Wod magazine winter 2017/2018 quarterly

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THE POWER OF MENTORSHIP Interview with Octavia Spencer










IN THE ME TOO MOVEMENT As I watched the unfolding of the “me too” movement I felt the impulse on many occasions to pick up my laptop and write my own story. I was so drawn to contribute to the narratives that were being shared and uniting women around the cause of fighting back against sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination. I too have many stories to share, but I chose to remain silent and observe. What I learned from watching this movement is that women have craved the opportunity to share our collective experience publicly and without shame. We need outlets to connect with one another past the shallow conversations we have from dayto-day. And we need to know other women are there for us, to advocate and support us as we push forward to take our place as leaders. Now that we’ve been connected by our marches, and our “me to” stories, I believe it’s time for us to redesign our movement and make it a movement FOR us rather than AGAINST the problems we face. Let’s make “me too” our collective battle cry as we move forward as a united group.




When we see another woman working hard, navigating her career, caring for her family and loved ones, building her wealth, and leading with gusto we should all proclaim a unified “me too,” as we identify with her journey. The Women of Denver magazine is a perfect place to find stories of women who are striving to transform the future. These women are blazing new pathways, breaking stereotypes, and showing our young girls what’s truly possible for their future. My dream for you is that you connect with each story, and say in silence (or out loud), “me too,” as you explore for yourself your ultimate desires for your life and contributions to the world. Krystal Covington, Founder




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POP QUIZ. Which of the following statements do you agree with? 1. I want to maximize my life and leave behind a legacy. 2. My life currently impacts others in a positive way. 3. My core values are reflected in my daily life. We would all love to answer ‘yes’ to the questions above, but in many cases we need guidance to do so. Forbes has suggested that having someone help you define goals, solve problems and see situations in new ways is one way to take control of your life and career path. Sounds to us like mentorship is the solution. It is essential for us to have someone in our life that pours into us. Whether it is encouragement, sharing insight or helping to build discipline, mentorship is wildly invaluable. For example, 12 year old actress, J.Lee has found her passion because of the impactful people in her life. J.Lee has done extensive commercial work for clients like Children’s Hospital, King Soopers and Furniture Row. Lee said, “My mentors are my mom and dad. They are both actors, so I’m able to learn a lot from their experience.” She went on to say that having her parents, Tammy and Lewis Brown, as mentors has always impacted her passion for acting. She loves watching them on television and they inspire her to pursue her goals. “The most powerful thing my mentor has shared with me is to be authentic. That means always be yourself and don’t be afraid to do so. This goes for acting and life. People can always tell when



you’re faking,” Lee shared with us. This shining star says that she plans to be a mentor in the future. “I know how helpful having mentors is to me, and I want to help someone else be their best too,” Lee exclaimed.

On September 27, 2017, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado hosted its Annual Luncheon and it was full of laughs, tears and “ahha” moments. The audience was packed with women of all different ages waiting to receive the award-winning actress, Octavia Spencer, who was the keynote speaker. As J.Lee sat in the audience listening to the Hidden Figures actress talk about her life growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, her face glowed like no other. In an open and honest conversation with President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Lauren Casteel, Spencer shared that she decided to buy out a movie theater for young girls to view Hidden Figures. She got the idea from comedian, Kevin Hart, and was not expecting it to have such a significant effect. In a heart-wrenching moment, she began to tear up as she recalled her mother working multiple jobs and how she could not afford to take Spencer and her siblings to see movies in theaters. “Hidden Figures had an educational impact and I felt a lot of people should see it. I remember being in class as a child and hearing the kids talk


about movies they had seen and I knew what it felt like to not know,” Octavia shared as she choked back her tears. “I just wanted little girls to know that even if their families couldn’t afford to take them to opening weekend that no matter what dreams you have for yourself...these women weren’t maids, they were scientists and they were doing what they loved doing. They had no idea the impact they would have on the world. I felt like every little girl should see that so that they knew in that moment that if that was something they wanted to do, they could do it,” Spencer shared with tears streaming down her face.


Spencer’s breakout role as Minny Jackson in the period drama, The Help, has to be one of her most memorable roles. As a colored maid in racially charged Alabama in the 1960s, Minny Jackson was the perfect balance of extreme strength and vulnerability. Spencer told the audience at the WFOC luncheon that her portrayal of Minny Jackson was the closest to home for her because she grew up with five sisters. “I realized after playing Minny, that if, as a woman, you have no agency, you don’t really know if the glass is half empty or full because you don’t own the glass. So I realized that, wow, I am happy that I own the glass and I know Minny in the 1960s couldn’t own the glass and now Octavia does.”

