Top 25 Most Powerful Women: Featuring Five of Denver’s Strongest Women Leaders (Part III)

The holidays are in full-swing, which means one thing: The Top 25 Most Powerful Women Gala is right around the corner! The Gala will mark the 5th anniversary of the event, and will recognize the achievements of not only 2017’s Top 25, but that of the past four years as well. These 125 women represent the highest level of business performance and community leadership in Denver. We will be highlighting five honorees each week as we count down to the event. We hope you enjoy getting to know these wonderful women as much as we have. Their accomplishments are certainly worth celebrating, and we are honored to do so.

Tickets are still available, so reserve your spot now!

This week we will be highlighting Glenna Norvelle, Patti Dennis, Nancy Phillips, Cynthia Mares, Courtney Cuff, Jena Hausman, and Lori Davis. Congratulations on your many achievements, ladies!

Glenna Norvelle

Glenna is a respected and long-time contributor in the Colorado community with a commitment to education, not-for-profit service, and women’s leadership development.  She is founding principal of G Force Strategies, a consulting firm focused on executive leadership coaching, strategy design, and leadership transitions.

Before creating G Force Strategies, Glenna served as the President and CEO of the Colorado Education Initiative, whose mission is to accelerate educational improvement and innovation throughout Colorado.  Glenna led the organization through strategic alignment and planning ensuring a strong foundation from which to continue the organization’s position as a leader in the Colorado education community.  In addition, under her leadership, the organization secured a 3-year $9.75mm grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Prior to this, Glenna served as the President and CEO of Denver Kids, Inc. for 6 years during which time she led the organization in developing their 2020 Vision and Promise –a bold vow to increase the DPS graduation rate by the year 2020.   During her time, Denver Kids experienced significant growth increasing from a $1.2mm to a $3.5mm budget leading to an increase in the number of students served – doubling from 700 served to 1400 annually.

After leaving Colorado Youth at Risk, Glenna served as a consultant to Denver Public Schools and led the Manual High School Redesign process before joining then Superintendent Michael Bennet as a Special Assistant to the Superintendent.  She was instrumental in developing school/ community partnerships for the District including such initiatives as the City/DPS Collaborative Partnership, Youth Mentoring Collaborative and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Partnership.

Glenna founded two non-profits including Colorado Youth at Risk, serving nine years as executive director. Prior to this she worked in marketing first at HBO and then Fox Sports Net as Director of Marketing and Promotions.

Glenna has served on multiple boards and committees including the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, Family Star Early Montessori and Head Start, Denver Public Schools Mill Levy Oversight Committee, the Rocky Flats Environmental Monitoring Council and most recently Comeback Yoga, an organization focused on two of her passions – yoga and the well being of veterans.  In 2014, she was named a Livingston Fellow, a prestigious fellowship under the Bonfils Stanton Foundation.

She hails from Arkansas but has lived in many places, landing in Colorado almost 30 years ago.  Glenna is a graduate of Regis University.

Glenna is married to Michael Donahue with whom she shares her passion for education and youth development.  Michael leads Critical Mass Leadership Education, A not-for-profit focused on leadership development, conflict resolution and social-emotional learning.  Together they have two children Lauren, a 4th year theatre major at The Juilliard School in NYC and Conor, a sophomore at Regis University.

Patti Dennis

Patti Dennis has worked in 3 different television markets beginning in Oklahoma City at KOCO-TV where she was studio camera person, floor director and part time janitor.   Those humble beginnings opened a door for Patti to hang out in the newsroom and begin working as a volunteer writer.

Soon after, Patti took her first producing job.  She left OKC for Dallas to produce at KDFW-TV.   Patti’s short-term goal was to work at KUSA-TV in Denver.  That short term plan has grown into a long term career of more than 35 years at KUSA-TV where she has been a newscast producer, Discovery Channel producer, Executive Producer and  VP/News Director at KUSA-TV in Denver.

Patti is currently the Vice President News at TEGNA Media and Director of Recruiting.    As VP News Director, Patti travels on a regular basis to other TEGNA television stations; working closely with their News and Promotional departments to better our product company-wide.   Patti is also in charge of talent recruiting and development for TEGNA Media.

Patti was recently named the 2012 News Director of the Year by Broadcasting and Cable.  In 2011, she was honored as one of the Outstanding Women in Business by the Denver Business Journal, and was a finalist for GANNETT Manager of the Year in 2012.  She has been inducted into the National Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle for her contributions during more than 25 years of broadcast excellence. In addition, Patti was presented the 2011 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for her teams’ investigative work.  Under her leadership, KUSA-TV has won hundreds of Emmy Awards and currently KUSA has won the Colorado Broadcasters Station Excellence Award 15 years in a row.

Patti will be inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame in September 2016 and will be honored as Top 100 Influential Women in Denver by the Denver Women’s Chamber of Commerce in early 2017.

Patti is an exercise fanatic and loves to ride her bike to and from work (30 miles) in the summer time.

Nancy Phillips

Nancy Phillips is the chief executive officer and co-founder of ViaWest, Inc., a leading provider of Hybrid IT Solutions spanning cloud, colocation, compliance, security and managed services. She is also president of Shaw Business Infrastructure Services, a division of Shaw Communications (NYSE: SJR), which acquired ViaWest in 2014.

A 30-year veteran of the telecommunications and infrastructure industry, Nancy has spent her entire career building and growing service-focused organizations. Prior to ViaWest, Nancy held founder and senior-level positions with numerous technology companies, including TSC, ConferTech International, ITC, RMI.net and Intrepid Communications, where she enabled significant growth while maintaining a deep customer-centric focus.

