October 25, 2018

Simplify Your IT

Denver Biz Tech Expo

Mile High Stadium
9:00 am – 3:30 pm

Women of Influence Panel

Sponsor: Women in Technology Scholarship Fund

The Denver Biz Tech Expo presents a panel of influential women who have paved the way in their respective industries and fields of expertise.  These successful women have advanced their careers through determination and commitment and many in male-dominated industries. The panel will discuss many topics including gender parity, women empowerment, education, discrimination, and career advancement to name a few.  

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Colleen Abdoulah

Former CEO & Chair
WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone

Colleen Abdoulah was the only female CEO to have led a top-ten cable operating company. Raised by parents who emphasized empathy and respect for all, her leadership style and personal commitment to serving others is widely known and respected and is reflected in her passionate focus on customer experience and company culture.

Colleen guided WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone for 12 years, overseeing industry-leading financial success and creating unprecedented value for employees and shareholders. During her tenure, WOW! quadrupled its customer base from 200,000+ to more than 800,000, growing revenues to more than $1.2B. Under Colleen’s leadership, WOW! earned a remarkable 19 J.D. Power and Associates awards for customer satisfaction, multiple top-provider awards from Consumer Reports, and the PC Magazine Readers’ Choice Award for top cable Internet service provider.  She is equally proud of the many awards WOW! received as an employer, including recognition as a 2012 and 2013 National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For winner.

  • Prior to joining WOW!, Colleen spent much of her career at Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), where she served in a number of positions including Assistant COO and Executive Vice President of Cable Operations. Her professional career spans over 30 years in the marketing/advertising and telecommunications industries.

    She is Former Chair of the Board of the American Cable Association, a lobbying organization representing the interests of independent cable operators.  She also served on the board of C-SPAN, and is a former Vice President of the Executive Board of Women in Cable and Telecommunications, as well as Former Chairperson for the WICT Foundation.

    In the nonprofit world, Colleen is an ardent voice and advocate for those who have been marginalized. She is a former Chair of the Board for the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, and she currently serves on the boards of the Colorado Women’s College of the University of Denver; and is Chair of World Pulse, a global social network dedicated to connecting, uniting and empowering women around the world. She also currently serves on the board of Rocky Mountain PBS. For profits Boards consist of ABB Broadband and Cogeco Communicattions; Irpina and Waters Edge Development. She is also an industry advisor for Avista Capital Partners in New York.

    As keynote speaker at a variety of management conferences and business forums, Colleen has shared her views on the strategic importance of customer experience and company culture; development of gender-balanced management and leadership; and cultivation of authentic leadership, among other topics.

    Colleen graduated from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta and received her MBA from the University of Denver. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (LAHC) Lifetime Achievement Award; the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce Top 25 Most Powerful Women Award; the American Cable Association’s PAC Individual Leadership Award; and was a Multichannel News Wonder Women honoree and an inductee to the WICT Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Walk of Fame.

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Annette Quintana

CEO & CO-founder

Annette brings more than 30 years of business experience and a strong entrepreneurial spirit to Istonish.  Founded by Annette and her sister, Victoria, in 1990, the company has grown into a national business serving government, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Annette’s leadership, vision, and competitive drive continues to inspire the evolution of new and compelling technology solutions offerings for current and future customers.  Her credibility as a business leader has been recognized by several prestigious organizations and institutions and she has received several recognitions and leadership awards to acknowledge her leadership role in building an innovative, successful company, creating a positive work environment, and her leadership and involvement in the Denver community. Some recognitions include: Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Colorado Technology Association CEO of the Year, Colorado Latino Hall of Fame Inductee for Business, Innovation, Science, and Technology, and inclusion on the list of Most Powerful Women in Colorado. Annette holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Colorado State University.

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Women in Technology Scholarship Fund

The Denver Biz Tech Expo young Women in Technology Scholarship Fund was created in 2013 in partnership with Platte River Networks to assist and motivate Denver Public High School Seniors to pursue  degrees in technology.

In 2018, the Denver Biz Tech Expo and Platte River Networks partnered with the Denver Scholarship Foundation and the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce for the benefit of the Women in Technology Scholarship fund. 

Learn More

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Frannie Matthews

Colorado Technology Association (CTA)

Prior to joining CTA, Frannie spent 18 years with IBM and served as the IBM Senior Location Executive for Denver. As a public sector, healthcare, and life sciences sales leader for the western region, she was responsible for growing the IBM portfolio within the territory. She has over ten years of sales management and leadership experience with regional high-performance teams. Industry verticals have included higher education, state and local, healthcare, and telecommunications. She has a passion for helping the next generation and has a particular interest in S.T.E.M. education.  Frannie has taught high school-level Junior Achievement courses and works with University of Colorado students through the Leeds School of Business Professional Mentoring Program and Professional Selling course. She also mentors a high school student at the IBM sponsored PTECH program at Skyline High School.

