Mr. Luis Benitez has over 20 years of experience as an outdoor leader through expedition guiding, leadership development, and consultation. Having summited the “Seven Summits” many times, Luis Benitez brings lessons from those fantastic feats to his professional life. Currently, he serves as the first Director of Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office was established in 2015 by Governor John Hickenlooper to maintain and grow the outdoor recreation industry through a central point of contact, advocacy, and resources. As Director, Benitez aims to help the outdoor industry thrive by focusing on four key aspects in his role, including: economic development, conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, and health and wellness. In improving education and workforce training for the outdoor recreation industry, Luis Benitez has begun to work more closely with Colorado State University’s Master’s of Tourism Management program, and its adventure tourism certification program, to achieve an educated, healthy, and vibrant workforce in the outdoor recreation industry. When Mr. Benitez is not moving Colorado’s outdoor industry to great lengths, he can be found volunteering his time as a guide for the nonprofit, Trekking for Kids. As well as serving on many boards, including Colorado Outward Bound School, Soldiers to Summits, and Trekking for Kids.
Mr. Michael Berry has served as the president of the National Ski Areas Association in Lakewood, CO., since January 1993. NSAA is the trade association for ski area owners and operators. It represents 325 alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of the skier/snowboard visits nationwide. Additionally, it has 500 supplier members who provide equipment, goods and services to the mountain resort industry.
NSAA analyzes and distributes ski industry statistics; produces annual conferences and trade shows; produces a bi-monthly industry publication and is active in state and federal government affairs. The association also provides educational programs and employee training materials on industry issues including, environmental laws and regulations, state regulatory requirements, aerial tramway design and engineering, resort operations and guest service issues. The association is involved in market and demographic research on a looking forward basis in order to better define future industry strategies.
Prior to NSAA, Berry was president of Kirkwood Resort in California, a winter/summer resort located 35 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe, for eight years. He began in 1980 as vice president and was named president in 1985.
Before Kirkwood, Berry worked at some of the most prominent resorts in the United States, including Keystone, CO., Sun Valley, Idaho and Vail, CO.
Currently, Berry serves on the boards of several organizations, including the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.
Ms. Liz Birdsall is the Market Manager of Americas, Asia & Australia for the Colorado Tourism Office.
With a degree in tourism from Colorado State University, Liz’s international tourism career began working for Vail Resorts, and was followed by joining International Tourism Marketing (ITM). At ITM Liz managed international marketing programs for: Colorado Ski Country, Grand Circle Association, British Airways and the Colorado Travel & Tourism Authority. Additionally, Liz was the Director of Rocky Mountain Symposia now known as Go West Summit. In 2001, Liz started her own tourism marketing firm. Projects and clients include Go West Summit, Go China Summit, Visit Loveland, Visit Fort Collins and The Cultural Traveler. Liz also has broad experience with advertising and international travel publications. Prior to taking on the position with the Colorado Tourism Office, Liz was the International Marketing Manager for The Broadmoor located in Colorado Springs for 3 years. With the CTO, Liz handles the Canada, Japan and China markets.
Mr. Joe Blake is Chancellor Emeritus of the Colorado State University System. As chancellor, he oversaw Colorado State University, CSU-Pueblo and CSU-Global. He was the chief spokesperson for the CSU System, managed the System’s legislative operations and worked to help secure more sustainable funding for higher education in Colorado.
He currently Chairs Colorado Wants You, a statewide 501 (c)(3) organization created by business and civic leaders to support the military’s operational and combat units in Colorado.
A Colorado native, Joe was President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce for nearly a decade. Prior to his service to the Chamber Joe was part of te senior leadership team that created Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
He has served on the CSU Board of Governors, the Colorado Baseball Commission, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (Chair) and the Colorado Transportation Commission (Chair).
His past and present community service includes the Hospice of St. John Foundation, the Denver Zoological Foundation, The Denver Foundation, the Denver Public Schools Foundation, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, Denver County Court Judicial Nominating Commission, Colorado Concern and the Denver Metro Chamber.