Lauren Casteel told us that WFOC chose Spencer because the actress’ personal story of how her mother taught her Most recently Spencer portrayed Dorothy Vaughan in the and her six siblings to film, Hidden Figures. The critically believe in themselves is acclaimed film depicts the true and beyond inspirational. untold story of several AfricanCasteel continued, “That American women who provided inspiration is magnified NASA with essential information They had no idea the when the beloved Academy needed to launch the program’s Award-winning actress brings successful space missions. Spencer’s impact they would strong women’s voices to amazing performance has earned have on the world. I the screen. Through the her multiple nominations including characters she portrays, she the Screen Actor’s Guild, Golden felt like every little brings important issues and Globe and NAACP Image Award girl should see that so history to life.” to date. The Space Race would not have been the same without With Casteel’s 20-year that they knew in that mathematician and colored experience in philanthropy, computer, Dorothy Vaughan. moment that if that was she had so much to share about success through When Casteel asked the actress something they wanted mentorship. “Mentorship about her experience of conquering to do, they could do it.” can be formal or informal. the role and the machine, Spencer’s What’s important is that advice was powerful. She advised during an exchange, the audience to allow boys and individuals share real stories girls to choose their toys. “Let the not only of success, but of missteps and lessons learned. little boys play with dolls; if they want to pull the doll’s head Mentorship requires authenticity and listening,” Casteel off, let them! And if the little girls want to play with trucks said. The CEO even shared a mentorship success story that and science gadgets, let them. I think we start steering them happened during the summer. She said, “WFOC has been into gender roles and then when a child shows acumen for honored to host two to three diverse college interns and a certain field of study like mathematics, science or anything fellows. They are invariably passionate, curious and dedicated. STEM related, we say, ‘Oh that’s for boys’. If they have the I like to think the team contributes to their future success by academics, then we need to make sure they have programs giving them meaningful work and opportunities to learn and available for them to express themselves.” grow. We integrate them into the team and share real-time Spencer noted that she became veracious after she found her feedback and support. We have close ongoing connections way around her reading challenges and she is a strong believer with these students, who in some instances have gone on to that when a child is supported, they have no choice but to join various WFCO committees. We grow by learning from flourish. Octavia also left us in awe after the film, Gifted, them as well.” which is J.Lee’s favorite role to date. Lee shared, “Of Octavia’s There is no doubt that Spencer is a formal and informal amazing roles, my favorite character was Roberta in Gifted. I mentor. Through her filmography over the years, the actress liked that she was like a mother to the little girl, Mary, and a has continued to portray powerful women of color, spreading great friend to her and her uncle. She was also willing to fight inspiration to the masses. Her first film debut, A Time to for her! Her love, playfulness, and strength reminded me of Kill, as Roark’s nurse began her journey of depicting an my Nana.” Over a slice of chocolate pie, Octavia ended the unrepresented minority: black women. luncheon by wishing the women and girls of Colorado dream



big and that the men step up to help the women and girls achieve those dreams. In Spencer’s “spare time,” she mentors formally as an AT&T Hello Lab Mentor. AT&T designed this mentorship program to pair entertainment industry leaders with aspiring filmmakers from diverse backgrounds as they create new short films. The program is focused on supporting each filmmaker by introducing them to studio and production company executives, agents and attorneys. Also, mentors including writerdirector Rick Famuyiwa, rapper Common, film director Desiree Akhavan and producer Nina Yang Bongiovi are responsible for counseling filmmakers on pitching their work, managing budgets and directing character-driven narratives. Most importantly, these films will highlight and celebrate untold stories from neglected communities like LGBTQ, women and people of color. This program is proof that mentorship is crucial throughout our entire life span. We had the amazing opportunity to have a heart to heart with Octavia after the luncheon and she poured out about the importance of mentorship. As she embraced young actress, J.Lee, you could see them connecting and building this beautiful rapport. While this actress did not have a mentor growing up, she remembers learning much from Whoopi Goldberg. Spencer told us, “She shared some solid advice and that was be true to yourself at the end of the day. I know what that means now.” We asked the Hidden Figures actress what advice she would share with aspiring actresses like J.Lee and she said, “1. Train because it does not come naturally and while some people make it look easy, it’s not. 2. Live your life because life experiences is what an actor brings to a role. If you haven’t lived and gone on those trips and experienced things then you’re not going to be able to bring depth to the role. If you think that you will be an overnight success, then acting isn’t for you. Most people I know became successful in their 40s. I became successful in my 40s. It’s a marathon not a sprint.” It is also very interesting that Spencer does not want to take on the title of “role model” because she realizes that she will do things that people like and dislike. Above all, she strives to make her mother proud of her by keeping her legacy intact. “I just want to be the best person I can be,” Octavia said. Amazingly enough, J.Lee left the room feeling empowered and inspired. Lee said, “After meeting Octavia Spencer, I had to pinch myself. Days later it still felt like a dream! I really enjoyed hearing her speak, and I’m motivated to work harder at being a great actress like Octavia.”




5 Ways




he holidays are a wonderful time of year bringing more time with family and friends, more parties, more shopping, more food and drink, and…more stress! While this season can bring a lot of joy, it can also be overwhelming when the to do list gets extra long, your calendar fills up, and people demand more of your time. This time of year the days are shorter, we tend to eat and drink more, and we often get less sleep. All of this leads to increased stress on our bodies and minds—and that can impact our mood and interactions with others. There are ways to better manage the stress and get the most out of this season of peace, gratitude and love. Here are five ways to do that.

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Take time outs from family when you need them. Family members have expectations around the holidays about attendance at events, gifts, and traditions, and we don’t always have positive interactions with all of our family members. To ease these experiences, take a time out when you need it. Leave the room or even go out for a walk if you need a little space to breathe. Go into these events knowing there may be moments that are frustrating, disappointing or even painful—then if this happens, it is not a surprise. Pretend you are a tourist when around family—as if they were from another country (or planet!)—we often give those from other cultures the benefit of the doubt when something is said or done because they don’t understand ours. And remember that you are grateful you have family that can get together over the holidays! Set and stick to intentions when attending parties. Parties mean an excessive drain on your schedule and a lot of food and drink, much of which is generally not nutritious. To combat that, set intentions ahead of time about how you want to behave at parties. You could eat before you go and/or bring a healthy dish to share that you know fits into your eating. Don’t stand near the food table or bar to avoid “noshing” and drink water between any alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated. The most effective thing you can do is to not go to a party that you don’t want to attend—feeling obligated to be there can bring feelings of discomfort which then causes some people to eat or drink more to feel better. Substitute better ingredients in holiday dishes. It’s safe to say that our holiday traditions are less than healthful in most cases. In a season where many of us are dreading the bloated feeling in our guts and additional weight gain, we tend to still move forward with our normal annual indulgences. One way to reduce the stresses of over-indulgence is to break from tradition and use healthier ingredients. There’s no shortage of ideas and recipes floating around on the internet making this idea incredibly accessible! Here are some quick ideas to help you get started; make a quinoa salad with all the usual ingredients you’d find in your stuffing, use coconut milk to make your whipped cream instead of dairy milk, make a crustless pumpkin pie. There are many ways to lighten up your holiday, which can also lighten your stress levels!

written by Susan Golicic, PhD, CPIC, Holistic Life Coach and Stephen Glitzer, CHWC, Holistic Life Coach, Chef Uninhibited Wellness

Make sleep a priority. Sleep, it’s one of the easiest things to sacrifice at a time when we are needing it the most! As we approach the winter solstice, the days are getting shorter. The sun sets early triggering our melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. We commonly resist this all year round with our addictions to the computer, cell phones, and TV, which tend to derail our melatonin production. So in a season when the trees are dormant, vegetable production is largely reduced to root veggies, and the bears are hibernating, it makes sense that our bodies are requiring a little more sleep than normal. So set some boundaries around your EMF devices—turn them off early, read a book, and allow your mind and body to rest.


