Chris Akers has worked as an Economist for the State Demography Office in the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) since 2015. Mr. Akers produces employment estimates and a long-term job forecast for Colorado and all 64 counties within the state.
Chris also works with county and local governments helping them identify economic drivers and utilize economic and demographic data and forecasts. Prior to joining DOLA, he worked ten years as a Statistical Analyst with Labor Market Information (LMI) in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment where he produced an array of employment and wage data.
He was a Crew Leader with Census 2000.
Pat Craig – Executive Director – The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Pat began saving captive wildlife after learning that thousands of “surplus” animals were being kept in tiny cages in the back of zoos all across the country – with many being euthanized on a daily basis. Pat set out on a mission to help save these animals by building a small rescue facility on his family farm outside Boulder, CO. At age 19, Pat became the youngest state and federally licensed person in the country, as well as the first person to build a sanctuary dedicated to saving large carnivores. Pat’s vision has led 36 years later to the oldest and largest nonprofit sanctuary in the world dedicated exclusively to the rescue of captive exotic and endangered large carnivores that have been abused, abandoned, exploited or illegally kept. He has also pioneered the art of building large acreage species-specific habitats, giving rescued animals the opportunity to live together and roam freely within large natural spaces.
Pat’s 36 years of experience in captive large carnivore rescue, transportation, animal behavior and sanctuary development have led to his becoming a leading expert in the field. He has participated in The Association of Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association, on whose board he served for a number of years. Pat lectures regionally and nationally on captive wildlife rescue and transportation, great cat behaviors and diets, and has worked tirelessly toward better protection for these animals. He works hand-in-hand with the USDA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and many other state and national organizations in the never-ending fight to rescue animals in need. Pat has also worked with Canadian, Mexican, Spanish, Bolivian, Uruguayan, Panamanian and Peruvian government agencies on large and extremely complicated rescues from within their countries. Pat oversees and participates in all TWAS’ operations, including rescues, both within the United States and abroad. Pat has over 36 years of experience in designing, building and operating specialized rescue equipment for use in transporting large carnivores, and manages the largest fleet of rescue equipment in the country. His expertise in handling large rescues in demanding situations, as well as successfully covering great distances is well known among law enforcement agencies across the U.S.
Pat has a BS in Education from the University of Northern Colorado, and has received recognition and awards from many sources including the United States Secretary of Agriculture Honor Award for service above and beyond to the USDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Humane Association and E-Chievement Award from E-Town Environmental Radio Show. He was also a finalist in Animal Planet’s 2006 “Hero of the Year” selections.
Tom Kaufman, Land Specialist, Dunton Commercial Real Estate Company
Tom Kaufman concentrates on the sale of large vacant land parcels throughout the metro Denver area and the Front Range. He has worked on a considerable
number of large-scale developments and offers keen insight into the multitude of issues currently facing investors and the homebuilder industry. His energy,
commitment, network, and analytical background have made Tom one of the most well respected, resourceful and effective land brokers on the Front Range.
Prior to managing the Colorado office for the Land Advisors Organization from 2004-2012, Tom was a broker for the Frederick Ross Company.
There Tom focused almost exclusively on clients within the homebuilder industry or investors in a speculative role. He has earned both a Bachelor of
Science degree in Human Resource Management and a Master of Business Administration degree in Management Information Systems. Tom is a member of the Denver Metropolitan Commercial Association of Realtors (DMCAR), The Homebuilders Association (HBA) and the HBA Metro Housing Coalition committee, The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and their Growth Outreach Committee (GOCO), the National Association of Realtors, the I-76 Economic Development Imitative and participates in several causes which benefit children, including both Easter Seals and the Brokers Benefiting Children program. Recognized for his talent in the industry, Tom has been awarded as a Denver “Heavy Hitter” by DMCAR, as well as being selected as the #1 “Heavy Hitter” broker. Over the course of his career, Tom has emerged as a prominent figure in the area of expertise of speculative and investment land purchasing.
Kelly Manning – Deputy Director of Business and Regional Support & State Director, Colorado SBDC Network.
Kelly Manning oversees the operational management, strategic planning, and financial planning of the Colorado SBDC Network that is federal and State funded program, the Minority Business Development (MBO), and Regional Support with a total budget of over $4.5 Million dollars in programming.
Through Kelly’s leadership and ability to manage change, since 2000 the Colorado SBDC successfully increased the assistance of jobs created/retained by 800%, increased capital formation that clients obtained by 275% and increased the return on investment by over 50% . Her capacity to align her continually changing goals with the statewide strategies has proven to be highly successful based on the results. Since Kelly began with the Colorado SBDC, she has successfully created and implemented numerous new initiatives to assist the growing needs of small business entrepreneurs: Veterans programs/ Conferences, Women’s Conferences, Emerging Industry programs/services, Creative Industry programs/services and strategically moving the SBDC Network to a performance based program. In 2016, Kelly took the leadership role in OEDIT’s small business division. She has been able to align the MBO office with new initiatives that will truly make a difference for women and minority owned businesses throughout the state. Through the Regional office, Kelly has taken the leadership role in assisting the rural and mountain communities with the Colorado Blueprint Strategic initiatives and the creation of services that those rural communities can take advantage of. Stay tuned for new and exciting initiatives that will be created through Ms. Manning’s ability to implement new strategies in a continually changing business environment. Manning attended New Hampshire College School of Business and obtained a Bachelors degree in Business Administration. Manning also has a Masters in Communication with a Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the University of Denver.