Recognition for his past civic and community service includes the Denver Business Journal Legacy Award, The El Pomar Foundation Community Leadership Award, the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and lifetime achievement recognition from Metro Volunteers and the Denver Metro Chamber.
Joe is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado School of Law. He is the father of two children, Anne and Joe; and the grandfather of four grandsons.
Mr. Rick Cables recently retired from Vail Resorts, where he served as the vice president of natural resources and conservation. In his role, he managed the resort operator’s navigation of federal regulatory issues surrounding its operations on public lands. Cables oversaw natural resource conservation efforts and helped lead environmental programs.
Cables was previously Director for the Division of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Prior to Parks and Wildlife, Rick was Regional Forester, responsible for the administration of over 22 millions acres in 17 national forests and 7 national grasslands, and cooperative efforts with state and private landowners in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and eastern Wyoming.
Cables, who was born in Pueblo, Colorado, graduated from Northern Arizona University Forestry School in 1976, and began his forestry career on the Kaibab National Forest in Northern Arizona. After serving in several national forests in New Mexico and Arizona, he became District Ranger on the Apache–Sitgreaves National Forest. He then served two years in the Washington office before he was selected to attend the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1989-1990. In 1990 Cables was promoted to Forest Supervisor of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine. In 1995 he became the Forest Supervisor of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands in Colorado and Kansas.
Before becoming Regional Forester of the Rocky Mountain Region, Cables was Regional Forester of the Alaska Region, covering the Tongass and Chugach National Forests.
Mr. Jim Clark, recently retired, Chief Executive Officer of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. Mr. Clark has over 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He recently served as President and CEO of Visit Fort Collins. Prior to his return to Colorado, he was Executive Director of the Irving, TX Convention and Visitors Bureau for over 4 years. Mr. Clark was the CEO of Visit Tampa Bay and the Colorado Springs CVB. He also held sales and management responsibilities for the Denver Metro CVB, the Brown Palace Hotel and Westin Hotels. He also spent 9 years as an adjunct instructor at Colorado State University.
Mr. Clark has extensive destination marketing and management experience. During his tenure in Irving, he was responsible for the management of the Irving Convention Center project. As a city department head, he was responsible for the feasibility, site analysis and selection, market studies, operational projections and preliminary design.
While in Tampa, he oversaw the marketing of the Tampa Convention Center, and moved Tampa into one of the top 20 convention destinations in America. Under his guidance, the destination developed a branding campaign that won the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International Platinum Adrian Award for the top destination marketing campaign worldwide. In Colorado Springs, he was responsible for a 300 percent increase in convention bookings and increasing the efficiency of the bureau’s advertising, marketing, public relations and publications.
He also has extensive experience in the destination sports market, having been a founder of sports commissions in Tampa and Dallas/Ft. Worth. During his career he has worked with the Amateur Athletic Union, the U.S. Olympic Committee and a number of its National Governing Bodies. He has successfully bid for a number of amateur and professional sporting events including the NCAA Final Four, the Big XII Football Championship, the National Hockey League All-Star Game, and the Super Bowl.
Mr. Clark has been active in community organizations throughout his career and has served in leadership positions and as a director of the Destination Marketing Association International where he has been a frequent speaker and presenter. He is Past Chair of the Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Associations and President of the Tourism Industry Association of Colorado. He serves locally on the boards of Routt County United Way, Bike Town USA and Mountain Village Partnership.
Jim holds a degree from the University of Missouri with a major in Hotel and Restaurant Management and is a Certified Destination Marketing Executive. In his spare time, he enjoys the Colorado outdoors and spending time with his wife and two adult children.