Don’t be afraid to say NO! The holidays are a time of year when everyone wants to get together to celebrate, and it is easy to let your schedule get overwhelmingly full, leaving little time for you to keep your fuel tanks full. It is extra important to muster the courage to say NO to some of the requests on your time. No, you don’t want to go out after the party; no, you don’t want another drink; no, you don’t want to host the huge family dinner; no, you don’t want another helping of Mom’s green bean casserole—whatever goes against your goals and intentions for yourself this season, just say NO! You can be polite, and you can offer a reason if it makes it easier. YOU are your fiercest protector!


Some or all of these can seem difficult, especially when stressed as that tends to affect our decision making. However, if you set boundaries and communicate them, they become easier to uphold. Remember, the reason for this season is gratitude, and you will be grateful if you are making healthy decisions and taking care of your wellness!

WOD Impact Member Spotlight

DANIELLE NORRIS written by Joce Blake

Born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, this Women of Denver Impact member, Danielle Norris, is one to watch. With a business degree and a passion for lifting the voices of those in need, she’s built a life for herself as an impact-driven social enterprise consultant, helping businesses become allies for causes that matter. She once told Spark Mindset, a social enterprise champion, “I am in love with social enterprise and leaders that have come from difficult backgrounds, but push every day to see their causes come to life. The strength and determination is powerful and addicting in my case. They are just wonderful people that deserve to be seen.” This woman of Denver is very familiar with difficult backgrounds. One of her first and biggest moments of transformation was on the day she graduated high school and lines from the book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss were being read. “At the time, I was a single 17-yearold mother of an 18-month-old baby girl,” Norris said, “Graduating from high school, when I was told by my teachers and counselors that I should just drop out of school and get my GED–that girls like me just didn’t make it. To say I was in an unhealthy spot in life is downplaying my situation.



Norris remembers at that very moment, she made the conscious decision to change her life drastically. More than anything she wanted to be more and do more than what was given to her. Norris declared, “I chose to be different and I have ever since.” Norris’s business, Sovenco, SOcial VENture COmpany, is all about helping build enterprises that have never been built before. The motto is: Live Passion. Align Purpose. Grow Business. Create Impact. She started her business because she and her co-founder, Laura Franklin, had a massive feeling of disillusionment about the sustainability of business in America and the corresponding negative societal impact. Norris said, “Our company, Sovenco formed due to the outcry after the Occupy Wall Street movement didn’t live up to the hype. Those problems that seemed like distant issues became all too real. So what would two international feminists that love business and finance do with this revelation? Start a company to fix the problem, of course.” According to the WOD Impact member, the goal of Sovenco is to disrupt the consulting industry and normalize the social enterprise concept, a revenuegenerating entity whose primary purpose is to solve big social or environmental issues in the world. Norris shared that she and her business partner both



have personal reasons networking-type group that Being a woman entrepreneur for their need to form a she has stuck with. She solution. To Norris, being admits, “At the beginning of means that the probability of a woman entrepreneur my relationship with WOD, receiving investor funding is means she is not a male I joined because of Krystal entrepreneur. With Covington. It is hard to very low. That makes the task of sadness she said, “It find people that just radiate would be really nice to greatness. It is this intuitive envisioning myself building and be a male entrepreneur, feeling I get whenever I see leading a billion dollar company more specifically a white or meet someone that just male coming from a releases the energy of a large even harder because of the fancy university, with a magnitude.” hurdles. Seems exhausting and little startup capital (or The Women of Denver maybe enough to just community has impacted counterproductive, but I am still feed and house my kids Norris’ life through the while starting up).” She going forth in the challenge.” relationships she has built went on to say, “Being a from attending events. woman entrepreneur means Awkward chit-chats that the probability of blossomed into close receiving investor funding is very low. That makes the friendships and those connections also helped fuel task of envisioning myself building and leading a billion Danielle Norris’ courage to move forward in her business. dollar company even harder because of the hurdles. Not to mention she has received both clients and Seems exhausting and counterproductive, but I am still strategic partners from attending and taking part in being going forth in the challenge. That is what it means to be an Impact Member. a woman entrepreneur.” It’s a harsh reality, but like the We love that WOD is not just about networking for champions women continue to be, you just go forth and Norris. She told us, “[WOD] also offers its Impact do it anyways. members the chance to practice [leading workshops] in Norris shared some words of encouragement saying, a safe and comfortable setting. With this, we can spread “Ladies, we can do some pretty badass things when our wings as the experts we are, in whatever it is that we put our minds and energy towards something. It we may do professionally. Plus, the bonus of helping to may even seem, or statistics may even say, that women improve our speaking skills. Toastmasters, a recognizable entrepreneurs are few and far between, but I know organization that helps make speakers, is not positioned differently. Ladies have been out hustling with businesses, for the modern lady.” for their livelihood and their families livelihood, forever. In the next 10 years, this WOD Impact member has three It just looks more like survival than a publicized goals of transformation: ‘entrepreneur’.” Plus, through our busy lives, we make these strong, impactful relationships with other women. As a woman, I can go any place in the world, any language or culture, and I can deeply connect with another woman, just because we are both women. We both know what it means to be a woman. Now that is POWER.” During Norris’s networking sprint over two years ago, she found Women of Denver. In her experience, the special part of WOD is that it is the only


1. Become the first team of ladies that secures a large seed round investment in the management consulting industry, using technology. 2. Move into the firm position of leading her own bootstrapped multi-million dollar tech company. 3. Be a parent that has helped graduate all three of her kids from college from her bank account.

