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Denver's Movers and Shakers

Meet 5 Powerful Denver Women who are the Definition of "Lady Boss"

--Jodye Whitesell, Vice President of Slifer Downtown Denver

MY FIRST… MARKETING JOB

What was your first marketing job? My first official marketing job was working with my brother-in-law to develop initial marketing materials for his start-up, AMP Robotics. I was working at the University of Denver at the time coordinating events and communications for the School of Accountancy and, while marketing was certainly a portion of my role there, it was fun to get to use those skills in a more direct way with AMP.

What is your favorite hobby? Knitting, hands down. It’s extremely soothing to work with your hands and rewarding to see the progress you can make even in the course of one night. I’ve made it a habit of picking up a ball of yarn everywhere I travel and am in the process of working them all into a patchwork pillow. It’s a fun way to remember all of the adventures through something I’ll use in my home every day.  

What is your indulgence of choice? Pho. If I really want to treat myself, there is nothing as satisfying as a big bowl of hot pho.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? When I was in 5th grade, my teacher Mrs. Eckert gave me a copy of The Little Prince. In it, she wrote a beautiful note encouraging me to live life to the fullest and never stop learning, exploring, and growing. There was one particularly elegant line that has stuck with me and guided me throughout my life: “Look with your heart. Live by your heart. And you shall understand what is important in life.” I strive to do that every day and let that notion guide me, both professionally and personally.  

What is your favorite lunch spot in Downtown Denver? Brider on Platte Street is my go-to. They have a good selection of healthy options that satisfy mid-day cravings without totally putting me to sleep all afternoon. I’m a particularly big fan of their sweet potato and avocado salad. So delicious!  

--Amy Cara, Managing Partner of East West Partners

MY FIRST…DENVER DESIGN/REVITALIZATION PROJECT 

What was your first project in Denver?

I joined East West Partners in 1999, just after we purchased the 23 acres that now are the Riverfront Park neighborhood. It was a really exciting time, as we were essentially creating a new neighborhood from scratch while the City was building this beautiful new park – Commons Park. We were thinking through what should be the first elements that we delivered to create community and to create a place from the beginning. Beginning with the Millennium Bridge, the 16th Street Plaza and three buildings that each had a different character really grounded the community as a place and made the rest of it possible.

What is the Riverfront Park Community Foundation?

The Riverfront Park Community Foundation was established in 2000 to foster excellence, diversity and opportunity in the downtown Denver community, primarily in education and the arts.  The Foundation has forged a strong voice in the arts and education communities in Denver and continues to have a strong impact on the city. We imagined it in the image of similar things that we’ve done in the Vail Valley, with transfer assessments on property sales creating a source of impact that will extend and expand with the community. The foundation has given over $4.7 million to not-for-profits, for the commissioning of public art and for improvements to Commons Park over its 20-year lifespan.

What is your indulgence of choice?

Good question – I think the outdoors are really the thing that fills me – so making the time to get out and snowshoe and ski in the winter, and paddleboard in the summer. Obviously that’s a little limited right now!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Two things. Follow your instincts. Be a great listener.

What is your favorite thing to do in Downtown Denver?

So many! Our dining scene is terrific. I’m hopeful that we are able to make it through these times and still support this incredible group of creative people.

--Dena Pastorini, Broker Associate at Compass

MY FIRST….REAL ESTATE DEAL:

In 2,000 (Yikes, 20 years ago!!) I was given the opportunity to join the Slifer, Smith & Frampton team of East West Partners here in downtown Denver,  assigned to pre-sell the brand new downtown neighborhood of Riverfront Park.  Since I had lived in the Vail Valley for the previous eleven years, I was designated the Mountain Broker representing buyers from mountain communities who were interested in moving their primary residency to downtown Denver, or assisting those who might be interested in buying a second city place here in downtown Denver.

When the development/sales team started pre-selling here, there was only Union Station, the city was just starting to build the Millennium Bridge, and the city was just starting to develop the new 30-acre Commons Park.  Needless to say, a whole new downtown residential and commercial center has evolved over the past twenty years. I have felt so fortunate to have been a part of growing this unique and exceptional downtown lifestyle.   One of my favorite real estate stories happened at Zino’s Restaurant in Edwards in the Vail Valley, when in one night we pre-sold 40 condos in the first three buildings in Riverfront Park.  That was an incredible “kick start” for my career as a residential real estate broker!!

Since that time, I’ve been living, working and playing in our burgeoning downtown and central Denver areas.

WHAT IS YOUR INDULGENCE OF CHOICE:  Traveling!!

