“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective or life in RidgeGate? Contact us at email@example.com.
A big thank you to Sarah Neumann Photography for conducting and photographing our RidgeGate Up Close interviews! This month: Susan Stiff, Incoming President of Lone Tree Arts Center Guild and RidgeGate resident. A marketing, public relations and fundraising guru, Susan understands how to articulate value and drum up interest for causes close to her heart. Here she describes how her move to RidgeGate was the catalyst to her involvement in the local arts scene, and the importance of walkable communities.
You’ve had an illustrious career. Tell us about your professional journey.
Susan: “I am currently a Development Officer with Colorado Ballet, with a focus on fundraising events. I previously spent over 30 years in the hospitality industry with companies such as Club Corporation of America, The Broadmoor, and JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek and most recently as Area Director of Public Relations for Denver area Starwood Hotels & Resorts including Westin and Sheraton brand hotels. Much of my Starwood job focus was on establishing and maintaining relationships with hotel partners, most arts related. A recent success was as chair of Saturday Night Alive, the mega- fundraiser for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – we netted $917,000 on an 800 person event!”
How did you end up living in RidgeGate?
Susan: “I have lived in the Denver area for over 25 years, and my late husband and I owned a second home in Verrado, a master planned community west of the Wigwam Resort in the Phoenix area. RidgeGate reminded me of that beautiful neighborhood—both are unique areas with restaurants, shopping, a great arts center and beautiful trails all within walking distance. But the closer for me was the proximity to the Lone Tree Arts Center.”
You are a huge proponent of volunteering time to arts organizations. Which ones do you support?
Susan: “So many places….the Colorado Ballet, Central City Opera, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Fine Arts Foundation and Lone Tree Arts Center.”
The Lone Tree Arts Center is only a stone’s throw away from where you live. What’s it like to walk out your front door, down the street and be sitting in a top-notch cultural performance 10 minutes later?
Susan: “It’s a little surreal having so many amenities so close. The walkability of RidgeGate really sets it apart from other communities. More importantly, having things I want to walk to is the key. In just minutes I can walk to the Lone Tree Rec Center, Bluffs Regional Park, the beautiful new Lone Tree Library, Via Baci, Snooze and Super Target. I often invite friends for pre-performance cocktails at my home, we then walk to the Lone Tree Arts Center for various types of productions and events.”
You’re also the incoming President of the Lone Tree Arts Center Guild. What does the Guild do?
Susan: “The Guild was founded to support the Lone Tree Arts Center. It is a group of individuals who are interested in supporting performing and visual arts. We host various membership events such as Guild Night Out and an annual fashion show. Our largest fundraiser is the annual Lone Tree Arts Center Guild Gala, which was held on October 1st this year. The Gala sold out weeks before the event. We raise our money from Gala ticket sales and table sponsorships, a live auction and paddle raise.”
In your spare time, odds are people can find you hanging out with two characters named “Tess” and “Ted…”
“Tess and Ted are my mother and son Shih Tzu’s, cousins to my last dog, Buck. I adopted them sight unseen and it turns out that Ted has the very same silly personality as my last dog. I love walking them around RidgeGate and they now have many dog “friends.” Most mornings I wake up early and walk to Cabela’s then up to the top of the Montecito neighborhood. The view is fabulous—you can see Downtown Denver and the entire Front Range.”
Finish this sentence: “The secret to happiness is…
“Health and good friends!”