To become a WOD Impact Member, visit JoinWOD.com


style feature

lil’ fresh sam written by Joce Blake

Samantha Aragon, also known as Lil Fresh Sam, is the epitome of style and grace with a splash of edge. She is all about creating her own trends while marching to the beat of her own drum. The fashion designer, personal stylist and Denver native is quite the phenomenon. Graduating from Los Angeles’ School of Style opened up a bright and shiny world to her. A world where she could empower and instill fearlessness in the everyday mother, brother, sister and friend by clothing them in confidence. Sam told us, “This is super important to me because I’ve seen how impactful clothing can be for someone. It can empower them, uplift and give them that extra confidence they need. Styling celebrities has been fun, but the transformation I see in the lives of the everyday mother, brother, sister is far more rewarding!” In high school, a friend coined her name “Lil Fresh Sam,” because it just seemed perfectly befitting. She was not always so sure of herself and her fashion sense. She told Westword, “Fact: I was the worstdressed kid growing up. Then, in seventh grade it hit me and I cared about what I wore all of a sudden. I fell in love with clothes and I thought of the name Infatue. I didn’t know I was going to be a designer until I made the decision to do it years later.” The fashion feen released her first fashion line, Infatue, in 2012 using her exquisite design skills. Sam has worked with other amazing creatives like like Iggy Azealia, The Fray, Under Armour and Skull Candy. Now she tells young girls that think their style is weird to, “Be weird and love it, own it! Weird is great and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be you always.”



Sam believes her style is unique because she wears what she feels and she loves putting together outfits that don’t make sense. When thinking about the moment she fell in love with fashion, she remembers being obsessed with styling clothing different ways; she was determined to match everyday in the seventh and eighth grade. “Everyday was like a fashion show, it was my motivation to go to school every morning. I also remember being 10 years old cutting lawns to make money to buy clothes,” Sam said. Being a young female designer in the Mile High City is on her list as one of the biggest obstacles. Sam shared, “Now it’s very rewarding. I’m able to help other brands start up and be the missing link I always needed as a start up brand. Denver is becoming way more open and fashionable so INFATUÉ has a growing niche market here. We are very blessed to be selling heavily on Melrose and now in the United Kingdom as well.” During Denver Startup Week, she was very honored to be one of the youngest speakers. Sam exclaimed, “Persistence and determination is what got me to where I am. The life of an entrepreneur is intense, with highs and lows, beauty and the blows. You have to have a passion or “why” that ignites a fire so strong in your toughest moments that it pushes you through. The quote, ‘You’ve gotta want it more than you want to breathe’ resonates so strongly because it got me through many hard times. Remember, you can’t fail if you never give up.”



Be weird and love it, own it! Weird is great and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Be you always.”




Wrestling like a girl written by Angela Jackson




The battle of the sexes has been going on for centuries. But the young women at Wrestle Like A Girl are building their defenses to win. “I have learned that I can be something bigger, something better. As an athlete and as a (young) woman, it gives me confidence. It gives me strength,” said Raquel Gray, a WLAG wrestler. What else is a girl to gain from participating in a historically male sport? The answer: a lot. “Combat sports are great for girls, as it helps with confidence and requires you to become very self aware. Wrestling offers knowledge of selfdefense, fitness, nutrition and body appearance,” said Katherine Shai who is a board member of WLAG and founder of her own educational blog LuchaFIT. WLAG was originally founded by Sally Roberts, a two-time World Bronze Medalist in women’s wrestling and a three-time national champion. Her goal is to bring the mission of WLAG all around the country. She takes her team of elite coaches to different schools to advocate, empower and support young female athletes “We teach them the importance of nutrition, hydration and sport psychology including how to build their confidence, how to dig within themselves so that they can become whoever, whatever they want to be both on the mat and off the mat,” Roberts said. It was a natural fit for Shai to become part of WLAG because she is a lifelong athlete herself. And you might say it’s in her blood. Literally. Her father competed in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic games in wrestling. He began coaching women’s club wrestling in the 1980’s and went on to start the only four-year college women’s wrestling program in California. The sport had such an impact on her life there was no other choice but to share it with others. Her love and experience for the sport led her to become part of an organization that specifically advocates and speaks to girls. SWEET GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY


The young women featured in our photos are members of the Chatfield Junior Wrestling Team in Littleton. Their coach, Sandra George, also knows firsthand the difference this sport can make on a person’s life. “I played team sports when I was younger until I learned I could wrestle, my life literally changed. Wrestling is a sport where you learn self-motivation, how to strive to do better, how to learn to lose on your own. With a team sport you have others to help you win or lose,” George said. The eleven girls on her team may be typical in that they are interested in everything from hashtags to the latest headphones, but they are also “tough.” George says her girls are dedicated to the sport and as opportunities grow each year, stereotypes are being broken when they get the right support. “Girls are breaking the barrier to sports and accomplishing great things,” she said. Six of her wrestlers also practice Jiu Jitsu with a Black Belt judo professor in Lakewood, CO. Train. Fight. Win. is the name of the gym these young wrestlers were at the day we caught up with them. Gym owner, L.A. Jennings, Ph.D.’s goal is to create a place where female athletes can feel comfortable. She says over the years she has encountered some coaches and gyms out there that weren’t necessarily vested in the success of female athletes. That was not the type of space she wanted to create with her gym. “One of the things that has been really important to me as a gym owner, and that I know was important to WLAG too, is to change the dialogue around women in sports and to not use the idea of ‘wrestling like a girl’ as a pejorative, but rather to see that as a strength,” Jennings said. “What I’ve tried to do as a coach is provide a place where women are valued as athletes and not seen as anomalies and that they are in an environment that is welcoming to them.” Jennings also authored the book She’s a Knockout! A History of Women in Fighting Sports. She shares that women’s participation in sports was a very natural part of cultural


play thousands of years ago. It wasn’t until the 19th century that rules were put in place that omitted women.

sport exclusively for boys,” Shai said. “With all the female athletes in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) more and more girls are learning wrestling is a foundation to all other sports. Girls are breaking the barrier to sports and accomplishing great things,” said George.

