There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Fawn Anderson | Host and Creator of The podcast, Our Friendly World With Fawn and Matt

From the time I was a toddler, I quietly observed the culture I was born into — in Iran — as well the one my family and I had moved to in the United States. I listened and watched everything, everywhere, and I remember it all. I witnessed my family try to manage living in a country with a diverse range of kindness and animosity. I saw and felt a tug of war that existed on just about every level. I felt racial/cultural acceptance one day, and its total opposite the next. I felt the closeness of one culture that held their elders and young close under one roof; under another, children were told they were out on their own at age eighteen, as their elders were put into a separate home. I saw parents splitting up and kids carrying keys and raising themselves until their parents came home from long hours at work. Read more>>

Noraelisa Sparks | Chronic Health Hippie Blogger

I was born in Mexico and raised in Dallas, Texas. I was a gymnast and raised with parents who were differently abled, so health was always a focus of my life. When I retired and started getting chronic migraines, having symptoms of an undiagnosed chronic illness, and experiencing anxiety, depression, and PTSD from an assault, I felt alone and did not have much of a support group to go to. I also had food allergies and not many others understood them and what they could do or where we could go to eat safely. That is when I decided to create Chronic Health Hippie, to spread love and support to others like me who may feel alone with their chronic illnesses and who may need some help with understanding their illness and food allergies. My posts are full of positivity and relatable ideas, as well as resources to go to for safe eating and mental health awareness. Read more>>

Ann Baron | CEO & Founder

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and my Dad was an insurance agent. Seeing his hard work and success gave me a role model for building my own business, Northern Colorado Community. I attended college and went into teaching. Then, I had a 20+ year career in the insurance field. The last career before starting my own business was working for a local chamber. I loved working with small businesses and being that resource to them. Over four years ago, I founded Northern Colorado Community. Seeing a kid from a poor farm in Kansas grow up to be a well-respected business man and great family man too. The American dream is coming from nothing to make something of yourself. Read more>>

Roy Pfaltzgraff | Regenerative Farmer, Beekeeper & Chef

I grew up on the family farm south of Haxtun, Colorado. I helped when it was needed, but most of the work was done by my father and grandfather. As I got older, I moved up to driving the tractor and when I was lucky, and if dad and grandpa were busy, I got to drive the combine. My father was always trying different things and constantly struggled with my grandfather who’s attitude was this is the way its always been done so why change. My father raised sunflowers in 1975 and started using computerized bookkeeping in 1979. He added minimum till practices in the 1980’s and in 1999 went 100% no till. We have added GPS guidance, mapping, soil testing, auto steering and many other things. When I returned to the farm for the second time in 2016 I came back with the innovative streak firmly imbedded in my mentality. This is when soil health practices and regenerative agriculture were starting to come to the forefront so it was natural for me to focus on those areas with the same innovative approach that my father had farmed with. Read more>>

Shara Oliman | Impressionist Paper Collage Artist

I grew up on the East Coast and in the Midwest, with a family that encouraged big ideas, reading, creating, interacting with nature and traveling. My father is from South Africa and we always had an international experience. These adventures and memories were important to me and helped in shaping my identity. I was fortunate to experience various forms of art (theater, musical performances and creativity through cooking, to name a few. When it came time to choose a career, I found myself in NYC working in advertising with print media through a degree in Journalism. Through that experience, I was surrounded by magazines and loved it. I also realized that I had a love for creative expression and presenting and teaching. This led me to pursue a MS Childhood Education. Then I became a parent, which was the ultimate teaching experience, and test of creativity. I needed to be able to have a creative outlet, in a time and space that allowed me to work from home. Read more>>

Keely Buchanan | Educational Consultant & Mama to Arlo and Nelson

I was born and raised in a small town (village) in Alaska – surrounded by wilderness, tight-knit community, hippies, artists, and entrepreneurs. I learned early on that I could be and do anything that I wanted or could dream of (as long as I was willing to plan and work for it), and that the only person who could possibly get in my way was me. I worked full time every summer starting when I was 14, working weekends during the school year. My work ethic is genetic, both my parents setting influential examples. I consider myself an Alaskan always, even though I’ve now been out of Alaska (leaving to attend DU in 1997) longer than I was there, and I will forever be a “small town” person. Read more>>

Debbie Sam | Owner Operator Local Butcher Shop

I was born a butcher’s daughter. My father was a Chinese immigrant and my mother a Japanese American. They both had endured greater struggles that I can only imagine, yet never fully understand. My father migrated to the states at the age of 17 with $2.00 in his pocket and the expectation of obtaining an education and providing for his family back home in China. Although his Uncle Floyd held education as the only one possession that no one could ever take from one, my father had become drawn to the idea of becoming a butcher. In the 50’s butchers were as highly regarded as those with the greatest of educations. It was an honorable career and he worked diligently to obtain his dream. My mother, a US born citizen spent her childhood in an internment camp and once released the family dispersed and separated. My mother had lost her grandmother during the internment as well as her parents. Read more>>

Stephanie Sikora | Professional Organizer

Four pieces from my background as a healthcare professional really impact who I am today and the work that I do. Process Improvement – In healthcare and home organizing we are looking at how to improve different processes. In healthcare that may be improving the patient experience as they move through the system while in organizing we look at how we can simplify life for our client by improving processes in the home. Behavior Change – With both healthcare patients and organization clients, we are working to form new habits and help them understand the behavior changes necessary for maintaining this new lifestyle – whether that is healthier or more organized. It’s a journey beyond the one-time event of time spent in the hospital or an organization session. Burnout – In healthcare we often studied burnout among healthcare providers. I have found that organization clients who are overwhelmed and stressed by their disorganized space suffer the same symptoms and signs of burnout. Read more>>

Trish Bonney | Principal Designer & Owner, TAB Interior Designs.

I am originally from a tiny town in Vermont, one mile from the Canadian Border. Growing up, when asked what I wanted to be I always said “an artist”. Unfortunately, when I was in high school I realized college was financially not a possibility for me, I decided to join the Air Force. I did my 20 years in the military, but all while still dreaming of artistic and creative outlets. When I retired, I decided to go back to school again (I have degrees from while I was in the military) for interior design. Growing up in the military has definitely been a positive impact for my career today…I am well aware of how to multitask, I have a huge respect for timelines, my ethical values are important as I am very upfront with clients in tough situations, and my ability to wear many hats for the many roles involved in our industry has for sure been beneficial. Read more>>

Tobias Fike | Artist and Educator

I’m a kid from the Midwest.  I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and moved to Kansas City when I was 10. I ended up going back to Lincoln for undergraduate studies, before moving to Denver after college. The impact of growing up in those places is probably beyond anything I am consciously aware of, but it has affected the way I make art. It starts with my muted color palette, and my gravitation towards minimalism. I equate these preferences to those vast, open prairie landscapes, with monochromatic scenery. Also, family has always been important to me, something passed down from my parents, and an upbringing where I would frequently see my father’s family of 60+ people. I have even included these family members in my work, by once having them all clap to my heartbeat for one minute. Read more>>