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Students intrigued, inspired at Women in Industry Forum

Women in Industry ForumWomen in Industry ForumPursue your passion. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Learn from your failures. Believe in yourself. And above all else, never give up!

Twenty women who have succeeded in non-traditional fields shared those words of wisdom with 150 female students from across the Cherry Creek School District during the Women in Industry Forum, held on April 15 at the Fremont Building.

“We want to expose them to traditionally non-female careers, inspire them, let them ask questions and hopefully get them excited about something they may not have considered before,” said Ashlin Montgomery, a work-based learning specialist in CCSD’s Career and Technical Education Department (CTE), which sponsored the event.

Among the curious middle and high school students in the audience was Bethel Yeboah, a junior at Eaglecrest High School.

“I want to learn more about different pathways so I can broaden my scope and learn more about who I can become in the future,” she said. Yeboah has a wide variety of interests, ranging from psychology to children to the arts, so the forum was a great way for her to learn about a variety of careers.

Women in Industry ForumKeynote speaker Kayleen McCabe, the longtime host of TV’s Rescue Renovation, came dressed in work boots and a plaid shirt. She regaled her audience with stories of her love for carpentry and construction. “I dream about making furniture,” she said. She also talked about being a female contractor in the male-dominated world of construction, and about the almost unlimited opportunities for women who want to pursue a career in that field.

McCabe then moderated a discussion with five powerhouse panelists:

  • Caitlin Pfeiffer, a senior consultant at Elevation Solutions. Pfeiffer has more than 17 years of software consulting experience and implementing Salesforce solutions for clients in a broad range of industries.
  • Jane Tomaro, a certified meeting planner and human resources recruiter for the hospitality industry. Tomoro has more than 23 years working in virtually every area in hospitality.
  • Elerie Archer, a registered nurse with years of experience in nursing, management and leadership. Archer is now an instructor in the Certified Nurse Aide program in the Health and Wellness Pathway at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus.
  • Kelly Lear, coroner and forensic pathologist for the Arapahoe County Coroners office. Lear earned her undergraduate degree in biology, biochemistry and molecular biology from Cornell College and her Doctor of medicine degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.
  • Zsa’nee Gaines, a multicultural, Colorado-based photographer. Gaines didn’t let a grade of D from her high school photography teacher keep her from building a successful business as a nationally known photographer, teacher and speaker.  

Felicity Meijer, a seventh-grader at Fox Ridge Middle School, was especially interested in Gaines’ story.

“I’m trying out photography,” she explained. “It was interesting to hear her story and to see how successful she is now.”

Women in Industry ForumAfter lunch, students had the opportunity to meet in small groups with the panelists and a dozen other female professionals in industries including aviation, banking, criminal justice, engineering and more. The group included Audra Dunleavy, the Hospitality and Tourism Pathway lead at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, and Kristin Allan, the founder of Allan Law, PLLC, and a member of the Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education.

The students also learned about the diverse CTE courses offered at all CCSD high schools and many middle schools, as well as the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus. Students can explore different career fields, earn industry certifications and gain valuable experience through internships and apprenticeships, all before they graduate from high school.

Get more information about Career and Technical Education, including course offerings, concurrent/dual enrollment, internships and apprenticeships.

Get more information about the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus here.

Posted 4/21/2022.