Her commitment to community, entrepreneurship and the advancement of women in technology are illustrated by her board involvement at many professional and philanthropic organizations.  Nancy serves on the board of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), where she is also the vice chair; the Colorado Technology Association (CTA), previously serving as chair; Startup Colorado; the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network and the National Cyber Intelligence Center (NCIC).

Nancy has also been honored by the technology industry and her peers with numerous awards, including the CTA’s Bob Newman Lifetime Achievement and Technology Business Woman of the Year awards, as well as the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) annual capital raise award. In 2016 Nancy was honored with the inaugural Colorado Governor’s Citizenship medal for Growth and Innovation, which recognized her as an entrepreneur with exceptional ingenuity and growth while inspiring and creating new possibilities for others. During International Women’s Day, World Denver recognized her with the Trailblazer Award along with TiE Rockies Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur.  A native of Toronto, Nancy received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queen’s University.

Cynthia Mares

Cynthia D. Mares, a lawyer, Denver native and current resident of Centennial, Colorado, was appointed by Governor John Hickenlooper on October 26, 2012 to serve her first term as Arapahoe County Public Trustee.  On January 22, 2015, Governor Hickenlooper reappointed her for a second four-year term.  Ms. Mares is Vice President of the Public Trustee Association of Colorado and serves on its Legal Counsel and Legislative committees.  Ms. Mares is a member of Axon Global’s advisory board, a cyber risk management company whose services focus exclusively on actionable intelligence.

Ms. Mares served as national president of the Hispanic National Bar Association for the 2014-2015 term and is now a member of its Latina Commission. While HNBA president, Ms. Mares unveiled several new national programs, including “Law School – Sí Se Puede” – a program founded by U.S. District Court Judge Christine Arguello in Colorado, for college students interested in the law.  She also instituted corporate board training for HNBA members.

She is a past president of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and has also served as National Secretary and National Vice President of Sections and Committees for the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).  She was also the HNBA Editor-in-Chief of Noticias (the written publication of the Hispanic National Bar Association) from 2009 to 2011.

Ms. Mares holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Colorado.  She received her juris doctorate degree from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law in 1989.  Ms. Mares previously worked for the Colorado Supreme Court, Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, as an Assistant Regulation Counsel for seven years and also as a deputy state public defender in Denver, Colorado for 15 years.

Courtney Cuff

Courtney Cuff is the president and CEO of the Gill Foundation, a leader in funding efforts to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Her leadership is enhanced by her entrepreneurial spirit, extensive experience driving policy change at the state and federal level and relentless approach to fundraising.
Also co-founder and former CEO of the Western Conservation Foundation, Courtney served as a catalyst for social change by funding innovative state and federal campaigns that engaged unexpected voices and created champions for conservation.

Jena Hausman

With over 20 years of experience in healthcare administration, Jena Hausmann is one of the leading women in healthcare in the US.  As President and Chief Executive Officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, she oversees an integrated healthcare system for children, which is affiliated with the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

With 900,000 patient visits annually and 480 licensed beds and 113 managed beds, Children’s Hospital Colorado has consistently ranked in the top ten children’s hospitals in the nation.   Jena oversees the Children’s Hospital Colorado at the Anschutz Medical campus, the Children’s Hospital Colorado network of care in 17 locations in the metropolitan Denver area, the Children’s Hospital Colorado pediatric services at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, and the newly opened Children’s Hospital Colorado South Campus, a full service generally licensed hospital in south Denver.

During her tenure, unprecedented increases in patient volume have been achieved.  With employees now numbering over 6500, Jena is proudest that Children’s Hospital Colorado continues its focus on the precious children and families it serves through a culture of intimacy, connection and purpose.  In a reaffirmation of the values inherent in Children’s Hospital’s child and family focused culture, the scores for patient satisfaction, team member engagement, and quality and safety outcomes rank among the highest in the US.

Jena joined Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2004 as the Vice President of Strategic Planning and Network of Care Operations and assumed the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2008.  In May of 2015, Jena was named President and Chief Executive Officer.

She was motivated to become a healthcare administrator after watching a loved one go through the system in their final moments of life.  After earning a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1996, Jena completed an administrative fellowship at the Fairview Health System in Minneapolis, MN. There, she helped redesign the care delivery and financing models for nursing home residents through a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant.

Following the fellowship, she served as the Director of Provider Relations at The University of Minnesota Medical Center, an organization consisting of a then recently-merged 500 bed community hospital and a 500 bed academic medical center. After 11 months in the role, she joined the senior management team and remained there for the next six years providing leadership over a large number of operational areas as well as planning and business development activities.  The cultural and operational challenges in this merger of two large entities into a comprehensive, integrated health system prepared Jena for her executive role at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

In 2008, Modern Healthcare featured Jena as one of 12 “rising healthcare management stars.”

Jena currently serves on the board of directors for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Forum, and the Education Committee of the national Children’s Hospital Association Board.

Jena, her husband Kevin and their three children find their life’s purpose is to provide much love and laughter each day.

Lori Davis

Loris Davis has over 27 years of experience in public accounting and serves as the Managing Partner of the Denver office. As a Managing Partner, she is responsible for executing firm strategy at the local level and leading a team of Denver professionals to provide audit, tax and advisory services throughout the Colorado market. A key aspect of her job is to create a local culture that supports and encourages alignment with firm values of Collaboration, Leadership, Excellence, Agility, Respect and Responsibility. In addition to managing the Denver office, Lori is a Partner in the Tax Services Practice and serves as the Partnership Tax Business Line Leader for the Desert Mountain West Territory (Denver, Reno, Phoenix and Salt Lake). Elected by her fellow partners, she also serves as one of eleven members on the firm’s National Partnership Board, providing firm governance and chairing both the Finance and Minutes Committees. Prior to coming to Denver, Lori served as the Managing Partner of the Wichita office.

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