Mr. Tom Clark is Chief Executive Officer of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and the Executive Vice President of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. He has more than 30 years of economic development experience at the state, regional, county and city levels. Tom’s career spans four decades from Director of Commercial and Industrial Development for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, through positions with the Fort Collins, Colorado Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Denver Corporation, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson Economic Council, and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
He holds bachelors degrees in speech and psychology from Minnesota State University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Illinois.
Tom was the founder and first president of the Metro Denver Network, the Metro Denver region’s first economic development program, for which he received the Arthur D. Little Award for Excellence in Economic Development. He was chosen as one of the nation’s top economic development professionals by the Council on Urban Economic Development.
Mr. Mark Chaffee is the owner and innkeeper of the Berthoud Inn and Events in Berthoud, Colorado. At the age of 20, he began his career in the restaurant industry and has since then managed, operated and owned restaurants for 31 years. Mark spent several years consulting restaurant services and concepts before deciding to buy and run the Berthoud Inn and Events in 2001.
Mark grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended Southern Colorado State College in 1969 and transferred to CSU in 1970 to study psychology. He has since been an active member of the CSU Alumni Association and support of the CSU’s Sports Department.
When running a small business, it is important to be aware of your community and be a member of your industry. Mark is a member of the Professional Association of Innkeepers and Colorado Restaurant Association. He is the former president and former vice president of the Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce.
Mark’s passion of being an innkeeper reflect in his investment to deliver a one-of-a-kind lodging experience, and different from the corporate hotels. Running a Bed & Breakfast can provide a more personal and comfortable stay for the guest, who seeks to experience a connection with the community of the area. It is his goal to strengthen the boutique and bed and breakfast management with an emphasis on the entrepreneurship and operations of small business venues.
Colorado State University (1970-1973)
Southern Colorado State University (169-1970)
Mr. Daren Cole has more than 18 years of experience in the ski and travel industries is the general manager of Moab Under Canvas.Cole most recently served as vice president of sales and marketing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where he helped to earn 2010 National Ski Areas Association awards for best overall marketing and guest services.Cole also worked in a number of positions with Vail Resorts, including director of national sales, as well as with Purgatory Ski Resort.In addition, Cole was owner and president of Synergy Sales Solutions, a firm that specialized in business development and strategic sales planning for the active lifestyle travel industry.
Cole holds a degree from Colorado State University in commercial recreation and tourism with an emphasis in marketing and sales.
Mr. Ken Cruse is Chief Executive Officer at Alpha Wave Investors, LLC. Mr. Cruse joined the Company in April 2005 as Senior Vice President Asset Management, and was appointed Senior Vice President Corporate Finance on September 1, 2006, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer on January 1, 2007, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer on February 18, 2010, President and Chief Financial Officer on December 17, 2010 and as President and Chief Executive Officer and a Director on August 5, 2011. Since December 2007, Mr. Cruse has been a Director of BuyEfficient, LLC, a subsidiary of the Company. For the eight years prior to joining Sunstone, Mr. Cruse worked in a variety of roles for Host Marriott Corporation, the predecessor of Host Hotels and Resorts, Inc., most recently as Vice President, Corporate Finance. Prior to working for Host Marriott Corporation, Mr. Cruse held various corporate positions with Marriott International, Inc. Mr. Cruse started his hotel career in 1991, working various management-level operating positions at the Marco Island Hilton.
Mr. Cruse is actively involved in various industry and professional organizations. He is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and CEO Council for AH&LA. Additionally, Mr. Cruse is also a member of the Real Estate Roundtable and the Southern California Chapter of Young Presidents Organization. He is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for Colorado State University Warner College of Natural Resources. Mr. Cruse holds a B.S. degree from Colorado State University and an M.B.A. degree with honors from Georgetown University.
Mrs. Kim Day has more than 30 years of experience, including service as executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, a system comprising Ontario International Airport, Van Nuys Airport, Palmdale Regional Airport, and the world’s fifthbusiest airport, Los Angeles International. Before assuming the top position with LAWA, she oversaw design and construction for the system. She also spent 20 years as an architect and planner, specializing in airports.
