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.

“Jobs” star, and others in their A&F model days

ashton-kutcher-pour-abercrombie-amp-fitchOn the eve of the opening of his latest film “Jobs,”  actor Ashton Kutcher may be reminiscing of some earlier, simpler times in his career. Times that didn’t include holding up a network TV show, a messy divorce, and media scrutiny of almost every aspect of his life. From this shot, things looked pretty carefree back in 1998. Follow the link and check out other celebs before they were more famous striking a pose for clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch.

What do you think of Kutcher’s photo, as well as the rest? Share your feedback with us here.

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.

“Desperate Housewives” actor part of celebrity coming out train

W Actor Tuc Watkins comes out

Super-hunk Tuc Watkins, co-star of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and daytime drama “One Life to Live” has admitted to what until his admission was only speculation; he is indeed gay. The uber-handsome Watkins made the admission while appearing on the daytime talk show “Marie” with Marie Osmond.

Watkins also revealed that he is a proud single parents to twins via surrogate.

“I played a gay man who was married to his husband, who was trying to adopt a kid,” he says, “And in real life, at the same time, I’m a gay single man who was trying to have a kid through surrogacy.”

Watkins was a guest on the talk-fest promoting the relaunch of “One Life to Live” as an online show. Read more, and see a clip from the show, by following this link.

What do you think of the timing of Tuc’s admission? Think it’s a good idea? Weigh in with your comments.

Former daytime TV actor finds solace, solitude in painting and social media

To millions, actor Thom Bierdz is known as the iconic Chancellor heir Phillip Chancellor on the daytime drama “The Young and the Restless.” Bierdz also has the distinction of being one of the first openly gay soap opera actors. But until recently, many had no idea of the real-life drama endured when it was revealed that Bierdz’s brother, Troy, had murdered their mother with a baseball bat in 1989. 20 years later, Bierdz has penned a new book, “Forgiving Troy,” which outlines his journey towards acceptance and forgiveness.

These days, Bierdz enjoys a solitary but fulfilling life in Lake Arrowhead, California exploring another of his passions; painting.  Bierdz was recently interviewed by Melissa Parker of Smashing Interviews Magazine where he discusses his past, his work, and his love for former co-star Emmy-winning actress Jeanne Cooper. You can also learn more about Bierdz, his artwork, his favorite poses (?) and why he’s “only gay for the gay press” by visiting his YouTube channel. He can also be seen as a guest star on the web series “Old Dogs & New Tricks.”

Remember Thom Bierdz from his daytime years? Share your thoughts and memories with us.