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Advisory Board

Board Chair

Executive Director, Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute

Rob Smith

Rob has been in Colorado since 1988 after escaping the east coast to attend the University of Denver. With a Finance degree from DU under his belt, he moved to the mountains during the 90’s to work for 1stBank. It was at the bank where he got his first professional taste of the power of small business and its critical role in the health of a community. Feeling the itch to come back to Denver, Rob went back to DU to get his MBA and Masters of Science in Information Technology. What followed was a winding road of professional opportunities ranging from riding the internet start-up bubble (and burst), management consulting work doing business modeling and process improvement projects for Fortune 100 companies, running the operations for a couple coffee roasting companies, which ultimately landed him as a founder and Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain MicroFinance (RMMFI) Institute where he has been for the last 10 years.

Rob feels strongly about being civically engaged in the community in which RMMFI operates. He has been a Commissioner at the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, an Advisory Board Member for the Agency on Human Rights and Community Partnerships, a Board member at the Northeast Park Hill Collective Impact Initiative, on the Board at Community Shares Colorado, a founding Steering Committee member for Bank on Denver, and an Advisory Board member at the Urban Cooperative Development Center. Rob is currently the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Denver Metro SBDC, on the Board of Directors for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, an Advisory Board member for the Leadership Foundation Alumni Council, and serves as an Advisory Board member for Mile High Connects, Rob is also honored to have been named a Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow in 2012 and to have graduated from Leadership Denver 2015.

Rob is proud to be so involved in the Denver community and to play a role in re-imagining social and economic inclusion. He is excited to see RMMFI take on more of a leadership role in the effort to use business ownership as a transformational mobility tool for people and communities facing persistent barriers to advancement. As a wonderful nod to the work of RMMFI and the entrepreneurs it supports, the organization won the Metro Chamber’s Small Nonprofit of the Year award and Rob was personally awarded the David E. Baily Small Business Advocate of the Year award. In 2017, Rob was named a Who’s Who in Impact Investing by the DBJ. RMMFI was also named a Top Company finalist in the 2018 CoBiz Magazine’s Top Company Awards.

Board Leadership

President and CEO, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

Kelly Brough

As president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Kelly Brough is focused on putting more Coloradans to work – in really great jobs. It’s a clear call to action that’s driven this CEO from higher education to City Hall to the chamber.

Kelly has worked to advance our state and find opportunities for improvement whether been it’s advocating for P-20 education reform, implementing ground breaking programs like 3-1-1 and pay for performance for the City of Denver or consulting on dispute resolution for local governments. She’s directed an internationally recognized leadership program, been the chief of staff to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper and was the first female director of human resources for the City of Denver – J in a common theme, she was also the first female on-call snow plow driver at Stapleton International Airport and the first female CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.

Though born and raised in a small town in Montana, she’s Colorado to the core. In fact, you’re just as likely to catch her testifying at the capitol as you are to find her climbing mountain passes on her road bike.

Executive Director

Abram Sloss

Abram Sloss is the executive director of the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a provider of entrepreneurial and business development services that plays a vital role in the metro Denver region. For 30 years, the Denver Metro SBDC has assisted tens of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing no-cost professional consultation, comprehensive trainings, and data necessary to make sound business decisions in a constantly changing marketplace.

Abram started his career working in large consultancy firms, including Cerner Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he implemented enterprise business solutions within the healthcare and telecommunication industries. He was responsible for project management and client relationships, as well as leading change management efforts for clients engaged in process improvement endeavors.

Prior to joining the SBDC network, he worked for the City and County of Denver focusing on continuous improvement efforts and streamlining service delivery for multiple departments throughout the city. In this role, Abram led significant changes within transportation maintenance programs, low priority crime management, and designed a lean manufacturing process that increased signs and markings capacity of the transportation division within Public Works.

Abram earned both a Master’s of Business Administration and Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems from the University of Iowa. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at Rocky Mountain Performance of Excellence, and is the Co-Chairman of Community College of Denver’s Business and Technology Advisory Board. He also serves on the Advisory Council of Mile High Connects, a non-profit that connects residents to affordable housing, jobs, education, and places that promote activity and health.

Vice President of Finance and Operations

Dave Suss

As the Vice President of Finance and Operations, Dave Suss leads the internal service team of the Chamber and its affiliates. Dave oversees finance and accounting, human resources, technology, facilities, membership services and the work of our Denver Metro Small Business Development Center.

Prior to joining the Chamber through the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, Dave served as the director of programs and technology at the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, an alumni offshoot of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Before dedicating his career to nonprofit and leadership development, Dave spent time in the private sector working in corporate acquisitions, transitions, centralization and project management with an emphasis on database migrations, workflow management, business processes and stored value cards.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree in international affairs and German studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master of arts degree in international management with a focus on finance from the Fachhochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin (Berlin School of Economics and Law).

