2020: When Everything Crumbled
(and I’m not even talking about the pandemic!)

For the last 22 years, I’ve made a living helping businesses tell their stories. Storytelling connects us, inspires us, and opens us up to new ideas and experiences. I love helping others tell their stories, and I’ve gone to the mat again and again to make sure those stories get shared in all the right places with all the right audiences. It’s my passion and my joy to support my clients in this way.

But Then…2020

Then 2020 happened, and my own story demanded my attention. In 12 months, I managed to hit every standard plot point of a very dramatic novel—from the death of both my parents, to a murder trial (not my own!), to a rare cancer diagnosis, to a freaking global pandemic. The only thing missing was a hot-steamy affair with the dog walker (maybe I should get a dog?)! I take consolation in the idea that perhaps I can be the muse for James Patterson’s next bestseller (or maybe a Netflix series? Do you think Julia Louis-Dreyfus is available?).

The bottom line is that 2020 was hard—really, really hard—and I see that it’s now time to share my story, in the hopes that it will inspire you to find and share yours. That is, after all, how we connect, inspire each other, and continue to grow.

A Death in the Family

Before I’d ever even heard of COVID-19, my 2020 story began when my beautiful mom passed away in January, at the age of 82. She passed away peacefully surrounded by her family in her own home.  Going through this experience I found a peace that I have never experienced before, knowing my mom is Rejoicing In Paradise (RIP).

On the heels of this profound experience, I was stunned—along with everyone else—when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and the whole world shut down, practically overnight. Businesses were forced to close their doors as we were asked to quarantine at home for an unspecified period of time. This sudden shutdown caused many of my long-standing clients to scale back on their publicity and PR efforts, resulting in a 63% loss in business from 2019.

I spent the next three months buried in paperwork as I applied for many forms of COVID relief, while simultaneously trying to figure out a new strategy to reignite my business.

Plot Twist! It’s the C-word!

All thoughts of business strategy were immediately abandoned when I was diagnosed in June with a very rare form of bone marrow cancer, called Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia, AND (because apparently one life-threatening illness wasn’t dramatic enough for my 2020-novel-in-the-making) a blood disorder called Hyper-Viscosity Syndrome.

Over the course of the summer I learned that keeping a positive attitude was key, as I spent 21 days in the hospital, received 2 blood transfusions, 9 plasmapheresis treatments, 5 chemo and antibody replacement infusions, and dealt with numerous side effects and complications that go along with this diagnosis.  Neutropenic fever landed me an extra 2 nights in the hospital on the COVID-19 floor. Needless to say, I wasn’t having a good time.

My Parents Are Reunited

On September 1st, just 7 months after my mom passed away, and 5 days before their 62nd wedding anniversary, my Dad too passed on. Though he died of complications from West Nile (which he contracted in 2015), my sisters and I believe he just did not want to celebrate an Anniversary without his “beautiful bride” – as he called our mom over the years.

I spent the fall—in between chemo treatments—cleaning out my parents’ home with my sisters, hosting multiple estate sales, and selling their house.

Over Christmas, I lost a very dear 90-year-old friend and advisor, Beverly, who was like a Grandma to me.  So, my 2020 began and ended the same way, with the death of a loved one and an opportunity to reflect on the people and experiences that matter most.

Lessons of Generosity, Boundaries, & Courage

So, what have I learned as I reflect on my 2020 future-Netflix-show? I’ve learned that people are remarkably empathetic and generous when you give them the chance to be. Asking for help does not come naturally to me, but 2020 left me with no other choice, and I was blown away by the emotional and financial support I received. The abundance of calls, cards, flowers, and monetary gifts uplifted and inspired me each day through my journey. 

I learned that it is okay to step away from work in order to heal. My plate wasn’t just full, it was overflowing, and my body and soul simply could not handle it. I was forced to confront that I am not Wonder Woman. I finally slowed down and adjusted my focus toward my own physical and spiritual healing.

And now, as I return to my beloved work in public relations (Oh! I’m in remission! Did I forget to tell you that part?!), I find that I am both more grounded and more fearless. I’m setting and honoring new boundaries that allow me to do the work I love while still nurturing my wellbeing. And, now that I’ve gone to the mat with cancer and grief, there’s nothing I can’t conquer. I’m ready to go to the mat with any challenge that comes my (or my clients’) way.