Kim Day is strong, approachable, and inspiring, according to the people who work with her. Day received her bachelor of architecture degree from Cornell University and completed graduate course work at the University of California, Berkeley. Her career began with DMJM (Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall), a major international architectural and engineering firm. As vice president with the firm, she oversaw many aviation and transportation projects, from pre-Olympics improvements at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, Australia, to two new terminals at Ontario International Airport, to a privatization proposal for Perth International. At the well-known architectural, design, and planning firm Gensler, she participated in renovations at Corpus Christi International Airport, and at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City.
Day’s most recognized achievements were at Los Angeles World Airports. As executive director, she managed 3,000 employees and oversaw a $600 million operating budget. She obtained 2 federal, state, and city entitlement, as well as airline support for the $11 billion LAX master plan—a plan that addresses growth of LAX from 64 million annual passengers to nearly 80 million passengers. She negotiated a $350 million reimbursement with the Transportation Security Administration and maintained an AA bond rating after Sept. 11, 2001, the only major airport authority in the United States to do so. She executed a $500 million community benefits agreement with a coalition of 20 community groups to prevent litigation.
Mr. Hans Desai, CHA, joined Xanterra Parks & Resorts in October 2004. His responsibilities include sourcing new business, due diligence and transition of newly acquired assets. Desai also provides executive oversight of Windstar Cruises, the world’s leading boutique cruise line, which was acquired by Xanterra in May 2011 and Vermont Bicycling and Walking Vacations, originally known as Vermont Bicycle Touring (VBT) acquired in February, 2013. VBT offers deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, river barge and cross-country skiing tours worldwide with destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Argentina, Canada and the U.S.
Desai brings more than 25 years of hotel management experience to his position. As Chief Operating Officer for HVS Hotel Management, he had oversight responsibilities for the operations of more than 45 lodging facilities throughout the United States. Desai’s experience also includes executive positions with Fairmont Hotels, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Sheraton Hotels.
A graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business, Desai serves on the executive board of The School of Hospitality Business Alumni Association. He has received accreditation as a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and has served as vice president of the Metro Denver Hotel Association.
Mrs. Tamara (Tami) Door is the President & CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, a membership organization that creatively plans and manages Downtown Denver so that it remains vibrant and economically healthy. The Partnership dedicates its efforts to development, retail, public policy, transportation and housing initiatives. The Partnership currently has over 600 member businesses. In addition, her organization produces popular community events that bring more than one million people Downtown each year, including A Taste of Colorado, the 9News Parade of Lights, and New Year’s Eve Fireworks Downtown. The Partnership led an 18-month process to create a twenty-year vision for Downtown, the Downtown Area Plan. It was formally adopted by City Council in July of 2007 and is now in its implementation phase. Door serves as co-chairman of the 2027 Committee which is responsible for driving implementation of the Plan.
She was selected by the Denver Business Journal as one of the Forty Under Forty in the local business community, and was included in Denver’s Powerbook List, compiled by the Denver Business Journal. She is a member of the Young President’s Organization and the Colorado Women’s Forum. She was named the 9News Leader of the Year in 2012.
Door serves on the following committees / boards:
Auraria Higher Education Center Board of Directors –Chairman
2027 Committee – Co Chairman
Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation – Board Member
Citywide Banks Board of Directors – Director
VisitDenver – Board Member
IDA – Board Member
Denver Homeless Commission – Co-Chairman
Door, her husband Rick and sons Hayden and Parker live in Park Hill and enjoy skiing and water skiing in their spare time.
Mrs. Laura Fryer received her B.S. from Colorado State University in 1999. After twelve-years in Colorado, Laura decided it was time for a change and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where she was offered the Director of Marketing role at Black Diamond Equipment. Bringing practical experience and utilizing the full spectrum of marketing assets across multiple distribution channels is a primary driver of Laura’s success in building leading outdoor brands. While everyone has an opinion, few have vision. Laura is recognized as a multi-level leader who understands the complexities of changing market dynamics and emerging opportunities and translates them into actionable/measurable strategies. In addition to clocking long hours in diamond mine, Laura is an avid trail runner, rock climber and skier as well as wife and mother of two children; Lucy and Andre.
