Vail, Beaver Creek’s new leaders celebrated in the Vail Valley
Beth Howard set to take over at Vail Mountain and Nadia Guerriero will replace her at Beaver Creek
- Doug Lovell is retiring. He’d been the vice president and chief operating officer at Vail Mountain since 2017.
- Beth Howard, the current vice president and chief operating officer at Beaver Creek, is taking the lead job at Vail.
- Nadio Guerriero, the current vice president and general manager at Northstar, will take the top executive job at Beaver Creek.
EAGLE COUNTY — Beth Slifer had a simple reaction to news that the top executive jobs at Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek will be held by women: “Isn’t it terrific?”
In a Tuesday announcement, Vail Resorts announced that Beth Howard will move from her role as the vice president and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek to a similar role at Vail.
Replacing Howard will be Nadia Guerriero, currently the vice president and general manager of Northstar in California.
Slifer, the owner of Slifer Designs, is a longtime valley business owner. She started that business in 1983, just a couple of years before Howard started her career with Vail Resorts — then Vail Associates.
Slifer said she’s known Howard for many years and has been impressed with her work as she’s moved up the corporate ladder.
“(Howard has) had so many roles in the valley,” Slifer said. “She’s well known, well respected and everybody is excited to have her in the lead role.”
Chris Jarnot, the executive vice president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division, said Howard and Guerriero have come up through the corporate ranks thanks to the company’s dedication to developing leadership in-house.
“The company has focused on this for a while,” Jarnot said. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to develop all different kinds of leaders.”
While women in executive roles is not that big a deal these days, Jarnot acknowledged that wasn’t always the case in the ski industry.
“It once was incredibly rare, and in some places it still is,” Jarnot said. “The fact that it’s still noteworthy is in some ways unfortunate.”
Deserving a shot
Kris Wittenberg started Eagle-based SayNoMore! Promotions in 1998. Wittenberg also said she’s thrilled to have women in the top executive jobs at the valley’s resorts.
“I think it’s time for women to be in leadership positions to see if we can do better,” Wittenberg said. “There are a lot of smart women who deserve to have a shot.”
Echoing Jarnot’s remarks, Wittenberg said: “We shouldn’t have to write an article about this.”
That said, Jen Brown wrote in an email that: “It’s not surprising that women are in senior leadership roles with the ski company at Vail and Beaver Creek.”
Brown is the director of the Beaver Creek Resort Co., which manages the village part of the resort.
Brown added that the community has a history of strong female leaders.
“Women have shaped this community and mentored many of us along the way,” Brown said.
Because of that history, Slifer said she believes this valley is generally “gender blind.”
“I think this is just a blip in Vail — I don’t think anybody will even think about it,” Slifer said.
Since starting her business, Slifer said she hasn’t really encountered any “boys’ club” attitudes here. But, she added, there were certainly boys’ clubs in the chemical business she worked for in Chicago in the 1970s. And, as CitiBank’s first-ever commercial loan officer in the late 1960s, Slifer said she ran into plenty of “men only” attitudes.
That’s changed over the years.
Linda Hill, president of Hill Aevium, an Edwards-based advertising agency, started in the business with Harvey Tashiro. Hill wrote in an email that even in the early days, “I never felt that a woman could not move up within the agency ranks.”
‘Years of hard work’
Still, Hill wrote, she’s “heartened” by the news, “not just because the new executives just happen to be female, but because the qualifications of the female applicants were recognized after what I am sure has been years of hard work.”
Those years of hard work are paying off for women in a number of fields.
At the Four Seasons in Vail, sales and marketing director Amy Moser-Harrison said five of the seven members of that hotel’s executive team are women.
After 25 years in the industry, Moser-Harrison said this is the first time she’s worked at a place with multiple women on the executive team.
Pat Peeples has been in the valley’s public relations business for a number of years and now leads ReComm Global. Peeples said she isn’t surprised that Vail Resorts has as many women leaders as it does.
“Vail (Resorts) has always been a leader,” Peeples said, adding that when she worked for the company in the 1980s and 1990s, the firm had one of the industry’s first female top corporate attorneys.
And, Jarnot said, having women in leadership roles frankly isn’t as big a deal as it once was.
Ultimately, he said, “The best leaders are those who are ready for those roles.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com and 970-748-2930.