Mark and Deb Spiers honored as the Spirit of the Summit in annual philanthropy awards
BRECKENRIDGE — The Summit Foundation has named local couple Mark and Deb Spiers as the Spirit of the Summit for the organization’s annual philanthropy awards. Since moving to Breckenridge to retire from the world of pharmaceuticals, the pair has been involved in a variety of boards and community organizations, including The Summit Foundation itself.
“There are so many people in the community who do so much,” Deb said. “I think there are any number of people who could receive it. I’m honored that they’re recognizing Mark.”
“And I’m honored that they’re recognizing Deb,” said Mark, who was president of the foundation from 2017 through September.
With Mark now a past president and the Spiers thinking of moving out of Summit County, Maureen Westerland — who has worked with Mark on The Summit Foundation and Summit Community Care Clinic boards — nominated the couple in honor of their dedication to the community.
Mark is now spending most of his time focusing on being the president of Peak Health Alliance, Summit County’s health care purchasing cooperative. Like the mental health initiative Building Hope, the Peak Health Alliance spun off of The Summit Foundation. The foundation served as a fiscal agent and transformed the programs into their own nonprofits.
“Peak Health would not have been started at all if it was not for the support of The Summit Foundation, which put up $150,000 to do the initial study to understand the health care cost implications in Summit County,” Mark said.
Meanwhile, Deb was on the board for Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Continental Divide from 2012-2016, Breckenridge Creative Arts from 2013-2018 and is still on the board of the Keystone Science School since joining in 2017. Deb enjoys how the school and its various programs foster critical thinking in young minds.
“Given the complexity of our world right now, I think that is just a vital skill,” she said.
• Outstanding Philanthropist: Howard and Sue Carver
• Outstanding Board Member: Kim Dufty
• Outstanding Business: Omni Real Estate
• Outstanding Citizen: Dr. Walter G. Briney
• Outstanding Educator: Chris Hall
• Outstanding Professional in a Nonprofit: Noelle Sivon
• Outstanding Volunteer: Mary Anne Johnston
• Outstanding Youth: Summit High School Mountain Dreamers
• Outstanding Youth Mentor: Aaron Landau and EVO3
• Community Collaboration: Youth Empowerment Society
• Spirit of the Summit: Mark and Deb Spiers
Though she considers herself an average arts enthusiast, Deb also was thrilled to be a part of the organization and help Breckenridge grow its arts scene.
“The challenge of helping the town broaden its reputation beyond just recreation and creating something that didn’t exist before, or was in a nascent form in the town, was really a very engaging project to me,” Deb said.
The Spiers met working together for Bristol-Myers Squibb after the two pharmaceutical companies merged into one.
“My dad was in the pharmaceutical industry, my brother was in the pharmaceutical industry, and at that time, it was a much different industry than it is now,” Mark said.
Work relocated them to Australia, where they married, and a passion for skiing eventually brought them to Colorado.
“At the time, we had a timeshare in Eagle County,” Deb said. “One winter, I broke my arm, and we started looking at property since I couldn’t ski. We really fell in love with Breckenridge because it was a town as opposed to a ski resort.”
Coming from hectic careers of management and sales, that palpable homey feeling and neighborly love that embraces philanthropy sparked a desire to get more involved in the community than they had at their past residences.
After Mark learned more about The Summit Foundation and its wide-ranging mission — from scholarships, to health, to culture and more — he was hooked and came on board in 2014.
“It really touched on everything, and that was the piece I found most appealing.”
Some might think that The Summit Foundation awarding its past president is a little self-serving, but Mark said it’s a common discussion that happens each year, especially given that the board has 35 members.
“So you find many board members of The Summit Foundation who are involved not only with the foundation, but a number of other organizations,” Mark said. “In some ways, its hard not to recognize those folks for multiple contributions that they’ve made.
“The Summit Foundation plays a huge umbrella role for all nonprofits in the community. It is inspiring, every year when you go to this, to see what people — both adults and high school students — have done. It really is the heart of all of the philanthropy that is going on in the community and the county.”
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