Leading Ladies

Five Local Professionals Reflect on their Careers and Offer Advice for Tomorrow's Female Leaders

Maria Lucy Moncada Arcila

Community Inclusion & Engagement Coordinator

Alpine Bank

  • What has been a memorable endeavor in your career, and why?

Around 1984, I was working with a non-profit organization in Jamundi, Colombia as a promoter of female head-of-household entrepreneurs. The idea was to organize them and promote the creation of community-oriented businesses. That is the backstory of three small neighborhood-run factories which provided plastic bags, brooms and mops, and wax candles. I had to coordinate and schedule training classes in the areas of administration, financial literacy, and manufacturing. The nonprofit that I was representing would assume all costs of the training, machinery, and tools for those training and for the continuous operation for six months; then, those women would need to continue with those businesses by themselves.

Also I do not want to leave aside my greatest satisfaction has been being part of the Alpine Bank team, and the reach we have been able to develop with the Denver community at large, as well as non-profit organizations in Denver, Aurora, and Boulder. We have given sponsorships through the Latino Community Loyalty Card, enabling our community to advance their programming and benefit initiatives.

  • What is your advice for young female professionals following in your footsteps?

The best advice I can give to young female professionals is to maintain a high level of self-confidence. To believe in their professional capabilities and in the fulfillment of rich teamwork, without decaying into rivalry and unnecessary competition.


Lindsay Gould

Business Manager

Gould Construction/Royal Mini Storage, Glenwood Springs

  • What motivates you professionally, and how do you accomplish your career-related goals?

What motivates me professionally is a desire to make a difference, achieve excellence, and further my knowledge. I strive to better my long time family business with new skills, innovative ideas, and strong commitment to family legacy. I am also motivated to do my best to become a role model and someone that my children can look up to. I work toward accomplishing my career-related goals by having a vision of long term goals and working within my value structure to make steady gains towards those goals.  Also having a work/life balance and ensuring that everything I am involved in has purpose. The passion generated from working from purpose is generally unstoppable and I find myself trying to up the bar for my goals along the way. 

  • What advice would you give to young female professionals following in your footsteps?

Believe in yourself, strive to find your purpose, don’t listen to anyone tell you that you can't. Compromise and sacrifice are often necessary in life, but never compromise or sacrifice who you are. 

Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser       

President & CEO

Colorado Mountain College 

  • What has been an unexpected joy of your chosen career path?

When I first moved to Colorado, I lived in Boulder and then Denver (combined for nearly 15 years), often visiting distant parts of the state to recreate and while serving on various boards or commissions. I thought these experiences gave me a “statewide” perspective. It was not until my husband and I moved to the Western Slope that I fully appreciated the “urban/rural” divide and why this dynamic exists. Living just outside of Glenwood Springs for the past eight years has been truly wonderful, and it has made me much more aware of the unique challenges facing rural and mountain resort communities. My unexpected joy has been learning how best to advocate for these communities and issues with first-hand knowledge and experiences. And, I’ll take seasonal construction headaches over clogged Front Range interstates any day!  

  • What advice would you give to young female professionals following in your footsteps?

Surround yourself with a “kitchen cabinet” of experienced people you trust to give you advice, support and to lean on from time to time. If you have a public speaking engagement, practice on one or more of them. Ask them to comment on how you present yourself or project your voice. If you have a rough day or difficult interaction with a co-worker, take a step back and run the scenario by them (without revealing the colleague’s real name, of course). It is amazing what a neutral eye or ear will catch, giving you the opportunity to consider something from a different perspective. 


Sarah R. Johnson

Freelance Science and Environmental Educator

Wild Rose Education, Carbondale

  • What has been the greatest challenge of your professional life, and how did you overcome it?

The Greatest challenge was not being able to see that I was being held back from my potential, dreaming big and being able to fully blossom in my vocation as a professional educator. When I finally was courageous and brave enough to act, I chose to take a leap and close one door. Then, the world of opportunity and possibility opened immensely. I'm curious what would be different if I had recognized this earlier in my career and made the leap sooner. 

  • What advice would you give to other young female professionals following in your footsteps?

Develop strong relationships with mentors, colleagues, and those who can challenge you to live into your potential; always growing. Be generous with your time offering to have coffee chats with new connections, serving in leadership for one's community, and taking on projects that sometimes just need to be done regardless of how much you get paid. Trust your intuition. Be bold, brave, and gentle with yourself and others. 

Karen Urnise

Dentist and Dental Practice Owner

Urnise Dentistry, Glenwood Springs

  • What has been the greatest lesson you've learned as a business owner?

I have learned how important it is to have other professional women as mentors, to support you as you juggle being a business owner and a mom. It is all about creating a great group of people to help you succeed so you can be efficient and do what you love.

  • What advice would you give to young female professionals following in your footsteps?

The best thing you can do is dream big — dream of where you want to be, how’ll you spend everyday. Make goals for how you will get there, and write it all down. It helps to have a mentor or friend keep you accountable to those goals, so find someone to share your dreams with. And finally, learn when to compromise, learn how to negotiate, when to pivot, and how to change your goals to fit who you become.

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