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Sue and Dan Godec named 2022 Vail Valley Volunteers of the Year

Tom Boyd
Special to the Daily
Sue and Dan Godec are the 2022 Vail Valley Volunteers of the Year.
Vail Valley Foundation/Courtesy photo

The Vail Valley is fortunate to have an extremely active nonprofit community. At its core is an extraordinary spirit of volunteerism.

Of the valley’s thousands of volunteers, perhaps none give more, or give more widely, than longtime residents Sue and Dan Godec.

In honor of their steadfast and selfless service to a wide range of programs, nonprofits, and events in the valley, the Vail Valley Foundation announced Friday that Sue and Dan Godec are the recipients of the 2022 Vail Valley Volunteers of the Year award. The award is given out annually to deserving people who have, for many years, contributed volunteer time, leadership, vision, and passion to the entire community.



IF YOU GO …

  • What: Honoring Vail Valley Volunteers of the Year Sue and Dan Godec
  • When: Sunday at approximately 9:15 a.m.
  • Where: Red Tail Finish Area, Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup, Beaver Creek
  • Cost: Free

“Volunteers are at the center of all that we do, not only at the Vail Valley Foundation and our pursuit of raising quality of life through arts, athletics, and education, but also for all our community’s nonprofits,” said Mike Imhof, president of the Vail Valley Foundation, which manages the award on behalf of the valley’s nonprofit community. “Sue and Dan Godec have given an incredible amount of time and expertise to a wide range of institutions in our community, and it is an honor for all of us to take this opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate them. They are extremely deserving.”

Sue and Dan Godec will be honored Sunday morning at the Xfinity Birds of Prey ski races at the Red Tail finish area before the races, with the ceremony beginning at approximately 9:15 a.m. Friday’s ceremony was canceled after the races were called off due to challenging weather. Free buses to the finish area will be available. Spectators should allow at least one hour of transportation time from the base to the ski race finish.

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Decades of volunteerism

Sue and Dan have roots that go back decades in the community, and many will remember Sue from her time as owner of the Vail Apothecary, or in her current leadership position with Mary Kay cosmetics.

“Mary Kay is a business of support and encouragement and mentoring, and because of the flexibility I am able to volunteer, and most of my volunteering is with Vail Valley Foundation,” Sue said. “One of the things I love about volunteering at these events is that you’re really there, really a part of what’s going on. You’re on the front lines and seeing it with different eyes.”

Sue plays a key role at the Vail Valley Foundation’s GoPro Mountain Games and Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup each year, organizing the volunteer security teams. Dan volunteered at the 1999 Alpine World Ski Championships, and both of them volunteered at the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships events. They have both volunteered at virtually all of the Vail Valley Foundation’s past events, from cycling to snowboarding to the American Ski Classic — events that often have upward of 500 volunteers.



“We simply can’t express how grateful we are to have Sue and Dan not only volunteer but to take on key leadership roles in organizing and contributing to these valued events for our community,” said Sarah Franke, the VP of operations and marketing for the Vail Valley Foundation. “They are both very kind, thoughtful, and giving people and we are so glad to be able to honor them with this award.”

‘They have been role models’

The couple’s work with the Vail Valley Foundation is only one aspect of an extraordinary amount of giving back to their community. Dan has served, and currently serves, on a wide array of boards of directors. Sue also volunteers for these organizations.

“Dan has just been everywhere, and in an incredibly generous way, with his time and expertise,” said Mike Rushmore, the former chair of the board of directors for the Eagle Valley Community Foundation. “I certainly know that our organization is where we are today in large part because of Dan Godec. He is, on one hand, a grinder in the weeds testing the numbers, testing the strategies, and he’s unafraid to do a deep dive. At the same time, he’s probably the biggest thinker in terms of an organization standpoint and long-term strategy standpoint.”

Dan’s specialty is to give not only time but professional expertise. He is the former president and CEO of WestStar Bank and currently works with Alpine Bank.

