Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce marks historic year with first African-American heading up its board

Denise Burgess says she sees herself providing an inviting space for other women and minority business leaders

Denise Burgess, 2017-2018 chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. (Steph Biermann of Sweet Green Photography)
Denise Burgess, 2017-2018 chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. (Steph Biermann of Sweet Green Photography)
Denise Burgess, 2017-2018 chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. (Steph Biermann of Sweet Green Photography)

Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 150th anniversary this fall with an African American person heading up its board of directors for the first time.

Small business owner Denise Burgess is set to grab the gavel Sept. 6 during the chamber’s annual meeting. Burgess will work with outgoing chair Todd Munson and others on the board of directors to guide the chamber through the 2018 legislative session and beyond.

The board will be tasked with addressing the gap in transportation funding, ways to train students and others for the workforce, issues around housing affordability and the challenges Colorado’s tight labor market is creating for businesses.

Burgess is no stranger to shattering glass ceilings. In 2009, she became the first woman to lead Denver Urban Renewal Authority’s board of commissioners. In addition to the board of directors, she’ll be working with the chamber’s president and CEO Kelly Brough, who became the first woman to hold the role in 2009.

“It’s always bigger than you,” Burgess said Tuesday.

She said she sees herself providing an inviting space for other women and minority business leaders, showing them that they should take a look at the chamber if they haven’t already.

Burgess heads up Burgess Services, a Denver construction management firm her father Clyde Burgess started in 1974. She previously worked on the business side of radio stations including for 107.5 FM when the Lakewood-based station was owned by ABC.

Burgess said she wants to see all of the chamber’s members be successful but she especially wants other small business leaders to know they have “someone there having a voice for them.”

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce officially turns the big one-five-oh Nov. 13. The chamber’s members span the state and include 3,000 businesses and their 300,000 employees.

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Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or @adriandgarcia on Twitter.

Adrian D. Garcia

Author: Adrian D. Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia is on business and trends for Denverite, serves as treasurer for the Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and on the board of the Denver Press Club. He can be reached at agarcia@denverite.com.