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Five honored for ‘lighting up’ county

By Amanda Arthur and Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — From a pool of more than 40 nominations, five Boulder County women were honored Wednesday as “Women Who Light Up the Community” by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s humbling,” Lafayette’s Edie Ortega said of winning the award. “I’m very honored,” she continued, adding that credit is also due to the countless other people she says have worked with her in her endeavors.

Now retired from a three-decade career with US West — later Qwest — Ortega was honored for her work outside the job as much as for her groundbreaking career.

“Edie has always been such a role model for women in business, because she’s not only done her job but she’s been a huge inspiration through her volunteerism,” said Alice Swanson, executive vice president of the Boulder Chamber. “She’s a strategist, which is so needed these days in business and in the nonprofit world.”

The Boulder County organizations for which Ortega has volunteered are too numerous to list, but Clinica Campesina, the “I Have A Dream Foundation” of Boulder County and the YWCA are three of them. Now retired, Ortega has also represented Boulder County in her work with the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, the Colorado State University President’s Leadership Program and the Catholic Charities Board.

“We kind of look for the unsung heroes,” Swanson said, “people who haven’t necessarily been in the papers.”

Now in its ninth year, the Women Who Light Up the Community event drew approximately 300 people to the Raintree Plaza Conference Center on Wednesday.

Other honorees included:

•Lynda Gibbons, who co-founded Boulder’s Gibbons-White Inc., a commercial real estate company, more than 20 years ago.

Gibbons acts as a CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, directly helping children in the social services system. She also is involved with Blue Sky Bridge, an advocacy organization for abused and neglected children.

•Nicky Malone, the author of four books dealing with women’s issues, including “How to Father a Successful Daughter” and “Women & Risk.”

Aside from appearing as an expert in numerous national publications and on television, Malone finds time to volunteer for several women’s organizations, including creating the YWCA’s “EDGE Program” for girls.

•Barbara Martig, who advocates for Boulder’s County’s aging population in her work with the county’s Aging Services Division. She’s also concerned with youth, as evidenced by her work with the Metro Mayors and Commissioners Youth Awards program.

Martig serves on seven major boards, including the Presidents Ambassadors Club at the University of Colorado, the Colorado Senior Lobby and the Lyons Area Senior Advisory Council.

•Eleanor Van Everen, who began teaching skiing at Eldora Ski Resort more than 30 years ago and made the decision to retire only last year. In the off-seasons, she ran the summer day camp program for the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department.

Known as “Petie,” Van Everen has spent the last six months being treated for and then recuperating from cancer. Asked for any advice she has for young women, she urged them to “go for it, fit it in, accomplish it. ... Do the best you can under whatever circumstances face you.”