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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.