Fort Collins Chamber Celebrates Community at 115th Annual Event

Jan 30, 2020 | Chamber News

Lucia Liley awarded prestigious Collins Award

The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its 115th Annual Celebration Wednesday evening at the Hilton Fort Collins. More than 650 Chamber members and others from the area came together to celebrate the success of the Fort Collins Chamber and the business community.

This year’s theme incorporated how the Chamber is a Catalyst for business growth, a Convener of leaders and influencers, and a Champion for stronger communities.

“The Chamber has a lot of roles in the community. The three ‘c’ language is our way of simplifying and explaining what we do,” said David May, Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO. “The Chamber accomplished many things in 2019 that proactively empowered business-people to build a community where business can thrive, and citizens are proud to live. Tonight’s program is a celebration of those accomplishments and our community.”

Throughout the evening, several business leaders were recognized with Chamber honors, including:

2019 Collins Award Winner:  Lucia Liley, Liley Law Office
The Collins Award, established in 1977, recognizes individuals with a long-standing contribution to the community. As a principal with Liley Law, Lucia is a highly regarded land use, real estate and business attorney in Northern Colorado. After graduating from Colorado State University with high distinction, Lucia obtained her law degree from the University of Colorado and began practicing in Fort Collins.

Lucia served as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Fort Collins from 1976 to 1978 and as City Attorney from 1978 to 1981. Since leaving the City Attorney’s office, her practice has focused almost exclusively on local government and administrative law, annexation, land use, zoning, real estate and development law in Northern Colorado. Lucia’s community involvement extends well beyond downtown. In addition to twice chairing the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority, Lucia also twice chaired the Fort Collins Economic Development Corporation. She has been active with the Fort Collins Housing Authority, the Community Foundation, and she spearheaded two large bond issues for Poudre School District.

Among others, past recipients of the Collins Award include: David Wood, Larry Kendall, Tom Gleason, Bohemian Companies, Curt and Nancy Richardson, Mark Driscoll, Gordan Thibedeau and last year’s winner, Dr. Tony Frank.

2019 Volunteers of the Year: Deb Kelly, Independent Financial and Mat Dinsmore, Wilbur’s Total Beverage

Deb Kelly and Mat Dinsmore have been instrumental leaders for the past two years during the Chamber’s annual Moving Fort Collins Forward! Campaign. In 2019, while serving as co-chairs again, the two led 50 volunteers on 11 teams, raising $585,000 and 122 new members for the Chamber organization. Without these volunteers, the Chamber would not have the means to impact the big issues.

2019 Chair: Pete Gazlay, Total Facility Care

Immediate Past Chair of the Board, Pete Gazlay, was honored for his service leading the Chamber in 2019. During his remarks, Pete commented on how the Chamber has worked hard on a variety of things to improve the livability and vitality of Northern Colorado including: shorter commutes, safer roads; continuing to fight for reliable, affordable electricity; supporting workers to develop skills and help employers find talent; advocating for more affordable housing and childcare from a business perspective; and focusing on creating high-quality, high-paying jobs.

“I’m happy to say that the Chamber was a catalyst relative to all these agenda items with a great deal of   work on Interstate 25 (I-25), the launch of, strong advocacy for attainable housing in the area and a key convener around the issue of economic development in Northern Colorado,” said Gazlay.

Retiring Chamber Board Members: Connie Dohn, Ethan Gannett, Todd Headley, Kathleen Henry and Chris Otto

2019 Local Legislative Affairs Committee (LLAC) Chair: Mike Brown, Western States Bank

The Chamber was also honored to have Colorado State University President Joyce McConnell join on stage. President McConnell gave an update on the happenings within the university, including highlighting the university’s sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary.

Also, during the evening Sandra Hagen Solin of Capitol Solutions and the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance’s lobbyist, was recognized for her leadership on I-25 and efforts securing the funds for the additional lanes.

“Sandra has been a major strategist and connector on transportation for Larimer and Weld Counties and has been voice for transportation funding in Colorado through Fix Colorado Roads. Because of her work, a billion dollars has been committed by the Legislature over the past four years for transportation statewide that may not have been,” said May.

Nick Haws, current Chamber Board Chairman and President & CEO of Northern Engineering expressed how the Livability Agenda from 2019 remains a great focus and gave the audience an overview of the Chamber’s 2020 priorities which include:

  • Elevate work to influence public policy that will impact business and the economy
  • Continue to lead the effort to secure funding to widen I-25 to 3 lanes between Highway 14 and Highway 66
  • Help businesses find the workers they need by supporting the existing sector partnerships for manufacturing and health care, helping to launch the new trades sector partnership
  • Talent 2.0, marketing and launching a new talent pipeline development initiative
  • Proactively contact and help existing primary employers
  • Conduct feasibility work to decide whether to conduct a fund-raising campaign to continue the work of Northern Colorado Prospers.
  • Secure reaccreditation
  • Generate $600,000 and 100 new members during 10th annual Moving Fort Collins Forward!

“As a small business (owner), I am happy to continue to carry the banner for small independent businesses that make up a large share of our membership,” said Haws. “As a Chamber we have a lot of momentum and some big initiatives in front of us.”

The Annual Celebration would not have been possible without the generous support of the 2019 sponsors.

Silver Sponsors: Blue Federal Credit Union, NAI Affinity & Western States Bank

Reception Sponsors: BKD, Comcast, Flood and Peterson & Platte River Power Authority

Bronze Sponsors: Anheuser-Busch, BluSky Restoration, Brinkman Construction, Coan, Payton & Payne, LLC, Cushman & Wakefield, Ent Credit Union, Fort Collins Connexion, Markley Motors LLC, NOCO Style, OfficeScapes, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. & The Group, Inc.

Media Sponsors: Jet Marketing & KRFC 88.9 FM Radio Fort Collins

Table Sponsors: Adams Bank & Trust, ANB Bank, Banner Health, BHA Design Inc., BizWest Media, Canvas Credit Union, Columbine Health Systems, Ed Carroll Motor Company, FirstBank of Northern Colorado, FNBO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HUB International, Independent Bank, Mortenson Construction, Northern Engineering Services Inc., Old Town Media, Plante Moran, Sorensen Roofing & Exteriors & WaterPik


About the Fort Collins Area Chamber

The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce is the leading business association in Northern Colorado, dedicated to helping business succeed. Investing in the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce puts members in contact with more than 1,285 business owners and managers in the market. For more than 100 years, the Fort Collins Area Chamber has helped shape the Fort Collins region into one of the most livable places in America. For more information about the Chamber, call (970) 482-3746 or visit