We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I know I’m more of a risk-taker than some of my fellow business owners. I don’t take risks lightly, but I tend to be confident in making those decisions that others might shy away from, or hesitate to make for fear of failure. In my mind, it’s ok to fail at something; failure can be a way to gain important experience and learn valuable lessons. I think I was raised in such a way that I was confident enough to try new things. I’ve always been unafraid to jump in and try things out. Some people see that as risky, where I see it as opportunity. I took the risk of starting a business with my friend. I worked as much as I could on the business while still working full-time. As soon as I could, I took a leap of faith and quit my successful career and moved full-time to our business. That risk has paid off, and has put me on a completely different life path than I ever envisioned. One full of purpose and meaning.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the co-owner of A Brighter Community. We provide services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We want to provide a meaningful life to these extraordinary people, and we do that by providing successive meaningful days through person-centered activities and services. I’m proud of the reputation we have of a gold standard, high quality program. Our staff are amazing people who, in an industry facing a turnover crisis among direct care providers, love their job and the people they serve. We have long-term staff who are dedicated, creative, and amazing individuals. They are the backbone of the business. I started my career in Remote Sensing and Satellite Imagery after getting a master’s in Geography at age 24 and had a successful career in that industry for 24 years. My career change came about because a neighbor of mine had a baby with Down syndrome and I fell in love with that little baby. I met my business partner, who worked at the time at the Mile High Down Syndrome Association. A few years later, her daughter (who had Down syndrome and autism) passed away at the young age of 15. She had adopted Janet Kay at her birth, always having dreamed of adding a baby girl with Down syndrome to her family. She already had three kids, the second of whom was born with Down syndrome: Tommy. After Janet Kay’s death, she wanted a safe and happy program for Tommy, who was in his late 20s at the time. This is why she started A Brighter Community, and I jumped on the bandwagon with her as an investor. I became more and more involved at our company, and took over the operations within a couple of months, working part-time in addition to my busy career. After a year or two, I realized my “other job” (my career) was really getting in my way, keeping me from what I was really enjoying: our company. In January of 2018 I left my career for good to focus fully on A Brighter Community. Since then, we have purchased a 17,000 square foot building, remodeled, and more than doubled the number of people we serve. Robin directs the program while I conduct operations and finance. Together, we formed the vision, mission, and values of our company. Together, we ensure that our culture is socialized throughout our staff and the friends we support. We currently offer day program services, the family caregiver model of residential services, prevocational classes, and supported employment. Most recently, my business partner and I decided to open another business: Get Out Escape Rooms in Wheat Ridge, CO. We plan to hire some of our friends with IDD at our new business, where they can work for a competitive wage, integrated into their community. Our companies bring us great joy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are a lot of fun things to do in this area. I love to eat at fun places, trying new food. We would eat downtown, go to an escape room, take a drive in the mountains, maybe go shopping in some of the mountain towns, and just relax and visit. If it’s summertime and we are really adventurous, maybe rafting or riding motorbikes through the aspen. If it’s winter, you might talk me into skiing for a little while as long as we can get warmed up by the fire or in the hot tub.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents must be recognized for whatever might be good in me. They provided a solid foundation for my sense of self, my confidence, my love of trying new things and learning, and how to be a good person. They taught me to love God and others. They were and still are my role models. I must also recognize my best friend and business partner, Robin, who has and continues to have a large influence on my life. Because of her, I had the chance to co-own our business. She urged me to pursue my PhD. She provides levity and hilarity at just the right doses, and is heroic to me in so many ways.