2018 Rising Stars

2018 Rising Star: Jeremy Shirley

Original story at https://www.csbj.com/2018/03/30/2018-rising-stars-jeremy-shirley/

By Staff Writer – March 30, 2018

Jeremy Shirley

Outstanding young professionals often get started in business while still in college. But few manage to build a real estate empire by age 18.

Jeremy Shirley, now 26, originally intended to become a stockbroker and traded stocks while studying international business and finance at UCCS.

Inspired by an assignment for one of his classes, “I started looking at the incredible growth of UCCS and wondered how that impacts the housing around it,” he said. “I did a white paper studying supply and demand, real estate values and rental rates for students.”

Shirley determined student rental units were a pretty good investment.

“I purchased my first house my second year in college,” he said. “Then I convinced banks to lend me money and purchased a few more.”

Shirley continued to grow his portfolio until “prices started getting higher and a lot of people jumped on student rentals, so I slowed down on purchasing properties.”

As president and owner of University Property Managers, he now has his sights set on building his own apartments from the ground up.

“There still is opportunity there,” he said.

Shirley said he didn’t have much time for extracurricular activities during college because he was busy building his real estate business, but he did manage to co-found the UCCS Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club.

“There was a lot of positive information coming out about young people like Mark Zuckerberg creating world-changing products,” Shirley said. “We founded the club to cultivate more interest in innovation.”

Upon graduation, he joined the Catalyst Campus and was an integral part of its early growth. As community manager, he helped the organization build an ecosystem to nurture new businesses. He also joined the board of Peak Startup, helping young entrepreneurs connect with the people and resources they need to be successful.

While at the Catalyst Campus, “I had wonderful mentors who empowered me to get my real estate license,” he said.

He joined The Paramount Group in 2015 as associate broker and property manager and since December 2016 has been a broker at Olive Real Estate Group Inc.

“When I joined Olive, it felt like family,” he said. “I absolutely love commercial real estate and see doing it for the rest of my life.”

Shirley has already been recognized by his peers for his commitment to and innate “feel” for the real estate business. He recently was named Rookie of the Year by the Southern Colorado Commercial Brokers organization.

— Jeanne Davant

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I am lucky enough … to have landed where I have always dreamed to be working in commercial real estate. My goal is to create meaningful, sustainable and community-focused development projects.


2018 Rising Star: Colin Mossbrook

Original story at https://www.csbj.com/2018/03/30/2018-rising-stars-colin-mossbrook/

By Staff Writer – March 30, 2018

Colin Mossbrook

Many people meet Colin Mossbrook and figure the 23-year-old is too young to have much of an impact on the Colorado Springs community. He’s proving them wrong.

“Colin is very engaged in making Colorado Springs the best place to live and his passion for our city is infectious,” said Jonathan Liebert, the CEO and executive director of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado. “His enthusiasm is palpable. You get energized just talking to him.”

Liebert nominated Mossbrook as a Rising Star, and when he was selected, Mossbrook was thrilled.

“I was really excited to hear that,” he said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for me. Age is just a number. It’s all about value. It’s not that I’m anything special, but I want to be a leader and show my peers that you can get involved and people will take you seriously if you have good ideas.”

Mossbrook grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from UCCS in 2016 with a degree in business that emphasized finance, economics and entrepreneurship.

He works as a financial adviser for Strategic Financial Partners in the Springs.

Mossbrook recently was added to the board for the Colorado Institute for Social Impact, which promotes socially driven businesses and organizations that change the community for the better. He is teaching a level 2 education course for CI4SI [he also designed the curriculum] that focuses on social impact investing and alternative sources of funding.

“We talk about how they can fund their social impact business,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder to help drive this initiative.”

He also volunteers for Junior Achievement and Economic Literacy Colorado. In addition, Mossbrook developed a financial literacy program for people with disabilities to help create financial independence for them.

“Colin sees a need and he jumps in with both feet,” Liebert said. “He volunteers his time and energy.”

During his freshman year at UCCS, he had dreams of being an Olympic skier. He was successful in competition on the East Coast in high school and was training with the Winter Park Ski Team when he decided that he wasn’t able to devote enough time to both academics and skiing. He chose a business career, and hasn’t looked back, although he skis whenever possible.

His only regret is not getting involved with the local community sooner.

“I struggled with a sense of value, that I wasn’t good enough for the community and that I was too young,” he said. “But when I dove in and shared my ideas, I was embraced, and it’s been incredible. I try to have a purpose every day and know I have a chance to impact somebody’s life.”

— Bob Stephens

What makes Colorado Springs home?

I think it’s the collaborative community, and the people here are truly special. There are people in this community that have brought me in and supported me like they are my family, and that’s special.


