Intrigued and inspired students at the Women in Industry Forum

More than 150 middle and high school girls heard about successful women in non-traditional fields at the Cherry Creek Schools Women in Industry Forum, held April 15.

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

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

Dr. Kelly Lear, Coroner and Medical Examiner for the Arapahoe County Coroners Office, speaks with a student at the Women in Industry Forum.

“We want to expose them to traditionally non-female careers, inspire them, let them ask questions, and hopefully get them excited about something they might not have considered before,” said Ashlin Montgomery, CCSD Workplace Learning Specialist. Education Department (CTE), which sponsored the event.

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

“I want to learn more about the different paths so I can expand my reach 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 has been a great way for her to learn about a variety of careers.

Keynote speaker Kayleen McCabe, longtime host of the Rescue Renovation TV show, came dressed in work boots and a plaid shirt. She regaled her audience with stories about her love for carpentry and construction. “I dream of making furniture,” she says. She also spoke about being a female entrepreneur in the male-dominated world of construction and the nearly limitless opportunities for women to pursue a career in this field.

Elerie Archer, RN and Certified Nurse Aide instructor at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, answers questions from a student at the Women in Industry Forum.

McCabe then moderated a discussion with five powerful panelists:

  • Caitlin Pfeiffer, senior consultant at Elevation Solutions. Pfeiffer has over 17 years of experience in software consulting and implementing Salesforce solutions for clients in a wide range of industries.
  • Jane Tomaro, certified meeting planner and human resources recruiter for the hospitality industry. Tomoro has worked for over 23 years in virtually all areas of hospitality.
  • Elerie Archer, a Registered Nurse with years of nursing, management and leadership experience. Archer is now an instructor in the Certified Nurse Aide program in the Health and Wellness Pathway at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus.
  • Dr. Kelly Lear, coroner and medical examiner for the Arapahoe County Coroners Office. Lear received his undergraduate degree in biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology from Cornell College and his MD from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.
  • Zsa’nee Gaines, multicultural photographer based in Colorado. Gaines didn’t let a D grade from her high school photography teacher stop her from building a successful business as a nationally acclaimed photographer, teacher, and speaker.

Felicity Meijer, a seventh-grade student at Fox Ridge Middle School, was particularly interested in Gaines’ story.

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

Zsa’nee Gaines, a multicultural photographer from Colorado, takes a selfie with a student at the Women in Industry Forum.

After lunch, the students had the opportunity to meet in small groups with the panelists and a dozen other professional women in industries such as aviation, banking, criminal justice, engineering and more. The group included Audra Dunleavy, Hospitality and Tourism Pathway Lead at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, and Kristin Allan, Founder of Allan Law, PLLC, and a member of the Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education.

Students also learned about the various CTE courses offered at all SDCC high schools and many colleges, 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 Vocational and technical trainingincluding course offerings, concurrent/dual enrolments, internships and apprenticeships.

Get more information about the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus here.

Contributed by Anna Osborn Dolan, Communications Coordinator, Cherry Creek Schools.

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