Mrs. Amanda Graham is an accomplished public relations director with ten years of travel, entertainment, and event experience. Currently Amanda is the director of public relations for Windstar Cruises, a leader in luxury small ship cruising. In this role, she leads Windstar’s public relations efforts, media management with consumer and trade publications, social media and crisis communication as the company doubles the size of their fleet.
Amanda has a strong background in the travel and tourism market. Previously, she served as the manager of media and public relations at Norwegian Cruise Line, the third largest cruise line in the world. In that role she was responsible for the inaugural activities and launch of Norwegian Epic, various film projects, organizing high profile press events as well as handling all media and crisis management.
Prior to Norwegian, Amanda worked as an account manager for Starmark International, a boutique advertising agency in South Florida. She serviced travel accounts such as Atlantis, Paradise Island; Sandals Resort; MSC Cruises; and Regent Seven Seas. She has also worked at T-Mobile International and HitFlip Media, both headquartered in Germany.
Amanda, a graduate of Colorado State University, is as passionate about public service as she is about public relations. She volunteers her time as a board member for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Puget Sound. Amanda currently resides in Seattle, Washington and spends most of her free time traveling
Mr. Steve Hood is Senior Vice President of Research for STR (Smith Travel Research, Inc). He has been with STR for over 17 years and was involved in the original development of the STAR program. Steve played a major role in the historical launch of programs that incorporated daily, group/transient, and international data. He is currently responsible for research-related activities at STR, while helping to manage STR’s relationships with several major organizations. Steve also serves as the Founding Director of the SHARE Center, STR’s outreach to universities around the world. He represents STR at national and international lodging and tourism conferences and you can see his articles in publications such as Hotel News Now (www.hotelnewsnow.com).
Steve currently serves on several advisory boards for industry and academia. In 2012, Steve was recognized by ICHRIE with the Industry Recognition Award for demonstrated commitment to advance hospitality and tourism education. In 2013, he was named an honorary faculty member at the University of Delaware. Prior to STR, Steve served as Vice President at two database consulting firms in the Northern Virginia area. Steve grew up in the Baltimore/Washington area, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Nashville with his wife and four children.
Mr. William J. Hybl is Chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation. He is Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (Senior). In 2008, Hybl was confirmed by the United States Senate as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Public Diplomacy, appointed by President George W. Bush. He was reappointed by President Barack Obama June 1, 2011. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Hybl as U.S. Representative to the 56th General Assembly of the United Nations. He is President Emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee having served as President during four Olympic Games. In 2003, he was named Citizen of the West by the National Western Stock Show of Denver. Hybl is a graduate of Colorado College, and earned his J.D. at the University of Colorado School of Law. He was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1972, and was Special Counsel to President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He is married to Kathleen Horrigan and they have two sons, B.J. and Kyle
Mr. Kyle H. Hybl currently serves as COO, Trustee, and General Counsel for El Pomar Foundation and General Counsel for The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
El Pomar Foundation is one of the largest and oldest private philanthropic foundations in the Rocky Mountain West. El Pomar was started by Spencer and Julie Penrose in 1937. It is a general-purpose foundation and national leader in innovative grant making, including operating many of its own programs focusing on excellence in individual and organizational leadership.
The Broadmoor is a luxury resort nestled at the foot of the Rockies. Built in 1918 by Spencer Penrose, The Broadmoor has received Forbes Five-Star, and AAA Five-Diamond ratings every year since the awards were established.
Kyle Hybl also serves as general counsel to The Garden City Company in Garden City, Kansas.
