By:Sandy Williams Issue: Collaborative Women Section:Collaborator Profile
Meet Kari Anderson…Business Development Leader for Real Colorado, a community-based organization committed to helping players learn, grow and celebrate their love of the game of soccer. The goals for the players are simple: develop character, integrity and personal growth while creating future leaders.
Real Colorado has experienced unprecedented growth and expanding membership that includes more than 3,700 families in and around the Denver metro area. The soccer program has three types of programs including Recreational, Competitive and Real Colorado Foxes. The recreational league is open to players 3 to 18 years of age at varying levels of competition. This league places an emphasis on learning the basics of the game and provides an enjoyable environment in which players can practice and develop their skills. The competitive league is open to players 10 to 19 years old. This league offers several playing and competition levels within each age group, and each team is held to high standards of performance. The Real Colorado Foxes is open to players ages 18 to 23, who are often alumni of other Real programs. These teams are part of the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League (PDL), a training ground for nurturing many of the nation’s future stars. The PDL operates as a feeder system to Major League Soccer and professional leagues around the world.
All players who participate, regardless of league, grow not only in their soccer ability, but as student-athletes who continue to make their mark in their classrooms and communities long after leaving Real Colorado. According to Kristen Kemp, a Real Colorado alumnus, who is currently pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Regis University said, “I learned the value of commitment, selflessness, work ethic, time management, confidence and leadership. While these skills developed on the soccer field, they are the skills that I have carried with me after leaving Real Colorado. Real encouraged me to set an example for my teammates and community, both on and off the field, and to this day I consider myself a reflection of the goals and values of Real Colorado soccer”. The attributes of dedication, discipline and leadership that I learned through soccer are skills that I carry with me every day. In life, you will always be on a team, whether it is sports related, in your career or in your family. -Sean Flanagan
Anderson uses her passion, leadership skills and experience in multiple non-profit organizations including The Logan School for Creative Learning and The American Heart Association. Kari is working to create Real Colorado’s business development department which includes an $11.5 million capital campaign for a new soccer field complex. The recent acquisition of twenty plus acres of land in Douglas County, positions Real Colorado to build a "Real Home"…a dedicated soccer field complex that will expand the recreational opportunities available to area youth, while enhancing the vibrancy and vitality of the community and surrounding areas. This new field complex will give Real Colorado ownership of the fields and games. It will also allow the coaches and staff to better support their players and the organization can continue to provide quality programs that facilitate leadership and personal growth.
Keeping Philanthropy at the Heart of the Matter
Anderson learned her own values of leadership, teamwork and an overall appreciation for the great life lessons participating in sports provides, when she started ski racing at a young age and competed nationally through college. She also coached for fourteen years, leaving coaching with a Level II United States Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) coaching license.
She has had the opportunity to be mentored by women leaders and to have served as a leader to women in some of the organizations she has worked. These experiences have provided valuable lessons which she applies every day. One such lesson is, to challenge the process by looking for new ways of doing things. While building the business development department, she has had to find new and innovative ways to communicate, build relationships and promote Real Colorado. As she pursues efforts to promote and gain financial support for Real Colorado’s new soccer field complex, she has learned the value of inspiring a shared vision by looking into the future and communicating the organization’s goals to the rest of the group.
Anderson has also served as an advocate and referral source for senior citizens at the Lutheran Social Services. Furthermore, she has worked with teams to advance advocacy and legislation efforts for health initiatives strategies and communications platforms in the Denver and Tacoma markets for the American Heart Association. Anderson has also assisted clients who had been diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders in obtaining the resources best suited to their needs for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Working in these organizations has taught her additional lessons to include enabling others to act by listening and encouraging others to participate.
Making an Impact for our Youth at Real Colorado
Anderson took the job at Real Colorado for numerous reasons – most of all for the life skills and values they teach youth. There was a desire to be a part of keeping growth opportunities alive so each player could continue to build self-esteem and enhance life values, and to eventually become instrumental leaders and contributors to the community.
Another lesson she has learned is to encourage others to grow by acknowledging and rewarding their accomplishments. Anderson has enjoyed seeing the accomplishments made by Real Colorado to the community, as is testimony from Sean Flanagan, now a land technician for the Forest Oil Corporation. He said, “Real has been an integral part of my life. The attributes of dedication, discipline and leadership that I learned through soccer are skills that I carry with me every day. In life, you will always be on a team, whether it is sports related, in your career or in your family. It is important to recognize that life is not always about you but about the way the team works together to succeed.” I want to create something bigger than me and make a legacy that I am proud of and that will be carried on to make great things happen for others. -Kari Anderson
These testimonies, the voices of Real Colorado, drive Anderson to relentlessly pursue business development efforts to raise capital for the new soccer complex through special events, sponsorships, grant writing, donor cultivation and stewardship while executing all development, communication, branding and marketing plans for Real Colorado. Through it all she says, “I want to create something bigger than me and make a legacy that I am proud of and that will be carried on to make great things happen for others.”
Women in Leadership and Legacy
Anderson says, “Sometimes it's tough to lead, and to be that woman responsible for leading, but what I have come to appreciate is that what sustains a leader and what gives her courage is love. Leaders are in love - in love with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce and with their customers."
Sandy Williams is President and Founder of Strategic Marketing Innovators LLC. a marketing firm that helps businesses create a marketing impact that makes customers react. Sandy has a BA in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin and an Executive MBA from the University of Denver. To contact Kari Anderson call 303.694.6882 Ext. 404, email at KariA@realcolorado.net or visit www.realcolorado.net.