It’s Your Turn Now!

So what’s your 2020 story? What did you learn and how did you evolve? Did you evolve so hard people need to get to know you again, too? I’d love to hear from you.



Spring roared in like a lion on so many levels this year!  The new season brought a fresh dusting of snow and marked the beginning of a global pandemic.  Our hearts and prayers are with all of you and your families at this difficult time and we hope you to stay safe and healthy as our world fights to overcome this pandemic.

This month, The Stasko Agency has been busy conducting business in a whole new way.  On March 8th we joined the Rebecca Saltman, the Founder of Root Weavers, who offered a unique tribute to International Women’s Day by hosting a virtual expo and a 7-hour live event featuring 24 expressions of purpose and passion videos from women around the world. It was a day where women were recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.  This was a free event offered worldwide.

This was the first virtual conference that The Stasko Agency has participated in.  The event was hosted on Women on Purpose’s new Digital Ecosystem, the Game-changing Platform, eZ-XPO. To get a taste of our day, click here and register to explore all videos and live footage of the day.

Businesses are being forced to reimagine a new normal and to innovate around a new paradigm, yet many do not have the framework or tools to do this work.  To help bridge that gap, the founders of The 3rd Place – myself, Janine Underhill and Myrna James Yoo – have created a workshop to teach businesses and communities how to proactively respond to crisis situations. We recently filmed a COVID-19 Scenario Planning Workshop called Reimagine the Response.  It is a workshop designed to provide a framework for business owners and to help them visualize and anticipate changes in their workflow and creatively problem solve to find new ways of doing business.

Our guest speakers were Leona Cohen, a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) with over 15 years of experience in Business Continuity and Emergency Planning at Fortune 500 organizations and Dr. Michael Schmidt, PhD, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Sovaris Aerospace, which is focused on assessment and solutions applied to humans in space and extreme environments on Earth. He spoke to the reality of the coronavirus from a medical perspective and how to best serve your customers and employees and keep them safe.

We will be offering this Workshop on-line in the upcoming weeks.  Stay tuned for the dates.

Stay safe, healthy, active, and look for all positive in being present!




West 29th Restaurant & Bar Updates Menus, Website

Every year offers the opportunity to try new things, so if you haven’t visited West 29th Restaurant & Bar in Wheat Ridge yet, now is the time. The quaint neighborhood eatery has recently updated its dinner and Happy Hour menus, offering an array of dishes to keep you warm this winter.

New additions for dinner include a Baked Sweet Potato Fritter appetizer served with garlic aioli, Bruschetta with balsamic reduction and parmesan cheese; Squash Ravioli, coated with brown butter, fried sage, parmesan cheese and pepitas and Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque.

The new dinner menu has captured lots of media attention with Westword, the Denver Business Journal, LoHi Lifestyle magazine, North Star Magazine and 303 Magazine all reporting on the changes.

The new Happy Hour made its debut late last month and includes such great deals as $6 house wines, $9 specialty cocktails (including the popular Basil Lemon Drop Martini), $4 Colorado bottled beers and a half pound of pan-seared mussels for just $11. The restaurant offers Happy Hour from 5 pm to 7 pm Tuesday through Friday.

If you’re unfamiliar with West 29th, the restaurant was founded by Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker, who in 2013,  transformed what was once a grocery store into  a beautiful eatery that offers Old World cuisine in a New West setting. The restaurant features two patios, an open kitchen, a fireplace and stained glass windows showcasing familiar natural landmarks.

The Stasko Agency has been working to gain West 29th more exposure through a series of events and promotions, including hosting a media dinner and coordinating a live remote with the Gabby Gourmet Show. We also helped the restaurant launch a new website and raise its profile on social media.

West 29th  is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic special occasion, casual Happy Hour or a sunny weekend brunch. It’s also available for private parties, special events and business meetings. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday and every weekend for brunch. For more information visit http://west29th.com/


Partners Groups North American Headquarters

The Stasko Agency recently helped Partners Group UK Ltd., a global private markets investment manager, celebrate the Grand Opening of its North American headquarters at the Interlocken Advanced Technology Environment business park in Broomfield, CO.   The 129,400-square-foot campus features multiple buildings, including office and amenities space as well as a training facility and subterranean parking.  The campus is capable of accommodating several hundred employees.

