Interviewing one of my heroines: Missy Franklin

When I got the assignment to interview four influential Colorado women for the
magazine Colorado Expression, I was particularly excited that the short list included
Missy Franklin, the standout swimmer from the U.S. Olympic team who made a big
splash in the 2012 games when she won four gold medals and set world records at
age 17. During our interview, Franklin and I shared some belly laughs and also
some quiet tears of reminiscing because about an hour beforehand, her 7-year-old
backstroke world record had been broken. Shattered, in fact, by another 17-year-old
swimmer: Regan Smith
Franklin is as bubbly and gracious as she seemed during the Olympics. She did not
begrudge the breaking of her record, but talked, instead, about the nature of elite
athletes constantly improving performance possibilities. Franklin praised Smith,
happy for her accomplishment and hoping her own career had somehow in some
small way inspired the younger swimmer.
As a former lifeguard and a devoted lap-swimmer, interviewing the ebullient
Franklin left me especially buoyant. For more about Franklin, check out her website
and also the documentary film “Touch the Wall,” which chronicles her life in and out
of the pool.
The feature on Colorado’s influential women also includes the following:
• Mimi Roberson, CEO of Pivot Denver
• Beth A. Brooke-Marciniak, an executive named 11 times to Forbes’ list of “World’s
100 Most Powerful Women”
• Diane Boyer, president of Skea Limited, a women’s skiwear company
The new issue of Colorado Expression is now in newsstands, in professional offices
and elsewhere.


Dive into the story here:

#ByColleenSmith #MissyFranklin #USOlympics #USOlympicSwimming #ColoradoExpression #PivotDenver #Skea #TheTrevorProject



“There’s a beautiful cycle of inspiration in sport,” says Missy Franklin.

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The Lumineer in my Neighborhood

The Lumineers’ new album “III” drops this Friday, September 13, and the band gave fans a preview when they christened the Mission Ballroom in Denver last month, the first band to play the groovy new AEG Presents venue in RiNo Art District.

I had the opportunity to interview Jeremiah Fraites, a founding member of The Lumineers, for the Denver Business Journal. DBJ published my feature for their A&E page last month.

I met Jer one day while walking to yoga class with my ear buds in and my Pandora Thumbprint Radio on. But when I heard a guitar strumming between songs, I looked up and saw a man with a guitar and a dog on a balcony. I took a couple more steps, then stopped in my tracks, stunned. I backtracked a couple of steps and looked up at the balcony to have another look. I recognized Jeremiah because I’d covered a Lumineers concert for The Denver Post and was close enough to the stage to see the players’ faces. Jeremiah wasn’t wearing his trademark hat or suspenders, and I knew he typically played drums or piano, not guitar.

I looked at Jeremiah. Jeremiah looked at me. His dog, Spaghetti, barked.

“Are you who I think you are?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Well, who do you think I am?” he asked.

“You’re Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers,” I said.

He nodded. I gushed. Starstruck.

About a year later, I passed the same balcony on a walk and saw Jeremiah again, this time with his wife and their baby. We chatted, again, and eventually scheduled our interview.

Awaiting the new record by The Lumineers feels extra special knowing the music is created not just by a favorite band, but, in part, by a friendly neighbor.

You can read the full article here if you are subscribed to DBJ.

#byColleenSmith #AEGPresents #MissionBallroom #RiNo #RiNoDistrict #TheLumineers #JeremiahFraites #DenverBusinessJournal


Jeremiah Fraites: The Rockstar in the neighborhood. Photo by Alexis Rankin

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CEO of Denver Botanic Gardens on growth, ascension and his home garden

While interviewing the Denver Botanic Gardens CEO for this feature (link below) in Denver Business Journal, I asked about his garden at home.

“I have a rock garden with ice plants, penstemons, mystery plants, a lot of volunteers,” he said. “I have a dry creek bed with ornamental grasses and large boulders. I have two [shrubs known as] witch’s brooms.”

