Colorado Business Hall of Fame Welcomes 5 New Inductees in 2023
Robin Wise, president and CEO of JA-Rocky Mountain, cited the contributions of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees to the free enterprise system.
Robin Wise, president and CEO of JA-Rocky Mountain, cited the contributions of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees to the free enterprise system. “Through their actions and accomplishments, the laureates were selected for their enduring entrepreneurial efforts and business excellence, ethical standards and philanthropic endeavors that have made Colorado stronger,” Wise said. “They are outstanding role models for the next generation as they take the reins of leadership in the years to come.”
2023 Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates
Bill Berger began his career by managing equity portfolios for Colorado National Bank’s trust department in 1950. Over the next 40 years, he helped establish Denver as one of the largest mutual fund centers outside of New York and Boston and had a hand in the growth of at least three families of mutual funds. These included the Centennial Fund and Gryphon Fund (the two later merged into the Founders Growth Fund), and what would eventually evolve into Invesco Funds family of mutual funds, which is now part of Amvescap PLC, a global money manager.
In 1974, Berger founded Berger Associates to manage two portfolios – the Berger 100 fund, which invested in small companies, and the Berger 101 fund. As a portfolio manager, he led the Berger 100 fund to top-five status among diversified mutual funds in the country. In 1994, he sold Berger Associates to Kansas City Southern Industries, the railroad and financial-services company.
Berger also served as chairman of Urban League of Colorado as a member of the Budget Committee for United Way. Following the sale of Berger Associates, he formed two charitable foundations – one for art education, Berger Collection Education Trust, and WMBBerger Foundation, which offers opportunities for young people to connect with nature and experience outdoor activities.
After his college career was interrupted while he served as a volunteer ambulance driver in the American Field Service with the British Eighth Army in Italy, Berger graduated from Yale in 1948.
Mary Pat Link
Mary Pat Link has been a leader in innovation and champion for nonprofits for more than 40 years. She founded Interlink Group, later acquired by Dell Computer, and now serves alongside husband John Strohm as a founding member and managing partner of Farrell-Roeh Group.
Originally from Illinois, Link started her career in Chicago as a computer programmer in 1981. She relocated to Colorado and in 1989 started an independent computer consulting business, which eventually became Interlink Group Inc. Under Link’s leadership, Interlink Group grew from one employee to 400, with offices in six states and Pune, India. Link’s other career highlights include serving as a co-founder and board member of Countermind-Ventures LLC, a software company with mobile and wireless product offerings.
Link currently is involved with the Strohm-Link Family Foundation she started with her husband and family, through which she helps provide financial support and leadership to various organizations in Colorado and nationally. Link earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Iowa and completed her graduate studies in Burgos, Spain.
Beginning in his 30s, Jay Anthony Precourt embarked on a career in oil and gas and has since founded five successful energy companies, including a NYSE company that sold in 12 years for 21 times the initial investment, and another for 24 times in five years.
Throughout his career, Precourt has held extensive public company board positions, serving in a range of roles from board chairman to leading various executive committees with Hamilton Oil, Timken Co., Apache Corp., Baroid, Dresser Industries, Halliburton, Tejas Gas Corp., as well as several large private industrial corporations and nonprofits.
Precourt has supported the efforts of the Vail Valley Foundation in notable ways. He was instrumental in the 2001 Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater capital campaign and has been a generous contributor to the Foundation’s YouthPower365, which helps serve more than 4,200 youth in early childhood, kindergarten through 12th grade and career-college readiness programs.
At Stanford, Mr. Precourt is the founding donor of the Precourt Institute for Energy and is vice-chairman of its Advisory Council. He is a member of the Woods Institute for Environment’s Advisory Council and founded Global Energy Forum, now located at Stanford.
Precourt holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard.
Frederick Ross founded Frederick Ross & Co. in 1888 – a real estate company that touched almost every corner of Colorado. The company, now Newmark, has built Denver’s skyline for 134 years.
At 22 years old, Ross moved to Colorado to help alleviate symptoms of his tuberculosis. At the time, Denver was a simple “cow town.” Because of Mr. Ross’ foresight and gumption to begin a real estate company, Denver began to come to life. Under his leadership and partnership with other business leaders, Ross worked to secure water rights for the city and oversaw the planning of the Moffat Tunnel, which provided a way for water to travel through the Continental Divide. He worked alongside elected officials to transform what was once a slum into what we now know as Civic Center Park. He improved the Denver Public Library and was instrumental in helping build the library’s first permanent site at Colfax and Bannock in 1910.
Ross’ career wasn’t solely focused on commercial feats. He envisioned housing beyond the central business district. He helped develop the Country Club Place subdivision near the Denver Country Club, as well as the Park Hill subdivision. Ross’ impact extends decades; Frederick Ross & Co. is one of the only real estate companies to span from the 20th to the 21st century. After his passing in 1938, leaders in Ross’ real estate company continued to build Denver and its metro area, fundamentally changing the city and real estate industry forever.
Ross served as president of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners, was a charter member of Denver’s Planning Commission, and as a member of the Denver Parks Committee appointed by the mayor, which oversaw the acquisition of Red Rocks, Evergreen, Summit and Echo Lake parks. In 1915, he worked with the Joint Committee of the Real Estate Exchange and Chamber of Commerce, persuading Congress to create one of Colorado’s most iconic parks – Rocky Mountain National Park.
When Ross died, his will outlined the formation of the Ross Library Trust, securing funds for the building of branch libraries across the state.
Mark Smith has 50 years of experience in real estate development, sales and marketing. He is a founding principal and managing partner of Slifer Smith and Frampton and was a founding principal of both East West Partners and Union Station Neighborhood Company.
Smith is most proud of the significant contributions he has made to his community by being the founder of highly impactful organizations, including Youth Foundation (now Youth Power 365), Platte Forum and Riverfront Park Community Foundation.
Colorado’s business community has also benefited from Smith’s real estate development contributions, including development in Vail, Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, Breckenridge, Keystone Resorts, Riverfront Park in Denver, and Union Station in downtown Denver. His leadership and vision in the master planning and development of both Riverfront Park and Union Station communities was acknowledged when he received the Urban Land Institute Global Award for Excellence.
Other accolades Smith has earned include Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2001, the first-ever Friend of the River award from the Greenway Foundation in 2011, and ColoradoBiz magazine’s CEO of the Year award in 2014.
Smith’s community involvement extends to the board room as well, with current board affiliations with Colorado Forum, First Western Financial, Forbes Global Properties, Riverfront Park Community Foundation, Slifer Smith and Frampton Foundation, and Chief Executives Organization. He has served as chairman of the Beaver Creek Metropolitan District, Bravo Colorado Vail Valley Music Festival, Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District, and Downtown Denver Youth Foundation. Smith also served as a director of numerous youth and education-focused organizations, including Denver Public Schools Foundation, YPO Rocky Mountain Chapter, Teach for America Colorado, Colorado Succeeds, Mayor’s Leadership Team on Early Education, Colorado Uplift, and the Charter Fund, among many others.