He may be new to the head office, but incoming Denver South CEO Tom Brook is already well-known to the community.
He’s lived in the Denver metro area since the 1980s, working with a number of the most important and fastest-growing companies in the state, and has been Denver South’s CFO since last year.
As of April 1, 2019, he will take over for the retiring Mike Fitzgerald, stepping in as CEO to continue and expand the vital economic development work that Denver South has been doing in the region for decades. We recently sat down with Tom to learn more about his background and his vision for Denver South going forward.
How did you end up in Colorado?
What can I say? My first trip to Colorado was one of our trademark beautiful days — blue skies, warm weather, not a cloud in the sky — and I remember thinking, “wow, this is pretty nice.” So, I moved here when I was 18, and I’ve been here ever since.
I grew up in upstate New York, but I went to college at Colorado State and started my career as an accountant and consultant here in Denver. I spent some time at Deloitte and Price Waterhouse and eventually found my way into a CFO role with a growing Trust Company, and then with a variety of startup companies.
What brought you to Denver South?
A couple of years ago I was working in the area with Prime Health, a Denver South initiative in the digital health space, and I really didn’t know a lot about Denver South or what the organization did at the time. That changed when I attended a Colorado Smart Cities Alliance presentation at the AMG Bank building and first got the chance to meet Jake Rishavy, Mike Fitzgerald and the Denver South team.
I was really impressed with the work the organization was doing and told them if there was ever a chance for us to do something together, I’d love to get involved. About six months later that opportunity arrived and I joined Denver South as CFO and COO full-time in 2018, eventually taking over as CEO this year with Mike retiring.
What excites you about working with Denver South?
I’ve been living and had offices in the Denver South region off and on since 1991, so I know how great this area is. It’s changed drastically over the past 30 years, so it’s hugely different than it was when I got here, but that also means that it’s a very dynamic place to live and work, and I love that about it. The Denver South region is instrumental to the future of the Colorado economy.
At the same time, the work that the Denver South Economic Development Partnership is doing here is fascinating and so important — from the Smart Cities initiative, to the Transportation Management Association, to the broader economic development efforts. This organization has such a great positive impact on the region and it’s a thrill for me to be involved and help move this cause forward.
What’s your vision for the organization?
Over the past five years, Denver South has done an excellent job of positioning itself as a collaborative platform where people, even competitors, from different backgrounds and different industries can come together and get things done, making it a huge asset for the region.
That’s part of the history of this region and this organization as well. If you go back to the early founders and developers of the Denver Tech Center, they were all competitors, but they recognized the importance of banding together to accomplish their shared goals. It’s the same today, and that fact has been driven home by what’s happening nationally, the divisiveness of our politics and our society. It’s never been more important to find that middle ground and work together to get things done.
What does the road forward look like?
It starts with that same spirit of collaboration.
If you look at the success and the growth of Colorado over the past 10 years, it’s all directly tied to work that’s been going on here for decades. You can look at Denver International Airport and the efforts of Mayor Peña 30 years ago to make that happen. Or you can look to downtown Denver and the growth of the Lodo and RiNo areas in recent years. Or what’s happened in Lone Tree, the development of Park Meadows retail resort and all of the business growth that’s happened along the I-25 corridor.
That’s all been a huge success from an economic development standpoint, but I think it’s fair to say that with this growth have come new challenges. We’re now facing things like traffic congestion, rising cost of housing and more. To get over these new hurdles, we’re going to have to double down on that collaborative spirit and continue working together.
As that middle ground convener that brings groups together to get things done around a common goal, Denver South is perfectly positioned to help advance those conversations.