Boulder Chamber Honors Women Who Light the Community

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May 05, 2014

Six remarkable leaders to be recognized during gala celebration on June 5

For Immediate Release

Boulder, CO – April 30, 2014– Improving local graduation rates, strengthening education in Africa, reducing jail recidivism, and advancing a new business structure to preserve the environment -- these are just a few of the transformations leaders to be recognized by the Boulder Chamber.

The 19th Annual Women Who Light the Community awards dinner hosted by the Boulder Chamber’s Business Women’s Leadership Group, will take place on Thursday, June 5th from 3:30-6:30pm at the Lionsgate Event Center Dove House in Lafayette, Colorado. The Chamber will recognize five outstanding women and for the first time, one “Emerging Young Leader”, a K-12 girl in Boulder County. These six outstanding women have generously contributed their time and resources to make Boulder County a better place to live, work, and play.

This celebration honors women who have made a significant difference in our community through their civic, professional, and community involvement. The 2014 honorees were selected from dozens of nominations by a committee of the Chamber’s Business Women’s Leadership Group.

This year’s honorees are:

Dr. Joanne Belknap – CU Professor of Sociology, and Board of Directors, FOCUS Reentry, a small, successful Boulder non-profit that helps offenders being released from the Boulder County jail to avoid recidivating and achieve eventual self-sufficiency. This is known as reentry, the period post-release during which the ex-offender either succeeds or recidivates. This is a critical time for both the offender and the community to which they will return. When it fails it is expensive and dangerous; when it succeeds it saves money and enhances community safety. It is also a community need that few citizens give a second thought to, even though it significantly impacts their lives, their pocketbooks and their safety. Dr. Belknap's understanding of the obstacles facing offenders upon release, plus her guidance to both staff and board alike as the agency navigates the difficult waters of the criminal justice system, have enabled us to make the right decisions and establish policies that have resulted in a 17% recidivism rate (as opposed to the Boulder County rate of 67%) for our clients. This enables the community to save over $600,000 per year, in addition to transforming the life of the ex-offender.

Kim Riether Coupounas – Director of B Lab Colorado American business runs on the directive of maximizing shareholder value. Progressive executives and boards have questioned the long-term sustainability of this position, and the B Corporation movement has evolved to encourage business leaders to put social responsibility ahead of other motivations. Kim has embraced and been a driver of this ethos for several years – long before it was broadly accepted. Colorado has now adopted the B Corporation as a classification of business entity, and Kim, dedicated to broadening the concept, has taken leave of GoLite - the company she co-founded with her husband and where she was Chief Sustainability Officer - to lead B Lab Colorado, dedicated to serving and growing the community of Colorado B Corps.

Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert – Co-Founders of One School at a Time (OSAT) In 2005, Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert traveled to Uganda, Africa to visit a little girl named Juliet Birungi, who had been recently orphaned. They wanted to help this child and other children like her. At Juliet’s school, The Rock Foundation School, located in the slums of Kampala, they found a school with 500 students and one textbook, temporary classrooms with no windows and doors, dirt floors, no electricity, no running water, no scholastic materials, no blackboards, no playground and a staff of poorly trained, inexperienced teachers who frequently were not paid. After returning home from spending two weeks at the school, Bay and Patty decided to dedicate themselves to partnering with targeted impoverished Ugandan schools to better the lives of the children. They founded the non-profit, One School at a TIme, and the Rock Foundation School was their first partner school. Bay and Patty have also worked extensively through Boulder’s schools to raise awareness within our children of cultural differences, poverty, environmental degradation and inequities in the distribution of the world’s resources.

Dr. Deirdre Pilch - Deputy Superintendent of Boulder Valley School District Dr. Deirdre Pilch researched the root causes and early indicators for students who were not experiencing success in school and not on track to achieve a high school diploma. Dr. Pilch, in collaboration with her colleagues, led the implementation of highly successful prevention, intervention and retention strategies expanding opportunities for students. In the past, students found reasons to quit school. Now they have hope and are optimistic about graduation. Partnering with dedicated teachers, counselors, school administrators and community members, Dr. Pilch is leading the development and implementation of successful graduation plan for every BVSD student.

Janette Keene Taylor – Nederland Community Leader For over 16 years, Taylor has been building the business and community of Nederland, Colorado. She holds many “behind the scenes” positions for the community with the consistent goal of helping others in need. Some of these include: Chairperson on the Mayor’s Task Force for Housing and Human Services, Board President for the Backdoor Theater, serves on the Board for the Nederland Food Pantry, coordinated the Nederland 9Health Fair, coordinated and led the recent Candidate Forum, served as Trustee for Town of Nederland, served as Director of the Carousel of Happiness and organized multiple fundraising events, served a Board President of the Mountain Family Health Center, and many more.

“Emerging Young Leader”
Nikola Yager – Youth Global Leadership Program Through Nikola’s leadership over the past 6 years, money was raised for girl’s education in Africa, for hurricane relief in Haiti, to buy and plant trees to raise awareness of environmental stewardship, collected thousands of pounds of food for local families in need, shared movies to engage peers in kid level actions to make the world a better place and stood on stage to inspire the whole school to be kind, stop name-calling and end discrimination against the LGBTQ community. While globally minded, she also gives so much locally. Nikola and her High School peers recognized that there were some problems in a stairwell at school. Rather than call out misbehavior, they painted the stairwell to bring beauty to the students. Through the Youth Global Leadership initiative, she also volunteers locally with students who struggle to learn.

A special Flood Relief Leadership Recognition video will also be presented at the ceremony to acknowledge local women leaders who stepped up during the 2013 flood crisis. These three women include Tara Schoedinger, Mayor of Jamestown, Victoria Simonsen, Town of Lyons Administrator, and Julie Van Domelen, Former Mayor of Lyons.

The Women Who Light the Community event includes an award celebration, networking session and silent auction, dinner, and more. Registration info is available online at www.boulderchamber.com