2018 Rising Star: Sloan Gonzales

Original story at https://www.csbj.com/2018/03/30/2018-rising-star-sloan-gonzales/

By Staff Writer – March 30, 2018

Sloan Gonzales

Although Sloan Gonzales was born in Texas, she doesn’t hesitate for a moment to call Colorado Springs home.

The Doherty High School graduate moved here at age 6, and went on to complete both her undergraduate (sociology) and master’s (communication) degrees from UCCS.

Today, Gonzales, 29, is employed by Leadership Pikes Peak and is in charge of the Women’s Community Leadership Initiative — a program for those who have recently experienced a crisis and/or are going through a transition, and Leadership NOW!, a program meant to develop the leadership skills of young professionals and engage them in the community.

Early in her career, Gonzales, a former Girl Scout, worked for the organization, including overseeing programs involving bullying and health and wellness.

But she wanted more in a career. Gonzales went through the Leadership NOW! program and realized she needed to return to school for her graduate degree.

“Through that process, I fell in love with teaching,” she said. “I’d always been a trainer and a facilitator and did Diversity Club in high school.”

So she took the role of diversity trainer in college and spoke around campus.

“It was in my master’s program that I discovered my talent and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Gonzales said. “I left the Girl Scouts and took a severe pay cut to be a graduate teaching assistant and work for the university.”

During her last year of graduate school, Gonzales taught public speaking.

“I was the poster girl for public speaking for the university,” she said. “I would speak to every freshman and sophomore class in every department and talk about the nature of public speaking.”

Lorelle Davies, director of auxiliary services at Pikes Peak Community College, nominated Gonzales for a Rising Star recognition.

“When I think about young professionals that are making a difference in Colorado Springs, Sloan is one of the first that comes to mind,” Davies said. “Doing the math to calculate the number of youth, students and community members that Sloan impacts directly each year reaches into the hundreds.

“Sloan is a builder and developer of people and ideas. [She] has a drive to create and bring things into the light, whether that be a program she is running, a team she is part of or the people she works with.”

Gonzales said being recognized as a Rising Star is “a really cool honor. Everyone who was nominated is phenomenal. I went on LinkedIn and stalked all of them! I’m just humbled to be a part of that group. I’ve never won an award before. I work really hard and someone noticed — and that’s nice.”

— Bryan Grossman

What advice would you give your younger self?

Slow down, slow down, slow down. My entire life has been about being the best. I never slowed down to enjoy what I was doing. I’m working on the idea of, I don’t know what I’ll be next year, but I’ll be present now.


2018 Rising Star: Forrest Senti

Original story at https://www.csbj.com/2018/03/30/2018-rising-star-forrest-senti/

By Staff Writer – March 30, 2018

Forrest Senti

Forrest Senti always planned to forge a career in marketing. He majored in marketing and minored in entrepreneurship while at UCCS, but once he graduated, he discovered even greater passions for social impact businesses and working with startups. In his developing career, he’s managed to combine all three.

“Everywhere I’ve ever worked had a strong social impact to it,” Senti, 24, said.

His current employer, Maxletics, where he is director of marketing, supports elite athletes by pairing them with brands looking to promote their products. Previous employer Nor’wood Development Group, where he was marketing coordinator, “does a lot of really huge, good things.” He’s also worked for Mountain Equipment Recyclers, which supports more than a dozen charities through sales of new and gently used outdoor equipment, and teamed up with two friends to start Peak Social Insights, a firm that helped businesses use social media to their advantage.

“We started Peak Social Insights with the specific intention that we would take roles we wanted to get experience in,” Senti said. “That led me to finding out I was really good at project management.”

As a volunteer with organizations including Thrive Colorado Springs, the Colorado Institute for Social Impact and Peak Startups, he worked with new and upcoming businesses and was inspired to pitch his own unique idea at last fall’s Techstars Startup Weekend.

“I was always interested in the zero-waste home,” he said. “Everybody throws away lint from their dryers. I wondered if there was something innovative and kind of cool we could do with that.”

So he came up with the idea of collecting lint from commercial laundromats and recycling it into a usable textile, and founded a business he called Linted.

“Right now we are turning lint into sound panels,” he said. “We have a working prototype, and we’re trying to figure out if it could be used as insulation. We have a huge list of things we’d like to experiment with.”

Laundromats are happy to give him their lint, which he collects on weekends. His supply is limited only by the amount he can fit into his SUV.

Senti’s concept won at both Startup Weekend and at UCCS and Peak Startup’s Lion’s Den pitch competition.

“I really enjoy this world of developing ideas,” he said. “I keep a book where I write down interesting ideas and business models. My big goals are to be working in support of startups” and developing Linted into a sustainable enterprise.

— Jeanne Davant

What advice would you give your younger self?

