Our list of the movers and shakers who are shaping the Mile High City—now.
8. KIM DAY
Manager of Aviation, DIA (new)
At a time when commercial and residential development is exploding throughout the Front Range, there may be no area more primed for expansion than the land around DIA, and Kim Day has been at the center of it all as she’s overseen the airport’s ascension to fifth-busiest in the nation. She’s helped launch direct routes to Mexico City and Tokyo, and the success of those lines for tourists and business travelers alike will smooth the path toward more nonstop international flights, which will have a long-term impact on the local economy. In addition, by working with Denver and Aurora on the planned Gaylord hotel and convention center, she’s helping our city fulfill its goal of becoming a global aerotropolis. If she can do anything to speed construction of the long-awaited light rail line out to DIA, our citizenry might one day make her Queen of the Front Range by acclamation.
9. VICENTE SEDERBERG LLC
In past years, this might have been seen as just another niche law firm—but that was before marijuana changed the local and national landscape. Now founding partners Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg are becoming the go-to experts on legalized marijuana not just here, but everywhere.
These two attorneys, along with their longtime ally and tireless cannabis activist Mason Tvert, have spent roughly the past decade trying to change minds about pot. And it’s fair to say they’ve succeeded. Colorado’s experiment with medical marijuana went so smoothly that legalized recreational use of the drug passed in Colorado by a surprisingly large margin.
As much as marijuana naysayers would’ve liked to paint these advocates as tie-dyed hedonists, the image simply never fit. All of them look like they’d be more comfortable in a library than at a Phish concert, and for many years they’ve stuck firmly to their message: Marijuana use by responsible adults is far less harmful than alcohol; sensible regulation of the product is preferable to the disastrous economic and human costs of the War on Drugs; and Colorado can set an example the rest of the country can emulate.
A few months into our grand experiment, legalization seems to be working rather well, and more people are turning to these advocates for input and advice about their own implementation plans. (Longtime progressive activist Ted Trimpa, a frequent adjunct to our list, joined Vicente Sederberg LLC last fall, and several other veteran attorneys have recently been added as the firm expands its advisory and lobbying efforts beyond Colorado’s borders.) Thanks to Vicente Sederberg’s devotion to the cause, our state—and Denver in particular—may one day be seen as the birthplace of the well-executed modern drug policy.
10. ROXANE WHITE
Governor’s Chief of Staff (4)
She’s been Hickenlooper’s most trusted adviser for so long, she’s sometimes referred to as the governor’s very conscience. This versatile and perpetual influencer—Roxane White had a major role in the governor’s Nathan Dunlap decision, and she is helping oversee the state Department of Corrections’ ongoing reform efforts—still wields considerable power in Denver several years after her boss moved across Civic Center Park. Business leaders and politicians know it always helps to have White on your side.
11. COLE FINEGAN
Managing Partner, Hogan Lovells (5)
As a formal and informal adviser to both Colorado senators (including serving as finance chair for Senator Mark Udall’s robustly funded re-election campaign) and co-chair of Hickenlooper’s 2014 campaign, Cole Finegan is one of the people those in office, or those aspiring to it, listen to first and most. And as one of the leaders of his multinational, multibillion-dollar law firm, Finegan is instrumental in promoting Denver’s image both here and elsewhere as a global, innovative, and business-friendly city.
12. NORMAN BROWNSTEIN & STEVEN FARBER
Co-Founders, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (6)
Now nearing the twilight of their careers, Norman Brownstein and Steven Farber, two longtime Denver (and national) power players, still wield considerable influence. The firm’s attorneys sit on dozens of local corporate and nonprofit boards, and senior counsel Jim Nicholson is co-chair of Denver efforts to secure the 2016 Republican National Convention. Even the negative headlines Brownstein’s son Bo has garnered over the past few years after an insider trading conviction have so far done little to compromise his father’s standing.
13. ANNE WARHOVER
President and CEO, Colorado Health Foundation (24)
In recent years, few sectors have commanded more attention—good and bad—than health care. In Denver, no health-care executive is more universally lauded, or politically juiced, than Anne Warhover. Under her leadership, the Colorado Health Foundation, a nonprofit that invests in and promotes programs that encourage healthy lifestyles in the state, has become one of the largest and most influential such organizations in the country. Among many recent initiatives, the CHF has invested in a fund to provide more fresh food access in Colorado and supported the expansion of Medicaid, thus fulfilling the foundation’s aim to help us maintain our treasured status as one of the fittest states in the nation.