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Jefferson County leaders gathered to honor nine of their peers who have worked passionately in a variety of fields to make Jefferson County a better place at the West Chamber’s 16th annual Celebrate Women of Jefferson County.
The chamber inducted Mary Ann Barwick, Mary Anne Fleet, Julia Hill-Nichols, Joyce Jay, Tracy Kraft-Tharp, Cherri Parks, Jennifer Ryan, Kami Welch and Christine White on Nov. 17 in a breakfast at Denver Marriott West.
“Women in Jefferson County make such outstanding contributions to our county,” said Pam Bales, chamber president and CEO. “Their commitment to work, charity, and to making a difference, is remarkable.”
Get to know the nine inductees here:
Mary Ann Barwick
Who she is: As the healthcare outreach and volunteer coordinator, Barwick is a passionate advocate for the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association. She works with hospitals and doctors to help assure inclusion and enhance the independence of people with Down syndrome.
Barwick also serves as an affiliate challenge master for Destination Imagination Colorado. She and her husband have been running the Lunch Bunch program at their church, which makes lunches for the homeless in Denver.
What she said: “My circle of support extends into this amazing community. I learned how to serve those who have a different life than mine. And different doesn’t mean worse. In this day and age, it’s amazing to see people who are willing to assist others and get out of their comfort zone.”
Mary Anne Fleet
Who she is: Fleet received her bachelor’s degree in music education from Temple University in Pennsylvania, where she studied bassoon with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
She worked as development director for Hear Now and as executive director for Caring Connection. She has been a member of the bassoon section of the Lakewood Symphony for the past 21 years, and in 2010 she became the symphony’s first executive director. She has guided the orchestra into becoming a major component of Lakewood’s performing arts community.
She also maintains an active woodwind teaching studio at Music and Arts in Littleton. She has been a president of the South Lakewood Business Association, is a member of and past president of the Rotary Club of Lakewood and is a member of All Comforting Things, which provides hand-crafted items to people in need.
What she said: “I’ve been privileged to do what I most treasure. My heart really lives in the nonprofit community. My time helping others is the biggest part of my being.”
Who she is: With more than 30 years of experience, Hill-Nichols has held numerous executive roles as the chief human resource officer for a metropolitan nonprofit, NASDAQ start-up and a Fortune 50 company.
In February 2010, she launched LeadersCove LLC, a human resource and management consulting firm dedicated to revitalizing leadership.
What she said: “To be part of the answer has been my great fortune. Living life through collaboration has been amazing and extraordinary. Value the power of your unique skills to come together with other people.”
Who she is: Jay, mayor of Wheat Ridge, has lived in the city for the past 32 years. She raised her daughter there.
Jay sold her photography business, retired, became a Jeffco Diversion Officer and then joined and chaired the Wheat Ridge Cultural Commission. She was elected to city council from 2009 until 2013 and then elected mayor in November 2013.
Jay serves on the DRCOG Board, Urban Drainage and Flood Control Board, Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation and the Metro Mayor’s Caucus. Past and present participation in community boards includes the Wheat Ridge Business Association, Wheat Ridge Business District and the Wheat Ridge Education Alliance
What she said: “This gives me an opportunity to say how much I enjoy serving the community. Life is about people and good intentions. That’s what makes it good.”
Who she is: State Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, a Democrat reprsenting District 29, has a background in the areas of mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice and teaching seventh-grade social studies.
Kraft-Tharp ran the Gemini House and Women in Crisis programs with Family Tree in Jefferson County, and has ran a small consulting business helping Jefferson County’s small businesses and nonprofits build their capacity.
She was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2012 and serves on multiple committees. Her work in the community includes involvement with the Jefferson County League of Women Voters, Jeffco PTA and the Northwest Business and Professional Women. She also has served as a member of the Jeffco Public Schools Strategic Advisory Committee, the City of Arvada Human Services Council and the Arvada Citizens Capital Improvement Committee.
What she said: “Some of my key principles are give back to the community — and surround yourself with good people.”
Who she is: Dr. Cherri Parks, obtained her doctorate style and has maintained a successful career for the past 25 years at Colorado Christian University.
For the past 12 years Parks has served as vice president for academic affairs for the College of Undergraduate Studies. Prior to that, she was a professor of psychology for 13 years. She spent time in her early career working with women on a variety of issues and challenges.
What she said: “I’ve been at Colorado Christian University for 25 years, and I can’t think of a better way to have spent my life. Do what you love — the world is begging you to do as little as possible to get by, but I say be in it, be truly in it. Life goes very quickly. If you spend your life doing something bigger than yourself, you won’t regret it.”
Who she is: After growing up in Colorado, Ryan left and later returned in late 2016 to the metro area, and joined Foothills Integrated Health as sales and marketing director.
In 2013, Ryan started The Mural Project, a nonprofit art organization that works with at-risk children and under privileged community members to create one-of-a-kind murals. She partners with agencies to showcase their efforts and include their client population in the painting of the murals. To date, they have completed 20 projects in El Paso, Pueblo and Denver counties and are looking to begin projects in Jefferson County.
What she said: “It’s amazing to be considered for this. Let’s go make a positive impact against all the negativity.”
Who she is: Welch is president of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in public relations and communications and has followed this path throughout her career, including work in the nonprofit sector, real estate and public relations.
Throughout her career, Welch has volunteered with nonprofit organizations that focus on children, education, homelessness and domestic violence. Outside of work, she participates on many boards, usually serving in leadership roles. This includes Family Tree, Next Gen, Arvada Vitality Alliance, Jefferson County Business Education Alliance, Red Rocks Community College Student Mentorship Program, Western Association of Chamber Executives and the Emerging Leaders Program.
What she said: “Success is determined by the opportunities we have in life. Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of people about what success really means. And I think you have to focus on these opportunities and figure out how to help people get there.”
Who she is: White began her career as an environmental chemist when she was recruited by Coors Brewing Company. She then led the technical and quality functions for Coors Brewing Worldwide. Her team was responsible for overseeing the brewing, packaging and distribution of contract operations all over the world.
Subsequently, she was recruited by Molson Coors Brewing Company headquarters into the newly created position of deputy chief compliance officer. She is the global director for the Business Continuity and Crisis Management department for Molson Coors.
What she said: “I challenge you to look at where you spend your time, talent and money. When you spend your time with someone, both you and those you spend it with get something out of it.”
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