You’ll see Dave in the community as an active volunteer. From 2008-2012, Dave volunteered as a legislative aid for two state representatives, working on policy analysis, creating websites and crafting communications. He currently serves on the board of directors for Spark the Change Colorado and is the Treasurer for the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance. Outside the office, you’ll find Dave out for a ride on his bike, brewing beer and spending time with his wife and two children.

Advisory Board Members

Chief Operating Officer, Colorado Lending Source

China Califf

As Chief Operating Officer, China assesses our processes and procedures to ensure we are advancing our mission, living our values, and exceeding the expectations laid out in our commitment to customer service. Central to her work is Colorado Lending Source’s most valuable resource, our staff; China’s leadership lives by the fact that what we do and how we do it, is not only impacted by, but defined by who we are as individuals.

During China’s thirteen-year tenure at Colorado Lending Source, she’s played an essential role in developing and overseeing our marketing and communications strategies. It’s safe to say that her get-up-and-go mindset and high-spirited personality, truly brightens our day-to-day lives at Colorado Lending Source.

Owner, South Platte Investments & Planning

Norris Davis

Norris Davis owns and operates South Platte Investments & Planning and has been in the financial services industry since 2000. In 2002 he became an independent financial advisor to help small business owners and families reach their financial goals. He joined the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce that same year.

Norris is extremely active at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC) and the Denver Metro SBDC. He has sat as Chair of the Leads Group Program and currently sits on the Denver Metro SBDC Advisory board. He is also the current Chair of Leads Group 7 which is a part of the SBDC and an Ambassador for the DMCC.

Norris truly loves helping people rekindle their visions and is dedicated to helping people achieve their goals by creating customized financial solutions. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and is an avid outdoors enthusiast.

President and CEO, Burgess Services, Inc.

Denise Burgess

Denise Burgess is President/CEO of Burgess Services, Inc., a Denver-based construction management firm. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce since 2010 and is currently serving as Chair of the Board. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Northern Colorado, Denise launched a promising career in broadcast management. She was called in 1994 to work alongside her father and business mentor until his untimely passing in 2002.

Denise’s career skyrocketed after she transitioned her father’s heating and air conditioning business into a nationwide firm, specializing in construction management, commissioning and quality assurance/quality control. Burgess Services’ accomplishments during her tenure include the City and County of Denver Justice Center, the Corp of Engineers Southeastern Headquarters in Miami, and the Westin Hotel at Denver International Airport (DEN). Burgess Services was awarded the largest contract ever awarded to a minority or woman owned business in Colorado history- a $39.6 million mechanical contract at DEN.

She has been listed in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Colorado, a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, the David E. Baily Small Business Advocate Award, CEO of the Year 2017 ColoradoBiz Magazine and Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce 2017 Ascension Awards Corporation of the Year and Colorado African American Hall of Fame.

Denise credits her continued support from family and friends as part of her success along with her dedicated employees. Never taking anything for granted, Denise regularly takes time out of her busy schedule to give back to the Denver community both personally and professionally. The Burgess Family Fund was established through the Denver Foundation in 2013 with a goal of funding the education of minority women of interested in STEM and construction. The Burgess Family Fund has donated to over a dozen Colorado organizations.

Business Development Expert

Marilynn Force

Marilynn Force is a retired affiliate faculty member who has been teaching for a total of 30 years. Disciplines taught include finance for non-finance professionals, leadership, entrepreneurship, development of entrepreneurial practices, management issues focusing on communication and learning processes within the classroom and business environment.

Ms. Force’s career has focused on all aspects of business development. As a child growing into adulthood she worked in a small family owned business. After having to close that business, she spent 16 years of her career learning all aspects of banking. Including but not limited to financial analysis, helping to build layered lending programs in conjunction with the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), to managing the $600 million dollar SBA Lending portfolio at Colorado National Bank.

Following her banking years, Dr. Force spent the next 5 years as a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Director for the Boulder Chamber of Commerce followed by a term as the Director for Economic Development for the City of Wheat Ridge, CO and as a expert source on rural small business development for R&M Research Development a national economic development firm, to which she provided community assessments of business resources.

While as Director of the Boulder SBDC Ms. Force helped to develop entrepreneurial training programs for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City Missouri and was an expert contributor concerning entrepreneurial issues to the Edward Lowe Foundation publications. Ms. Force contributed as a speaker on entrepreneurial issues for national conferences and as a resource expert on small business for the White House Conference on Small Business in 1995 and speaker for Senator Bob Bennett of Utah. Ms. Force has served as a national, regional and local judge for entrepreneurial business plan competitions.

It was after the events of 9/11, as a SBDC Director, helping businesses to decrease anxiety of the unknown focusing their attention on the development of plans to either stay in business or close their doors, that Ms. Force found the rest of her life’s work interest. The examination of learning process development and anxiety cessation within the classroom and business environment so critical thinking can occur and prepare small, medium and large business for the changes in practices and technology of the future.

