In Celebration of the 2019 Women Who Light the Community

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Women Who Light the Community 2019 Honorees. From left to right: Paola García Barrón, Paula Nelson, Geri Mitchell-Brown, Frances Draper, Stephanie Carter, and Rebecca Chavez. Photo courtesy of 11:11 Productions.

Every year, the Boulder Chamber looks forward to honoring and celebrating the women of Boulder County who consistently go above and beyond to build a stronger community. The Business Women's Leadership Group annually honors six women who have made a positive, lasting impact in Boulder and beyond at the Women Who Light the Community awards, presented this year by co-sponsors CordenPharma and Premier Members Credit Union. This year's honorees include Geri Mitchell-Brown, Stephanie Carter, Rebecca Chavez, Frances Draper, Paula Nelson, and Emerging Youth Leader Paola García Barrón.

The awards ceremony on September 5 was presented to a packed house at the Boulder JCC. Local all-women's a capella group Sound Circle opened the ceremony with a powerful performance in celebration of the award winners. Afterwards, each honoree was invited to the stage to speak and receive their award as attendees enjoyed a catered dinner provided by Savory Cuisines. The evening was emceed by Jane Miller, CEO of Lily's Sweets.

Keep scrolling to read each honoree's bio, view their celebratory videos produced by 11 Dollar Bill, and check out a slideshow of photos of the event provided by 11:11 Productions.

And to the 2019 honorees: Thank you for pouring so much of your time, energy, and heart into the community. It was an honor and a privilege to spend the evening recognizing your accomplishments, and we look forward to seeing your continued work in Boulder and beyond.

Paola García Barrón - Boulder High School - Emerging Youth

Paola García Barrón is a junior at Boulder High School who excels in academics and is part of various clubs and activities. Her favorite subject is history. At school, she is part of Z Club, the Latino Student Organization, and Panther Pride. As well as being involved in school, she likes to spend time outside of school with family and friends. Her favorite hobbies are singing, playing the piano and running. Outside of school she volunteers at the Family Learning Center, participates in the Genesister program, is part of YOAB and takes piano and singing lessons at Parlando. During her sixth-grade year, Paola received her first award from the Boulder Optimist Club. Her recent awards include Outstanding Freshman and Outstanding Sophomore. Paola is most proud of the $10,000 scholarship she received this spring with Access Opportunity. As a young Latina woman in Boulder, Paola wants to make a positive impact in the community. Her objective is to show teens that making a difference, such as through volunteer work, is possible if it comes from the heart.

Geri Mitchell-Brown - Namasté Solar

Eight years ago, Geri followed her professional calling and steered her career toward corporate social responsibility (CSR). She held Director of CSR roles at Polycom and Rally Software. While at Rally, she connected with like-minded individuals among fellow B Corps businesses. Geri has been a dedicated leader in the B Corp community ever since, serving on the Board of B Local Colorado. In 2016, Geri co-developed the Certificate in CSR – a professional education program of CU School of Business, Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility. She taught the course for four semesters. It was a joy to share her passion for socially-conscious business practices with eager students. Fifteen months ago, Geri found a cozy new home at Boulder-born Namasté Solar, as Director of Employee Experience. She leads company-wide ‘people’ initiatives and is a member of the executive leadership team that’s responsible for company-wide strategic decisions, which means quite a ride on the solarcoaster.

Stephanie Carter - Wallaroo Hat Company

Stephanie Carter is an award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist and visionary. In 1999, Carter became one of the early pioneers of the sun protection apparel movement when she launched Wallaroo Hat Company. In 2015, Carter was elected the first female president of The Headwear Association (THA) in its 105-year history. Since Wallaroo Hat Company’s debut, Carter has grown the company into a leading global brand, now represented in over 10 countries, and certified B Corporation. Prior to founding Wallaroo, Carter practiced law for ten years. She is also one of the co-founders of the Hanuman Yoga Festival in Boulder, Colorado. She served on the Board of Advisors for GlobeIn, a brand dedicated to supporting ethically made artisan products from around the world, as well as the Board of Directors for the Boulder Ballet for over seven years. Carter is currently involved in establishing PridePads Africa, a 501(c)3 nonprofi t organization dedicated to manufacturing earth-friendly, biodegradable sanitary pads for girls and women in rural Cameroon. She is working to promote girls’ education by providing access to sanitary pads and menstrual hygiene education.

Rebecca Chavez - Front Range Community College

Rebecca “Becky” Chavez is Director of Admissions and Outreach at Front Range Community College, Boulder County Campus. Her accomplishments include helping to establish and lead the Latinx Excellence, Achievement, and Development Scholars program, which focuses on culture as an asset in leadership development, and developing bilingual staff positions. Prior to FRCC, Rebecca taught social studies at Valley High School in Gilcrest. She earned degrees from Colorado State University and New Mexico State University as a first-generation student. She completed the National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Fellows program, which prepares “highly qualified Hispanic/Latino administrators as candidates for community college leadership.” She serves on boards for Friends of Longmont Youth, Personal Investment Enterprise, Milagros Scholarship, and as a trustee for the Community Foundation Boulder County. Rebecca is an alumnus of the Boulder County Leadership Fellows program, a former member of the Latino Taskforce of Boulder County, and a founder of the Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinxs.

Frances Draper - University of Colorado Boulder

Frances Draper was named Vice Chancellor for Strategic Relations and Communications at CU Boulder in 2011. In July of this year, she retired from that role to serve as senior strategic advisor for Public Policy and Community Relations, providing counsel to university senior leadership. Prior to joining the university, she had served since 2006 as executive director of the Boulder Economic Council. She has also worked for General Electric, First Interstate Bank and the legislative staff of Harrison Schmidt, U.S. senator from New Mexico. Draper holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University and an MBA with an emphasis in marketing from the University of California, Berkeley. Frances has lived in Boulder for 37 years and has served on numerous local boards, including Foothills United Way, CO-Labs, Naturally Boulder, I Have a Dream and Boulder Rotary. She and her husband Michael, have three grown children, Anneka, Antone, and Karl, a daughter-in-law, Justine, son-in-law, Mathew, and a first grandchild, whosie-tutes, on the way! And… a three-legged cat named Finn.

Paula Nelson - Parent Engagement Network

Paula grew up with six brothers in Ishpeming, Michigan. She and her husband Jeff moved to Boulder in 1983 and raised their kids - Ben (33), Sarah (30), and Becky (25) - in Louisville. Paula worked for a pediatric dentist and as a medical technician and volunteered for Big Sisters. She was blessed to stay at home with her kids when they were young and began volunteering for Meals on Wheels, school, and church. In 2001 she attended the Call to Action, bringing together parents, BVSD, and community members to address risky youth behaviors, and co-founded The Parent Engagement Network (PEN). Through her work with PEN she assisted in founding the HOPE Coalition of Boulder County and the Boulder County Eating Disorders Coalition. She additionally served on the board of The Second Wind Fund of Boulder County. Paula enjoys running, biking, traveling, reading, being with family and friends and her new role as a grandma.

2019 Women Who Light the Community Awards Photo Album

Photography by 11:11 Productions

Read the BizWest article on the event here (subscription required).

Thank you to our 2019 Women Who Light the Community sponsors!

Co-Presenting Sponsors:

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Honoree Sponsors:

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Community Sponsors:

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Connections Sponsors:

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Media Sponsors:

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Contributing Sponsors:

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