Frannie has been a member of the University of Colorado Wellness Center Board and served as a board member of the Colorado Technology Association for over 2 years.  She is also an active member of the Colorado Business Roundtable’s InnerCircle. Governor John Hickenlooper has recently appointed her to the Colorado Workforce Development Council.  

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida and earned her Master of Science in Telecommunications Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.  

Frannie lives in the Denver area with her husband Bill. Their daughters, Kristine and Gracie also live in the Denver/Boulder area.   The whole family shares a love for travel and mountain adventures in the beautiful state of Colorado.  

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Kristen Blessman

President & CEO
Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Kristen Blessman has over 20 years of leadership experience, including strategic marketing, business development and executive management; working with both non-profit, for-profit as well as small business ownership experience.  Kristen is a change-agent leader with a focus on revenue development through the areas of innovation, strategic planning, start-up social enterprise, rebranding, and award-winning marketing and advertising campaigns.

Currently, Blessman serves as the President and CEO of the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CWCC).  As CEO of the CWCC, Blessman is responsible for executing the organization’s mission of advancing women in business.  Blessman was hired in 2017 to bring value to membership through innovation, brand awareness and long-term vision. Through the creation of a new leadership program, mentoring program and unique peer group programming, Blessman has overhauled programming and curriculum at the CWCC and brought a new value proposition to CWCC members and the community.  Additionally, Blessman is recreating the CWCC brand through new educational and inspiring events, enhanced digital and traditional media as well as extensive community outreach programs to create awareness and advocacy for women in the workplace. To date, Blessman’s efforts have created a unique space for the CWCC in the community as well as increased interest and membership in the organization.  

  • Prior to the CWCC, Blessman was the Chief Marketing Officer for Goodwill Industries of Denver.  Having been drawn to the organization’s triple-bottom line business approach of people, profit and planet, she was responsible for the rebranding of Goodwill’s image in 2009 and started Goodwill’s first customer loyalty program, Club Blue in 2012.  Blessman was appointed as innovation and business development officer in 2013, launching several new social enterprise businesses as well as doubling the organization’s fundraising revenues. Under her leadership, Goodwill opened more than 40 new retail locations and grew from $30 million in revenues to over $70 million.

    Ms. Blessman has received several awards for her marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns, including the 2009 Public Relations Society of America’s Gold Pick Award.  Kristen has served on multiple committees and boards of directors, including The American Marketing Association, The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Denver Press Club, The Women’s Leadership Foundation, and Arapahoe House.  She also volunteers for Goodwill Industries of Denver’s youth career programs in several metro Denver high schools and has been a guest lecturer at Metro State, Argosy and Regis University. 

    Blessman holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from The University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master of Business Administration Degree in Marketing from Regis University. She enjoys the outdoor lifestyle that Colorado provides by snowboarding, running, biking and hiking.  She currently lives in Denver, CO with her 14-year old son.

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Sara van Rensburg

Colorado Thought Leaders Forum

A fifth generation native to Colorado, Sara van Rensburg attended Colorado State University on a fine arts scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Psychology. Upon graduation, she moved out of state for a job in sales and was drawn to the personal growth required to do well in a competitive sales environment.

She returned to Denver in 2000 as the Executive Director at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry Educational Foundation where she ran a program to help students learn the fundamentals of running and operating businesses. A board member referred her to her next position at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. There, she launched an annual volunteer campaign to grow memberships and sponsorships, leading to several million dollars in new revenue for the organization during her time there. She grew in responsibility and at the time of her departure, she held the role of Director of Membership and Revenue Development. Her interest in business led her to join her husband as an owner of an IT consulting business, where her areas of specialization included long- range planning and streamlining business process through the effective use of technology.

  • Sara has served on the Founding Board for the Colorado Thought Leaders Forum (CTLF) since 2010 and was named President in 2012, and CEO in 2017. CTLF is a business community that strives to elevate business leaders through challenging and engaging programs, by promoting authentic relationships, and by inspiring people to lead with their whole heart. We believe as business leaders, we not only have the capacity but the responsibility, to positively wield our influence in the service of others. The CTLF community is marked by HEART-Level Leadership, defined as humble, engaged, authentic, and tribal, in the firm believe that this kind of leadership will impact Colorado business for good.

    Sara’s commitment to Colorado shows in the tremendous enthusiasm and thought leadership she brings to the Front Range business community. She currently serves on the Board for Big Idea Project and as a mentor to other business women.

    Sara and her husband Shaun enjoy spending time with their three children, Taryn (11), Emmie (8) and Gerrit (6) at their home in Coal Creek Canyon. Together, they share a love of the outdoors, cross country skiing, boating, entertaining, travel, and great food and wine.

    | www.CTLF.org | info@CTLF.org | 303-828-0977 |