Sara is a Vice President at OMNI Institute, a non-profit social science consulting firm headquartered in Denver.
She is the SVP Denver Board Chair Emeritus.
What project have you volunteered for with SVP Denver that holds the most meaning for you?
There are so many organizations I’ve come to know and respect through SVP, but the one that holds the most meaning for me would be the work that I did with the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking (LCHT) in 2018.
First, it was really impactful for my own understanding of the issue of human trafficking. Before engaging with them, I had a very stereotypical understanding of what trafficking looked like and who was likely to be trafficked. Working with LCHT really expanded my understanding of this issue – who is vulnerable and the many different ways that trafficking shows up. For example, we often think about trafficking as happening across international borders, or with migrant workers – but that’s a really myopic view. It happens to all kinds of people in vulnerable situations, and it happens right here in Colorado. I was completely unaware of this before working with them.
Secondly, I loved the people I worked with and really felt like I was using my professional skills in a way that was making a change for the organization. Their whole team really dug in with us and were so committed to the work. It was an intense project as we worked to revise their theory of change, logic model, and evaluation infrastructure together over the course of nine months. The staff and the board brought a very thoughtful, caring and friendly approach to our work. I got to know them both as professionals, but also as people which was very fulfilling.
One of the additional takeaways I had was the thoughtfulness that LCHT brings to their work in thinking about how they talk about this issue and how they promote the important work of the organization without sensationalizing the issue or asking victims to share their personal stories. That can be re-traumatizing and put people once again in a really vulnerable situation, and LCHT always centers the experience of survivors and is very careful about how to honor the voices of the people who have been affected by trafficking.
What are you doing when you feel most alive?
I feel most alive when I am surrounded by the people that I love doing something physically active. Whether that’s a walk or a hike or skiing or biking with family or friends – those are my happy places.
What’s been the best day of your life so far?
That would be the day our son, Bo, was born. It was really magical, and a lot of dreams came true that day. It felt like we did a lot of preparing for it, logistically and also, emotionally – but there’s actually no way to really prepare for having your first child arrive in the world. Everything fundamentally shifted in our lives, in all the best ways.
What is a winter holiday tradition that brings you joy?
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I like running the Turkey Trot with my family – that’s an example of my happy place. I always make homemade cranberry sauce. I grew up on Cape Cod and cranberries grow like crazy – there are bogs everywhere. So getting fresh cranberries and making homemade cranberry sauce, with a heavy dose of whiskey which really brings out the flavors beautifully, is something that I love to do. Even when I’m not home visiting my side of the family, it reminds me of home and makes me feel really joyful.
One of my strongest stances in life is that I will not eat cranberry sauce from a can. It’s disgusting and it’s not really cranberry sauce, in my opinion. But, my husband, Rob, only wants it out of a can – with the ridges still intact, in a cylindrical shape, on a plate in front of him. This is a point of departure for us every year.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with SVP Denver?
The reason I’ve been with SVP Denver for so long is because I genuinely believe in the mission and have seen our work make a difference in the community. And, I get a lot of personal value out of it – there are so many friendships and connections that Rob and I have built through the partnership that we deeply value, and it’s with a group of people that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise found. SVP is both an opportunity to give of ourselves, but also to receive a whole lot back.