20 Under 40: Sarah Leonard fosters the community that raised her through work with Chamber
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Sarah Leonard was little, growing up in Steamboat Springs, her father was vice president of Steamboat Resorts. Now, as community development director at the Steamboat Springs Chamber, she’s working with some of the same people her father worked with, helping to build the community that raised her.
“It’s fun to see the people I grew up with coming back — wanting to get reinvested in Steamboat and make it a great place for the next generation,” Leonard said.
And that’s exactly what Leonard also aims to do.
“Having grown up in Steamboat Springs, Sarah’s passion for this community runs deep,” said Sarah Konopka, Chamber digital content manager who nominated Leonard for 20 Under 40 recognition. “Sarah has served the business community through the seven years she has been working for the Chamber.”
Leonard played a large role in helping to rebrand the Chamber and shift its focus to best serve the community. She now oversees community programs, serving as a sort of catch-all for developing projects.
“When new projects come through, when new initiatives are important to the community, I get to really assist Kara (Stoller), our CEO, on all of those,” Leonard said. “I get to change what I do a lot, which is great for me. Ticking off tasks is not what I like to do. I like to think big and problem solve.”
Name: Sarah Leonard
Profession: Community development director, Chamber of Commerce
Education: Bachelor of Arts in communications and minor in broadcast media from Colorado State University
Also through work, Leonard interacts with community groups and members at the Routt Round Table, attends city council meetings and works with event planners.
“I have worked with Sarah Leonard since 2010 or so,” Stoller said. “She is an incredible team member. Her talents in the office include long-term visioning, project management and execution, and team leadership.”
When she’s not working, watching her favorite band Widespread Panic or spending time with her fiance, George Gess, Leonard serves as vice president of the Routt County Humane Society.
“It’s super important to me; it’s a small organization,” said Leonard, who has a 17-year-old American Eskimo named Kodak. “We’re really fortunate in Steamboat that so many people adopt, so our animals don’t usually stay long at the shelter. We’re looking at how can we make things better for the animals that do have to stay. It’s just a passion project for me because I love animals.”
Her most recent project, a mentorship program between the Young Professionals Network Development Board and the Chamber Board of Directors, just debuted in early August.
“You kind of learn the ropes of being on a board and how to be a board member and all that. It was really kind of the brain child of Geoff Petis, who is on our executive committee,” Leonard said. “He really wanted to do something, and I thought that’s something I could do, create a program like that.
“I don’t know if I’ll be here forever, because life doesn’t really work like that,” Leonard added. “But I’m excited to be here now.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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