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED:  Be Yourselfeveryone else is already taken!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN DOWNTOWN DENVER:  The Capital Grille

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DOWNTOWN DENVER LANDMARK:  Union Station!  I think the transformation is truly phenomenal, and it’s something that all of us in the city can be truly proud of!

--Samantha Larkins- Jewelry Designer, Metal Mark House

MY FIRST… JEWELRY DESIGN

What was the first piece of jewelry you designed?

I started making beaded jewelry in highschool, but my first real piece of hand fabricated jewelry was when I was in school at GIA. My grandfather called and asked me to make a necklace for my grandmother's birthday.  I was so nervous and had several hiccups along the way, but in the end I made a really special diamond circle pendant that she still wears today.

What is your indulgence of choice?

Chocolate... definitely chocolate!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don't be everything to everyone.  Be exactly who you are and make work that reflects that. By being authentic I have been able to grow a brand and a client base in a very specific way. It's been both successful and meaningful to me. 

What is your favorite piece of jewelry?

My favorite piece of jewelry is an 18K yellow gold "elements" bangle.  I never take it off. It is sprinkled with special family stones and symbols that remind me of who I am, where I came from and where I am going. I truly believe the best jewelry becomes intertwined in our  identities and our stories. My bracelet does just that!

What if your favorite Downtown Denver landmark?

I am actually not sure if this is considered a landmark, but I love the "Indeterminate Line" piece of public art off Speer Blvd by the Convention Center. It's that giant coil that looks sort of like a section of a slinky!  I am always drawn in by its scale and movement.   

--Gerilyn Davis, Physician

MY FIRST… SKI EXPERIENCE

My first ski experience was such a special occasion, considering the reason I moved from Indianapolis, IN in 2016 was to complete my doctoral program and to ski. I had my first ski experience in May of 2019. I had just submitted my dissertation for final review and I was determined to go skiing. I even mentioned to my professor that I was going skiing, so whatever additional edits were required for completion of my dissertation I'd finish when I returned.

At the time there were very few ski resorts still open, but I had heard so much about Breckenridge that I made that particular resort my resort of choice. I knew that they didn't have any beginner slopes open, but I was determined to go since I had been waiting for some time.

I arrived to take ski lessons at Breckenridge and the manager re-emphasized that there were no beginner slopes and that we would first begin below before going up top. I had informed him that I have been preparing my whole life for this and had reviewed countless YouTube videos, hence I was ecstatic about the experience. I had an awesome ski instructor that set the tone for me to go at my own pace. We spent about 10 mins below and we went up thereafter.

The mountain view from the ski lift was an indescribable experience. I often say that it's ineffable, there are no words to describe it fully. It was life changing for me. The slope itself was challenging as it was an intermediate run. I fell countless times but my ability to ski improved with each fall. By the time I was finished with my lesson, I was flying past my instructor yelling "Which way do I go?". It was beyond amazing. My first ski experience is what prompted me to launch Inclusion on the slopes; I left Breckenridge believing that everyone should be open to the ski experience and that is the vision for Inclusion on the slopes. 

What is the "Inclusion on the Slopes" effort?

Inclusion on the slopes is a business that concentrates on building relationship abilities within the ski industry. We do this by hosting a series of events that brings those who are well - represented in the ski industry together with those who are not so well represented. The events concentrate on raising awareness, minimizing barriers, collaborating with organizations and communities, and celebrating one another in two celebratory events in late October 2020 and late March 2021.

In addition, Inclusion on the slopes has a consulting component that includes the SWORD © Inclusion system which assists outdoor companies in cutting through the layers of inclusion by concentrating on relationships. The system derives from my 20 plus years of creating partnerships through team building and events which also includes my 16 years of HR/Management experience. 

What is your favorite ski resort?

My favorite ski resort is Breckenridge, because it holds a special place in my heart, plus they were so extremely kind and attentive. I had an awesome first time experience at Breckenridge. 

What is your indulgence of choice?

My indulgence of choice is reading. I read about two to three books a week that are all non - fiction. I believe strongly in personal development and I consider myself a high growth individual. 

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I've ever received that I still hold dear is from my mother. She always instilled in me that I can do anything and I just so happen to believe her. Therefore, everything I set out to achieve, I accomplish, for I don't stop until I do. 

What is your favorite landmark in Downtown Denver?

My favorite landmark is Larimer Square. I just love the energy of that entire street. The street is vibrant and captures Denver's historical aesthetic. I always take those who visit to Larimer Square. 

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