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Posted: October 01, 2012

GenXYZ: 10 more of Colorado’s Top 25 Young Professionals

the staff of ColoradoBiz

Erik Mitisek, 35

Co-Founder and vice president, Next Great Place Inc.

Path to success: Mitisek started his first successful business, Riki Wear, as a student at the University of Denver. He has been the first employee or early team member of four Denver companies, and he has been building companies and hiring employees here for more than a decade. Prior to co-founding Next Great Place Inc., he led firm-wide business development and corporate development activities for Exclusive Resorts, where he orchestrated partnerships with companies including Neiman Marcus, American Express, NetJets, Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Morgan Stanley. Before Exclusive Resorts, Mitisek was a pioneer in the online music industry supporting the founders of XACT Radio in building a world-class personalized music software company and was integral in the sale of the firm to PureTracks, a Canadian online music company.

Making an impact: Most recently, Mitisek co-founded Next Great Place, a curated vacation network, with leading Denver entrepreneur Tom Filippini, founder of Exclusive Resorts. The company has since grown to more than 15 employees and attracted investment from a top Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

Connecting with the community: In 2012 Mitisek organized and formalized Startup Mile High, an initiative to amplify entrepreneurship and innovation in Denver.The group’s membership now exceeds 225 entrepreneurial professionals. He is on the board of advisers for the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship.

Jessica Peck, 33

Open Government Institute, Executive Director-Legal Counsel

Path to success: Peck earned a B.S. with honors in Journalism from the University of Colorado, an M.A. with honors in government from Johns Hopkins University, and her law degree from the University of Denver on a public interest scholarship.

Making an impact: In addition to her work at the Open Government Institute, Peck is a principal-founder at Henley Public Affairs, and owner of her own law firm. Peck is a 2012 nominee for the Denver Business Journal’s "Most Influential Women in Business"award. Previous honors include selection as the Colorado Statesman newspaper’s political "Mover and Shaker," a top-three finalist for the Colorado Bar Association’s 2011 "Young Leader of the Year" award, the Phillip Foundation’s prestigious Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship, and the Pulliam Journalism Fellowship. She earlier served as executive director of the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, and is on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s Colorado Advisory Committee, where she chairs the sub-committee on educational due process. In 2004, at age 25, she was a Republican nominee for the Colorado Senate, and was narrowly defeated by a two-term incumbent.

Connecting with the community: In June, she served as a mentor under the U.S. State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative. She maintains an active commitment to donating her time and energy to providing free and reduced-cost legal counsel to indigent individuals and organizations.

Jasmine Peters, 36

Founder, Parenting Wellness Center

Path to success: Born in Atlanta, Peters is a Certified Life Coach and motivational speaker and a single parent of five children, ranging in age from 8 to 16.

Making an impact: Peters was selected to represent Colorado to promote healthy living for black women and girls by national nonprofit GirlTrek. Peters also is the author of "Move Or Be Moved" (Peach Publishing, 2009). She has provided professional coaching for nonprofits, including the Denver Community Resource Center, and in corporate settings. Peters is the founder of Single Parents United and S.E.L.F Leadership and Development for African American Children in the Cherry Creek School District. Peters also authors a Parenting column in Outfront Colorado magazine, which provides parenting tips and encouragement to single parents in the LGBT community. Peters was also a Class of 2012 Leadership Cherry Creek Graduate, an invitation-only program. She also conducts workshops and training programs at low-income housing complexes and Denver-area churches. In 2010, Peters spoke at the Colorado State Legislature on "Single Parenting and Self-Sufficiency."

Connecting with the community: "Jasmine is one of the most focused women I know," says LGBT community colleague Penny DeNoble. "Jasmine is willing to improve her own personal skill sets by taking courses, seeking out mentors and engaging in critique-related activities to ensure she is becoming the best at what she does and the services she provides to her clients."

Nicole Reeves, 35

Senior Vice President, FirstBank Northern Colorado

Path to success: Reeves graduated magna cum laude from Colorado State University with a B.S. degree in business management. She climbed the corporate ladder from a junior officer to a senior vice president and area manager of three branch locations in Greeley and Fort Collins.

Making an impact: "Nicole spends a significant amount of time training, coaching and providing support to junior officers on topics ranging from work/life balance to loan documents," says supervisor Pat Brady. In 2005, Nicole brainstormed a loan concept that would help finance the purchase of real estate through self-directed retirement plans. The ensuing pilot program she managed led to a company-wide launch at all 125-plus locations that has produced more than $30 million in loan originations. In 2007, Nicole played a key role in the creation of the Northern Colorado chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, a nationwide professional association with 8,000 members. She joined FirstBank in 1999.

Connecting with the community: "Nicole has taken FirstBank’s policy of encouraging officers to serve on a nonprofit board to a new level," says Brady. She has served on the board of seven different nonprofit organizations and has actively volunteered with 10 during her FirstBank career.

Chad Ronholdt, 39

Vice President of Strategic Development, LABS Inc.

Path to success: Ronholdt has worked in the medical devices and biologics fields for 13 years. While he is classically trained as a microbiologist, Ronholdt also holds an MBA. In his previous position as director of research and development at nonprofit tissue bank AlloSource, Ronholdt founded a college internship program that educated and trained undergraduate students in basic laboratory techniques and gave them a decisive advantage over their peers upon graduation. Ronholdt has held positions of increasing authority at LABS including senior manager of microbiology, director of research and development, and now vice president of strategic development.

Making an impact: At LABS, Ronholdt manages six R&D employees and empowers staff to push the envelope and look for the "next big thing." Ronholdt tells employees that failure is acceptable, because more is learned from failures than successes. At LABS Ronholdt is charged with identifying, developing and disseminating the corporate strategies and goals to ensure the long-term sustained growth of the company’s $40 million scientific testing laboratory.

Connecting with the community: Ronholdt currently serves as an adjunct professor at Colorado State University’s Microbiology, Pathology and Immunology department. He also speaks to biomedical engineering students about how to take a biologic product to market through the complex product lifecycle process.

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