Back after several years' absence, the ColoradoBiz Most Powerful People issue highlights 25 figures who exert influence on local and statewide matters through a variety of roles. Money helps, but wealth by itself doesn't connote power if the willingness to wield it is absent. The wealthy people among these 25 have demonstrated power by choosing where and for what causes to allocate their money. Political office holders, on the other hand, demonstrate power by their ability to champion policies that impact lives, and by their access to media that provides a forum for them to enlighten, inspire and embolden others. Corporate leaders - who can usually be counted among the wealthy - wield power by their ability to impact local economies, community identity and the charitable causes they choose to align their companies with. This year's Most Powerful cast includes all of the above. Perhaps most of all, the people selected by the magazine's editorial staff and profiled (in no particular order) on the following pages are doers. Influencers. They are notable not so much for their titles, what they own or their net worth, but for what they've accomplished and, in many cases, enabled others to do. If you want something done, these are people you would want to call. Many Coloradans have.
GOV.JOHN HICKENLOOPER, 65
Geologist-turned-brewer-turned-politician, Hickenlooper is the first governor with a brewing background since Sam Adams. His landmark Wynkoop Brewing Co. helped put LoDo on the map. Rent was $1 per square foot when it opened in 1988; now it's eclipsed $50.
Hickenlooper move into politics in the new millennium, and after two terms as Denver's mayor, he was sworn in as Colorado's governor in 2011. His moderate, hands-on, no-nonsense approach has won him plaudits from both sides of the aisle and the media. Oft-mentioned as a candidate for the U.S. Senate or even the White House, his political star continues to rise. Based on his career path to date, however, expect the unexpected from Hick.
SUMANA (SUMA) NALLAPATI, 42 SECRETARY OF TECHNOLOGY AND CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER OF COLORADO
Sumana (Suma) Nallapati is committed to positioning the Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT) as a leader in IT innovation for state government.
As Secretary of Technology and CIO for Colorado, Nallapati is responsible for a team of more than 900 people who deliver IT services to the executive branch agencies. Her leadership has brought about changes in the way the public can interact with government.
She impacts state agencies and residents' lives daily through multimillion-dollar IT projects meant to improve public services. Among the projects: a modernization of the state's decades-old Department of Motor Vehicle system to improve registration and licensing; unemployment insurance modernization for the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment; paperless processes for citizens to use when interacting with the Department of Regulatory Agencies; and a technical support call center for residents using the Program Eligibility and Application Kit (PEAK) public-facing website.
PHILIP ANSCHUTZ, 77 BUSINESSMAN
With an estimated net worth north of $10 billion, Anschutz has had a hand in just about every major industry in Colorado, from railroads to agriculture to music to tourism, since he bought out his father's oil drilling company in 1961.
Notoriously press-shy--he's only granted three interviews since 1979--Anschutz has stepped away from the boards of Regal Cinemas and Union Pacific and focused on his investments in everything from the L.A. Lakers to wind farms in Wyoming. In Colorado, he owns The Broadmoor, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Anschutz Entertainment Group and The Gazette, the state's second-largest newspaper.
But perhaps his biggest recent impact in the state has been donating $100 million to build the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, named the Anschutz Medical Campus in his honor.
DENVER MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK, 48
After playing the role of the Broncos' mascot while attending Manual High School in 1986, Hancock hung up his horse costume and moved into politics. He interned with Mayor Federico Pena in his college years and became the youngest head of an Urban League affiliate at age 29. Then he served two terms on the Denver City Council before winning his first mayoral election in 2011. He breezed to another victory in 2015.
Hancock's tenure at the city's helm has been marked by Denver's ascendance. He helped drag the city out of the Great Recession and into one of the biggest booms the notoriously boom-and-bust economy has...