Run a little more, get involved a little more and start competing in business competitions a lot sooner.


2018 Rising Star: Eric Pizana

Original story at https://www.csbj.com/2018/03/30/2018-rising-star-eric-pizana/

By Staff Writer – March 30, 2018

Eric Pizana

Eric Pizana is making a difference, both in the community and at Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, where the 34-year-old has worked as the volunteer services and community outreach director since 2015.

He has expanded the volunteer base at Care and Share and implemented a system that uses skill-based volunteers who, for instance, might work on the organization’s software program rather than simply loading boxes with food.

“Eric has expanded what we consider a volunteer,” said Care and Share Chief Development Officer Shannon Brice. “He has helped us see immense possibilities.”

Pizana said he has received calls from food banks from California to New Jersey, asking about the volunteer engagement program.

In its last fiscal year, Care and Share, which has 50 full-time employees, made use of 6,182 volunteers who contributed 48,692 hours of time. That led to 19 million meals served in southern Colorado, Pizana said.

Prior to joining Care and Share, Pizana was executive director of Inside Out Youth Services, where he still volunteers as the volunteer coordinator. He went there as a participant in the program as a teenager.

“Inside Out helps LGBT, and it helped shape who I am,” Pizana said. “It made me want to become a supportive adult for others.”

The Air Academy High School graduate earned a degree in psychology from UCCS before working at Urban Peak, a nonprofit that helps homeless youth ages 15 to 21. He also volunteered at Inside Out before joining the staff.

“I would have youth come to me and say, ‘You saved my life. You welcomed me the first day … and you changed my life.’ It didn’t feel like I did very much, but I was just there, and that’s the advice I’d give to any volunteer. Sometimes just listening is what people need.”

Brice has seen the positive effect that her co-worker has on others.

“His ability to thoughtfully challenge the status quo has earned him a great amount of respect among his friends and colleagues,” Brice said. “He is a powerful voice of change. Eric’s dedication to our community is truly inspiring. He is passionate about equality for all, working tirelessly to ensure inclusivity and diversity. Throughout his career, he has shined as an advocate for youth and those that are often marginalized.”

Pizana said it “feels phenomenal to be recognized in the community.”

He has also been part of Leadership Pikes Peak, where he was a steering committee member and project coach.

“He has found his calling in life as a volunteer and a leader of volunteers,” Brice said. “One of his greatest talents is understanding people and connecting them with opportunities that they will find fulfilling.”

— Bob Stephens

What makes Colorado Springs home?

When I’d go to Denver, it felt more accepting to LGBT people, and I felt Colorado Springs needed change-makers to make our community what we want, and I believe it’s happening.


2018 Rising Star: Beau Kelly

Original story at https://www.csbj.com/2018/03/30/2018-rising-star-beau-kelly/

By Staff Writer – March 30, 2018

Beau Kelly

For Beau Kelly, Colorado Springs is home. And he says it always will be.

“I can’t imagine not living here,” he said. “My entire family is here; my wife’s family is here. It’s where we belong.”

Kelly, who works in the development office at UCCS, is a native of Colorado Springs, and came right back to the city after college in Nebraska. The 27-year-old worked as an El Pomar Fellow, and made the connections at UCCS to get the job of his dreams: raising money for the fastest-growing college in the University of Colorado system.

Kelly is responsible for fundraising both for athletic scholarships and for financial assistance based on students’ needs. He’s also working on his MBA at UCCS.

“It’s a great fit,” he said. “I played baseball in Nebraska, so I love that I’m still involved with athletics.”

When he graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

“I knew I wanted to work with people, but I didn’t know what that would look like,” he said. “Through the El Pomar fellowship, I got an internship fundraising — and found I loved it. It really opened doors for me.”

Kelly’s been at UCCS for three years and says the best part of his job is helping people.

“I have the opportunity to help people go to college who might not,” he said. “It’s helping people realize their dreams. It can really change people’s lives.”

The hardest part: competing for dollars. But Kelly finds even that part of the job exciting.

“At the end of the day, it’s still so rewarding to work with our donors and to open doors for people,” he said. “But it can be difficult, there are a lot of nonprofits in this community, and so many worthy causes. Fortunately, people really want to support UCCS.”

Kelly is married to his high school sweetheart, and the two have a Golden Retriever puppy. Even though they don’t have children, he coaches youth baseball.

“I love it,” he said. “I grew up playing and my coaches were my role models. It’s fun to be a part of that now. I’m honored to be a part of helping kids learn a sport, and also learn all the things that come along with that sport: teamwork, discipline, skills. It’s good to be able to give back.”

— Amy Gillentine Sweet

What makes Colorado Springs home?

It’s always been home; it always will be home. It’s a city on the rise, and UCCS is no small part of that.