In 2012, Mr. Hybl was re-elected from Colorado’s 5th Congressional District to serve a second six year term as Regent to the University of Colorado System. Founded in 1876, The University of Colorado includes four unique campuses offering more than 300 degree programs with an annual budget of approximately $3 billion. Mr. Hybl served as Chairman of the Board of Regents, 2010-2012.
Mr. Hybl serves as Chairman of the Police Foundation of Colorado Springs and serves on the Board of Directors for the Hundred Club of Colorado Springs, Air Force Academy Foundation and Colorado Springs World Arena. He serves on the Board of Regents of The Fund for American Studies and the Alliance for Charitable Reform steering group. He is also a member of the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys and is a citizen advisor for the Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership.
Kyle Hybl is a former Air Force Captain and Judge Advocate. Mr. Hybl is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he received both his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees. He and his wife, Sally, have four children.
Dr. Pat Long, Professor Emeritus, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Dr. Pat Long is the founding director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism established at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the mid-1990s and then re-located to East Carolina University (ECU) in 2007. Most recently he served as Director of ECU’s university-wide Center for Sustainability: Tourism, Natural Resources, and the Built Environment. He is now an Emeritus Professor, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder.
He has served in the capacities of President/CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Rural Tourism Foundation authorized by Congress (Public Law 102-372) to support tourism development in rural America and served two terms as President of the American Leisure Academy. He has been a member of the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology Open Panel of Experts on Climate Information for Adaptation and Risk Management and developed both the Colorado and Intermountain Rural Tourism and Recreation Initiatives.
Pat has been Principle Investigator on numerous research efforts securing funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Lab, North Carolina Sea Grant, the USWEST Foundation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others. He was the Principle Investigator on a multi-year research initiative on state and local policies regarding community-based casino gambling funded through the Rural Economic Policy Program of The Aspen Institute.
He served as a “Tourism Scholar-in-Residence” with the Western Governors’ Association and on the advisory committees for the National Rural Tourism Development Project and the National Cultural Tourism Development Project. He was also a member of the National Tourism Design Team for the Department of Agriculture and served as a consultant for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Heritage Tourism Initiative. He has conducted research for the Cuba Policy Foundation, the Japan Travel Bureau Foundation, and the National Park Service and has lectured in Costa Rica, China, South Korea, Japan, Germany and England.
Pat’s work has been formally recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association and the American Association for Leisure and Recreation. He is the recipient of the University of Colorado President’s Public Service Award, Procter and Gamble Teaching Excellence Award, CU Alumni SOAR Teaching Recognition, Joseph L. Frascona Teaching Excellence Award and Susan C. Wright Communication of Research Award. He enjoys riding his motorcycle and playing ice hockey, Pickleball, and golf, along with hiking and sustainable travel for adventure and to visit family and friends.
Mrs. Jessica Miles is the owner/founder of Leisurely Pedaling, 2014 MTM Graduate, and master dreamer behind the tour designs! She is a well-seasoned cyclist who thoroughly enjoys all that Fort Collins and Northern Colorado has to offer. When she’s not directing Leisurely Pedaling, you’ll find her reading in one of the many delightful restaurant or on brewery patios, visiting a new art or museum exhibit, scheming world-wide adventure plans with her friends and family, playing in the mountains, and of course taking one of her bikes for a spin.
Mr. Ken Mitchell has a MS and BS degree from Colorado State University and graduated with high honors in 1976. Mr. Mitchell’s undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on Natural Resource Management and Economics. Upon graduation, Ken pursued a career in land acquisition and development in major markets in Texas and Florida.
Ken returned to Fort Collins in 2013 and is now active in the local real estate community with his own firm, Mosaic Real Estate LLC. Ken is currently building Prairie Village, a townhome community in Fort Collins, and managing the development of Heritage Ridge, a 450 unit new home community in Berthoud.
Ken is a former Division President of Argent Management a real estate management firm. While with Argent, Ken managed southeastern U.S. land assets in distressed debt portfolios containing 1,700 loans with a combined Book Value in excess of $1.2 Billion.
