Executive Edge: Nicole Singleton

A chat with the president and CEO of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce

Nicole Singleton last spring was named president and CEO of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, heading up an organization that represents 300 companies and 1,000 individuals.

Prior to joining the chamber, she was president of The Third Eye, an association management company serving national and international professional societies and trade organizations.

A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Singleton, 41, studied business on a full scholarship at the University of Michigan, earned her MBA from Regis University and a master’s degree in applied communication from the University of Denver.

We sat down for a chat.

Q. What’s the best part of your job?
A. The support of the community. It’s required that I get more … and really get to know my community, and that in itself has been so enjoyable. I’m excited over just how many successful black businesses there are in the state. To sit down and hear their stories and what moves them forward is motivation for me.

Q. Why does Colorado need a Black Chamber?
A.  There still tend to be challenges with making sure minority companies are able to get their feet in the door and compete at the same level as those of other ethnic backgrounds. When you look at disparity studies, it’s very clear that minority-owned companies are still under-represented.

Q. Any little known tidbits about you…?
A. I spend a lot of time planning with everything I do. I totally took literally that saying, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’ I love to plan, like the details and seeing how it comes together. With the Chamber, I came in with a full year’s plan of what we would do to lead this organization.

Q.  Word is you were Miss Teen Colorado in 1990?
A.  One of my school administrators at Lakewood High School signed me up. It was a great experience to meet other driven, self-motivated young women. It provided great life training because we needed to know what we stood for and then be able to articulate it.

Q.  Who influenced you most in life?
A. My mother. Even though both parents were involved in my life, I was raised in a single-parent household. She held my hand and provided support. If I said I wanted to walk through this door, she was there to hold that door open for me. My mother never said, ‘You can’t do that.’

Q.  I understand your children are entrepreneurs.
A.   My daughter (Morgan, 11), started a cosmetics company for girls, Morganelyse.com, that sells very soft and appropriate cosmetics for girls. My son (Ethan, 7) has his own T-shirt screening business called All Stars. They’re pretty active. They’re also published authors and run their own publishing company.

Q. How do you unwind?
A.  I love to read. I recently started painting. My kids paint with me. We set up a studio in our house. I love it so much, I’ve started looking at opening a gallery. I also design jewelry.

Q. Any philosophies that guide you?
A.  I read this quote by Erma Bombeck many years ago: ‘When I stand before God at the end of my life I hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say I used everything you gave me.’ I read that quote regularly because it does drive me.

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