When I inquired about his favorite plants, he said, “Penstemons. When you plant them, they look great, and then they move during winter and scatter in the garden and make it naturalistic.”

He also has a high-minded approach to leadership and has cultivated the growth of DBG since he took over as CEO. And the plants aren’t the most important aspect of his job, he said. The people are.

“I love these people. I try to express how inspired I am by them, but I don’t know if they get it,” said Vogt. “I get choked up a lot. As a leader, my job is to build everybody’s morale and make sure they’re raising bar and thinking bigger every year I find this group lifts each other well and protects our culture so powerfully. My job is to find them support they need to live their dream.”

Learn more about Vogt’s dream in my Q&A with the CEO in DBJ:

#ByColleenSmith #DenverBusinessJournal #DenverBotanicGardens #PublicGardens #DenverTouristAttractions


Denver Botanic Gardens received the 2018 Award for Garden Excellence by American Public Gardens Association.

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Rock-climbing helps CEO scale new business heights

Jessica Billingsley, co-founder and CEO of Akerna, starts her day with a cold shower and bulletproof coffee for breakfast. When she’s not engaged in CEO challenges, she challenges herself with rock climbing, alpine skiing, running and Ashtanga yoga–all balanced with a meditation practice.

Learn more about how this wonder woman strikes a balance in my Q&A for the Denver Business Journal. You can read the whole Q&A by following the link below:

#ByColleenSmith #DenverBusinessJournal #Akerna #MJFreeway #JessicaBillingsley #akernacorp #CEO #workliferatio



Jessica Billingsley climbing above Clear Creek near Golden.

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How landscapers excavate deeper meaning in life: “humanature”

Dig Studio, based in Denver and Phoenix, coined the word “humannature” to speak to the environment connecting human beings and the natural world. Increasingly, scientific research indicates many benefits nature brings to people.
For this article, I interviewed Laurel Raines, who earned her landscape architect degree from Harvard University and is the “mother plant” of Dig Studio.
The firm designs both public and private landscapes, including Paco Sanchez Park in Denver. Paco Sanchez launched Denver’s first Spanish-speaking radio station in 1954, and went on to serve as a state representative. His namesake park designed by Dig Studio celebrates his life with a broadcast and musical theme: a gramophone slide, a microphone tower, guitar pick climbers, a record stage and three sound wave pods.


View the article online here:

#ByColleenSmith #FridayJonesPublishing #humannature #DigStudio #Denver #Phoenix #Colorado #Arizona #ColoradoExpression #LaurelRaines #PacoSanchezPark


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The art of collecting art


Collecting art can prove daunting, but professional curators and consultants can help. Ann Benson Reidy takes the guesswork out of purchasing or selling, installing or shipping fine art. I interviewed her for this feature in Colorado Expression magazine and particularly appreciated this quote:
“Really be fearless in looking at what art can do for your soul and your personhood and your thinking,” she said. “Art can release you into a different state of contentment. Art can really help with perspective and outlook on life.”

“Art can release you into a different state of contentment,” says Ann Benson Reidy.

View the article online here:


#ByColleenSmith #FridayJonesPublishing #ABRArtServices #AnnBensonReidyandAssociates #AnnBensonReidy #Artservices #Arthistory #Artculture #Denver #Colorado

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Civil engineer shares tips for hiring a landscape firm

Just about anybody can call himself or herself a landscape designer, but if you’re hiring a firm, you want a company with experience, know-how and a solid reputation in the industry.
For my feature in the June/July 2019 issue of Colorado Expression magazine, Chris Silkwood–a civil engineer who also is co-owner of B. Gardening Landscape Design–offered tips for hiring a firm. 

You can read the article on the Colorado Expression website — and there’s no paywall to slow you down. Just click the link below.
#ByColleenSmith #LandscapeDesign #ColoradoExpressionMagazine #Gardening #Cultivation




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