Despite poor weather – the Front Range received an unexpected five inches of early season snow – the celebration drew several dignitaries, including Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens and Jeff Romine, the city’s new economic vitality director. The weather did limit media attendance, so we set up call-in interviews instead with Co-CEO David Layton. As a result, we were able to secure coverage from the following media outlets: The Denver Channel 7The Denver Post, Denver Business Journal, BizWest, and Colorado Real Estate Journal.

This is the second time the Stasko Agency provided publicity and public relations support to Partners Group, which is based in Baar, Switzerland. We started our relationship with the firm, when it broke ground on the campus in December 2017.

At that time, Charlies Dallara, Chairman of the Americas at Partners Group stressed how vital the campus would be to supporting the firm’s U.S. business growth: “The state-of-the-art headquarters we are building here will be an important milestone for Partners Group, enhancing our ability to serve our clients and manage our investments across the entire Americas region. In Broomfield, we believe we have found the ideal location for our headquarters, with great transport connectivity, a welcoming and business friendly environment, a strong local talent pool and an excellent quality of life for our employees.”

The ground-breaking ceremony, which was attended by local government representatives, the building development team, and senior management of the firm, was documented in the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

The Partners Group’s new Broomfield campus was developed by a dedicated team that included PrimeWest Development,  Swinerton, Open Studio Architecture.

When setting out to find an office space with two of my fellow Power Tribe members, I never envisioned that in just a few short months we would find ourselves creating a whole new space – a movement, called the 3rd Place Pop-Up! How did this all happen?

When searching for office space, we were determined to find a diamond in the rough, and that is what we did! One of The Stasko Agency’s clients called to say they had a space that has been a challenge for retail tenants and asked if we wanted to consider it for a temporary office space until we found a permanent place. The price and timing were right – so Myrna James Yoo (owner of Blueline Publishing and Publisher of Apogeo Spatial), Janine Underhill (owner of Idea-360 and The Epiphany Lab), and I jumped on the opportunity.

The first few days consisted of us sitting in a large open space on camp chairs trying to figure out what to do with the space – and then an idea struck – based on a concept we created several months earlier, which was orchestrating a Listening Pop-Up for one of Denver Mayoral Candidates, Jamie Giellis. That event helped capture the thoughts and concerns of the audience by giving them a vehicle to record their messages to Jamie.

This sparked the idea of hosting other Pop-Ups in this newly acquired space, which could serve as a place for other businesses to come experiment and experience – a place for other businesses to explore how and where to market their ideas, products, and services. It could be a way to IGNITE the space – a way to build revenue in a non-traditional retail way. Once this idea gelled, we never looked back.

Our first Pop-Up was created by Nancy Hopper of Set the Stage, which provides furniture and accessories to professionals who stage homes before a sale. Nancy’s business is run mostly out of a warehouse full of furniture – so by setting up a vignette in the 3rd Place Pop-Up, she created a satellite showroom where real estate agents, home sellers, and developers can visit and see what she offers. She also provided all the desks and office furniture for our new space, in essence, creating a co-working pop-up within a pop-up. The concept is catching on and expanding!

The 3rd Place is a Professional Pop-Up. It’s a new kind of workspace that is designed to foster creativity and interaction, where you can work alongside familiar faces and new colleagues. Like a home office away from home – but better! We are designing for conversation and collaboration. As we work together, we elevate all our respective businesses.

We now offer co-working opportunities and event space. We opened our doors at the end of August by inviting a few small businesses to “test” the pop-up concept. The first pop-up event we hosted featured Anya Thompson of Elie Mak (clothing/accessories), The Family Jones (whiskey), Helena Cappon of 45 Ivy (professional cakes and desserts), and Amy Norton of Better Wall (reclaimed museum and theatre banners).   The evening was a success!

Our journey has just begun. We are here to work, to ideate, to create, and to collaborate. Please come by for a visit any time at 2000 W. 30th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211 in the Little Man Ice Cream Plaza.



