Denise Thomas

 

Denise is a proven and dynamic leader who has spent more than 20 years helping entrepreneurial companies develop breakthrough ideas. Her public and private company expertise spans the financial services, technology, healthcare, hospitality and online services industries, and she has led companies backed by leading venture capital firms, including Kleiner Perkins, Mohr Davidow and Sequoia Capital.

In the FinTech industry, Denise is considered a visionary and highly respected executive leader. She is one of the few women to receive venture funding for a FinTech startup. Denise founded ApplePie Capital to create a new, more efficient source of capital for franchise businesses.

Denise has founded three other companies, and held executive and management positions with SharesPost, Healthiest You, Navigenics, LesConcierges, OffRoad Capital, Onyx Microcomputer, Post Communications, Kao Infosystems, and National Semiconductor.

She has been a guest lecturer at both the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley.

3 words to describe Nature? 

GROUNDING. INSPIRING. FEARSOME

3 things Nature taught you? 

WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL

THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN

THERE IS WONDER AND FEAR

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

HALEAKALA CRATER

YOSEMITE

WALDEN POND

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

EXPANSIVE

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

ADVENTURE

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

SAD

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

INSPIRED

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

EXCITEMENT

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

LIKE RETREATING

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

OCEAN

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

8

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

MY MEMORIES ARE NOT FROM MY CHILDHOOD UNFORTUNATELY. MY FAMILY DID NOT SPEND TIME IN NATURE.


Ken Gart

Ken Gart has been a partner at The Gart Companies since its inception in 1992. Prior to that time he was Co-President and Chief Merchandising Officer at Gart Bros. Sporting Goods, a family-owned and operated corporation, from 1983 to 1992. Ken started Specialty Sports Venture, LLC (SSV) in 1994 and built it to over 140 stores and into the nation’s leading specialty ski and bicycle retailer. SSV included Aspen Sports, Telluride Sports, Boulder Ski Deals, Colorado Ski and Golf and roughly 30 other trade names. The company was sold to Vail Resorts in 2010.

Ken was chairman of the Board of Denver Bike Sharing (DBA B-Cycle) where he was appointed to the position by then Mayor and now Governor John Hickenlooper. Denver B-Cycle was the first major city-wide bike sharing to launch in the US. Ken is currently chair of the Board for RPM Events Group which owns the Colorado Classic and Velorama. The Colorado Classic is a global professional cycling competition and Velorama is a music festival. The goals of the RPM Events Group are around health & wellness & economic development for Colorado. Ken has been called by Governor Hickenlooper his “Bike Czar”. This is a voluntary position to make Colorado the most bicycle friendly state in America.

Ken has held various memberships, directorships and chairmanships with The Nature Conservancy, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Telluride Foundation, Colorado Conservation Trust, Denver Area Council Boy Scouts of America, Denver Metro Boys & Girls Clubs and the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. Further, he serves on numerous other non-profit boards and committees.

Ken Attended Claremont Men’s College and graduated from Middlebury College and Stanford Graduate School of Business. He and his wife Rebecca have three children. Ken is an athlete, having climbed over 30 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, and is an enthusiast in the sports of skiing and cycling.

3 words to describe Nature?

Passion. Relief. Opportunity.

3 things Nature taught you?

Stop Breathe Relax Listen as you say so well

Instant change of perspective. It forces to think differently.

Self awareness and all the possibilities

3 most treasured Nature spots?

On any mountain with any of my 3 children. The time with my children in nature is priceless. The bond it creates is profound and so rewarding.

Any aerobic outdoor location. I love how exercising in the outdoors makes me feel. It is more than simply getting a shot of endorphins, it is more a full experience of feeling alive.

On a Colorado mountain, in winter, during a powder day, the rush is priceless

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Inspired. Small. and refreshed. It brings me back to this balcony in Italy, 20 years ago, overlooking the sea. My wife and I had just gotten engaged. We were looking at the water and started to cry, thinking about both of our parents who had passed away. There is something about self reflection and the ocean.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Fresh and full of air. Climbing up a mountain, you pass a point where you loose the trees. It is too high for them to grow, not enough oxygen and moisture. So when you come down the mountain and reach the tree line, smelling the pine cones and all the different aromas, it is comforting and refreshing. It is like coming home after a hard day’s work.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Reminds me of the smallness of the human species. How little we matter. How our impact on the world (in the big sense) is borderline insignificant.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

It is a moment of reflection. It puts me in touch with the day that is ahead and the day that has passed. It reminds me of the cycle of life, the beginnings and the ends, the past and the future, what was, is and will be.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

I really like the thunder. It is a cool way to experience nature. Feeling the energy around you, this incredible force of nature that is so powerful. It is inspiring.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

On the other end, the wind howling makes me ominous. When I am hiking, biking, climbing, and its starts to blow, I get the feeling of being threatened.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Mountain through and through

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

9

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Camping. Our family wasn’t too big on camping, but I remember the few moments we did, with my father and brothers. What I remember the most is the campfire. Being in the outdoors, around the campfire, hearing the fire crackle, smelling the wood burning, it is a powerful experiences that touches so many senses. It is extremely comforting yet threatening. As a child, it is life changing.


Alison Davis

Alison Davis is co-founder of Fifth Era. She is a global strategist, finance professional, public company board director and active investor in growth companies. She is currently a director of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Fiserv (FISV), Unisys (UIS) and Ooma (OOMA), and is chair of the advisory board for BlockChain Capital. She is a former director of, City National Bank (CYC), Diamond Foods (DMND), First Data Corporation (FDC), Xoom (XOOM), and many private companies and was the Chairman of LECG (XPRT) until its sale in 2011. She has chaired audit, compensation, and governance committees and is a frequent speaker on corporate governance. Alison was previously the managing partner of Belvedere Capital, a private equity firm focused on investing in US banks and financial services firms. Prior to this, Alison was the Chief Financial Officer of Barclays Global Investors (now BlackRock), the world’s largest institutional investment firm with more than $1.5 trillion of assets under management. Earlier in her career, Alison spent 14 years as a strategy consultant and advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs, boards and executive teams with McKinsey & Company,and as a practice leader with A.T. Kearney where she built and led the global Financial Services Practice.

Alison is also the co-author of the best selling books Build Your Fortune in the Fifth Era: How to Prosper in an Age of Unprecedented Innovation & Corporate Innovation in the Fifth Era: Lessons from Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft

Alison is active in the community supporting non-profits and social enterprises as a board director, fundraiser and volunteer. She has been frequently named a “Most Influential Women in Business” by the San Francisco Business Times. She received a B.A. Honors and a Master’s in Economics from Cambridge University in England, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business after completing the first-year at Harvard. She was born in Sheffield, UK, is now a dual US/UK citizen and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Matthew C. Le Merle, and their five children.

3 words to describe Nature?

Vast, magical, glorious

3 things Nature taught you?

To breathe

To be delighted

To be in awe

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Any grassy spot where I can sit or lie in the sun and let the earth hold me

A secret bench on Ring Mountain Tiburon from which to view the Bay and coastline and Marin townships

From a canoe in the middle of Lake Tahoe

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...?

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?

Alive

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel...?

Curious

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?

Blessed, happy

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?

Exhilarated and powerful

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?

Energized, bold

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean or Mountain

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

7

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Rambling in the Yorkshire Moors and Derbyshire Dales with my grandfather and often getting delightfully lost