“It’s not like women are suddenly doing something new. We are in a certain extent in mass, but rather that we’re combatting those institutional forces that have sought to exclude women from doing something that is very human,” Jennings said.

The young women of WLAG, like many Women Of Denver members, are rewriting their story and getting the tools to slay with the best.

She offers her vision of the future of female fighters. “I think we will see much more growth as we see acceptance of and interest in girls being able to participate in sports like wrestling and boxing and kickboxing at a younger age,” Jennings said. That is a sentiment shared by the other female coaches. “Providing more opportunities for girls to be exposed to combat sports will help their parents and the public realize this is not a

“Wrestling is a stepping stone to help you with confidence and bravery and just to step out of your own element of comfort,” George said. “A girl’s comfort line gets pushed further as she realizes how hard she can work, what she can endure and what she can accomplish because of that.” SWEET GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY


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you meet the man of your When dreams and decide to get

First, it’s a journey. Sometimes a very long and arduous one. Sometimes a challenging one that, at times may seem impossible to overcome. But one that you most certainly can and will get through. Someone once told me: “You have to go through it to get through it...”

married in a fairytale wedding, you never think about the possibility of a divorce. It’s simply not in your vocabulary. After 15 years of marriage and 2 kids, I now find myself labeled as a divorcee. I never imagined that the same words we stated in church to bind us together for a lifetime would be the same exact words we would use in a courtroom to sever the ties. I said “I do” 16 years ago to seal the deal and become his proud bride. I said “I do” this past July to seal the deal and to confirm with the judge that indeed our marriage was irretrievably broken. I went from fondly reminiscing about our engagement day, the planning of our amazing ceremony and reception to “Oh my God, how will I ever make it through this dark tunnel.” As a new member of a club I once knew nothing about, I realize how valuable it is to have the support and acknowledgement of other women going through the same challenge. I’ve learned three big lessons from this journey of divorce and I’m inspired to share them here with the Women of Denver, so that others know that they aren’t alone and together we can overcome.

Second, it’s okay to be sad at times. In fact, sometimes you’ll feel sad more often than not. But just know this: You are born with your beautiful smile and it never goes away. Ever. Even in the darkest of times. And you will find your smile and it’ll be just as, if not even more, beautiful than when you were born. Third, it takes a village. Ask for help. Lean on your family. Lean on your friends. Make new friends. Keep the old. You may lose some old friends, but you may also find some new friends. The people that stick by you or find you to help you through this journey will be some of the most important people in your life. Seek help whether therapeutically,medically or spiritually. Please don’t try to get through this journey alone; you don’t have to. Because somewhere out there, someone is going through the exact same journey. We need each other. Here’s to all the amazing and strong women going through difficult journeys. May each and every one of you beautiful ladies realize how utterly strong and resilient you are and how much of an inspiration you can be to the next woman you may encounter.

The people that stick by you or find you to help you through this journey will be some of the most important people in your life.”




Behind every painting or piece of art, there is a creative individual that gave their entire soul to make you feel connected to the work of art. As a young girl, Adri Norris had no idea that she would blossom into a startlingly impressive artist. When meeting this powerful woman of Denver, you can sense her intense compassion. She said, “There is a lot in this world to be angry about, but I find that if I communicate with compassion, it is easier to be heard. That is where my art comes from. I could rail on about the injustices against women and people of color, but I choose instead to hold up examples of people who overcame those injustices in order to pursue their own goals and to improve the world around them.” The unique thing about this female artist is her tenacity through diversity. The defining moment of Norris’ career was the moment she agreed to do a show about women in history. For her, taking the time to look deeply into the lives of these women and the times in which they lived has changed the way she views the world. “I see patterns of thought and behavior and recognize the need for context. It has relieved me of much of my judgment while encouraging me to question my own actions and those of the people around me,” Norris explained. For years, people have told Adri that she should find a career with more stability but like the renegade she is, she persevered. Norris shares this characteristic with many of the women she has depicted in her revolutionary collection entitled, Women Behaving Badly. The aim of this collection is to highlight the indispensable contributions made by women from various realms like activism, athletics, arts, science, and politics. As for the title, Norris said, “I wanted a provocative title for my series to showcase women who stepped outside of their pre-prescribed roles to do meaningful work. The title grabs



you and makes you want to learn more, even if it’s not what you originally thought you’d learn,” Norris said. Adri Norris was born in Barbados and her family moved to New York shortly after. She also spent some of her childhood in New Mexico. Falling in love with traveling the world, she decided to study abroad in Italy and then made the brave decision to join the Marine Corps. No matter where she was in the world, one thing remained constant: her sketchbook. LISA RUNDALL

