The Most Powerful People In Denver

Our list of the movers and shakers who are shaping the Mile High City—now. 

April 2014



 Greg Maffei, President and CEO, Liberty Media (48); Mike Fries, President and CEO, Liberty Global (new); Kent Thiry, Co-Chairman and CEO, DaVita (46)

threemuskThis trio is part of Hickenlooper’s informal, chummy “kitchen cabinet,” and each bend the Gov’s ear on any number of corporate and civic issues. Greg Maffei (top) and Mike Fries (right) are both longtime influencers of international media who are nominally Republican but nonetheless have formed business and fund-raising alliances with Denver’s Democratic power elite. Kent Thiry (left) is a more recent entry into Denver, but he’s consistently recognized as one of the most influential executives in health care nationwide. The youthful, charismatic, and occasionally controversial CEO—his company just spent $389 million to settle a series of federal, criminal anti-kickback investigations—may have future political ambitions in Colorado and beyond.


redarrow 30. STEVE HOGAN

 Mayor of Aurora (34)

Denver’s eastern neighbor is tired of being either ignored or sadly associated with the 2012 theater massacre, and Steve Hogan has done numerous things in his short tenure to attract more corporate dollars to Colorado’s third-largest city. If the Gaylord Rockies resort unfolds as Hogan hopes—the deal for the 1,500-room, $850 million complex is in place; now they just have to build it—Aurora’s profile would be immeasurably raised as a destination for future investment and job creation. 


redarrow 31. SHAWN HUNTER

 Co-Chairman and CEO, USA Pro Challenge (21)

shawnhunterIn just three years, the USA Pro Challenge surpassed the Amgen Tour of California as the most important cycling race in the nation, and Shawn Hunter is the primary reason why. The USAPC draws spectators (more than one million people attended the seven stages in 2013) and tourism dollars (estimated economic impact was just under $100 million). Not to be forgotten: TV coverage of the race serves as one giant and ongoing advertisement for Colorado’s natural beauty and active, healthy lifestyle.





The battle this year for the 6th Congressional District seat will be a race to watch (and will be monitored very closely throughout the country). Conservatives prefer the incumbent, Republican Mike Coffman, who has a knack for bringing attention to veteran’s issues but also has a niggling tendency to commit verbal gaffes. These, along with a growing Latino population in his district, have made him more vulnerable than ever. His competition this time is Andrew Romanoff, the Democrat wunderkind turned politician in need of a job (he has a failed primary bid for Michael Bennet’s Senate seat on his CV). The district went for Obama in the 2012 election but was red in the three previous presidential races. It’ll be a litmus test for how Colorado’s independents are feeling about both parties for this election and beyond. Don’t be surprised to see veteran campaign financers such as Al Yates and Pat Stryker pitch in for the fight; outside spending on the 6th District campaign went from just under $7,000 in 2010 to almost $6 million in 2012. Those figures could be even higher this year as it’s one of the few toss-up House races in the country. 


redarrow 33. DANIEL RITCHIE

 Chairman and CEO, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (25)

ritchieThe venerable arts and education patron is still one of the most respected names in town. As chancellor emeritus at the University of Denver, Daniel Ritchie’s enjoyed the emergence of its Josef Korbel School of International Studies, whose masters program was ranked 11th in the world in 2012, ahead of such household-name schools as Yale, Stanford, Oxford, MIT, and others. And as chairman and CEO of the DCPA, he’s long led the organization’s transformation into a nationally recognized performing arts center.


redarrow 34. KELLY BROUGH

 President and CEO, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (32)

broughKelly Brough’s—and the chamber’s—stamp of approval is central to big projects in the region, including everything from worker’s compensation reform to the U.S. 36 revitalization project. She’s been an outspoken proponent of the oil and gas industry and has raised concerns about the impact of the Lobato education funding case. Not everyone may agree with her, but one thing is clear: Brough’s blessing goes a long way in this town.  

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