The Denver Business Journal announces 12 Outstanding Women in Business for 2013

DBJ’s Outstanding Women in Business Communications, Media and Public Relations Winner Timi Aguilar of Aguilar Public Relations

The Denver Business Journal honored 12 distinctive women during their annual Outstanding Women in Business awards luncheon held earlier today at the Grand Hyatt hotel in downtown Denver. Winners in the categories of architecture, engineering and construction; banking, finance and accounting; communications, media and public relations; education, government and nonprofits; health care; large business owner; law; Mile High Leaders; real estate; small business owner; technology and telecommunications were announced, as well as a special lifetime achievement recipient.

Timi Aguilar, Principal of Castle Rock, Colorado-based Aguilar Public Relations was this year’s winner in the category of communications, media and public relations. Timi’s fellow finalists include Meg VanderLaan, Vice President of Corporate Communications for MWH Global in Broomfield, Colorado, and Megan Moye Zacher, founding partner and designer with Zebra Inc. in Denver, Colorado.

The winner of the lifetime achievement award for this year was Jane Miller, CEO of Charter Baking in Boulder Colorado makers of Rudi’s Organic and Gluten-free baked goods.  Ms. Miller has held an executive position at every company she’s worked for — Frito-Lay, Bestfoods and H.J. Heinz in London, to name a few. She is also a mentor and board member for the Boulder-based Unreasonable Institute, which connects entrepreneurs from around the world with successful mentors in business, technology, social change and other areas.

A full breakdown of today’s event, including expanded information on all of the very talented finalists in all the categories, will be available on The Denver Business Journal web site Friday.

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Embattled Paula Deen finally makes delayed “Today” appearance, but no direct apology

Embattled lifestyle guru Paula Deen makes “Today” show appearance

Lifestyle guru Paula Deen has been on more of a defensive than an apology tour this week. Her most recent stop was on NBC’s “Today” show. During the interview, Deen spoke a great deal about how the scandal has affected her personally, but didn’t utter a direct apology.

“I have been overwhelmed and in a state of shock,” said Deen. “There have been some very hurtful lies said about me.”

Lauer came out of the chute by grilling Deen on how the loss of sponsors and endorsement deals have affect her, and her business empire.

“Let me say this Matt,” Deen said, “what I am here today to talk about is what I believe, and how I live my life. I believe that every creature on this Earth, every one of God’s creatures was created equal.”

Lauer pushed the financial issue by quoting a headline that touted there were millions of dollars at stake tied to the “Today” show interview.

“Are you here to stop the financial bleeding,” Lauer asked.

“I am here today because I want people to really know who I am,” replied Deen once again deflecting the question.

The scandal stems from testimony offered in a deposition by Deen about her use of the derogatory “n” word with employees at her restaurants. Deen’s use of the word was also brought up in relation to a plantation themed wedding her restaurant catered for a private client.

“I am so grateful for the (business) partners that have stood by me,” was Deen’s only response to the number of sponsors who have dropped her brand or were considering doing so.

Lauer followed up by asking the burning hot-button question…is Paula Deen a racist?

“No, I am not a racist,” replied Deen. “I was raised in a house hold with a father who would tolerate bad grades or a broken curfew, but told me ‘girl if I ever find out that you have behaved in a way like you are better than anyone else your butt is mine.”

Lauer later asked Deen about her alleged use of the “n” word in the past. He cited that Deen admitted to using the word in her sworn deposition, and included an excerpt from her testimony regarding whether using the “n” word when telling a joke was acceptable.

Deen’s response was as follows:

“I don’t know. Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks…I didn’t make up the jokes. They usually target, though, a group…I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”

“Do you have any doubt that African Americans are offended by the ‘n’ word,” asked Lauer.

“I don’t know Matt,” responded Deen. “I have asked myself that so many times because it’s so distressing to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It’s very, very distressing.”

“You never joined in on that language,” asked Lauer.

“No,” said Deen emphatically, “absolutely not!”

Later, Lauer asked Deen if upon reflection she wished that she had fudged the truth a bit.

“No,” she replied. “I am only prejudiced against two types of people; thieves and liars.”

Deen became quite emotional at the end of the interview, and while never offering an actual apology, alluded to the fact that she has apologized on previous occasions, and spoke about how the hurtful words and speculation had been damaging to not just Deen and her business but to family and friends as well.

“The people that know me, they are angry,” she said.

At the end of the interview, Deen evoked the words in the Bible regarding sin, and chalked up much of what has happened to a case of professional jealousy.

“If there is a person out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you’re out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me, please. I want to meet you. I is what I is, and I’m not changing. And, there’s someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for and they wanted it.”

What do you think of Paula’s interview on the “Today” show? Weigh in with comments.

Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

An open letter to sorority membership sparks concern and outrage

c307645_l copyFor some, the college experience is enriched by participating in the Greek system. Rushing a sorority or fraternity is almost a right of passage among college freshmen every year. While many have different reasons for rushing, the consensus is that most just want their college experience enriched by what the Greek system promises to bring to their lives. But is it that much of a benefit after all? According to some of the members of the University of Maryland’s chapter of the Delta Gamma sorority, their choice for “sisterhood” may have been misplaced.

In a recent email from an unnamed member of the sorority’s executive board, the young women were called out for being “awkward” and “boring” when mixing with their brothers from “match-up” fraternity Sigma Nu. The expletive-laden memo also calls the women out for spending too much time at events enjoying each others company, and not engaging their male counterparts.

“I do not give a flying f—, and Sigma Nu does not give a flying f—, about how much you f—ing love to talk to your sisters. You have 361 days out of the f—ing year to talk to sisters, and this week is NOT, I f—ing repeat NOT ONE OF THEM.”

The missive has brought some unwanted attention to the sorority, and has even garnered online parodies of the email being read aloud. A request was submitted to the web site Gawker, requesting that the email be removed, or at the least the names of the sorority and fraternity be removed from their accompanying article. To date, their request has not been granted.

What are your thoughts on this email message? Is it a proper message to send to young women? What was your Greek experience in college? We welcome your comments.

ND news anchor’s career derailed by “Freaking Shoes” on the air

When your fired, you’re fired. Or are you…?

We’ve all been there. In a moment of stress, we utter something under our breath that may be a bit…racy. You know what I mean; expletive laden thoughts. Now imagine if that moment was caught on camera and broadcast to a television viewing audience. That is the case for one former news anchor in North Dakota.

AJ Clemente was fired from his job as an anchor for North Dakota NBC station KFYR after uttering what can most easily be translated into “freaking shoes,” unaware that his microphone was still live. The worst part of this story is that it was not only AJ’s first day on the air as anchor, it was also his last. The difficulty stemmed from  not only first day jitters, but the fact that the first words he was to utter on the air was a story about the winner of the Boston marathon, Tsegaye Kebede. Still, owning up to his on-air gaffe, Clemente took to the Twitter-sphere to give a decidedly light-hearted spin to his predicament.

“Tough day,Thanks for the support,We all make mistakes. I’m truly sorry for mine.
I’ll try my hardest to come back better and learn from this.”

Later, Clemente posted the news that no news anchor wants to get from his employer.

“Unfortunately KFYRTV has decided to let me go. Thank you to them and everyone in ND for the opportunity
and everyone for the support.”

But it is safe to say the the legend that is becoming AJ Clemente will not end soon. He is slated to appear as a guest on NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday.

What do you think of AJ’s mistake? Should he have lost his job, or been given a second chance? Weigh in with your comments.

Starwood Hotels announce Aloft will soon join downtown Denver hotels

Servic bellDowntown Denver will soon get a new hip and trendy hotel to add to its roster. Plans were recently announced for a new Starwood Hotels property known as Aloft to grace the corner of 15th and Stout Street. The Aloft Hotels are geared to a younger, hipper demographic by boasting a more sleek urban aesthetic.

The project will be six-stories high and about 70,000 square feet in size. A below-grade level will include hotel functions and a swimming pool/fitness area. The ground floor will include about 2,000 SF of retail and lobby uses and a porte-cochère with vehicle ingress off Stout Street and vehicle egress via the alley between Stout and Champa. The upper five floors will contain approximately 140 hotel rooms.

The current occupant of the space is a former Burger King. While BK hasn’t occupied the space in many years, a revolving door of food service businesses has opened in the space; only to close shortly thereafter. That building will be razed to make room for the new hotel. Plans for the new hotel have been completed by the architecture firm of Olive Architecture of Raleigh, NC

According to the Aloft web site, the vibe of their hotels is geared towards an experience that celebrates the individual and gives you freedom to control and customize your travel adventure to fit your personal style. While still in the planning stages, the Aloft Denver project is slated for completion in April of 2014.

For more information on this new venture, and to see a rendering of the new structure click here. For more info on Starwood Hotels Aloft properties, follow this link. And tell us, what are some of your favorite hotel spaces or buildings in downtown Denver.

Li’l Devils Lounge adds new life to S. Broadway bar scene

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A new bar has opened up on the S. Broadway corridor. Li’l Devils Lounge has taken over the spot previously occupied by controversial tavern The Barker Lounge. In this story on Examiner.com, new owners Tony Fleith and Justin McConnell talk about revamping the space into a more upscale space, and the challenges of living down the legacy of the past. Fleith also talks about a hope that the bar can bring folks back to the table for discussions…instead of to the nearest smart device.

Check out the article here, and share with us what some of your favorite watering holes are in your local.