Female minds, personalities define this year’s Navigator Awards
September 3, 2017
Business Person of the Year
Female minds and personalities are at the heart of this year's Navigator Awards.
Before this year, Julie Green was the first and only woman to receive the Business Person of the Year award. She was honored with the award in 1999, the first year Steamboat Pilot and Today and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association hosted the event.
All that changed with this year’s recipient, Adonna Allen.
"We live in an amazing place, and it is amazing because of the people that live here and the people that contribute, and I feel like I've been blessed to have landed here and to be part of this community, and I want to make it that good for everybody else," Allen said.
For the past 10 years, Allen has held the position of president at Alpine Bank.
Recommended Stories For You
With a busy career and family, she tries to be careful and not overcommit when it comes to giving back to the community.
Allen said the rule her husband, Troy, came up with is that Allen is not allowed to join another board until she gets off one on which she already serves.
For a year and a half, Allen served as president of the Steamboat Chamber Board and was instrumental in guiding the organization through a leadership transition.
"She is very passionate and very committed to what she does, and you can't help but catch that same passion and same dedication just by virtually being around her," said Dan Pirrallo, who served with Allen on the Steamboat Chamber's executive committee.
Pirrallo said he enjoyed working with her.
"She' very insightful," Pirrallo said. "She certainly reminds us of the heritage of this community."
Allen has strong agricultural ties and helps run her family's fifth-generation Rocking C Bar Ranch.
She has also been very involved with Routt County 4-H, Routt County CattleWomen, Colorado CattleWomen and Community Agricultural Alliance.
She does not hesitate to remind people how important agriculture is in Routt County, where there are those who believe skiing and tourism drive the economy.
"We are not a Vail," Allen said. "Vail was built around tourism. Steamboat was here as an agricultural community first. It's what makes this place unique."
Allen tries to set an example for future generations and has been involved with Girls to Women, an event that helps inspire and guide eighth-graders through life.
Her passion is contagious.
"If it means something to you, get involved," Allen said. "Stay passionate. Make it happen."
Business of the Year
It has been a big year for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, which has been chosen as this year's Business of the Year.
After two years of work and one failed attempt, Steamboat received the Colorado Creative District Designation by the Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
The designation will make Steamboat eligible for grant money and other state resources and will help distinguish Steamboat from other mountain communities.
The Arts Council board and executive director Kim Keith spent a lot of time working on the lengthy application for the designation.
"Kim Keith's efforts, in particular, were unbelievable," said Candice Bannister, who sat on the steering committee for the designation. "She served as such a fearless leader through this application for most of two years that ended in eventual certification."
The city of Steamboat worked closely with the Arts Council as it worked toward receiving the designation.
"The main thing it did that I saw is it really helped bring the arts community together, and I give the Steamboat Springs Arts Council primary credit for being the spearheading agency to bring all the artistic elements together in the city of Steamboat Springs," city manager Gary Suiter said. "Art as an economic driver in all of these resort communities is significant."
The Arts Council has had a profound impact on the community.
"The Arts Council has been around for a long time, and the story is pretty rich in terms of the great contributions they've made to the community over the years," Arts Council board member Matt Eidt said.
Eleanor Bliss and Carol Finoff helped form the organization in 1972.
Bliss then led an effort to save the historic train depot the Arts Council now calls home.
Today, the Depot Art Center is home to art shows, performances and other events, including the Young at Art Creativity Camps, which 122 children attended this summer.
"They are just bringing so much life to this beautiful old building," Keith said.
Keith said another of the Arts Council’s goals is to keep long-standing traditions alive and vibrant.
In February 2016, one Steamboat tradition briefly vanished when there was a lack of participation by high school students to build the snow sculptures during the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Winter Carnival.
The Arts Council answered the call in 2017 and mobilized to broaden participation in the tradition and make it a community event.
Keith said the Arts Council will continue striving to promote the arts and culture of the Steamboat community.
"We aren't saying no to too many things for sure," she said.
Service Professional of the Year
Organizers of the Navigator Awards realized something was missing, and this year, they created a new award that recognizes the hardest working people who keep Steamboat's economic engine humming.
Barbara Robinson, general manager of the Holiday Inn, is the first recipient of the Service Professional of the Year award.
Holiday Inn owner Scott Marr has worked with Robinson for 33 years, first when she worked as a bookkeeper for his hotel business in Florida.
"I quickly realized her potential and started promoting her," Marr said.
Marr was able to convince Robinson to move to Steamboat for 10 months in 2001 when he bought the Holiday Inn.
"I was concerned because of the cold weather," Robinson said.
She overcame the sub-zero temperatures and has not left.
"For a small town, it's sophisticated, interesting," Robinson said. "It's so stunningly beautiful that I just fell in love with it."
Robinson discovered the secret to great customer service when she worked as a flight attendant for Pan American World Airways for four years.
"We were so proud of our uniform and what it represented," Robinson said. "When you come from a point of pride, customer service is very fun."
She said the most difficult thing in dealing with some customers is putting one’s ego aside, and it is important to strategically address problems and complaints while avoiding saying "no."
"We don't hear past “no,” so really focus your answer," she said.
Robinson holds a degree in hospitality from Florida International University and shares her knowledge with students at Colorado Mountain College.
At the Holiday Inn, she manages 27 employees.
"We know happy employees make for happy guests," Robinson said.
Marr said Robinson has a great mixture of abilities that are are hard to find in people.
She is detail-oriented, deals with people very well and is a firm believer in developing people's potential, he said.
"Leading by example, I think, is the number one thing you can do," Marr said.
Robinson acknowledges she is demanding and has high expectations.
"I have high standards for myself when it comes to customer service," she said.
Holiday Inn front desk manager Candace Powell said she has learned a lot from Robinson.
"She teaches us and helps us grow in our careers," Powell said. "She has real strong leadership skills."
Robinson's community involvement has involved serving on the Steamboat Chamber's marketing committee.
"Barbara has boundless energy, and she's always willing to help the community," said Jeff Daniels, guest services director at Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.
Young Professional of the Year
The Young Professional of the Year is the epitome of putting service before self.
Tara Weaver was born and raised in Steamboat and, today, runs the family business, which her parents started from nothing.
Central Park Management deals in long term rentals, maintenance, self-storage and manages homeowners associations.
At age 34, Weaver represents the next generation of business leaders in the community.
She said what keeps her in Steamboat is the community.
"I'm really impressed with a lot of the business people in Steamboat," Weaver said. "I feel like we have such a diverse group of people in Steamboat who are passionate about business and passionate about the community.
"I think our role really as young professionals is to be involved and to get involved — to find what we're passionate about and to add to the community," Weaver said. "As young professionals, we need to carry on traditions and add new stuff, as well."
Weaver said her greatest passion in terms of community involvement has been with the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs.
"She's involved in so many things," Rotary member Randy Rudasics said. "I think we counted nine committees in the Rotary Club."
Rudasics described Weaver as very effective.
"Some folks get things done throwing up a lot of flares and a lot of excitement," Rudasics said. "Tara gets things done behind the scenes, without ruffling a feather."
Lisel Petis, a Steamboat Springs City Council member who grew up with Weaver, said Weaver is a quiet leader.
"In times that I've worked with her, she will sit there in silence for 15 to 20 minutes and then, when it gets quiet with everybody else, she says these words, and everybody is like 'that's it,'" Petis said.