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Ashley Baller

Featured Article

Perseverance and Passion

How these six influential, Parker women are making strides towards a better tomorrow in our community.

Article by Dakota Nelson

Photography by Raemi Rue Photography

Originally published in Parker City Lifestyle

Dr. Christina Pham

Dr. Christina Pham is not only a young entrepreneur who opened her own dental practice at the age of 31 but is also characterized by her infectious smile and calm demeanor. The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, Christina initially began college as a business major, but realized she wanted a career where she could make her own way in the world without relying on others. She initially worked with a dental service organization, finding the setting to be too corporate, leading her to start her own practice. In January 2020, it was just her and one assistant. Now, Christina leads a slightly larger staff as the boss of her own workplace. Her advice to women working to create a career they are proud of should evaluate where they want to be and create a plan of action for how to get there.

When asked what she likes to do with her free time, she wasted no time with her answer–traveling. “I want to be in a place, financially, where I have time to travel and work,” she explained, citing that she hopes to be able to occasionally take a step back from business to enjoy life while sometimes practicing volunteer dentistry. Christina is an example of just how much it can pay off to take a leap of faith and make a decision for yourself.

Ashley Baller

The best way to describe the reigning Miss Rodeo Colorado is through a specific interaction while we sat down for coffee. While we spoke, a young girl came up and asked Ashley Baller if she is Miss Rodeo Colorado (it was hard to miss as she was in a beautifully decorated cowgirl hat and sash). This young girl went on to tell Ashley how her late mother was a fan of the competition and always wanted to meet a Miss Rodeo Colorado winner. Through this entire heartfelt interaction, you could tell the story touched Ashley and she was poised and genuine the entire time. That was when I knew Ashley Baller was more than just a Miss Rodeo Colorado titleholder, but a true leader who wanted to help others.

Ashley has been riding as a first-generation cowgirl since first grade and is the first Latina to win the title of Miss Rodeo Colorado. She hopes to inspire others by increasing collaboration between English and Spanish speakers through community events. Before winning the title during her first time competing in Miss Rodeo Colorado, Ashley worked for American Quarter Horse. Community is key for Ashley; she advises other women to find a supportive community as well and to be confident in their careers. She loves spending time with her family and two horses. Her future goals include winning Miss Rodeo America in November, obtaining a master’s degree, and continuing to make a positive impact in her community.

Dawn Danner

If you’ve been in Downtown Parker recently you may have noticed the new Nest Boutique run by Dawn Danner and her husband. Dawn has always wanted to open a boutique shop. When she lost her son, Tristen, to a fentanyl overdose in 2020, she poured herself into working to open Nest as a place where everyone who comes in feels accepted. “I want to bring some joy to people,” Dawn explains, going on to say how kind and thoughtful Tristen was. Yet, Dawn’s goals are so much more inspiring than that: she hopes to reduce the shame around drug addiction. “Tristen was so much more than his struggles with addiction,” she says. Dawn knows if she can help just one mother speak to her children about the dangers of drugs, or if Tristen’s story inspires one person to take precautions against illegal drugs, then what she and her family have gone through is not for nothing.

Dawn desires to tell Tristen’s story bravely and to emulate his love. Her fervor and adoration are evident when she talks of her son and how his brightness shines through Nest. She urges other women to find a supportive tribe, to work towards finding a purpose and to remember that we are all messy sometimes and that’s okay.

Despite the sadness she can feel, Dawn feels gratitude for those in her life who have supported her. Looking ahead for herself and Nest, she hopes to partner with a nonprofit that offers second chances to young people turning their lives around from addiction. If you're looking to circulate kindness, share #GoodVibesforWoob, a campaign Dawn created to keep the love for Tristen flowing. Not only has Dawn impacted our community through Nest, but also through spreading Tristen’s story and reminding us all to laugh a little, even on the darkest days.

Brittany Higgins

Brittany Higgins brings a new meaning to the name Supermom. In addition to caring for her kids and having a full-time job, Brittany is the founder of Highway 50, a nonprofit that transports animals between shelters for adoption. Brittany started volunteering with Animal Rescue of the Rockies at 19, doing occasional animal transports and eventually starting Highway 50 as a way to aid the adoption process. She started small, working solo for seven years. Now Highway 50 has 15 volunteers who assist in animal transport.

Her advice for other women is to do what you love, find what brings you joy and go for it. She encourages everyone to remember that even if you’re making the smallest dent, it makes a difference. With Highway 50, that could mean fostering or adopting from local shelters, raising awareness through social media, or volunteering to transport animals in need. Brittany also has advice for mothers who want to find time to pursue volunteering and/or other activities. “Schedule time for yourself” and “find a community” that supports your passion. In the future, Brittany hopes to stay in her sweet spot, watching her family and Highway 50 grow. Brittany is a prime example of how anyone can turn their passion into something that positively impacts the community.

Fay Matsukage

For decades, Fay Matsukage has been breaking boundaries as one of the first Asian-American female attorneys permitted to practice law in Colorado and continues to at the age of 65. Born and raised in Honolulu, Fay always knew she wanted to go to the continental states, leading her to move to Colorado for college and law school. When asked what originally began her interest in law, Fay joyfully spoke about her father who had also gone to law school but worked in real estate financing. Her proximity to her father’s business and his impact on her influenced her to represent entrepreneurs in corporate and security law. A piece of advice that she holds dear to her is “don’t let stereotypes stop you.” Fay explains how women are often told to accommodate others and how many are overlooked for their gender and/or ethnicity, but that should never stop anyone from being strong in who they are. Aside from being a trailblazer, Fay loves to garden, cook, play golf and spend time with her family. She hopes to continue mentoring young attorneys, law students and entrepreneurs as well as spend more time traveling. After her fervent dedication to a successful career, some downtime is just what this role model needs.

Galia Spychalska Morrow

Galia Spychalska Morrow is more than just the owner of Parker’s adorable antique shop, Search & Rescue Antiques, but also a devoted mother, wife and outspoken activist for people with disabilities. Galia, a registered nurse of 15 years, decided to take a step back from work to become a stay-at-home mom and caretaker for her oldest son Casper, who was born with a rare type of autism known as #6 PPPS. Galia describes this decision as “scary, but worth it.” Searching for antiques and unique vintage finds became an outlet while taking care of Casper and her youngest son, Mark. After losing a close friend, Galia decided to take the leap and begin her very own antique shop. She and her husband work to make sure everyone feels accepted when they walk in and advocate for children and adults with disabilities, including advocating for access to nursing care. Galia explained she has a “great community within the store” and it has strengthened her relationship with not only her family but also the Parker community. Galia advises everyone to have integrity and honesty when they think about what they want to do with their lives. She and her family hope to expand their shop and partner with organizations that work to create safe spaces for people with disabilities. It’s safe to say Search & Rescue Antiques wouldn’t be what it is without Galia’s keen eye for vintage pieces and care for those around her.

  • Dawn Danner with a photo of her son, Tristen
  • Fay Matsukage
  • Dr. Christina Pham
  • Brittany Higgins and Winston
  • Galia Spychalska Morrow
  • Ashley Baller
  • Ashley Baller
  • Ashley Baller
  • Ashley Baller
  • Ashley Baller