Norris told us, “When I was seven years old, I announced that I would be an artist when I grew up after flipping through a book containing the work of Leonardo da Vinci. That was the first time I realized that you could get famous as an artist.” She went on to say, “Growing up, I became fascinated by all the ways you could put marks on some surfaces and how you could manipulate other surfaces. I became a maker. It is something I can’t not do.” Norris created Afro Triangle to show the world her art. Creating Afro Triangle was something Norris knew she had to do. Each and every creation is from Norris; from the fine art to the clothing. “I started this company back in 2009 with a simple Facebook page to showcase my work,” Norris wrote on her website. The Facebook page has become an amazing presence on multiple social media platforms, art shows and festivals around the Mile High City. Moving to Denver seemed like the right choice for the artist. Norris shares, “I had already applied to the Art Institute Online when I was sent on my second deployment to the Middle East with the Marines. By the time I returned, I had only six months left on my contract, so it made sense to wait and go to school in person. The Colorado school has a program I was interested in called, Illustration and Design. Although this was canceled before I got to Denver, I opted to switch to Media Arts and Animation and follow through with the original plan. I figured that Animation would be Illustration-plus. I love the


sense of life I am able to bring to my paintings.” For centuries women painters have been ignored by art historians. We are familiar with names like Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, and Monet but are not aware of names like Artemisia Gentileschi or Rosa Bonheur. Norris shared some of the trials and triumphs she has experienced as a black female artist. One of her biggest challenges came from doing commercial artwork for the corporate sector. Norris shared, “The office was always freezing and I found that there was this weird split between how I was treated and how I was compensated. My work was highly praised, but my paycheck was tiny.” According to the National Center for Education Statistics, black women are now the most educated group in America. The more shocking statistic is that they are grossly underpaid across many platforms. With



this in mind, Norris had to make a decision that ultimately changed her life. “When I left, I had to learn how to be an entrepreneur, something they didn’t teach in art school. Over the past two years, I feel like I am finally seeing my efforts pay off,” Norris said. That’s why “Women Behaving Badly” is so important. This series, according to the artist, has brought more meaning to her life than any of her creations. Of all of her work, she feels that this series is truly inspirational and made her feel complete. Norris exclaimed, “I started to tell the stories of women from all races, nationalities, and walks of life through my series, “Women Behaving Badly.” I want people to see themselves in those stories, to consider how they may be like those women and think differently about women in general. Originally, I aimed these stories and this art at women and

I started learning about women who invented things I use every day or who enacted policies which benefit me and I asked myself, why have I never heard of them before?” ANDREW CLARK PHOTOGRAPHY

girls. I wanted to inspire them to be more than they thought they could be. Now, I see that these pieces can become a vehicle to combat an ideology that puts people into a box with an incorrect label in order to stop them from being their full selves.” From Dolores Huerta, a Latina civil rights activist to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in the House of Representatives, Norris has found a way to depict these powerful women in the most beautiful way. Combining watercolor paintings with old photos and newspaper clippings, she creates artwork that is unmatched. In creating these masterpieces, Norris wanted to focus on three questions: Who was she? What did she do? Why does that matter? Norris said, “I started learning about women who invented things I use every day or who enacted policies which benefit me and I asked myself, why have I never heard of them before?” Often times the historical achievements of women are not documented and shared with the world. Norris has championed the role of showing recognition to those powerful women who have been overlooked and neglected. Watercolor is a unique form of painting as it allows for glow and transparency in a brilliant light. Norris

Growing up, I became fascinated by all the ways you could put marks on some surfaces and how you could manipulate other surfaces. I became a maker. It is something I can’t not do.”

told us, “ I am the kind of person who, if you tell me something is hard, I have to try it. Most people consider watercolor to be a difficult medium but I love that it has a mind of its own. It forces me to adapt to the changes I see as I put color down.” She goes on to say, “That said, it is also more forgiving than most people think. I routinely go back and pull out pigment to create highlights in my paintings. And because it is a transparent medium, there is this luminosity in my paintings that I have not achieved in other media.” With the current climate of our country, this powerful woman feels our world is not a safe climate for her and her wife. Being a black, queer woman and a part of a mixed race couple is frightening. However, if she could tell her 10-year-old self something,




she would tell her, “Keep doing what you’re doing because it will all come together someday.”



By Nina Sonovia, MS, LPCC

According to a 2017 workplace stress study, 40 percent of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful. No matter where you are, what you are doing or how happy you are, stress is something that makes its way into our lives. The constant competition and workload can easily stress out anyone, which is why we have listed four ways to manage workplace stress here. MINIMIZE THE CHALLENGE The fastest way to becoming productive after a challenging meeting or situation is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is also the first step to minimizing stress, building your workplace mindfulness practice and increasing your emotional intelligence. Try this one-minute exercise, when faced with a challenge. “Today I am grateful for _________________ because it makes me feel happy.” You gratitude does not have to be work-related for it to move you from a challenging place to a calm place. It is in the calm place that higher-level thinking is accessed and productivity and creativity are restored. Research has proved that being grateful towards anybody and everything could lead you to a happier life. Gratitude will make sure you are internally satisfied, and you will feel less stressed under any situation. FIND ONE THING DURING THE WORKDAY THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH OR SMILE Over a decade ago, I taught myself this habit because science has proved that your facial expressions are interconnected to your brain functions. In simpler words, this means if you laugh or smile, you will be telling your brain that you are doing just fine. So smile at the challenge, and enjoy a productive day at work. When a team is challenging, find happy and confident people to connect with because they are contagious. When you are with uplifting people, you feel better. Laughing and connecting with others is great for your health and it triggers endorphins in your body that are on a mission to decrease your stress!

MOVE Allow for movement during your day. If you have a habit of eating at your desk; never taking a break then schedule movement breaks like you would schedule one-on-one meetings with your team members. Scheduled exercising does not mean you will have to ditch work so you can hit the gym. If your schedule does not allow for out-of-office movement, then all you have to do is stretch in place or take deep breathes to lower your heart rate and calm your brain. MONITOR YOUR SNACKS Some meetings involve food; one way to manage stress levels is from the inside out by opting for the stress-reducing alternatives to sugary snacks. Here are some snack alternatives for meetings and peak stress times at the office. • Cashews contain zinc and are a tasty snack to eat when you are stressed, anxious, or depressed. • Chamomile Tea has been shown to decrease the symptoms of anxiety. • Asparagus is high in folate, which helps you stay calm. • Blueberries have the highest levels of antioxidants and help you think better. • Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. It has been proven to make everyone’s mood better and decreases depression, in moderation.

