Embedded Within

Local Women Who Are Making an Impact

Some of the most amazing individuals call Boulder home. This month, we strive to recognize women who have built a name for themselves through hard work and initiative—and woven the threads of their passions through the fabric of our neighborhood. We’ve gathered together noteworthy female entrepreneurs, food & wine experts, creatives and advocates to celebrate their success. While this list is in no particular order and by no means exhaustive, we hope that as you read on, you’ll feel inspired, connected and empowered.


Jennifer Fisher + Kate Agius - Vasu Skin Solutions

Jennifer Fisher
Jennifer not only lives in Boulder, but she has been involved with the Boulder community since 1997. She has a Nuclear Power and Environmental Compliance background and loves science and lasers! Her specialty is anti-aging procedures. Jennifer attended laser training in Scottsdale, AZ, at the National Laser Institute and is a Boulder graduate of the Concentric Healing Institute. She also holds the following degrees and certifications: B.S. Biological Sciences, M.S. Environmental Science, Licensed Esthetician, Certified in Medical Aesthetic Laser/IPL, and Laser Safety Officer. An avid mountain biker, snowboarder, runner, scuba diver, mountaineer, and international traveler, she’s the mother of two children, three dogs, one cat, and lots of fish.

Personal motto: “Work hard and travel harder while being kind and having fun along the way.”

Kate Agius
Kate is the manager of Vasu Skin Solutions Boulder. A graduate of the College of International Esthetics in Denver, she is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician. In addition, she has advanced training in micro-needling, dermaplaning, chemical resurfacing and microdermabrasion. Originally from Buffalo, NY, where she worked in skincare for six years and discovered her passion for the industry, Kate has been with Vasu for 8 years and works closely with Jennifer. Kate is happily married with a sweet one-and-a-half-year-old son, Myles. She enjoys exploring Colorado, traveling both domestically and internationally, and hosting parties for friends in her spare time.

What she’d tell her younger self: “Travel more! Everything will fall into place, enjoy being young and exploring the world.”

Jennifer Egbert - Mile High Modern
Jennifer seeks to support clients through the experience of selling and investing in real estate. As a top broker in the state and expert in her field, she’s developed a staff of support personnel who similarly strive to be exceptional in their roles. Since launching her real estate career in 2002, Jennifer has exclusively served her adopted hometown of Boulder. Specializing in modernist luxury homes and properties of architectural significance, she focuses on curating a discrete upscale client experience.

Personal motto: “Trust yourself. You know yourself better than anyone.”

Heather Dwight - Calluna Events & Love Well Planned
After working in non-profit and corporate events for 10 years, Heather started Calluna Events in 2004, which offers wedding planning services for Colorado and beyond. She is the visionary behind the company being recognized as one of the Best Wedding Planners in America by BRIDES (2018-2022), The Knot’s Best of Weddings (2007-2022), The Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame and the winner of Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award. BizBash named her among the 500 Influential Event Professionals in the US (2020 and 2021).

Heather also provides business coaching and mentoring and in 2019 launched a new business, Love Well Planned, which focuses on workshops for wedding planners and wedding creatives. She loves mindful design, style and immaculate detail. After 18 seasons, what Heather adores the most are the relationships she is fortunate to build with clients and helping couples achieve a beautiful wedding that is authentically theirs.

What keeps her motivated: "I am continually motivated and in awe of and humbled by our team. They are the heart and soul of Calluna, my right hands, who work tirelessly and who have such positive enthusiasm for our couples."

Melinda Verrall - The Brand Tender
Melinda is a brand strategist, founder and principal of Brandtender Consulting LLC, where she oversees the creative and strategic direction of the company. She has expertise taking organizations into new growth areas, identifying and entering untapped markets and creating success in them. She has extensive experience with organic, high-growth, sustainable organizations, including Ag, and Lawn + Garden, specializing in products that align with the beliefs of LOHAS consumers, with a passion for authentic consumer engagement and commercial-minded retail solutions that stay true to brand. Melinda has been recognized for leading domestic and international cross-functional teams in pioneering greenfield projects across the USA, UK, and Europe.

What she’d tell her younger self: “To believe in herself and to be mindful to not give others powers over her; and to keep the fun and joy in everything that she does.”

Lennon Dean Herman-Barnica - Wild Manor Production Company
Wife, mother, business owner and wannabe camper renovator, Lennon was born and raised in Boulder, which she says makes her a unicorn in the city. She graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in business marketing and management with a certificate of entrepreneurship and began her career at a well-known advertising agency called Crispin Porter + Bogusky. After spending 10 years there, she branched off on her own and started her production company, Wild Manor, which has been open for three years and is 100% women-owned and operated. 

