Aspiring Leaders 2016 / 2017 Speakers2018-11-20T22:34:08+00:00




Mr. Abarca is the President & Owner of Ready Foods, Inc., a family-owned Denver custom food processor and purveyor of food products to restaurants nationwide. Marco grew up in North Denver and is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Latino Leadership Institute. He previously served as a member of the board of Latinos for Education Reform, KIPP Colorado, ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Enterprise Fund, and Historic Denver, Inc.


Growing up in Mexico City, Dr. Chavarria fell in love with bees at an early age. She has devoted her career to the conservation of native pollinators, especially bumble bees. Most recently her work as a wood anatomist focused on fighting the illegal trafficking of tropical hardwoods. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and her master’s and Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University, where she studied under E.O. Wilson, the researcher, naturalist, entomologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. She has conducted research in more than 30 countries throughout the world. She serves on a number of boards and advisory councils, including Science Works Museum in Ashland and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Meshach is partner in the firm’s Litigation practice group, is an experienced litigator and trusted advisor to senior management in all facets of complex commercial, regulatory, and telecommunications litigation. Meshach has litigated a variety of cases regarding complex contracts, intellectual property, business torts, real estate, class actions, finance and mortgage banking litigation, and labor and employment in state and federal courts nationwide. Her clients include government agencies, municipalities, Fortune 100 companies, and closely held businesses. Prior to joining the firm, Meshach was in-house counsel for a Fortune 200 company where she was in charge of right-of-way, franchise and facility cost negotiation and litigation.


Jerry Natividad is the Founder, President and CEO of American Facility Services Group, Inc. The firm is a facility maintenance/management and real estate service provider throughout Colorado and the United States. The company was founded in 1990 by he and his wife and today the company employees over six (600) Hundred employees nationally. The company’s main focus of business is providing facility support services to America’s Fortune 500 companies. Recently the company has expanded its operation to include a presence in Australia with offices in Sidney and Perth.


Frank J. Sandoval was born in Raton, New Mex., and an only child born to Frank and Clara Sandoval. After high school Sandoval attended Southern Colorado State College (SCSC) now (USC) and studied secondary education. He later served in the U.S. Army for two years, then served in the National Guard for four years. Sandoval begin working at McDonald’s at the age of 16 and his career with McDonald’s spans 36 years. Early in his career, he was offered the opportunity to join their management development program. Thirteen years later Sandoval purchased his first McDonald’s and until 2016 owned 14 restaurants.


Michelle Lucero is a Colorado native heralding from the town of Ignacio, Colorado. She serves as the Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel for Children’s Hospital Colorado, in her words, the “job of a lifetime”. Starting on August 6th, 2012, Michelle leads the Legal Affairs, Corporate Compliance, Information Security, and Risk Management teams. Prior to joining Children’s, Michelle’s career has included amazing positions as Vice President of Employee Relations/Associate General Counsel for Centura Health, Deputy City Attorney (and Acting City Attorney) for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Assistant General Counsel for Denver Health.


Grogan is the founder of Western Industrial Contractors Inc., where she served as CEO for 22 years. During her career, Grogan also served on the boards for three New York Stock Exchange companies and was chair of the Federal Reserve of Kansas City – Denver Branch and the Denver Chamber of Commerce.


Former House Speaker Ruben Valdez was born in Trinidad, Colorado in 1937, the youngest of nine siblings, dropped out of high school and ventured north to work at a Pueblo brickyard, moved to southwest Denver for trades work, returned to school and earned a college diploma, raised three children who all graduated from Denver Public Schools, and has never stopped contributing to Denver and the State of Colorado.


Returning to the United States from the University of Brussels, after having earned the rare distinction of a Ph.D. in brewing, Keith set about creating new interpretations of the Belgian styles he became enamored with while abroad. With the inventiveness that would come to characterize his entire career, Keith starting experimenting by using Valencia orange peel as an ingredient while adding coriander to provide balance. The resulting creation was Blue Moon Belgian White*, the first of many award-winning beers Keith has created over the years and the foundation on which the Blue Moon Brewing Company® was built.




Mike Sawaya was born in Trinidad, Colorado but from the age of 3 has been a Denver boy, raised in Northeast Park Hill. In 1989 he began specializing in personal injury cases where he now spends nearly all his professional time. He continues in both the active practice of law and the management of his law firm where he is the managing partner with 22 attorneys. His firm has a total staff of 96 people. In his practice he has tried more than 100 civil jury trials and hundreds of actions before the District Courts in both State and Federal courts. He is licensed to practice in the Tenth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.


Mr. Charles J. Rimer, also known as Chip, has been Senior Vice President of US Onshore at Noble Energy, Inc. since April 2013. Mr. Rimer serves as the President at NBL Texas, LLC. He served as Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Environment, Health & Safety Regulation at Noble Energy since April 2013 and Vice President of Operations Services since 2012. He served as Vice President of Drilling at Noble Energy, Inc. He managed Noble’s international West Africa, non-operated and new ventures division since 2002.


Mike is a second-generation McDonald’s Owner/Operator (franchisee). He has been an owner since 2015 and has worked in the McDonald’s system since 2006. Mike and his father operate eight McDonald’s restaurants in the western suburbs of Denver. Mike is originally from Golden, Colorado and loves everything about living an active outdoors lifestyle, including raising his family in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.


Giovanna Carriero‐Contreras is an over 25‐year‐old verified industry expert in interpreting, translation and training services. She is CEO and co‐founder of Cesco Linguistic Services, the language service provider exclusively endorsed by the Colorado Hospital Association. Before co‐founding Cesco she held positions in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States A graduate from the School of Translation and Interpretation in Geneva, Switzerland, she speaks English, Italian, French and Spanish fluently and is very knowledgeable of cultural gaps.