Where did the summer go? It has been a whirlwind of activity at The Stasko Agency, thanks to an exciting new slate of clients and projects. This summer, we’ve been lucky to work with an array of diverse businesses, including Highlands Resource Design, Luna and Jasper (the re-branded Kismet in West Highland), West 29th Restaurant and Urban Green Development.

HDR’s old logo

HDR’s new logo

Earlier this summer, we launched a re-branding campaign for Highlands Design Resource, a boutique furniture and fabric showroom headed by Jennifer Verspohl. We created a new design for the brand, including a fresh sophisticated new color-palette, and helped organize a Cocktail Open House for HDR’s 10th Anniversary. This milestone provided the perfect opportunity to unveil the new look and promote HDR’s unique furnishing lines.

In other news, Shana Colbin Dunn, owner of True Holistic Boutique and Kismet, tapped The Stasko Agency to promote the expansion of her latest retail concept, Luna and Jasper. In July, Colbin Dunn converted her Kismet store in the Highlands, located at 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard, into a Luna and Jasper storefront. The Stasko Agency helped spread the word about all the new store has to offer, landing articles in Westword and 303 Magazine.

On the restaurant front, we’ve begun working with West 29th Restaurant & Bar in Wheat Ridge. We’ll be helping the restaurant kick off its fall menu with a Media Dinner at the beginning of October. Be sure to watch for West 29th Restaurant in the Denver media.

Rounding out our new clients is Urban Green Development, which recruited our team to promote the new Light House Lofts, on track to become the second LEED Platinum-certified condominium development in Denver. We look forward to keeping you posted on this exciting new project, located at West 29th Avenue and Zuni Street.

Here’s to an amazing Summer!

Congratulations to all our clients on their successes this summer and for all the wonderful news they will be sharing this fall.

Arriving this summer, the Little Man Ice Cream Factory will open its doors to the public in a perfect Willy Wonka fashion. The shop will be Little Man Company’s fifth opening since 2008, following Old Town Churn in Fort Collins last year and The Constellation in Stapleton in March 2019.

The Factory was born out of necessity for the quickly-expanding brand, which needed a new production facility after outgrowing its original 600-square foot kitchen housed in a converted Victorian. The new space houses a state-of-the-art commissary where ice cream and baked goods for all of Little Man’s stores are produced.

The Factory will be open to the public as a tasting room, serving flights of ice cream and tours of the production area so guests get a behind-the-scenes look at how the ice cream is made. Like many of Little Man’s outlets, The Factory will be big on fun and special features, including a soon-to-be installed metal slide, an overhead conveyor belt to move ice cream from one part of the factory to another and a revolving flavor sign.

More than just an ice cream shop, The Factory will serve as an event space for a variety of activities, such as wedding receptions, kids’ birthday parties and executive happy hours.

We’re excited for the launch of this whimsical new space and have promoted The Factory through a variety of venues. Check out this great piece from 5280 about Little Man’s expansion. News7 also named Little Man a Mile High Must. We look forward to being a part of the Grand Opening this Summer and the future Little Man locations coming soon!

It is no surprise that LoHi has become one of the fastest growing and trendy neighborhoods in Denver that has attracted some of the city’s most unique and stylish boutiques. Last year, Shana Colbin Dunn, owner of the Kismet stores, brought her newest concept, True Holistic Boutique, to the neighborhood in the former Goldyn space near the old Olinger Mortuary, now home of Linger and the original Little Man Ice Cream. The Stasko Agency is very excited to work with Shana and her team to bring awareness of all that True has to offer.

True is much more then a retail clothing store; it is a holistic boutique that brings an eclectic mix of elegant, easy-to-live-in clothing, plus one-of-a-kind jewelry, accessories, home décor, wellness lotions and potions, and a space to experience Wellness Wednesdays and Self-care Sundays. Each week, True provides classes or opportunities to nurture you and your soul.  

