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Aspen Public Radio and Wheeler Opera House partner on “Money Talks” to promote Equal Pay Day

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Aspen Public Radio presents a panel discussion with remarkable women in leadership to acknowledge the history of Equal Pay Day. These CEOs, company founders, and leaders will explore their own personal experiences around pay equity, the opportunities and challenges they've faced along the way, and how the pandemic has impacted the future of work.

Aspen Public Radio and the historic Wheeler Opera House are partnering to host an in-person event this spring—the first live, ticketed event for the public radio station in more than two years, following the global COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, April 2 at 6:00 p.m. at the Wheeler, the two local organizations will host Money Talks: An Evening of Powerful Stories from Powerful Women in Celebration of Equal Pay Day, a panel-style discussion that will acknowledge the history of Equal Pay Day, which raises awareness about the gender pay gap and symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work in order to have earned what a man had earned the previous year.

Tickets are available now on aspenshowtix.com. They are $35 per person and support Aspen Public Radio’s non-profit journalism service for the Roaring Fork Valley. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Official data collected by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) calculates Tuesday, March 15 as Equal Pay Day for 2022.

The evening’s panel will feature three remarkable, local women who will gather to share their stories as women in leadership. These CEOs, company founders, and leaders will explore their own personal experiences around pay equity, the opportunities and challenges they've faced along the way, and how the pandemic has impacted the future of work.

Panelists include:

  • Susan Cross, General Manager, Snowmass Ski Area, Aspen Skiing Company. Cross is Aspen Skiing Company's first and only female mountain manager—a unique distinction within a traditionally male-dominated industry. A native of Somerville, Mass., Cross moved to the valley and started working at Snowmass in 1991. She climbed up the corporate ladder, eventually leading the guest services department as director, before being promoted to mountain manager at Buttermilk in 2011. At Snowmass, she oversees the mountain's winter activities, as well as its summer operations as a year-round destination resort. In a 2019 article in The Aspen Times about her role, she noted, "I think of it as I was the right person for the job who happened to be a female, versus I got the job because I’m a female."
  • Mawa McQueen, Founder and Owner, Mawa’s Kitchen, The Crepe Shack, and Mawa’s Grainfreenola. McQueen is the proprietor of Aspen’s only Black-owned restaurant enterprise and is a 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef, Mountain region. She was recently featured in Forbes in Feb. 2022. McQueen grew up in Africa’s Ivory Coast before beginning her formal culinary training in Paris and London; all of these experiences inform her globally-inspired cuisine. She first moved to Aspen in 2002 to join the team at The Little Nell. During the COVID-19 pandemic, McQueen utilized her entrepreneurial skills and business acumen to launch a gluten-free, vegan snack brand called Mawa’s Grainfreenola.
  • Beatriz Soto, Protégete Director, Conservation Colorado. Soto grew up biculturally between Chihuahua, Mexico and the United States, graduating from Basalt High School in 1999. She went on to study architecture in Chihuahua City, and is passionate about sustainable design and conservation, as well as community organizing. Prior to joining Conservation Colorado, Soto was the Latino outreach coordinator for Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop’s Defiende Nuestra Tierra program. Long interested in public service, she ran a highly-competitive campaign for Garfield County Commissioner (District 2) in 2020.

The event will be moderated by Stacey Vanek Smith, host of NPR’s The Indicator from Planet Money podcast. Originally hailing from rural Idaho, Smith is a broadcast journalist who covers business and economics. Prior to coming to NPR, Smith worked for Marketplace, where she was a correspondent and host. She has collaborated with The New York Times to explore relationships, money, and marriage, and is also the author of Machiavelli for Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace, a 2021 publication that studies Machiavelli’s The Prince, the nearly 500-year-old political manifesto, as a blueprint to show how women can take and maintain power. Smith’s website cites the following statistics, which informed her book:

  • 80% of CEOs are male
  • 75% of judges, surgeons, and elected officials are men
  • 40% of US businesses are started by women, but women only get 2% of venture capital
  • Women only make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes; for Black women, it’s 65 cents; for Latina and Native women, it’s 55 cents
  • When women retire, they have about one third the savings that men do, and women over 65 are more than twice as likely as men to live below the poverty line

A report by The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress found that four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September 2020 (roughly 865,000 women, compared with 216,000 men), which validates predictions that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could set women’s workforce progress back by an entire generation.

This event is made possible by the generosity of lead sponsor Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel, a local investment advisor and financial planning firm. Additional support comes from Alpine Bank, a locally-operated bank founded in Carbondale in 1973; and KangarooStar, a local startup and woman-focused executive search firm. The woman-run business, Marble Distilling Co., will be providing sustainable spirits and cocktails at a private dinner to follow the public event that evening.

Aspen Public Radio executive director Breeze Richardson says, “We’re so excited about this event; being able to gather together once again in person is going to be such a treat. And, we want to share that everyone, of every gender, is invited to join us at this event. Let’s come together to celebrate our local friends, peers, business owners, daughters, sisters, mothers, and partners. Let’s honor these phenomenal women and truly put our money where our mouths are—let’s be inspired to be real advocates for equal pay for equal work…for all.”

Additionally, Richardson shared her appreciation, “Thank you to the visionary Lisa Rigsby Peterson and the fantastic team at the Wheeler, as well as to all our generous sponsors, for making this timely conversation possible and for acknowledging the importance of Equal Pay Day in our community.”

Questions for the panelists in advance may be directed to Lisa DeLosso, director of development and strategic partnerships, at lisa@aspenpublicradio.org.

Equal Pay Day event sponsors

PLEASE NOTE: All members of the public twelve years of age and older who attend a performance or event at the Wheeler Opera House are required to show valid proof of full vaccination fourteen days prior to attendance OR proof of a negative PCR or Antigen COVID-19 test administered by a third-party testing provider conducted on the same day as building entry. Rapid testing is available for $25 per test at the Aspen Rona Testing tent next to the Wheeler one hour before showtime on performance days until curtain. Masks are required for all attendees over the age of 2. Masks must comply with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mask recommendation. Face coverings are required indoors, regardless of vaccination status. For more information, please visit the Wheeler's website.