Ken is the former National President of the Land Acquisition and Development Division for Mercedes Homes and the Texas Vice-President of Land Acquisition and Development for Ashton Woods Homes. Both Ashton Woods and Mercedes were among the 50 largest homebuilders in the nation. Ken formerly served as Senior Vice-President of First American Bank in Dallas, managing $500 million in REO sales. Ken has also owned several real estate companies over a period of 15 years, providing a wide variety of land brokerage, development and construction management services.
Ken is a Licensed Real Estate Broker in both Florida and Texas and has had an active real estate broker’s license for more than 30 years.
Married to Karen Mitchell, son Andrew, proud father of Australian Shepherd Joey.
Hobbies are Hiking, Backpacking, Canyoneering, Kayaking and Reading Environmental History.
Grassroots Member of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Business Sponsor.
Mrs. Kathay Rennels, Assistant Vice President of Community and Economic Development at Colorado State University, works with the Office of Engagement, Extension, and Regional Economics Institute to advance collaborative networks across the state and create economic development opportunities. As a former county commissioner and state board representative, she has significant experience fostering public and private partnerships in regional and workforce development, especialy in rural communities. Rennels is currently a member of the Northern Colorado Economic Development Council, Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, El Pomar Foundation, The Matthews House, Larimer County United Way, and Colorado Youth Conservation Association. She also works closely with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade on the Governors’ Blueprint and is the co-lead for the Food and Agriculture Industry Concentration and helped initiate the Value Chain Analysis of Colorado Agriculture, which was released in March 2013.
Mr. Richard W. Scharf Jr. was named president & CEO of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, in March 2004. Scharf has worked for VISIT DENVER since 1993, most recently as the executive vice president of sales and marketing. From 1988-1993, he owned a publishing and consulting company representing more than 400 colleges and universities as conference sites. His career in the hospitality industry began with Hilton Hotels in 1983.
As president of VISIT DENVER, Scharf is responsible for managing a staff of 61 associates, which includes regional sales offices in Chicago and Washington, DC. VISIT DENVER is a non-profit with more than 1,200 private business members and a $17.5 million annual budget. In 2005, Scharf led a successful campaign to increase the lodging tax in Denver in order to competitively market Denver as a convention and leisure destination. Voters approved the measure by a margin of two to one, resulting in a marketing budget increase of nearly 50 percent.
Under Scharf’s supervision, VISIT DENVER has won all of the meeting industry’s top convention service awards for the past 18 years. In 1999, Scharf was the second person to be awarded the Colorado Hotel Sales & Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame Award. In 2000, he won the Executive Excellence Award, given by the Association of Convention Operations and Management; in 2002 he won the Governor’s Tourism Award and in 2007 he was named Business Person of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News. In 2007, he was awarded the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado’s Leadership Award. And in 2009, he was awarded the Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award by the Readers of Colorado Meetings & Events Magazine. In 2009, he also received an honorary degree, Doctor of Business Administration in Travel-Tourism-Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University. In 2011, Scharf was named one of Denver’s 50 most influential people by 5280 Magazine
Mr. Will Seccombe has over twenty-three years of professional experience including nineteen years in the Colorado tourism industry. His tourism marketing career began as regional sales manager with Vail Associates, Inc. in 1989. He went on to serve as director of marketing for Loveland Ski Areas with Clear Creek Skiing Corporation in 1992, vice president of marketing for the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1995 and vice president and chief operating officer with PRACO, LTD in 1999. In 2004, Mr. Seccombe founded Revolution Communications, LLC, a travel marketing firm based in Denver, Colorado.
In 2011, Mr. Seccombe was named one of the “Top Twenty Five Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing” by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International and is included in Social Media Marketing Magazine’s list of the Top CMO’s on Twitter.
