What is your current title, company, and primary job function?
In May, I earned my Juris Doctor and Tax Emphasis Certificate from the University of Colorado Law School. I am currently studying for the July bar exam and in the fall, I'll be an associate at the law firm Sherman & Howard in Denver.
What is your greatest takeaway from the Chamber Connect program?
As a transplant to Colorado, my greatest takeaway was a clearer picture of the opportunities available in Colorado. The Denver Metro area is big enough to offer a wide range of career opportunities in business and government, but it's small enough that people are surprisingly accessible. This is one of the reasons I decided to attend law school in Colorado.
What is your leadership philosophy? Why?
My current philosophy is to be true to my values (which include compassion, vulnerability, and service) and lead from that authentic place. For a long time, when I thought of the word "leader" I basically pictured an extrovert who could command a room with charm, charisma and engaging extemporaneous speeches. But that wasn't me and according to that limited definition, I couldn't imagine myself being a leader. Then I went to law school and learned that Johnnie Cochran-extrovert types are more the exception than the rule. The practice of law attracts a large number of introverts, some of whom are socially awkward and some of whom hold leadership positions. The more I saw introverts in leadership positions, the more I could not only imagine myself as a leader but recognize the ways in which I was already a leader. I’m still a work in progress and when I know better, I can do better, but where I am right now is enough.
What civic, nonprofit, or service community endeavor are you most proud of since becoming a Chamber Connect alumnus?
I am most proud of the time I spent earlier this year volunteering with Tax Help Colorado, a non-profit organization that offers free tax return preparation for taxpayers earning less than $66,000/yr. The poor are statistically more likely than the rich to be audited by the I.R.S. usually due to tax preparer errors related to the Earned Income Tax Credit (the primary way the government puts cash into the hands of the poor since Clinton-era welfare reform). I am passionate about wealth and income inequality and focused on tax in law school to understand more about the role taxes play in wealth building. As a full-time student, I found that this work to be one of the most tangible ways that I could make a difference. By the time the organization closed its tax clinics for quarantine, it had filed over 5,700 returns and returned more $11.6 million in refunds to Colorado families.
What advice do you have for the current cohort of Chamber Connect Fellows?
You get out of this experience what you put into it; try to participate and engage as best you can. I would have liked to put myself out there more, but as an introvert, I did the best I could with where I was at the time.