Some women make achievement look effortless.
Wendy Pifher, managing partner of the Colorado Springs office of Holland & Hart, is one such individual.
During her tenure with the law firm, the office has grown from eight to 13 attorneys and has expanded into new markets, including military law, space law, government contracting, employment law and intellectual property.
Her clients encompass an array of artists, writers, musicians and others from the entertainment and technology industries – including many nationally recognized artists, sports figures and celebrities.
Pifher has gained a regional and national reputation for her expertise in trademark and intellectual property law and is a frequent speaker at conferences on those topics.
Nominated by Mark Beese, also of Holland & Hart, Pifher’s credits include many of the usual earmarks of a civic-minded corporate professional: hands-on volunteerism, board positions and membership on key task forces and committees.
But those positions of honor and dedication were not sole reason she was nominated as one of the community’s Women of Influence.
“She would never tell you this, but her mentoring and tutoring of a high school dropout named Leah is indicative of Wendy’s integrity and character,” Beese wrote in his cover letter.
“Wendy was passionate about helping Leah, an at-risk young woman who nearly dropped out of high school, get her GED and a good job,” he said. “Today Leah is serving in the U.S. Navy in Iraq and has completed two tours in the Gulf, serving on the Peleliu, a Navy troop supply and transport ship. Wendy is very private about her volunteer work, but it is very important to her.”
Perhaps that dedication was inspired by Pifher’s own rather untraditional path to professional achievement.
As a married young mother in the mid-1980s, she worked for the Digital Equipment Co. in Colorado Springs as a paralegal. Her boss, a patent attorney, encouraged her to go back to school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Regis University.
Upon graduating in 1989, the company supported her determination to earn a law degree at Denver University. She finished in three years.
“I asked my son – then 4 years old – if he would be O.K. with me going to Denver every night to for classes. I had to tell him I wouldn’t be home after school or in the evenings with the family,” Pifher said.
“The first time I asked, he said ‘no’. A year later I asked, and he said he wasn’t ready for me to be gone that much. By age 6, he said, it would be O.K., but he’d like a saxophone. So we got him a saxophone and today he attends the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.”
That clarity of purpose has jettisoned Pifher to the top of her craft.
In her current position, she manages a staff of 25.
“It’s not always easy. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist and have very high expectations,” she admits.
“There’s more pressure in this role, but it gives me a great opportunity to help both the firm and the talented Colorado Springs staff reach their potential,” she said, noting that she prefers a team rather than a hierarchical approach to management.
Pifher takes pleasure in being able to represent Holland & Hart in the community.
A partial list of her credits includes current or recent participation in the Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center volunteer program, the Holland & Hart Foundation’s Reclamation Project, the Ecumenical Social Ministries Adopt-a-Child initiative as well as membership on the Care & Share Board of Directors, the Celebrate Technology Industry Conference committee and as chairwoman of the Colorado Springs Business Symposium.
Julie Boswell, vice president for development and communications for the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. sees Pifher as an important player in the community.
“Wendy’s terrific,” Boswell said. “I’ve worked with her mostly through interfaces we’ve had between EDC and Holland & Hart. What I like about her is that you never have to wonder where you stand with Wendy. She is a clear and concise communicator, personable and easy to work with.”
Boswell further calls Pifher “a straight-shooter” who makes a logical fit as a Woman of Influence.
“There aren’t many women or men around for that matter who have accomplished so much and yet maintain their individualism, their own sense of style while getting it done,” she said.