Economy & Economic Development  April 16, 2024

Boulder County Business Hall of Fame names 9 to 2024 class

BOULDER —  The Boulder County Business Hall of Fame has selected nine business leaders to induct into the class of 2024, the organization said Tuesday.

Carol and Harvey Yoakum, Ann Cooper, Andrew Quillen, Daniel Vonalt, Kurt Quillen, Dr. Tom Cech, Philip DiStefano and Clair Beckmann will be inducted at a ceremony scheduled for Sept. 18 at the Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave. in Boulder.

Since its founding in 1992, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has recognized more than 170 business leaders.

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“Boulder County is home to an incredible, innovative and thriving business community, and we are honored to once again recognize a number of outstanding business and community leaders,” said Scott Green, who chairs the organization’s board of directors. “This year’s inductees carry on the rich tradition of not only business success, but strong examples of community service, philanthropy and leadership in breaking through barriers and stereotypes.”

Harvey Yoakum is being inducted posthumously. The Yoakums were pillars of the Longmont community and mentored others to community service, a legacy Carol Yoakum continues. She  was one of the developers of Meadow Green Farm, a thoroughbred training center, and was one of the signers when the Longmont United Hospital Foundation was formed. The Yoakums developed Raspberry Hill Business Park, where Stevinson Lexus, Stapp Toyota and other businesses are located today. The Yoakums were active in philanthropic endeavors in many states, including founding programs at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility in Kansas, and carpeted the Spiritual Life Center there. In Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, they started a 32-bed drug and alcohol treatment facility that was later sold to the Chickasaw Nation and is now an adolescent treatment facility.

Cooper has been a leader in Boulder County residential real estate for more than 25 years. Throughout her career, she has assisted nonprofits in the sale of gifted real estate without compensation and mentored young people from all backgrounds who have an interest in real estate. She has been a lifelong leader, role model and advocate for social justice, has served on many volunteer boards and received a number of awards for her efforts. She also spearheaded an effort to create a fund at Community Foundation Boulder County for the benefit of BIPOC women. She believes in the “Beloved Community” concept popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King and is passionate about helping Boulder be just that.

The Quillens and Vonalt own Main Street Mat Co., which carries on a legacy that began in Longmont in 1895. The company was certified green by Partners for a Clean Environment in 2008 and was deregulated by the Environmental Protection Agency for its innovative wastewater discharge. For more than a century, Main Street Mat has been a leader in business innovations, including automated material handling systems, water reuse, wastewater treatment and electrical co-generation. Through investments in leading-edge equipment, the company today produces three times the energy it consumes and sells electricity back to the grid.

At the University of Colorado Boulder, Cech and his research group discovered that the genetic material RNA could act as a biocatalyst, leading to Colorado’s first Nobel Prize in 1989. He taught freshman chemistry to more than 2,000 students over the years, and founded one of the first RNA biotech companies, Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., in Boulder. In 2000, he moved to Washington, D.C., as president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, but returned to CU Boulder in 2009 and became the founding director of the BioFrontiers Institute. His awards include the National Medal of Science in 1995 and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine.

DiStefano has spent his entire professional career as a leader within the CU Boulder community, serving as an educator, dean, provost and chancellor. Upon his retirement as chancellor this summer, he will transition to senior executive director of the CU Boulder Center for Leadership. Throughout his career, DiStefano has been committed to making CU Boulder a nationally recognized research institution that shapes tomorrow’s leaders and has a positive impact on humanity. A first-generation college graduate, he is a supporter of Buffs athletics, a champion of democracy and a believer in the value of town-gown partnerships.

Beckmann began her commercial banking career with First National Bank in Boulder as a credit manager in 1975 — then an unusual role for a woman. In less than a decade, she was promoted to vice president, responsible for commercial and construction lending, and made early loans to success stories such as Peppercorn and Kinko’s. In 1984, she was named president and CEO of Affiliated First National Bank of Louisville. Over the next seven years, Beckmann led the bank through re-capitalization and successfully established it as one of the most profitable in Colorado, while also banking much of Main Street in Louisville. Beckmann served as regional president for JPMorgan Chase with responsibility for the Boulder County market for many years before her retirement, and remains an active volunteer and member of the community.

In addition to recognizing and inducting Boulder County business leaders, the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame also provides scholarships to Boulder County high school students who wish to attend CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business and to students at Front Range Community College. In total, nearly $150,000 in scholarships have been awarded.

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