I’m an entrepreneurial type - independent, self-motivated, resourceful and optimistic. I have started and operated several businesses and have written business plans that made it to the semi-finals of a city-wide competition (and that plan was for a local non-profit) and have been accepted into an exclusive NREL incubator program. I have also failed at starting a business. My biggest and brightest achievement was an English language institute which I got accredited and operated for 15 years before selling. As a business owner, I've picked up many skills but probably the one that has served me most often, in all aspects of my life, is my ability to “see the big picture.”
Relevant Qualifications: M.A. Information & Learning Technologies: Elearning, University of Colorado 2013; Paralegal Certificate, Denver Paralegal Institute; TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training & Assessment; B2G Training program; Peace Corps training & practicum program; TESL/TEFL Certificate; neuropsychology training; many, many workshops & webinars related to - teaching; public charter school administration; renewable energy systems; and tax & environmental law for utility scale RE systems.
After subbing at local language institutes and presenting my own ad hoc courses at Colorado Free University, I founded Colorado School of English ( www.EnglishAmerica.com ). After two years, I got the institute accredited and ran it, overseeing all aspects of operations for 15 years, until selling it. I was personally invited by the director of our accrediting body (ACCET) to be a reviewer, so have sat on both sides of the accreditation table. I designed or co-designed curricula for many courses and programs including a teacher certification program and was an early advocate of using the internet as a resource for class and homework activities. By closely monitoring students’ progress, satisfaction and the need for changes, I was able to implement a continuous improvement strategy. We were careful to hire upbeat, experienced instructors, who seemed capable of delivering interesting, interactive classes. One of our requirements was that teachers strive for a 30:70 teacher talk:student talk ratio or better, and we regularly provided support training for achieving that standard. The institute had a robust professional development program that successfully aided instructors in continuously improving their craft.
Between 2010-2012, while we were running a solar energy design and installation company (Tri Power Systems), my husband and I decided to also do non-profit programs to help our rural community. STI received several grants from the State of Colorado to implement programs that resulted in energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprints for local businesses. We also ran free workshops in sustainable living (such as “Sprouting” and “How to DIY a Solar Food Dehydrator”) and a large community supported, organic garden. We used the “community supported agriculture” model where, with donated land and compost, we and other volunteers planted and tended the garden and sold shares in it. We got charitable donations for some of the shares and gave those to the local senior center and the local food bank. The garden was all organic and grown from heirloom seeds.
This company designed and installed renewable energy systems. My focus was on the pertinent laws and tax benefits along with sales, marketing and site visits.
I was asked to start this business at a local, 10-acre wedding venue after doing something similar there at my own wedding. We took care of the children at the wedding so that they could have a good time too, taking them on a treasure hunt, playing games in the yard, coloring, telling stories. This business was difficult to scale and became an enjoyable “hobby business.”