A Fresh Perspective
As a trailblazer for women in business, Kristen Blessman brings a fresh perspective to Western Colorado University’s Board of Trustees. On Thursday, June 10, Gov. Jared Polis named Blessman to the board, replacing former board chair Chris Blees who resigned in early May.
The Board of Trustees makes policy and provides oversight for the operations of the institution. The board consists of 11 members, nine voting members appointed by the governor and two elected by university faculty and students. Blessman’s appointment continues a growing trend of representation of women among the voting members of the board. Of the nine voting members, four are women.
“I couldn’t be more honored to serve Governor Polis and the State of Colorado in this new role,” Blessman said. “I am looking forward to bringing my experience with growth and innovation as well as my background in higher education to the Board of Trustees at Western Colorado University.”
Blessman, of Denver, is the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a Master of Business Administration from Regis University.
Blessman has more than 20 years of leadership experience, including strategic marketing, business development and executive management; working with both non-profit, for-profit as well as small business ownership experience. She is a change-agent leader with a focus on revenue development through the areas of innovation, strategic planning, start-up social enterprise, re-branding, and award-winning marketing and advertising campaigns.
Prior to her service at CWCC, Blessman was the chief marketing and development officer at Goodwill. There, she revamped Goodwill’s image and started the first customer loyalty program in 2012. She launched new business lines and more than doubled fundraising revenues. Under her leadership, Goodwill opened more than 40 new retail locations and grew from $30 million in revenue to more than $70 million.
“We are thrilled to have Kristen join our Board of Trustees,” said incoming board chair Pamela Shaddock. “With her outstanding business and leadership experience, she will provide an essential voice during a transitional time for Western.”
A Career of Advocacy
Blessman has received several awards, including the 2009 Public Relations Society of America’s Gold Award. She is a Titan 100 CEO, and was named a 2021 Woman of Distinction from Girls Scouts of America. Kristen has served on multiple committees and boards of directors, including The American Marketing Association, The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Denver Press Club, The Women’s Leadership Foundation, and Arapahoe House. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at CU Denver.
As a guest columnist and Ted Talk speaker, Blessman has inspired many—especially women—in embracing one’s journey and utilizing life’s experiences to shape career success. She is an advocate for women in business by promoting mentorship and addressing barriers to success.
Learn more about Western’s Board of Trustees.
Author Credit: Chris Rourke
Photo Credit: Katie Lyons