you give people that flexibility, what they’ll do for the company. Where do you hope to take the company from here? As a small defense contractor, you get that question a lot, because you’re competing in this market with other small businesses. And as you grow, you have to adapt to the market. There’s no plans to sell the company right now. We’re having fun. Business is good. When you’re growing like this and you have excellent employees, there’s no plans to sell in the short term. So our plan is to keep growing the company within our value structure of integrity and ethics going forward. I do see us growing here in Colorado Springs in the space market. We’re going to continue to grow in the operations and maintenance market — that’s been excellent for us — and then keep growing our services. So I see us on a good growth path going forward for the next 10 years. — Zach Hillstrom
olorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler is guiding the school into the future during a time of disruption in education. “With higher education the way it is in the world, you’ve got to be moving forward all the time,” she said. In the eight years she has served as Colorado College’s president, that’s exactly what Tiefenthaler has done. She has steered the process that led to CC’s strategic plan and implemented many of its initiatives; greatly increased fundraising; and led planning for the Robson Arena that is part of the public-private City for Champions initiative. This year, she spearheaded the Colorado Pledge, an initiative to make CC affordable for families with incomes below $200,000. A native of Iowa, Tiefenthaler graduated from Saint Mary’s College, South Bend, Ind., and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Duke University, Durham, N.C. She served as an economics professor for 16 years at Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y., then “slowly and accidentally” transitioned to administration, taking positions as department chair, associate dean of faculty and special assistant to the president. In 2007, she took a job as provost at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C. She became CC’s 13th president on July 1, 2011. What attracted you to Colorado College and Colorado Springs? I had heard from many other schools but wasn’t so excited about moving back to the East and doing this traditional model. CC is known nationally among liberal arts colleges for the block plan and being the only liberal arts college in this part of the country. To be at a place that was distinctive was really attractive. … My husband and I had never lived in the West, and we were thrilled to try this new adventure. You’ve accomplished a lot in 8½ years. What are you most proud of ? As a small, private institution, CC has always had a wonderful reputation. We’re trying to make that a national and international reputation, which we’ve greatly increased. … About a quarter of our students now are on full rides, so even though people see the price tag and assume it’s only a place for students who can afford to pay, we’ve worked hard to raise money for financial aid and extend the opportunity to students from all backgrounds. And I’m excited about the Colorado Pledge, which is a new program to make sure, while we continue to improve our national reputation, that we’re a firmly rooted Colorado institution — and increasing that number of Colorado students back up to 20 percent. Another thing I’m excited about is extending our reach and being more and more a part of the Colorado Springs community. Our partnership with the Fine Arts Center is an historic alliance, which has been, I think, wonderful for the community and the college. Our Quad Innovation Partnership, with the U.S. Air Force Academy, UCCS, Pikes Peak Community College and Colorado College working together to create kind of a little consulting firm for students, has been really rewarding. And now with the Robson Arena, we’ll be partnering with the City for Champions initiative.
All of those initiatives are examples of ways that we’re extending our reach into the community and partnering with the community in ways that are good for our students and the education they get, and also good for the vibrancy of Colorado Springs. What is the value of a liberal arts education these days? I believe the liberal arts is a more valuable education than it’s ever been. All the evidence tells us that this current generation of students is going to have lots more jobs than we had throughout our careers, and that the world is going to be changing much more quickly. So I think it’s important for students to be nimble and adaptable. The liberal arts skills that we teach — learning how to write and speak, critical thinking, creativity, comfort with ambiguity, the ability to work in teams and collaborate across differences — all of those are important in the world today. Most importantly, I think what students bring from a liberal arts education is love of learning and learning how to learn. This next generation of workers is going to need to continually learn and change. I should add that we’re at a point in our society when people are searching for meaning and community. A wonderful part of a liberal arts education is it helps you to live a meaningful life and teaches you about history and aesthetics and beauty and art and theater and philosophy and to think about humanity. How would you describe your leadership style? I would say I have a collaborative or sort of the servant leadership model where you believe in being part of something. I work hard to try to connect all the constituencies, whether that be students, alumni, faculty and staff and community members. I like to listen a lot, but I also am a doer. I like to dream big and then get things done — so very strategic and plan oriented. And I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with good people and then empowering them and supporting them to do their work. What characteristics do you think a good leader possesses or needs to develop? I think great leaders are authentic. You have to be connected to and believe in the mission of the organization. We’re in a world where it feels like information is coming at us and people are competing for our attention, so you have to figure out how to communicate with the folks that work for you and your other constituencies. I think you’ve got to constantly work at it, and part of that is listening — that’s something in short supply in our society — so that you’re hearing the things that sometimes are not so fun to hear but that you need to hear. And the other thing: I think you’ve got to be tough and brave now. A lot of people shy away from leadership because it can be difficult or ugly. Everything seems to be a controversy. So I think you’ve got to be committed to doing the right thing for your institution, even when it feels really difficult. — Jeanne Davant
CSBJ 2020 Event Calendar in addition to monthly COS CEO Leadership Lessons
Book of Lists Reception
Rising Stars Reception
Best in Business Reception
Women of Influence
RSVP at CSBJ.com/Events Contact 719-634-5905 to sponsor or advertise.
CC is Opening Doors
Colorado Pledge: reduced, in some cases free, tuition and room and board for low- and middle- income Colorado families Stroud Scholars: a college-prep program for underrepresented students in the Pikes Peak Region Test-Optional: students donâ€™t have to submit college entrance exams to be considered for admission https://2cc.co/access tps://2cc.co/access
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COS CEO Leadership Lessons 2020