Steamboat Living: 20 Under 40-Laura Cusenbary & Kara Stoller
July 18, 2016
Giving comes easily to Laura Cusenbary, 37, a financial advisor for Wells Fargo Advisors. It runs in the family.
“I’m fortunate to have had a family growing up that was very philanthropic,” she says. “My mom was a case worker for CASA, always bringing people home, and my granddad founded an adaptive sports healing foundation that’s now run by my dad and uncle. Helping people out was a big part of my upbringing and is part of who I am.”
Cusenbary wasted no time putting her business degree from Indiana University to use when she moved here 14 years ago, working stints as sales and marketing manager for Steamboat Ski Corporation and marketing director for Prudential Steamboat Realty before assuming her current role with Wells Fargo. But it’s her commitment to the community that shines above her professional prowess.
Ever since she arrived she’s served on several local boards and fundraisers, including the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, Ski Town USA Rotary Club, Steamboat Chamber Resort Marketing Committee, Impact 100, and the Sunshine Kids Foundation. She also co-chaired the Tour de Steamboat, was a board member of Routt County Cattle Women and chaired Steamboat’s Relay for Life Luminaria. She also raised funds for a friend diagnosed with leukemia and keynoted the annual Girls to Women conference.
You’d think this would earn her good fortune, but in 2010 she found herself on the other side of the coin when her husband, Brad, was diagnosed with brain cancer. “You think you have all this good karma, but then it happens to you,” she says, adding she resigned from a number of boards to help Brad. “I was absolutely shocked at everyone who came out of this community to rally behind us. It was overwhelming.”
That, of course, is one of the main reasons she loves it here so much. “Front and center, I’d say the community here is what makes Steamboat so special,” she says. “It’s a super supportive and philanthropic community.”
As for her own volunteerism, she adds it’s easier with a peer group that feels the same way. “I’m lucky that I’ve been able to convince friends to do it with me, which has made it fun,” she says. “Steamboat lends itself to giving back. It’s the culture of this community.
“And whatever you do doesn’t even have to be huge,” she adds. “You can make a difference in small ways, too. All it takes is energy and motivation.”
All this doesn’t mean she isn’t above carving out a little Me Time now and then. Outside of her career and community commitments, you’ll find her skiing, biking, hiking or golfing with friends, and settling into her new home in Fairview, complete with a beloved horse corral, with Brad and daughter, Austin
Before moving to Steamboat Springs in 2007, Kara Stoller, 33, worked special event production in Philadelphia after graduating from West Virginia University. She wasted no time putting her skills to use in Steamboat, landing a job as special events director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. This led to her current role as the association’s marketing director.
It’s a perfect fit, given her background, friendly personality and penchant for all things Ski Town USA.
“I came here to visit my brother, saw the ad, and then packed up and came back three weeks later,” she says. “Steamboat’s definitely home now.”Everyone who knows her, from friends and local family—which includes brother Todd, husband Andrew, 1-year-old daughter Iris, and her aunt and uncle—to visitors and workmates is happy things worked out that way. So are the many volunteer organizations she’s associated with, from Leadership Steamboat and the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission, where she served for four years, to the Ski Town USA Rotary Club, where she’s helping its outreach efforts. As co-chair of the local USA Pro Challenge host committee, she was also instrumental in luring the nation’s biggest cycling race to town.
“She’s very hard working and dedicated,” commends Chamber CEO Jim Clark, adding she also created the All Arts and Oktoberwest festivals. “She’s the type of person you know will get the job done, and get it done right. She’s a true asset to this community.”
For Stoller, she’s just glad it all gets her out in the community. “Working for the chamber has allowed me to get know some great members of the community,” she says. “Every day is different, which keeps things fresh and challenging. And Steamboat is great because it has such a dedicated and caring community.”
When not spearheading the Chamber’s marketing efforts or helping Rotary’s mission, Stoller can be found practicing what she preaches, mountain biking, skiing, golfing, hiking and more—all of which makes her even more endearing to her cohorts.
“She has an amazing work ethic, going above and beyond the call of duty every day, while still maintaining a great work/live balance,” says friend Sarah Coleman. “She’s smart, caring, happy and a real go-getter. Plus, she rips on a bike and skis.”