Nonprofits  June 7, 2023

Boulder County Business Hall of Fame names 2023 class

The Boulder County Business Hall of Fame has named its Class of 2023.

Honorees will be formally inducted Sept. 14 at the Boulder JCC. Tickets will go on sale in July.

“Since 1972, Boulder County Business Hall of Fame has shined the light on incredible business people that have made a positive impact on our community,” said Scott Green, president of the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame. “We’re thrilled to announce the 2023 inductees. Each one has had a positive influence on the community through their business efforts.”

Class of 2023 inductees, with summaries pulled from their nominations,  include:

Bill Fanning — Bill Fanning began his Boulder County tenure in 1977 as the branch manager of Midland Federal Savings and Loan, where he increased revenue and loan production by 250%, and new accounts and savings base by more than 300%. In 1984, he went to work for Mellon Financial and became the Northern Colorado manager, venturing out on his own in 1990 with Home Loan Mortgage Corp. The company became one the largest producers of construction loans to small builders in the country. After serving as a director for four years, he became president and chairman of the board of the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce in 1983, also serving with many other civic organizations. Fanning died in 2021.

Sean and Rebecca Gafner — Sean and Rebecca Gafner opened their first restaurant, The Roost, in March 2015. The Roost is a modern American restaurant and whiskey bar in downtown Longmont, but the couple has diversified with many other restaurant offerings. Jefes is a taco & tequila restaurant of both authentic Mexican food and drinks, as well as modern, fresh takes on those authentic items. Swaylo’s — a term coined for southwest Longmont — is a Tiki restaurant and bar providing dinner in a beach bungalow, or cocktails with friends inside of a pirate-ship bar. 99 Bar has been the family’s cattle brand dating back to 1930 and serves as the name for the newest entry, the 99 Bar Saloon.

Larry Gold — Larry Gold established the Gold Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder upon his arrival at the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in 1971. The Gold Biosciences Building on campus was renamed in honor of his contributions. Beginning with basic research on bacteria and bacteriophage, the lab shifted its focus to human disease in 1989. The Gold Lab today focuses on the utilization of biological and information technology to improve health care. Gold has won numerous local and national awards, including CU Boulder’s Distinguished Research Lectureship award, the highest honor bestowed by faculty on a faculty member. Gold is the founder and former chairman and CEO of SomaLogic Inc., which develops scans that allow scientists and researchers to identify protein biomarkers for diseases and conditions. Prior to SomaLogic, he founded and was the chairman of NeXagen Inc., which later became NeXstar Pharmaceuticals Inc. In 1999, NeXstar merged with Gilead Sciences Inc. He also co-founded and served as co-director of research at Synergen Inc., a biotechnology company later acquired by Amgen Inc. Gold serves as chairman of Lab79 Technologies Inc., a biotech company in Boulder.

Efrain Gomez — After working in Boulder restaurants since the 1970s, Gomez opened the first Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette in 1991. Roughly six years later, he turned that operation over to his siblings and launched a Boulder location, a spot he owns and operates separately. There, he taught generations of Boulderites what Mexican food — particularly green chile — should taste like. Gomez operated a restaurant in Longmont for 12 years, until 2017. Efrain’s represents an early example of a successful Latino business in the county. The Boulder restaurant recently relocated from its longtime location in an industrial area on 63rd Street to 2480 Canyon Blvd. Efrain’s has been involved with numerous nonprofit organizations, and Gomez is currently working to help provide employment training for students.

Susan Graf — Susan Graf has had an impact on many different industries and sectors in Boulder County, beginning in 1989, when she was hired as vice president of human resources at Leanin’ Tree, an early Boulder entrepreneurial success story. She spent 15 years at Leanin’ Tree, including as vice president of operations, overseeing all manufacturing. She left Leanin’ Tree in 2004 to become the first female president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber. During her eight years at the chamber, she grew the organization’s membership from 1,200 to more than 1,800 members and oversaw the Boulder Economic Council, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Small Business Development Center. After leaving the Boulder Chamber, Susan worked at Bhakti Chai and New Resource Bank, and currently serves as vice president — regional business development at Alpine Bank.

Lucy Sanders — Lucy Sanders is a driving force behind the effort to increase the number of women in technology fields, open up STEM to everyone and improve business practices around diversity and inclusion. She has worked in research-and-development and executive positions at AT&T Bell Labs, Lucent Bell Labs and Avaya Labs, winning the Bell Labs Fellow award in 1996, and many other national awards since. Sanders co-founded the National Center for Women & Information Technology in 2004 and continues to lead NCWIT as the CEO. The scope of engagement spans K-12, colleges and corporations, with the Boulder-based organization having nationwide impact.

The Boulder County Business Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement of business excellence in Boulder County by recognizing and inducting deserving business leaders into the Hall of Fame.

To become a sponsor of the 2023 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame program, contact Merix Gustin at 303-641-7165 or [email protected].

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