Ms. Force is a published entrepreneurial industry author and contributor to various magazine publications and book contributor for McGraw Hill, Entrepreneur Magazine Press and the US Department of Agriculture. In the new Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal she co-authored an article concerning the instructional design used by the Sullivan Chair recent entrepreneur class. Ms Force is also a frequent contributor to the Regis University Blog on learning processes.

Ms. Force PhD is in Education, emphasis Professional Studies and is also an Ignatian Scholar.

CEO, SPHERE Education

Jenn Green

Jenn Marshall is the CEO | Renegade BadAss | Brain Coachat SPHERE Education. Jenn’s driving passion is educating people on the power of brain awareness and ownership. She believes there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish if we know how to use our brains effectively to move us toward our goals. Awareness of the unconscious blueprint and emotional belief structures are key to massive change in our lives. Her favorite question is “why”.

Clients of Jenn’s are better understood as her students and to them she is less a life coach/therapist and more a weird Aunt/cool big sister/strange, wandering interpreter of maladies with the wisdom, experience and education to help them achieve all of their goals. What she does is less about figuring out what’s wrong and more about figuring out how to transform the confusion of being a teenager/young adult/newly adulting person into genuine verve for being people. Teen angst is just misguided or latent willpower waiting to be tapped into and with tools honed from leading research in neuropsychology together they foster resilience, creativity, and empathy.

Jenn was born in Minnesota, raised in Denver, Colorado. Her parents instilled a passion for learning, exploring, and a healthy dose of audaciousness. When it was time for college she decided to set off on a new adventure. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Henderson State in Arkansas.

Jenn spent 15 years as a Consultant in the Employee Benefits and Human Resource industry. She worked for two large international insurance brokerage firms, a large regional broker, two small independent agencies, and started her own agency. She has worked with clients such as McDonald’s, Standard Parking, Wilton Industries and the City and County of Denver. Jenn was known for her ability to connect with executives, administrators, employees and families. She developed her sales, educating, negotiating, and communication skills during this time. Her business savvy and skills were further developed by her entrepreneurial enterprise in starting her own business in the industry.

After 15 years in the Insurance and Human Resource industry, she decided to return to graduate school. Within two years Jenn received dual Master’s degrees in Psychology and Communication from Regis University. She was honored with the Malcolm Knowles Award at graduation. Jenn opened SPHERE Education in 2013 while in graduate school and continues to grow her business and focus on helping clients and families not only survive but thrive during the most confusing, exciting, and chaotic time in life. Jenn is passionate about helping clients understand how their brains work and how to make sure they are living the most amazing lives possible.

President and Owner of Contract Furnishings, Inc

Christopher K. M. Leach

Christopher K. M. Leach is the President and Owner of Contract Furnishings, Inc., a commercial furniture business that opened in Denver in 2002. Prior to starting Contract Furnishings, Christopher worked for the Department of Defense shutting down Air Force bases which brought him to Denver to close Lowry Air Force Base in 1991. He went on to work for an engineering firm responsible for decommissioning and decontaminating nuclear facilities around the country. After working to develop relationships with small and emerging businesses to provide products and services, he started Contract Furnishings. When not at his desk, you can find him volunteering on various Boards or working in the yard under the watchful eye of his trusty sidekick, George – the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Contract Furnishings opened its doors in Denver, Colorado more than a decade ago with a simple mission: provide high quality office furniture products with personalized attention and exceptional service. We work both locally and nationally to design and specify commercial environments. Additional services include: space planning, delivery, installation and move management.

Every project we commit to has one central focus—you, our client. Our commitment begins with a one-on-one expert analysis of your goals, expectations and the priorities you deem most important to the project at hand.

The ability to adjust quickly to change is the most important element for a successful business in today’s economy. When it comes to office furnishings, we can help you make that adjustment swiftly and with ease.

Founder, LifePoint Strategies

Terri Starck

Terri earned her degree in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming. She, then, spent 10 years working in the computer training and programming field. During this time, she developed a passion for training, project management and process improvement. Over the next seven years, Terri worked as the Director of Adult Ministries at Foothills Community Church. She led up to 90 volunteer leaders on yearly mountain retreats, monthly leadership trainings, and accountability meetings.

In 2007, Terri started LifePoint Strategies. She has worked with over 200 clients including national hardware retailers, franchises, plumbing businesses, political consultants, marketing professionals, real estate brokers, website developers, chiropractors and accountants.

Through productive, in-person meetings, Terri advises clients and supports them through self-discovery, leadership development, process improvement, enhanced time and money management, and thoughtful strategic planning.

Terri has also written a training manual to encourage business owners to live life with a point. The LifePoint Strategy book compliments planning sessions so that LifePoint Strategists can help clients know who they uniquely are (their why), where they want to go (their strategic plan), and how to get there (the implementation of the plan).

Terri enjoys spending time with her husband of over 30 years, Brian and their children and grandchildren. They enjoy trying different restaurants, traveling, watching the Broncos, and hiking.

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