Art is a univeral language. Nobody knows that better than Birgit Whitelaw, who speaks three—German, French and English—but knows that creativity supersedes them all. Whitelaw grew up in Germany, worked at her uncle’s hotel and earned her bachelor’s degree in hotel management. She worked at a number of European hotels, exploring other countries in the process.

She came to Colorado to visit a friend and ended up meeting her future husband. Eventually, she took a job as director of sales and catering at Denver’s Burnsley All Suite Hotel. But she craved a way to also use her lifelong passion for art. She had studied under a number of art professors in Europe, eventually completing her studies at The Art Institute of Colorado.

Whitelaw and her business partner, Renata Dolz, started The Art Connection in 2003. Drawing upon combined experiences in hotel management and marketing and a shared passion for art, their business has blossomed into one of the most creative experiences a company can buy. T-Mobile, Vectra Bank, Star Foundation and others have tapped their creative energy to provide branding, team-building and other enhancements to their business cultures. “Basically, we use art and other creative methods to connect people with each other,” Whitelaw says. “And we very much customize each experience to [each] client.”

People in general enjoy being creative and find The Art Connection’s projects release a side they might not ordinarily show. Art becomes a catalyst to creativity and human connection. Whitelaw says, “It brings me much joy.”

Her mantra?: “In a desert, there’s always sunshine; but for growth you need rain and for creativity, you need a thunderstorm.” Art Connection brings the thunderstorm.

When she’s not working, Whitelaw loves skiing and hiking in Colorado’s mountains with her 13-year-old daughter and husband, who she’s been married to for 21 years.

So far, webcams and Zoom meetings have been an essential part of 2020. While digital options are functional placeholders for meetings, chatting with a coworker over Skype doesn’t always set up a team for success. Human connection is vital to team building, and hosting safe, small meetings is a great way to revitalize teams after months of working from home.


Denver native Keisha Makonese’s passion for planning events dates way back. Her latest gig as director of sales and corporate events at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum began nine years ago. In this role, Makonese helps oversee an average of 150 private events at Wings Over the Rockies each year, from making meetings for 20 people to annual dinners for 2,000 fun and interactive experiences.


These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to

Theron Gore was recently named the chief marketing officer for East West Hospitality.

1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?