We were fortunate enough to participate in True’s last event, a Mala Making Class, where Sarita Shrestha and Bryan McRea, from Tibet Imports, walked us through the meaning and process of making a personal Mala. This event brought women from all walks of life together to create something beautiful. Each Mala’s precious stones were chosen for the participant based on her birthday and sign. This is a “true” example of the experience Shana is bringing to her new location in LoHi. We look forward to sharing this journey with Shana and promoting her and all her concepts, Kismet, True Holistic Boutique, and the newest store, Luna and Jasper, as well as and the unique classes and experiences that Shana will be sharing with you.

Upcoming events include 5/5@5:00 – a Small Group Styling Session for five ladies.  The True stylists will hand pick 5 essential items just for you.  This is a chance to meet new and interesting women, drink wine, and get your style on!  Space is limited to just five women, event starts at 5:00pm.  Multiple dates and locations available.  Visit 5-5atfive.eventbrite.com

On June 5th come enjoy a night with Medium Marla Mitchell at True LoHi.  The evening will include a discussion on what happens when you die and where do you go, a meditation to connect with loved ones on the other side, and a private psychic medium reading for all guests.  The event is from 7:00pm – 9:00pm and cost $100 per person, truemarla.eventbrite.com. For more information on upcoming events at True Holistic Boutique visit: trueholisticboutique.com/trueyou .


Little Man Ice Cream’s newest concept, The Constellation, landed in Stapleton at the Eastbridge development and celebrated its Grand Opening on March 30th.  The Constellation Ice Cream shop is named after The Constellation or “Connie,” a four-engine airliner built by Lockheed Martin, an airliner that revolutionized the mid-20th century.  The ice cream shop is housed in a 75-foot replica of the Constellation airplane wing.  The wing suspends over Martin Luther King Boulevard, paying tribute to the former Stapleton International Airport.

The maiden voyage Grand Opening was a smashing success, celebrated with hundreds of Little Man Ice Cream fans.  Customers were encouraged to bring a piece of luggage in order to receive a baggage claim ticket that would be entered into a drawing for a trip for 4 to New York City!  Congratulations to the Little Man staff for a remarkable opening and for bringing a piece of history to yet another community.

The Constellation is the fourth ice cream concept developed by Paul Tamburello, founder of Little Man Ice Cream.  The Stasko Agency was hired by Tamburello to promote the first concept, Little Man Ice Cream, a 28-foot-tall replica of an antique Milk Can back in 2008.  Over the past ten years, The Stasko Agency has provide publicity and public relations services for Paul Tamburello and the Little Man brands.  Tamburello has two more concepts on tap for 2019, a soft serve shop called Dang and a Little Man Ice Cream shop at Denver International Airport, a testament to the iconic status of the brand.

Since last autumn, we have had the chance to work with and represent Jason McGovern and Crush Pizza + Tap (formally Denver Deep Dish). To put it lightly – Jason and his team are CRUSHing it! They have successfully gone through a name change and rebranding, and have expanded their menu to include a broader array of pizza styles.

Jason McGovern, Owner Crush Pizza + Tap

The Lower Highland pizzeria, which has won awards and loyal fans for its deep-dish pies, now offers a hand-tossed variety and a Sicilian, thick-crust style. Dining Out highlighted the restaurant’s unique offerings in its recent round-up Denver pizzerias.

Jason McGovern, the owner of Crush Pizza + Tap, has graciously hosted fundraising events including a Girls on the Run dinner for a group of students from the University of Denver and a non-profit fundraiser for Project PAVE. He sponsored the first HUNI Happy Hour of the year for the LoHi community. He has also provided tenant Happy Hours for the local apartments and has offered special discounts for the local schools, businesses, and the neighborhood.

The new name Crush Pizza + Tap has been received with open arms from the food media and local broadcasts. Jason has become a regular on the Modern Eater Radio Show. He also drew some well-deserved media attention for his Pizza Challenge, eating pizza every day for over 90 days and he is still going! Check out these pieces in Westword and on the Everyday Show about his pizza-eating adventure.

On March 9, 2019, Crush celebrated its 4th anniversary with live music and a large crowd of loyal fans. I think everyone who experiences Crush Pizza + Tap will agree that Jason and his staff go above and beyond to make you feel special and welcomed. And of course, the pizza is something that will leave you wanting more. If you ask us, “Who is our Crush?” we would have to say Jason McGovern and Crush Pizza + Tap!