What she’d tell her younger self: “Trust your gut and be yourself. If I listened to myself I would be who I am sooner and maybe understand myself better than I do at 37. I grew up wanting to wear boy's clothes, do boy things, and essentially be a boy. But I tried to do the opposite because I was born female. I tried to wear girls' clothes, make-up and do girl things. That was the box society wanted to put me in in the 90's. If you ask one of my best friends from childhood she said it never looked natural on me. So I guess you could say my true colors shined through more than I thought, and I wasn't that great at hiding who I really was. I see kids and parents today giving kids the opportunity to fully be themselves and it warms my heart. They are allowing their children to know and understand themselves earlier which in turn I believe will allow them to know themselves sooner and be more true to themselves.”

Food & Wine

Carlin Karr & Erin Pommer - Frasca Hospitality Group

Carlin Karr
Carlin is the wine and beverage director of Frasca Hospitality Group and has been a member of the Frasca wine team since 2012. She oversees the award-winning wine programs at Frasca, Pizzeria Alberico, Tavernetta and Sunday Vinyl in Boulder and Denver. After graduating from the University of Colorado in 2008, Carlin moved to San Francisco, where she opened the restaurant Sons & Daughters as General Manager and Wine Director. Under her leadership, Sons & Daughters received a Michelin Star. Carlin is recognized as an “Advanced Sommelier” by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Carlin has been recognized in Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year 2018, Wine Enthusiast “40 Under 40” in 2019, Forbes “30 under 30” in 2011, Wine & Spirits Magazine “Best New Sommeliers” and Eater “Young Guns”. Carlin is a hospitality mentor for women in wine through Batonnage and a member of Les Dames des Escoffiers. Carlin leads the Frasca Hospitality Group team of 10 full-time sommeliers and is responsible for wine education, purchasing and growth for the company.

Personal motto: “You never know until you ask. Ask for what you want, ask for advice, ask questions for more knowledge, ask people how they got where they are, ask ask ask and you shall learn and grow. The worst possible answer is 'no' and it rarely is the answer.”

Erin Pommer
Erin Pommer brings 15 years of hospitality experience to Frasca Hospitality Group. A native of Los Angeles, she graduated from Pepperdine University and spent time in event sales and coordination for Wolfgang Puck Catering and Mastro’s Steakhouse before moving to Boulder, where she began as director of events for Frasca Food and Wine and Pizzeria Locale. In 2020, she became director of brand for Frasca Hospitality Group. In her role, Erin oversees event programming, brand partnerships and strategic communications. She’s constantly intrigued by the way people interact with their restaurants, and loves thinking about the ways she can continue to push guests’ experiences with hospitality.

What she’d tell her younger self: “Never underestimate the power of a thank you note."

Crystal Sagan - Cocktail Caravan
At the young age of six, Crystal started her first business, making greeting cards and selling them to the neighbors. Later, she went to art school and earned a BFA in ceramics. Having grown up in the Chicago area, she ultimately ended up in Boulder in search of some sunshine. While she had bartended for a while at a restaurant, she eventually took a full-time position in publishing, feeling like she needed a “grown-up” job. She kept bartending on the side for weddings and parties and it snowballed from there. As her side hustle continued to flourish, she knew she needed to come up with a new plan and Cocktail Caravan was born. She lives in Boulder with her husband, Jon Jay, and their two-year-old, Solden. Together, they love to ski, travel and be outside.

Personal motto: “Happiness is a choice, and something I make a conscious effort in working towards every day.”

Natascha Hess - Ginger Pig
Chef Natascha was born and raised in Connecticut. She played hockey her entire life, going on to play at the University of Wisconsin, where she double majored in Chinese and International Relations. For three summers during college, Natascha went to China to live with a host family, where she fell in love with Chinese cooking and Asian street food. She moved to Denver with her husband, Steve, to help launch Fox Sports Rocky Mountain television station, then returned to school at the University of Denver, this time to study law. She practiced law for several years, even starting her own firm, before deciding to follow her passion for cooking and Asian food. She opened The Ginger Pig Food Truck in Boulder County in the summer of 2016, which led to the opening of an inaugural stall in Rosetta Hall–Boulder’s first food hall–in 2019. Taking that success and knowledge, she went on to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Berkeley Neighborhood of Denver in 2020. Since then, Ginger Pig has offered authentic family-style pan-Asian cuisine to the people of Denver and Boulder.