The Doreen Katz Memorial Foundation focuses on children with parents fighting cancer. We go into their homes, work with their schools, and cover expenses for regular curriculum items. Such as, Advanced Placement Classes, Full Day Kindergarten, Field Trips, etc.

Nina works with corporate teams and individuals to improve performance through mindfulness and resilience training. Twitter: @ninasonovia | Instagram: @ninasonovia | Website: www.solonco.com

We also provide familes with a dedicated therapist to provide the children a voice outside of the home. Also helping the child navigate their journey.




EQUALITY TO ACTION FIGURES written by Dr. Christopher Bell

Dr. Christopher Bell is an associate professor of media studies and the director of the graduate program in Communication at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His TED talk, Bring on the Female Superheroes, can be found at http://ted.com/talks/christopher_bell_bring_ on_the_female_superheroes. His daughter is Rey’s biggest fan.




By October of 2015, I had had enough, both as a fan and as a parent. For years, my then nine-year-old daughter had been really into superheroes, which made her supernerd father incredibly happy. However, whenever I went to the store, I could never find toys or costumes or even t-shirts featuring female superheroes. I joined legions of fans on Twitter asking questions like #WheresGamora, #WeWantLeia, and #WheresNatasha. I was fed up, and I took to the TEDxColoradoSprings stage to lament, and to demand. There were plenty of female superheroes in comics and even on television and in movies. I wanted more female superhero stuff for my kid – merchandise. Tangible products she could wear and play with. Soon after I delivered my talk, Lucasfilm rolled out Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In typical fashion, even though Daisy Ridley’s Rey was the star and main character of the film, toys and other merchandise featuring Rey were all but non-existent. Angry fans on Twitter were screaming #WheresRey. It was a categorical reminder of the subject of my talk, and another disappointment for my daughter. In the spring of 2016, I was approached by the TED organization. Someone had seen my talk, and given it to someone else, and it had made its way to TED’s editorial team. They wanted to feature my talk on TED’s global site. I had no idea what was about to happen to me when I agreed. Just so you know, when TED invites a speaker to be a global feature, that talk is sent out to TED’s nineteen MILLION subscribers. It was featured on the front page of the TED website for a week, then made its way onto TED’s iTunes channel and TED’s global airline network. Friends of mine that I hadn’t talked to in years were emailing and Facebook messaging me, saying they saw my talk on a cross-country flight. And the emails started rolling in, from every corner of the world. I got an email from Melendy Britt, the voice actress who played She-Ra, Princess of Power when I was my daughter’s age. I almost fainted. My talk went viral, and soon, I was a member of TED’s “Millionaires’ Club,” a collection of talks with over one million views. And then, a year passed. What a difference a year can make. If you haven’t been in a toy aisle recently, you should take a trip. I want to be clear, here at the outset, that, by no means, am I taking singular credit for the sweeping change in the entertainment merchandise industry – that would be a ridiculous bit of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. My talk is just a drop in the sea of voices demanding a new way of producing products for children. Since October 2015, there has been an increase of over 300% in female superhero merchandise – and not just


because of the release of Wonder Woman. Lucasfilm learned from the release of The Force Awakens, and centered the rollout of Star Wars: Rogue One around its main character, Jyn Erso. In the ensuing year, female heroes have been at the forefront of the Star Wars universe, with the release of Forces of Destiny, a Disney Channel program featuring not just Rey and Jyn Erso, but Princess Leia, Sabine Wren, and Ahsoka Tano. Mattel and Warner Brothers teamed up to release the DC Superhero Girls line, complete with a novelization series and a television series, that reaped over a billion dollars in profits in 2016. Hasbro added Victorion – a team of five female robots – to its Transformers line, moved the female characters Windblade, Arcee, and Moonracer to a central place in the narrative, and recently announced not one but three female characters in the initial release of the Transformers: Titans Return collection. Gamora and Nebula figured heavily into the release of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 merchandise from Marvel, and Captain Marvel is set to debut in the next Avengers movie before moving into her own solo narrative. Of course, Wonder Woman defied expectations, and merchandise from the film dominated toy aisles all summer. Even in World Wrestling Entertainment – historically one of the most misogynistic spaces in popular entertainment – female athletes like Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch have become important characters, with popularity matching that of male characters and merchandise sales rivaling their male counterparts. I personally have a collection of over 20 female WWE superstar action figures, something that never existed when I was a child growing up on professional wrestling. For the first time in her life, my daughter can walk down an aisle at the toy store and find female characters, not just in pink boxes in the “girls’ aisle,” but side-by-side with male superheroes, male wrestlers, male robots. Girls and women have been interjected into almost every type of narrative. Even the Cars franchise – the most popular toy line in America for boys ages 3-7 – centralized a female Latina character named Cruz Rivera in its latest installment and the concurrent merchandise. Since my talk went viral, I have been repeatedly asked the question, “Women have been saying this for years. Why is it when a man says it, people pay attention?” My response is, I don’t know, and that is certainly terrible for all of us as a people. I was blessed to be given a stage and an opportunity to advocate on behalf of parents (and children) across the country. My daughter (and your sons and daughters) can finally play in a universe where both men and women get to be heroes, and I am happy to have been some small part of that change. AMANDA ASHLEY


















For years, women have had to adapt to environments created and run by men – especially in business. Today, two brave and bold Denver women are striving to change this trend, by designing a work environment made to fit the needs of women entrepreneurs. It’s called Women in Kind (WinK), and it’s the first comprehensive, full-service coworking community for women in the United States. Co-founders, Virginia Santy and Melanie Ulles are responsible for making this dream a reality and we couldn’t be more excited. This entrepreneurial duo put their heads together to create a space designed to support women in business and life, but most importantly to build a community. We talked with Virgina to learn more about this innovative hub for women entrepreneurs. Here’s what she had to share. Why do you think it’s important not to ask women to simply “figure it out” when it comes to their office space? Because when we ask women to “figure it out” we are telling them issues and challenges larger than themselves, like lack of affordable, quality childcare in our country, our failure to provide women with paid maternity leave, are things they have to address on an individual level. Collectively, we can’t figure out a national approach to parental leave, so why don’t you give it a try, lady? It’s also important to show women we value them enough to support them in finding solutions. Problems and challenges women face are worthy of our combined brain power.

