The Most Powerful People In Denver

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

April 2014


redarrow 35. KIMBAL MUSK

 Owner and Co-Founder, the Kitchen Community (new)

muskKimbal Musk made his fortune by starting or investing in tech companies with his brother, Elon, the billionaire founder of Tesla and PayPal. Around here, Musk is just as well known—and perhaps better known—for his restaurant empire, the Kitchen Community, which recently debuted a new location in Glendale and will soon open outposts in downtown’s Union Station (see number six), Fort Collins, and Chicago. He’s obsessed with sustainable sourcing and won’t open a new restaurant until deals have been worked out with local purveyors. And he’s not all about high-end dining: Musk also founded Learning Gardens, a national nonprofit that creates gardens at schools.


redarrow 36. MARK FERRANDINO

 Speaker of the State House (new)

ferrandinoThe speaker of the House is a noted policy geek who steered his chamber through the last turbulent session—addressing controversial issues such as civil unions, gun control, and tuition and tax increases—so smoothly that it’s easy to forget what a pioneer he is as Colorado’s first openly gay speaker. Although it’s still unknown what he’ll do once his term expires at the end of this year, 36-year-old Mark Ferrandino’s expertise and reputation for bipartisan deal-making will likely make him a major player in state and local politics for many years to come.


redarrow 37. RHONDA FIELDS

 Colorado State Representative (37)

fieldsThis Aurora mom was motivated to run for office in 2010 after her son, Javad Fields, was murdered and she began advocating at the Capitol for victims and their families. Once elected, Rhonda Fields quickly became a politician to watch. She weathered vile personal attacks after voting for gun-reform bills last year and remains the most vocal pro–capital punishment voice in the state (a perpetual political topic, thanks to number two). 





 U.S. Representatives (new)

“Easy Ed” Perlmutter and Diana DeGette aren’t flashy—the progressive Democrats are pro-business and pro-environment and have advocated for the rights of veterans, women, and minorities—but the two are as steady as they come and appear to be safe in their respective seats for as long as they care to be there.



 District Attorney, 18th Judicial District (new)

In another year, George Brauchler might be a formidable challenger for Hickenlooper’s throne. But he bailed on that race to focus on the James Holmes trial, and if he prosecutes it well, his statewide stock could rise to unprecedented heights.


redarrow 40. ADAM LERNER

 Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (new)

adamlernerHe’s not on the list just because he’s cool, but also because the projects he’s spearheaded have upped Denver’s cool-kid rep. (Notable: an exhibition by Senga Nengundi this month and events such as Black Sheep Fridays and Mixed Taste.) Adam Lerner is reinventing what a
museum can be, and we’ve got a front-row seat for the revolution. 






Cow town? Forget it, Denver’s a cultured town.

Denver’s cultural rebirth happened so quickly—and quietly—it’s hard to say what started it all. Was it when the Denver Art Museum expanded? When the Clyfford Still Museum opened? When novelist Kent Haruf wrote his first ode to the Colorado prairies? What’s easier to nail down is that there are cultural pioneers—see numbers seven and 40—driving change and creativity. And while we’re talking about those names, we’ve got to mention the quirky and hip Chuck Morris of AEG Live, who has maintained his edge by bringing a steady stream of major musical acts to the Front Range. And Randy Weeks, who, by securing national touring companies, original productions, and shows both grand and intimate, has helped transform the DCPA into a first-rate performing arts empire. And Laura Merage, founder of RedLine gallery, who’s helping kids embrace art at a time when they are usually obsessed with video games. All of which means that the most sought-after tickets in Denver (after Broncos games—see number one) are to the area’s cultural events. 

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