What she’d tell her younger self: “Self-care is the most important and beneficial thing to do with your time and energy.”


Jane Burke - BMoCA
Jane is currently the curator at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Boulder, Colorado. Just prior, she was the curatorial fellow for the Textile Art & Fashion department at the Denver Art Museum where she co-organized exhibitions including Dior: From Paris to the World and Carla Fernández Casa de Moda: A Mexican Fashion Revolution. Previously, she held curatorial and collections management positions at the Honolulu Museum of Art, The Contemporary Museum, and The East West Center Gallery in Honolulu, Hawaii. Jane received a bachelor’s in studio art from the University of Colorado at Boulder and obtained an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Asian art history and Mandarin from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

What keeps her motivated: “When I was in grad school, my art history professor called me an associative thinker--which she did not mean as a compliment. But my compulsion to connect seemingly disparate dots in order to create meaning within those less obvious, in-between spaces is what motivates me as a curator.”

Dani Loujo - Painter
Dani is a Dutch-born fine artist living and working in Boulder. Despite having a great love for art since childhood, she never received any formal art education and spent years pursuing more traditional career tracks, including sciences and mental health tracks. It wasn’t until she met with a period of personal hardship that she reoriented her life towards what had always been the most life-giving and authentic part of her: making art. 

These days Dani works primarily in oils and mixed media to create evocative, highly atmospheric landscape paintings that remind one of the old masters, as well as surrealist-style work that equally moves the heart. Regardless of the subject or intricacies of the style and technique used in any given piece, Dani’s work explores the boundaries between the seen and unseen, the hidden but felt. Her paintings emanate emotion and seem to evoke the deep tenderness of being human. Her work has been seen in several galleries, including Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery, Western Stars Gallery, Aspen and Evergreen Gallery and the New Local.

Personal motto: “My motto isn’t so much a specific statement as it is an orientation to life and all the situations and circumstances I find myself in. My view is that life isn’t in my hands but my response to it is, to a certain extent. Specifically, no matter the situation, I always aim to come back to the imperative to be present and to surrender to the way things are. Rather than pathologizing or judging, I make a sincere effort to surrender. This usually means making time to be quiet, to slow down and pay attention to what I’m picking up on with my senses. In this way I manage to stay centered and to find some basic enjoyment in my human experience, regardless of what’s happening and whether I would have chosen it for myself. My motto is ultimately the practice of opening and welcoming everything, and unclenching my heart and mind." 

Emmy Swenson & Sasha Baskin - The Found Collective

Emmy Swenson
Having been a hairstylist in Boulder for nearly two decades, Emmy had the pleasure of meeting many people. After the pandemic, she wanted to bring the community together with marketplace events in a way that she felt was not only lacking but that people were very much craving. With the Rolodex of people she’d met over the years and relationships she built in her chair, she established The Found Collective, an elevated market experience. In addition to being a place where you can feel, taste, touch and experience different artisan’s work, The Found Collective also raises awareness for local nonprofits.

What she’d tell her younger self: “Trust your vision and go for it. If you feel it in your heart and your bones, dive in completely. A certain amount of scary is necessary to fuel the fire. It will always work out and establish growth within your vision even if it might not look as planned, it’s all a part of a beautifully orchestrated plan that will lead you to be exactly where you need to be when you need to be there, even if it’s a stepping stone.”

Sasha Baskin

Sasha met Emmy at the first Found Collective event. The two meshed and began collaborating to make the company take off. Sasha has a passion for creating a platform for creatives to showcase their work while simultaneously connecting and bringing the community together. She loves the tangible experience and uplifting those around her, which she feels are pivotal elements of The Found Collective. She's excited to be a part of creating a space for community, culture and collaboration. 

Personal motto: "Lead with kindness."


Elaina Shively - Garnett Powell Maximon Barlow
Elaina’s success in and out of the courtroom is characterized by her empathic and kind, yet strong and effective advocacy. She has always been driven to solve problems and to stand up for others. In May 2023, she joined the new law firm of Garnett Powell Maximon & Barlow and is dedicated to trauma-informed, compassionate, and zealous advocacy for her clients. Elaina is well-respected in the legal field and community and in June 2023, was awarded the Champion of Democracy Award by the Boulder County Democratic Party.  

Whether she is representing a crime victim, helping someone who has made a mistake and is charged with a crime, or ushering a business through complex litigation, Elaina understands the impact that underlying incidents and pending cases have on clients and their families. The legal field has a lot of work to do to improve how people are treated, and Elaina has a special interest in serving victims of sexual assault and serious traffic crashes as well as elevating professionalism and trauma-informed practices across the legal field.  