Dan credits much of his positive impact to the culture of volunteerism and community support at Alpine Bank, which creates the framework that allows him to be active in the community.

And active, he is. The number and variety of organizations that Dan contributes to are remarkable: he currently serves as chair of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation. He also has served with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity since its inception in 1995, where he provides expertise in development, finance, land acquisition and strategic planning among other initiatives.

He has been a board member of the Castle Peak Senior Life and Rehabilitation Center in Eagle for the past several years; he is on the board of directors for the Eagle Valley Land Trust, where he served as president from 2008-2014, and is now board emeritus of that organization; he has been on the Eagle Valley Behavioral Health Board of Directors since 2018, and also co-chairs the Vail Health Foundation’s $100 million campaign to support behavioral health.

Sue and Dan Godec have been named the 2022 Vail Valley Volunteers of the Year. The couple, both longtime locals, have been extraordinarily involved in supporting nonprofit institutions throughout the Vail Valley.
Vail Valley Foundation/Courtesy photo

“Sue and Dan are passionate about making our community the best it can be — every single day,” said Kristin Kenney Williams, chair of Habitat for Humanity. “From access to healthy foods to safe homes, any opportunity to serve residents of the Eagle River Valley, Sue and Dan are there. They have been role models to me as to how to be a better citizen and neighbor.”

Bravo! Sue and Dan

Among it all, somehow the pair have also been key contributors to one of the valley’s most cherished cultural institutions: Bravo! Vail Music Festival, where Dan served as the chair of the board of trustees during 2005 and 2006 and remains on the board today. Sue, as well, contributes to the organization.

“This community is so lucky to have Sue and Dan Godec,” said Caitlin Murray, the executive director of Bravo! Vail Music Festival. “They give so much of their time and talent to the causes they support. Whether it is serving on the board, volunteering, introducing friends to the organizations they work with, or even hosting Bravo! Vail’s summer interns for an annual hike at the beginning of each season, they bring a spirit of warmth and welcoming to all they do. Sue and Dan’s love for the Vail community is evident in the passion they bring to their volunteer work, and they make our community a better place.”

Finding the motivation for making such an immense contribution to our community is no problem for Sue and Dan.

“For me, it’s being involved in the community, and then it became a bit more of just looking to see where there’s a need,” Dan said. “We talked about doing more than writing checks, we talked about getting involved. If it’s a good organization and they’re doing good work, and we can offer some assistance, some expertise, then we tried to do that.”

Dan said he took some early advice from one of Vail’s pioneers, Dr. Tom Steinberg.

“I still remember Steinberg telling me …. Whatever you do, make the organization better when you leave than when you started,” Dan recalled. “He was a good mentor.”

“They are mentors, too,” Imhof said. “In their volunteerism, in their innate kindness, and in everything they provide for our community, they show each of us what a life well-lived can look like.”

Sue and Dan join a group of distinguished members of the community who have received the award since 2000:

Past Vail Valley Volunteer of the Year recipients

  • 2000: Kim Bender
  • 2001: David Ozawa
  • 2002: Barb Treat
  • 2003: Dick Pownall
  • 2004: Bill Douglas III
  • 2005: Tenie Chicoine
  • 2006: Fred Hassle & Jim Sanders
  • 2007: Susan Frampton
  • 2008: Kathryn Benysh
  • 2009: Cheryl Jensen
  • 2010: Doris Dewton
  • 2012: Cookie Flaum
  • 2013: Debby Jasper
  • 2015: Brad Ghent
  • 2016: Nancy and Mauri Nottingham
  • 2017: Jan Hiland
  • 2018: Tenie Chicoine
  • 2019: Tom Russo
  • 2020: Joanna Kerwin
  • 2021: Greer and Jack Gardner

Tom Boyd is the director of public relations and communications for the Vail Valley Foundation.


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