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School principal, developer and nonprofit leader ‘soar’

Area chamber honors women for making a difference in metro area

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Diane Smethills is the principal of Sterling Ranch, a $4.4 billion forward-thinking development spanning 3,400 acres west of Highlands Ranch.

Tamra Ryan is the CEO of Women’s Bean Project, a nonprofit organization based in Denver that employs chronically unemployed and impoverished women.

Allyson Mallory, principal of Ralph Moody Elementary School in Littleton, was in a snowboarding accident two years ago that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

These three women have one thing in common: they have made a significant difference in the Denver metro area. On May 3, they were honored by the Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce as “Women Who Soar” for making a significant difference in the Denver metro area.

“We are surrounded by amazing female leaders who are making a difference and leading by example,” Brie McMahon, the chamber’s director of membership development, said at a luncheon at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille at the Park Meadows mall in Lone Tree.

The chamber hosts monthly luncheons at various locations for its members, who are business owners or employees of businesses in south metro Denver.

At a retreat last fall, the chamber program Women in Networking brainstormed the first annual Women Who Soar Awards Luncheon. With more than 100 members and elected officials in attendance, the May 3 event recognized women who have displayed “determination, drive and passion,” McMahon said.

Diane Smethills, principal of Sterling Ranch

In 2004, Smethills and her husband, Harold, purchased Sterling Ranch, a master-planned community that sits west of Santa Fe Drive and south of Chatfield Reservoir, just east of the Roxborough community.

After a 20-year buildout, Sterling Ranch is expected to have about 12,000 homes with 33,000 people.

Innovative features set the community apart from others across the state.

Every home in Sterling Ranch will have 1 gigabit of internet bandwidth, meaning residents have the capability to download a high-definition movie in less than three minutes. The “smart” homes will have a virtual touch-screen that controls technology and energy usage.

Sterling Ranch will also have the state’s first rainwater-harvesting project, which stores rainwater in tanks and ponds that can be used to maintain landscaping.

Diane Smethills credits her success to the “grace of God” and being raised in Colorado.

“I think that makes us different in many ways,” she said at the luncheon, “and stronger in many ways.”

Tamra Ryan, CEO of Women’s Bean Project

Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce named Ryan one of the 2017 Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado.

Founded in 1989, Women’s Bean Project employs impoverished women, many of whom are convicted felons, recovering addicts and victims of domestic violence. They package and sell bean soup mixes, baking mixes and other dry food products to more than 1,000 stores across the U.S. and online. They develop skills in personal and employment areas with the hope of continuing on to another employer.

The business provides a safe and accepting work environment for the women, the organization’s website says. They are trained to continue employment.

Ryan says she sees the women blossom.

“By the time they walk through our doors, they are full of possibility,” she said.

Allyson Mallory, principal of Ralph Moody Elementary School

Mallory was a principal and teacher in southern California before transitioning to the leader of Ralph Moody Elementary School in Littleton.

On Dec. 23, 2016, she was in a snowboarding accident at Keystone Resort and was airlifted to St. Anthony Hospital. She had broken her back and is paralyzed from the waist down. Three days after her accident, she started what would be seven months of physical therapy.

Mallory has shown a tremendous amount of strength and courage, those who know her say. She returned to work in 2017.

Through her experience, Mallory said she has acquired a sense of acceptance, resiliency and determination. She hopes to instill those traits in her students.

When asked how she felt about being named a woman who soars, Mallory said: “I am incredibly flattered.”

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