The week before Christmas I reluctantly agreed to attend a networking event in Cherry Creek North. Networking is one of those things that entrepreneurs like me are supposed to do. I'm not sure if we're supposed to like it, but we're definitely supposed to do it.
Between it being a fundraiser for Warren Village, an organization that embodies the very best in creating potential and possibilities for struggling low-income families, and the promise from my business coach, Kim Kirmsee Toth, that we could go together, I dug deep for my social courage and ventured over to Elways. Once there, Kim and I sidled up to a couple of friendly-looking gals who were trying to flag down the guy with the tray. We chatted and laughed and listened to pitches by the sponsoring organization, Cherry Creek Business Women's Network, as well as reps from Warren Village. It was one of the few times that I've been grateful for name tags. I met Maggie Bolden of Palace Construction, a unique community-minded construction company; then I turned to Theresa Spahn, the other member of our foursome. Responding to the standard "What do you do?", she pulled a card out of her purse and laughingly replied, "actually, I'm running for Mayor."
Needless to say, I thought she was joshing. But as I looked from the card, back to her face, I saw she was for real, and over the course of the next 20 minutes, I learned about her incredible background and begin to think she might make an excellent Mayor. Making a mental note to follow up on her website, the holidays descended upon me, and her card languished on my desk for the next couple of weeks. When I received a call from her campaign manager just after the New Year, I couldn't help but be flattered that she had liked ME enough to want to follow up, too!
We met over coffee January 5th, and the more we talked, the more convinced I became that Theresa's experience, expertise, and exceptional people skills give her the kind of credentials and credibility that the office of the Mayor demands.
She is passionate about the impact of small businesses, education, and core services, and is committed to addressing key issues including inefficiencies in government systems, kids on the margin, and law enforcement. She believes in hiring the good, and firing the bad; taking things one step at a time, and talking facts first. Theresa has a track record of being a strong leader who has forged good relationships on both sides...she has a rare ability to bring everyone's view to the table.
A third generation Denver native, she worked her way through Metro State, and D.U.'s Sturm College of Law, served as Deputy District Attorney in both Adams and Mesa Counties where she worked arm-in-arm with law enforcement to develop a community consortium as well as a specialized prosecution unit for crimes against children. As a Magistrate Judge, Theresa helped implement sweeping reforms to improve local Court services for children and families.
In 2001, Theresa was chosen to develop the Office of the Child's Representative (OCR) to address the insidious issue of abused and neglected children being betrayed and overlooked by the legal system that was supposed to help them.
Faced with the challenge of creating a system for protecting children and a sustainable agency in the midst of an economic downturn, Theresa did what she does best - she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. By using the same successful business strategies that for-profit companies use, Theresa developed a nationally recognized state agency model for providing representation to children, while managing the agency's $18.5 million budget efficiently and effectively.
The reputation for leadership that she developed over nine years of running OCR caught the eye of former Colorado Supreme Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis, founder of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver. Recognizing her exceptional ability to develop innovative programs and bring people together, Kourlis selected Theresa to work hand-in-hand with former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to develop and launch the O'Connor Judicial Selection Initiative. Together they created a national policy reform initiative to promote fair and impartial courts and increase judicial independence and impartiality, bringing together people from business and labor organizations, Republicans and Democrats, and other diverse interest groups to effect positive policy changes in the administration of justice.
This most recent undertaking has proved again the magnitude of Theresa's leadership and management abilities. What a wealth of experience and savvy she brings to the mayoral campaign.
Beyond all of these amazing attributes, the things I like best about Theresa are her determination, her can-do attitude, and her willingness to think outside the box. Theresa is a Denver native, a business professional, a tireless advocate and champion for the people and the businesses that are Denver.
In a few hours she will be formally announcing her candidacy over at Patsy's in her old Northwest Denver neighborhood. I am excited to be going and urge you to join me! I guarantee, you're going to like what you hear from this outstanding candidate.