Mr. Seccombe has been a member of and served on the leadership boards of numerous national, regional, state and local trade associations and organizations. He is currently active in the following travel organizations:
Brand USA Marketing Advisory Council: Vice-Chair
U.S. Travel Association Board of Directors: Member
National Council of State Tourism Directors: Member
Association of Travel Marketing Executives: Member
Destination Marketing Association International: Member
Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International: Member
National Western Association: Member
In 1989, Mr. Seccombe received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the Southern Methodist University Edwin L. Cox School of Business. He and his wife, Maryanna, have four children, Elizabeth, Bo, Katie and Caroline.
Mr. Ken Widmaier, Sage Hospitality’s Chief Operating Officer, guides Sage’s portfolio of Premier & Lifestyle, Full Service and Select Service hotels towards continuing success and growth, he focuses on development of talented associates across the country and spearheads Sage’s mission of being the premier hospitality management and investment company in the U.S.
Widmaier spent over 20 years at Destination Hotels & Resorts as the Senior VP of Operations and was responsible for a portfolio of 12 hotels and $300 million in annual revenue. During his time at Destination, Widmaier developed expertise in long-term planning and strategic direction for both new and existing properties. Prior to Destination Hotels, Ken spent 15 years with Marriott, where he honed his operational expertise. While with Marriott, he worked in a variety of locations including Pittsburgh, Boston and Los Angeles.
Widmaier is a graduate of Florida International University. In line with Sage’s commitment to the community, Widmaier was a volunteer at the Olney Boys & Girls Club where he coached children in a variety of sports. Additionally, he is a former member of the Board of Trade and Federal City Council in Washington D.C.
Relocating from Maryland, he anticipates biking the gorgeous Colorado trails.
Andrew “Andy” Wirth is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, the parent company of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts. Mr. Wirth has been in the position as President and CEO of Squaw Valley since 2010 and has more than 25 years as a senior executive in the mountain resort and hospitality management industry. Most recently, Mr. Wirth led the landmark transaction involving Squaw Valley’s acquisition by KSL Capital Partners in 2010 and also led Squaw Valley’s acquisition of Alpine Meadows resort operating company in 2011.
Presently, he is responsible for leading the $70 million capital improvement program at Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, a strategic initiative which has transformed the resorts of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley into being one of the West’s leading resorts relative to guest service and satisfaction. In 2012, Squaw Valley was awarded the prestigious “#1 Resort in North America” rating by Outside Magazine, as a result of these programs. Mr. Wirth came to Squaw from Vancouver based Intrawest ULC, a company with $1.6 billion in annual revenues, where he served on the company’s executive leadership team. As a senior executive working with multiple ownership groups and parent companies, he has worked with 21 industry leading mountain resort operating companies and 11 high end hotels in the United States and Canada.
Mr. Wirth is an accomplished executive, active philanthropist and leader in his community on environmental, social and educational causes. He has been selected to and serves on the following board positions in California, Nevada and the North Lake Tahoe community:
- Chairman – Board of Trustees for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority;
- Executive Committee Member – Board of Commissioners for the California Tourism organization, Visit California;
- Executive Committee – California Ski Industry Association;
- Chairman & President, Lake Tahoe Winter Olympic Committee Board of Directors;
- Board of Directors for and Founders Circle member of the Tahoe Fund;
- Board of Directors of the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation;
- Board of Directors of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
The genesis of Andy’s conservation and environmental ethic was his work as a backcountry ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park and wildland firefighter on an initial attack Hot Shot crew and a Wilderness Ranger in New Mexico. Wirth attended the University of Edinburgh, Colorado State University and has professional development certificates from Stanford University.
Mr. Wirth’s interests include sky diving, skiing, snowboarding, trail running, triathlon, SUP, surfing, scuba diving, triathlons, and rowing. Wirth was born in Nuebrucke, West Germany and resides in Truckee, California with his wife Karen, an accomplished attorney specializing in real estate law, and their rescued border collie.