Alex Dempster is a Commercial Banking Relationship Manager at Commerce Bank. Commerce Bank’s commercial banking group works with middle market companies, nonprofits, and municipal entities throughout the central United States.
Prior to his work at Commerce Bank, Dempster worked for the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority (CHFA) where he was responsible for promoting CHFA's economic development loan products to Colorado businesses through a network of banking partners, nonprofit organizations, and economic developers.
Dempster has an MBA from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Denver.
Aikta Marcoulier, Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center
Aikta Marcoulier joined the SBDC team as the director of the Pikes Peak center in May 2012. Prior to the SBDC, she was the director of partnership marketing with the Professional Bull Riders (PBR). In that role, Marcoulier managed a team which provided all aspects of sponsorship and account management.
Marcoulier first began her work within the Colorado Springs community with the Native American Sports Council, a community-based organization of the United State Olympics Committee, where she received the experience of acquiring grants and local support to meet broader goals of the organization.
She is currently a committee member for the Regional Business Alliances' Women in Business Committee and committee in support of the Economic Development Council of Colorado regional event. Aikta is involved in the El Pomar Emerging Leaders Program. She is an active board member of Women on the Move, Pikes Peak Workforce Development Board, Pikes Peak Community College Business Advisory Board, and the Better Business Bureau Foundation. She serves on numerous committees for the Colorado Springs Business Journal (Fastest Growing Business, Women of Influence, Southeast Business Plan Competition) as well as the El Paso County Economic Strength Strategic Planning Committee. Aikta serves on the Technology and Funding Committees for the Colorado SBDC Network.
Past memberships include board membership to the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Women to Women Mentoring and the Executive Leadership Committee for the Leukemia Lymphoma Man/Women of the Year Gala.
Marcoulier received her MBA in global management from the University of Phoenix and undergraduate degrees in both economics and psychology from the University of Iowa. She was awarded the University of Iowa Leadership Award in 2011 and was named one of the Colorado Springs Business Journal's Rising Stars for 2013 and Women of Influence. Additionally, Aikta earned the Colorado State Star Award in 2013 and lead the Colorado Springs SBDC to earn the UCCS Deans Award, El Paso County Recognition Award, SBA Region VIII Award for Innovation and Excellence and the Pikes Peak Arts Council Arts Advocacy Award.
Sharon King, Boulder Small Business Development Center
In the past 10 years, Sharon King and the Boulder SBDC have worked with over 5,000 entrepreneurs from startups through 2nd stage companies, from “Main Street” businesses through highly scalable manufacturing and Advanced Industries. Sharon’s first business was a vintage retail store – right out of college. Just before joining the SBDC in 2004, Sharon converted and re-branded a franchise hotel into the independent Boulder Outlook Hotel, in which she was an investor. In the 30 years between, Sharon has been an entrepreneur, marketing executive and consultant for small (and larger) businesses in many industries -- including hospitality, professional services, banking, consumer products, retail and manufacturing. She holds an MBA from Cornell University, is nationally-certified as an Economic Gardening Team Leader through the Edward Lowe Foundation and nationally certified to facilitate FastTrac NewVenture, GrowthVenture and TechVenture programs through the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship.
John Comunale, Comunale Properties
John Comunale is the President and Managing Partner of Comunale Properties and its affiliated companies. John is responsible for strategic planning, capital structuring, business development and all property and asset management operations for Comunale. He is also the founder and Managing Partner of the company’s investment affiliate, The J.Red Group, and serves as the Manager of all new investment partnerships. Under John’s leadership, Comunale has become a fully integrated multi-market real estate platform with more than 30 owned and managed assets.
Prior to Comunale, John was an investment banker focusing on debt and equity along with capital advisory assignments in the hotel industry. Before joining the business world, John was a competitive skier for more than a decade.
John is a graduate of the University of Denver with a BSBA in Real Estate. He is the founder and president of the Stephen A. Comunale Jr. Family Cancer Foundation, which provides grants and complimentary programs to provide quality of life for families facing cancer.
Carly Abrahamson, Colorado Impact Fund
Prior to joining Colorado Impact Fund, Carly worked in the business and finance group of Ballard Spahr LLP in Denver. She represented both publicly traded and privately held companies in a range of corporate, securities and business law matters, including mergers and acquisitions, private placements, public offerings and general corporate governance. Before law school, Carly was in the classroom with Teach for America in the Bronx of New York City.
Carly holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College, an M.A. in education from Bank Street College and a J.D. from the University of Colorado. She lives in Denver with her husband Erik and daughters Perry and Taylor. In her free time, she enjoys playing in the Colorado sun and snow with her family.
Zach Warkentin, Warkentin LLC
Zach Warkentin is a lifelong Coloradan and small business owner who has forged successful careers in the legal, design, and creative spaces. He represents companies and creatives in a wide range of industries and corporate stages. He routinely advises clients on effective and efficient solutions to complex legal problems.
Zach is admitted to practice in Colorado state courts and the United States District Court of Colorado. He is currently the Secretary and Treasurer of the Colorado Bar Association’s Sports & Entertainment Section and on the Board of the Colorado Business Development Foundation. Please click below for additional admissions and memberships. Zach is a frequent speaker and author, with published articles and presentations covering an array of corporate and intellectual property topics.
Prior to forming Warkentin LLC, Zach was a senior associate, and of counsel at Faraci Leasure LLC, where he represented professional clients in multimillion-dollar healthcare and accounting malpractice litigation. Zach now uses his litigation experience to inform clients on a variety of risk, compliance, and employment issues.
Zach is a graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he was the President of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society, an editor for the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, and worked in intellectual property matters at Platypi, Inc. After law school, Zach clerked for the Hon. Randall Arp in Colorado's 2nd Judicial District prior to becoming a civil litigator.
Zach has 15 years of experience in the entertainment industry as an artist, manager, promoter, and attorney. He is a founding member for three music groups: Dirty5Thirty, Broken Tongues, and FOTOGRAFFIK. He has shared the stage with numerous, renowned acts, such as Empire of the Sun, Digable Planets, Bonerama, Kid Cudi, Chali 2na, the Motet, Zion-I, and DJ Abilities. During undergrad at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Zach was an illustrator and political cartoonist for The Daily Tar Heel.
Pete LaBarre, High Country Restaurant Holdings
Pete LaBarre has been involved in numerous successful business ventures - many of which were in real estate. In the 1980’s. he was the organizer, marketer and general partner of two real estate general partnerships, sold and managed multifamily and residential real estate, was one of three principals that developed and managed a private second mortgage fund returning to investors 20+% on investments. Along with family members, he owns and operates multiple single and multi-family properties, a mobile home park, the only code compliant park model / tiny home community in Colorado, and three commercial properties. He has performed multiple commercial and residential remodels and renovations, having worked in various trades since he was 12 years old. Currently, he and his business partners are developing 43 acres in Woodland Park, CO for retail, multi-family, storage and Park Model uses. Additionally, Pete owned, developed new locations, operated, and sold 8 Denny’s restaurants in Southern Colorado.
Mr. LaBarre earned both his undergraduate degree in Finance and MBA from the University of Colorado, CS. He worked with the Small Business Development Center at the CS Chamber of Commerce. He taught economics, business management, and statistics at a Pikes Peak Community College and was a guest lecturer at The Faculty of Economics at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. Currently, he serves on the Governor of Colorado’s Business Advisory Board, the Colorado State Small Business Development Center advisory board, the Colorado Springs Police Department Foundation board and was the Teller County Republican Chair. Additionally, Mr. LaBarre serves as president of two HOAs.