Evolving in Service to Economic Vibrancy & Regional Innovation

Celebrating a big transition–and Energize Colorado’s next phase

In March, Energize Colorado kicked off its fourth year by celebrating its major impacts since launching in response to the COVID-19 crisis in 2020,  and I announced my transition from CEO to Chair of the organization, effective April 1st. 

From the very beginning, co-founder Brad Feld and I along with our fellow co-founders – Marc Nager, Erik Mitisek, Abram Sloss, and Eric Drummond – sought to unite Energize Colorado partners, volunteers, and board members. We also focused on building a dedicated Energize Colorado team to close significant gaps in support for Colorado’s small businesses. 

The transition from CEO to Chair allows me to both focus on emerging economic development opportunities at federal and state levels, and it also supports Energize Colorado’s next phase of growth in service to the state’s underinvested in entrepreneurs and small businesses. 

The Next Step: Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Certification

Over the last three years, Energize Colorado has sought to meaningfully address the nearly half-billion-dollar gap in small business funding in Colorado, particularly for women, BIPOC, veterans, and rural small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Our unique, data-driven approach resulted in Energize Colorado becoming Colorado’s newest and most efficient mechanism for deploying low-cost capital in tandem with dedicated assistance. To date, Energize Colorado has deployed $45M in grant and loan capital to more than 5,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Through that process, it became clear that our state needs innovative ways to deploy capital to those who have been historically underserved. To best meet our mission of “creating a resilient and equitable small business ecosystem,” we decided that the organization should seek to become a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Energize Colorado will make this transition over the next two years. 

To best support this direction, I recommended to our Board that we seek a new CEO to guide the organization through the process of becoming a CDFI. In the meantime, Scott Romano, Energize Colorado’s Chief Operating Officer and the organization’s first employee (hired in September of 2020), will serve as interim CEO. Current Board Chair and co-founder Brad Feld will stay active on the board as Chair Emeritus, actively participating in selecting the next CEO.

As Chair, I will be focused on fundraising, leading the search committee for a new CEO, and supporting the team on a successful path as the organization seeks to achieve CDFI status. 

Contributing to National Policy and Regional Innovation Hub Strategy

In my new role as Board Chair, I will support Energize Colorado’s mission by enhancing my involvement with other state and regional initiatives and federal programs supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colorado.

Along with my ongoing work at Energize Colorado, I continue to serve on the National Advisory Council for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (NACIE) and advise the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE). 

In the next phase of my work, I look forward to taking an active role in Colorado’s pursuit of the CHIPS Act Regional Innovation Hub strategy and continuing to serve on Governor Polis’ Revenue Estimation Advisory Council (GREAC). It is my continued goal to provide input to national policy and programs that will benefit Colorado entrepreneurs and beyond.