Two Summit County entrepreneurs honored for creativity, leadership
Two Summit County women will be recognized for their impact on the community through their businesses. Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos and Candy Elkind were selected for the 2015 Mountain Town Business Women’s Awards.
The award’s inaugural year brought in several applicants from across western Colorado, five of who will receive awards this spring.
Lindsay Stapay, director of the Northwest Colorado Small Business Development Centers, said this year’s selection committee consisted of “ladies we thought had a role in economic development in the region.”
The committee was given a rubric with four criteria: leadership, innovation, mentoring and sustainability and longevity.
“What was really interesting, in my opinion, is that we had so many amazing women show up for the health and wellness leadership award,” she said. “We decided to break that one award into two: leadership and emerging leader.”
CARING FOR A COMMUNITY
One of the two nominees, Dr. Ebert-Santos, was recognized for her “Legacy Health and Wellness Leadership” after creating her own clinic more than 15 years ago. While the Ebert Family Clinic was originally formed to support pediatric care, later on, the practice took steps to expand to adult care.
“Being a business woman was not my first goal as a doctor,” she said. “It was very intimidating to me to open my own clinic.”
She moved to Summit County 17 years ago. Prior to moving to the mountains, she had worked in Saipan with the National Health Services.
After living there with her family for several years, she joined her parents and brother in Summit, focused on providing a different opportunity for her children in high school. There, she looked for work as a pediatrician, but none of the local clinics needed one at the time.
“Dr. Jim Bachman took me under his wing and said we really do need a pediatrician here,” Ebert-Santos said.
With the support of her family and the community, on Feb. 1, 2000, she opened her own clinic.
“I still have several patients I took care of that day who are still in my practice,” she said.
Starting off a new business was not easy. She said her first manager, Dana Chambers, helped put everything in place.
“I started my business with a lot of help,” she said. “My mom worked in my office, at the front desk, in the beginning.”
With two practices in both Eagle and Summit Counties, Ebert-Santos would travel with an RN to attend house calls across the mountains to build up their reputation.
“I used to do a lot of house calls, everywhere from the trailer parks in Dotsero to the mansions of Beaver Creek,” she reflected. “We would pack up our vaccines and our scales and our house call kit and do house calls all over Eagle and Summit County.”
While she has consolidated her practice to a Summit County office and no longer conducts house calls, she still takes steps to establish good communication with her patients.
“I tell patients, ‘Call me. I don’t want you to go to the ER if I can take care of it,’” she said.
LEARNING AND GROWING
About three years ago, she began to take steps to expand into adult care. She has hired a psychologist, internist and nurse practitioner and hopes to grow more in the future.
Her experiences are not limited to the clinic — she obtained her masters on healthcare leadership, wrote a thesis on expanding a rural practice under the Affordable Care Act and has conducted a substantial amount of scientific research.
Most recently, she has researched the effects of altitude on growth in children and will soon present her research on high-altitude pulmonary edema to the American Thoracic Society.
She also spends part of her time trying to find ways to make health care more affordable for her patients. With her practice consisting of more than half Medicaid patients, she advocates for affordable health care – from both the perspectives of providers and patients.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, we were always kind of on the brink financially because Medicaid doesn’t pay very much,” she said. “Because reimbursement is lower, many doctors don’t want to see those patients. … I’m very concerned about people’s access to healthcare.”
Despite the challenges of paying for healthcare in the high country, she plans to continue the push to provide to as many as she can.
“Adding the business side to the medical side makes me feel like a much more well-rounded person,” she said. “I feel like I have the best job in the world.”
Candy Elkind, a Breckenridge resident who created her own fundraising business, was awarded “Creative Business Leader” for 2015. Having worked as a professional fundraiser for almost 20 years, she works to create solutions for Colorado Mountain College, the Summit Historical Society and several other local nonprofits.
“With Candy, she has been able to network and really build collaboration,” Stapay noted.
Elkind started her business in 2013, shortly after moving to Summit.
“The job market was tight at the time,” she said. “I decided I have this level of expertise and experience; I’m going to create my own consulting business and see what happens.”
As with any new business, the first few months were difficult. She donated her time and efforts to build up a reputation before she got her first opportunity.
“A lot of organizations up here can’t hire a full-time development person. That’s where I fill that need,” she added.
She chooses clients that match her core values and interests, focusing on nonprofits that work with education, health, fitness and even animal welfare. For example, one of her first clients was Animal Rescue of the Rockies, which brings in pets from high-kill shelters in other states. Not only did she work to help their nonprofit raise funds, but she also ended up adopting her own dog by the end. As the sole proprietor of the company, she has full control over the types of projects, and how many, she chooses to take on.
“I want it to be quality over quantity,” she said. “I want to be able to really get in there and do the work.”
GETTING THE GRANT
When She takes on a client, she helps with grant writing, conversing with stakeholders and brainstorming initiatives to help convey a nonprofit’s work to the community.
For Colorado Mountain College, Elkind works as regional development officer for Summit, Like and Chaffee counties. She helps with all fundraising efforts, but the biggest part of her work with the school is helping fund scholarships.
“CMC is an institution that provides the best opportunity at a very low rate for someone to get an associate’s or bachelor’s,” she said. “It has quite an impact. I don’t think many people know CMC is this little gem in our backyard.”
She has also worked with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and the Wounded Heroes Family Foundation as well as helped the Summit Foundation put on its annual rubber duck race. She is currently working with the Summit Historical Society to brainstorm new ways to connect people with the nonprofit’s work — and the lesser-known pieces of Summit’s history.
Some concepts include a bike tour of historic sites, a tour of historic Lake Dillon, a partnership with local schools — ideas to get visitors out of a “museum mindset.”
“The creative aspect comes through how to reach the unconnected population of that organization,” she said. “Sure, it’s important to go to the current donor base, but how do you reach unaffiliated individuals?”
Two additional Summit women were recognized for their leadership in the local business community. Amy Kemp, co-founder of Elevate Coworking Space in Frisco, and Kristy Lee Gogolen, who creates mobile apps and website through her company, LadyBits Mobile Development, were both recognized as Distinguished Emerging Leader Honorees.
For the award, entrepreneurs were selected who fit a gap in the current marketplace, and who demonstrated an “innovative” and “fearless” approach to business.
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