April 10, 2017

Laurie Steele, Burns Marketing

2017 Women of Distinction - Leading Lady

Taking a risk to move from ease to opportunity put Laurie Steele on the road to one of her future passions.

“I couldn’t have ever imagined campaigning for myself, but I did — even to the point of having a locally televised debate,” she said, recalling her run for a position with the Health District of Larimer County.

Since landing that seat on the board of directors, Steele has gone on to similar roles with organizations such as the UCHealth Medical Group and the University of Colorado Health System. “That position was the beginning of me volunteering in health care.”

In addition to her volunteer work, Steele is senior vice president of Burns Marketing. Both industries pose similar challenges, she said — mainly the need to keep up with constant change.

“The internet and social media have flipped things on their side and increased the rate of change in communication,” she said. “It creates a waterfall of requests, and clients expect immediate responses and deliverables because of it.”

To keep up with those demands at work, Steele uses a divide-and-conquer approach by delegating tasks to whoever is best suited for them. “For example, some young people are eager, quick and love to learn technology so I get them to figure things out and then teach them to me.”

The practice fits well with what Steele values as a top leadership characteristic. “You need to be willing to take risks to help others be leaders with your guidance,” she said, “and then you need to get out of their way.

“I appreciate helping others to succeed, do great things and then get credit for doing them.”

“Laurie has mentored many young people and helped them navigate the challenging aspects of creating strategic marketing efforts,” said Glory Burns, Burns Marketing’s corporate counsel.  “She has outstanding leadership abilities and brings an exceptional level of enthusiasm to every organization lucky enough to have her on their team.”

For the past seven years, Steele has been volunteering both time and money to the Samburu Youth Education Fund in Kenya. The organization provides funding for young students.

“Public education ends in the eighth grade there,” she said. “It would take their parents a full year’s salary to be able to send them to high school.”

Money that is raised for those scholarships goes directly to paying that tuition.

“We’ve been to those impoverished areas of Kenya — some hard and very rustic trips,” Steele said, referring to the four trips she and her husband have taken there as volunteers.

“It’s very eye opening to be reminded that we’re so privileged in this country. It makes you realize that things aren’t really so bad here.”

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