A typical day for Cheryl Zimlich, the Fort Collins-based Bohemian Foundation’s executive director, is filled with meetings. The result of each one of those meetings has the potential to make a great impact on Northern Colorado.
Externally she meets with stakeholders and grantees, and internally with program directors and other Bohemian staffers who keep the wheels turning at the foundation.
How often have you started to write a memo on policy updates, an annual report or even an email only to find yourself staring at a blank screen? Many professionals struggle to get started writing — even though they have a general idea of what they should say, they don’t know what to say first.
Zimlich is this year’s Women of Distinction honoree in the nonprofit human services category. She will receive the recognition at the BizWest Women of Distinction breakfast on April 2, 7:30 a.m., at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, Loveland.
Northern Colorado is very aware of the Bohemian Foundation and the effect it has on so many lives, primarily through its youth music programming and initiatives such as the Pharos Fund, which supports nonprofits that positively influence the community. Global Programs funds organizations and entrepreneurs around the world that are dedicated to making a significant difference in the areas of poverty alleviation, public health and the environment, and are on the path to a sustainable, scalable business model.
“Bohemian’s mission is to involve our fellow citizens in the care and improvement of our communities,” Zimlich said. “That shows up in our very specific program areas: community, music, global and civic. Within each one of those are goals and objectives of how we’re focusing our work to achieve that greater mission, especially by involving the community.”
A certified public accountant by training, Zimlich always has made volunteering a priority.
“That’s how I focus on the issues that are important to me,” she said. She’s gives her time to the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority, Book Trust and Little Kids Rock, Homeward 2020, Take Note Colorado and others.
One board position in particular — at Bohemian — changed the trajectory of Zimlich’s career.
“I was asked to be on the board of the foundation,” she said. “We were a hands-on board and it was determined that the role of executive director made sense. I was handling special projects and it seemed like that role was a good fit for me.”
A 1986 graduate of Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Zimlich started at Bohemian in 2001 as a board director and strategy consultant, and was named executive director in 2014.
Zimlich finds fulfillment in her engagement with community members and stakeholders, as well as seeing the impact Bohemian has on organizations and how that in turn impacts individuals.
“In every task, I attribute my effectiveness to listening, developing relationships, and staying in the background while focusing on the work,” she said. “Fueling my collaborative approach is a fundamental belief that we can achieve so much more for our community when we work together.”
In addition to her work with Bohemian and the countless hours she spends on boards and volunteering, Zimlich is inspired to support nonprofits through personal giving. Organizations that pluck her heartstrings focus on community, homelessness, affordable housing and the development of youth in philanthropy, literacy and music.
Tickets for the Women of Distinction event can be purchased here.