• Meet Franny Starkey, From D.C. to Denver

     
    POSTED May 7, 2019
     

    Franny Starkey reflects on her transition from the White House to Imprint Group COO.

Franny Starkey believes there are no boring places, only boring people. “There are always exciting things to do, you just have to go out and find them.” It’s clear that she takes the saying to heart as her career journey has been anything but boring.

Starkey discovered her passion for politics during her time at Drake University in Iowa, where she studied journalism and became involved with the Iowa Caucus. After working on a few political campaigns and serving as deputy director of communications for Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, she became acquainted with Senator Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.

Upon developing a “great rapport” with the Obamas, Starkey was the fifth hire in Iowa for Barack’s announcement tour. When he was elected president of the United States in 2008, Michelle reached out to Starkey and offered her the position of senior advisor and director of scheduling and advance for the first lady.

In this role, she planned and managed the first lady’s press tours and accompanied her to countries around the world, ensuring safe travels and expertly organized events.

As the Obamas approached the end of their first term in the White House, Starkey found out she was pregnant. She had been giving the first lady 110 percent and knew her priorities were about to change, prompting a move home to Denver in 2011 to join her brother, Chris, and their parents.

Now mom to daughters Willa, 7, and Jaydee, 5, Starkey is thrilled to be working as the COO of Imprint Group in Denver, an event management group that her brother co-owns with Nicole Marsh. Prior to that, she was director of special events and protocol for University of Denver. Despite her incredible time in Washington, D.C., Starkey says with confidence that “my children are the best things I have done” and she loves her family-focused life in Colorado.

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.

 

You may not have seen her name among Chicago’s James Beard award nominees or caught in the buzz of another trendy eatery opening, but the ripples of Rita Dever’s culinary creations have made an impact far and wide. After cooking around the world, the Pacific Northwest native put down roots as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ (LEYE) associate partner and corporate chef where she collaborates in the company’s test kitchen to innovate new dishes for all LEYE restaurants.

 

Denver native Keisha Makonese’s passion for planning events dates way back. Her latest gig as director of sales and corporate events at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum began nine years ago. In this role, Makonese helps oversee an average of 150 private events at Wings Over the Rockies each year, from making meetings for 20 people to annual dinners for 2,000 fun and interactive experiences.