Women in Kind focuses on women, their needs in business and in the business of life. What are some of the things you see that women are in need of when creating and sustaining a business? Community is one. Women are less likely to have the social networks and personal connections necessary to succeed in


the startup sector—these factors are integral to startup success and are positively correlated with innovation, financial performance, and job performance. Women enter into entrepreneurship and business and often find it rather lonely. Women in Kind offers the social support, the community, the camaraderie to help women thrive. We also have on-site, on-demand childcare for those days when the nanny is sick or your kids don’t have school. Just three days of unexpected absenteeism from our work can cost our businesses roughly $3,000. Knowing you have a fun, safe place to bring your kids and to get your work done is an asset to women business owners. The last is access to capital. We have programming built into our membership offerings to help women get access to capital for their businesses and to promote wealth among women. We pay so much attention to the wage gap, but the wealth gap between men and women is exponentially greater. Our goal is to help women succeed financially and to learn to support themselves and their families on a whole new level.

Women in Kind is founded by women, funded by women, designed by women, for women. Do you think Women in Kind needed to be created by women? Why?

Yes, because since women began entering the workforce in large numbers in the mid 20th century, they have done the accommodating. They have brought extra sweaters to work because the office heating and cooling system was designed by men, for men. They endured policies and office culture created by men, for men. And because that is the way it’s been for so long, we all take it for granted. We expect women to adapt. The premise of Women in Kind is to answer the question: what would it look like, for the first time ever, to create a workplace with women not as an afterthought, but as the central consideration? Building a place like that means valuing women enough to see, understand and address their needs.



And because that is the way it’s been for so long, we all take it for granted. We expect women to adapt.”

Why the name “Women in Kind”? We believe when you invest in women you will reap the return on that investment, you’ll get your investment back in kind. We see that playing out every day here at our work space—women asking how they can support each other, share and refer work, be a resource for one another.


Where do you see WinK in 10 years? I see Women in Kind changing how we view workplaces. Women are 51% of the population and 47% of the workforce. It does not make sense—from a human capital or a revenue perspective—to ignore nearly half of the working population. Top companies still struggle with recruiting and retaining strong women talent. Changing our conceptions of how we design workplaces—physically and from a community standpoint—is key to addressing those challenges. We plan to continue to grow Women in Kind across the U.S. in cities wherein women entrepreneurs and small business owners need support. VISIT WOMENINKIND.COM TO LEARN MORE.

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Getting the job is one thing, but figuring out how to navigate effectively once you’re in requires creativity and strategic awareness. We caught up with women business leaders to get their top tips for thriving in the corporate world. Here’s what they had to share: “Be vocal. Men aren’t afraid to speak up, whether during an internal meeting or when customer facing. Women wait for the right time to insert commentary, and we often get overlooked or interrupted. Take a seat at the table, find your opportunity, and insert your voice.”—Susan Lubbers, Regional Director, Medallia “Women are often reluctant to take on a new role or move to the next level until we feel completely prepared and confident about our abilities to succeed. We should take a leap of faith now and then, and seek out projects where there is an opportunity to learn and be challenged. This will give you visibility within your organization and position you as a leader. It will also give you a confidence boost each time you do it.” —Lori Davis, Denver Office Managing Partner, Grant Thornton, LLP

“Keep a list of achievements with you at all times, including ROI estimations, adding to it as time goes on. Use the top five achievements on a document when it’s time for performance reviews or promotional interviews. Practice speaking about your contributions and achievements in sound-bites, and don’t be shy in these situations.” —Susan M. Blais, Leadership Coach & Business Strategist, Susan Blais Consulting

“As women continue to climb up the corporate ladder, they must realize that higher level positions are based less on merit and more on presence and political power. Women are often judged and held to a higher level of scrutiny for consideration of executive roles based on their appearance, ability to command a room, and rapport and relationships with others.” —Devoreaux Walton, President & Founder, The Poise Pursuit



“Understand what roles most often get promoted. Most companies have what we refer to as “catcher roles.” The catcher on a baseball team is more likely to be the field manager than any other position, because the catcher can “see” other positions on the field. Catcher roles in a company are identified positions that are more likely to get promoted up and throughout the organization, because they can see the other positions without having to experience them. Do you know what the “catcher roles” are in your organization and what skills/experiences you need to get them?” —Pam Jeffords, Partner, Mercer “Flexible work options such as telecommuting, part-time, and flexible schedules can play a large role in quickening the pace of closing the gender gap by providing win-win situations for employers to retain working mothers. Through research we’ve done at Remote.co, we see that remote work can definitely play a role in closing the gender pay gap. · Women make up 42 percent of the leadership at 16 remote companies we interviewed (compared to 14.2 percent at S&P 500 companies). · 28 percent of 53 remote companies we researched have a female founder or co-founder (compared to 18 percent of all startups in 2014). · 19 percent of those 53 remote companies have a female CEO (compared to 4 percent of S&P 500 companies)” —Sara Sutton Fell, CEO & Founder, FlexJobs.com, Remote.co & 1 Million for Work Flexibility

At Women of Denver, it’s our mission to help women thrive in their careers, build confidence, and earn their worth as business leaders. One of the ways we do that is by sharing actionable advice from local and national experts, so you have the tools in your arsenal to take ownership of your career journey. To learn more about our organization visit theWomenOfDenver.com

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