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We are the Denver Metro SBDC

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

CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation

J. J. Ament

J. J. Ament is the Chief Executive Officer of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the largest privately funded and governed economic development organization in Colorado. With experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, J. J. brings a unique combination of expertise to the role. An investment banker for most of his career, he participated in more than $15 billion of transactions for governments and public-private partnerships throughout the U.S. before leaving the industry in 2016. J. J. has been a member and Chairman of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, where he considered state economic development incentives, grants, and tax credits for business and tourism projects statewide. As CEO, J. J. is responsible for leading the Metro Denver EDC’s mission to grow and retain primary jobs and promote capital investment in Colorado. In the last two years, the Metro Denver EDC has helped facilitate the creation of nearly 14,000 new jobs and nearly $800 million of capital investment in the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region.


China Califf

China Califf comes to the organization with nearly 20 years of experience helping entrepreneurs and small businesses start and grow. In her role at the Denver Metro SBDC, she will oversee a team committed to providing educational programming, one-on-one free consulting and virtual resources to Colorado entrepreneurs.

Prior to being named director of the Denver Metro SBDC, Califf spent 17 years at Colorado Lending Source, where she led branding and marketing strategies, worked with Colorado’s Congressional Delegation and oversaw operations for the organization. Colorado Lending Source has been a key partner of the Denver Metro SBDC for the last two decades. Both organizations are committed to fostering a healthy economy by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. Ongoing partnerships between the organizations include Trout Tank Pitch Competition, LEADING EDGE, SBDC Day, Ice House Entrepreneur Development Training and countless educational panels and event collaborations. Califf will continue to foster that partnership in her new role.

Advisory Board Members

Name Company
Toti Cadavid
Xcelente Global
China Califf
Colorado Lending Source
Larry Callin
U.S. Bank
Letta Campbell
Johnson and Wales University
Norris Davis
South Platte Investments & Planning
Marilynn Force
The Force Group
Chitti Govindarajulu
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Kyle Grivett
3A Clean
Christopher Leach
Contract Furnishings
Adam McDiarmid
UMB Bank
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