What keeps her motivated: “I love to work hard and play hard. I hope to model to my kids how I use my voice and skills to empower and stand up for myself and for others. I want to leave things better than I found them, whether camping with my family or fighting injustice in our community. It’s my honor to stand with people in their toughest times and I am motivated to create change in the legal field by providing effective and trauma-informed legal representation.”

Leah Colby Alexis - Boulder Advocate
Boulder has been Leah's home since she was seven when her family moved from Massachusetts. She is a wife, mother, passionate supporter of non-profits and an entrepreneur in the community. Leah started her professional career in the non-profit sector over twenty years ago at BeadForLife, an organization based out of Uganda devoted to ending global poverty by empowering women entrepreneurs. In 2012, she founded La Dolce Events—a company committed to uplifting both for-profit and non-profit enterprises and individuals through a tapestry of community events, including fundraisers, weddings and private gatherings. Leah initially collaborated with Boulder Ballet in planning their annual fundraiser. This connection led her to serve on the Boulder Ballet Board of Directors for nearly five years before embracing an official role within the organization last year. She was honored and delighted to step into the role of Development Director in the fall of 2022 supporting the growth and mission of the organizations.

Personal motto: “I read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz over 20 years ago. I find myself continuously coming back to the teachings and agreements: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don't Take Anything Personally, Don't Make Assumptions and Always Do Your Best.”

Kriste Peoples - Women’s Wilderness
Kriste serves as the executive director of Women’s Wilderness, located in Boulder. As a leader and frequent speaker in Colorado’s outdoor community, she offers experiential workshops that explore the underrepresentation and irrepressible spirit of people of color in nature. Kriste is also an avid trail runner and meditation enthusiast who enjoys taking on new projects but draws the line at YouTube-inspired home renovation.

What she’d tell her younger self: “To be clear, my younger self includes the woman I was last week, an hour or moment ago too. I remind her and all of my past selves that we're doing just fine, that we have nothing to prove, that we are beautiful, divine, seen, supported, worthy and always moving in our purpose.”

Anne Tapp - Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence
Anne has served as executive director at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence since 1997. Prior to holding this position, she was the SPAN Shelter Program Director for six years and has an accomplished history of working in the nonviolence movement as an advocate, organizer, trainer, leader and administrator for the past 35+ years. Anne sits on numerous local and statewide boards and task forces addressing domestic violence and social justice issues. She has served on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence board and Child Advocacy Task Force, coordinated the development of cross-training curricula for domestic violence programs and Child Protective Services, and previously served as the representative for domestic violence victims and victim organizations on the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board, and the Govenor-appointed Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. Anne has a BA in psychology and theology and received a Master's in Theological Studies from Harvard University in 1986. She has received numerous awards for her work and community contributions, including the prestigious “Women Who Light the Community” award from the Business Women’s Leadership Group of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

What she’d tell her younger self: “Worry less and play more. Once you’ve done your absolute best, it’s okay to let go of the outcome. Mistakes and missteps seed the soil for growth and learning.”

Paula DuPré Pesman - CEO/Founder & Film Producer

Paula launched her film career as an associate producer on the producing teams of such narrative features as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Rent, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone 2, and Stepmom. In 2004, she founded the non-profit There With Care to provide essential daily support to families and children facing a life-threatening illness. Now in its 18th year since inception, There With Care has served more than 10,000 families in three states, bringing them community and care in a medical crisis. Since 2004, she produced the renowned documentary features The Cove (Academy Award 2010), Chasing Ice (Cinematography Award Sundance; Emmy Award, Audience Award SXSW 2012), Keep On Keepin’ On (Audience Award Tribeca Film Festival, IDFA, Palm Springs Film Festival 2014), Quincy (Toronto Film Festival and Grammy Award Winner 2019) and My Sister Liv (BIFF Audience Award). Paula has other several feature documentaries in production including The Kelly Slater Documentary and The Untitled Artist Project. She was named Producer of the Year, 2010, by the Producers Guild of America. For her philanthropic work, she was named a Local Hero by Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine for her work as founder and CEO of the non-profit There With Care, providing essential support for families and children facing critical illness.

What keeps her motivated: “The families we serve go through so much and they don’t have a choice, but to push ahead to get through their crisis. Knowing what we are doing to support them is truly helpful, and that others in the community care about them, that fills my heart.”

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