Have You Met?

Joni is a third generation Colorado native, and the oldest of four girls. She says, "Even the dog was a girl... my dad's own harem."

Growing up, she and her sisters caught no breaks in household duties, doing everything from cooking and cleaning to working on cars and shoveling snow. There was no distinction between "boy chores and girl chores." Joni went on to raise her daughter with the same philosophy.

From childhood on, Joni was inspired by her family to make a difference and lend a hand to others. Her first career step in making a difference came in the field of law enforcement, where she served as the first female investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. From there she moved on to Johns Manville where she helped start up the Corporate Security Department. While there she also helped start the corporate volunteer program, built national coalitions for health legislation, did marketing, corporate communications and ended up managing the corporate foundation and community relations program.

Next she went to U.S. Bank to do business development with nonprofits and then moved to manage the foundation and community programs. Late last year, Joni moved to Qwest as Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. Not content with just one career, she also continues to teach at Regis University in the Masters of Nonprofit Management program. Each step of Ms. Baird's career has held a component of making the world a better place.

But perhaps Joni's proudest accomplishment was raising her lovely daughter, who is married and lives in Houston. She is expecting her first child in August. Joni's parents still live in Colorado, as do her sisters and their families.

As for the future, her goal is to help Qwest re-engage with the community and demonstrate its dedication to good corporate citizenship.

Which social event is your favorite? Denver has so many wonderful fundraising events; I would attend them all if I could! But my favorites are Western Fantasy, Kempe Gala, Saturday Night Alive, Public Education & Business Coalition Art Auction and Warren Village Sports Breakfast. Community events are important to me for many reasons, but especially because of connecting with people who want to make a difference in the community.

What are your volunteer activities? President of Colorado Association of Foundations, Denver Chamber Foundation, Western Fantasy committee, Warren Village, Public Education & Business Coalition, Bonfils Blood Center, National Western Jr. Livestock auction committee and MLK Commission. Also do pro bono consulting for nonprofits on a variety of topics.

If your life were a movie, who would play your part? Lucille Ball, because my life has a lot of “Lucy moments” which have taught me to laugh at myself and not take life too seriously.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? She wasn’t home a lot, and the stove is like brand new because it did not get used much.

What three words would you use to describe yourself? Optimistic, energetic, passionate about making a difference.

What three words would others use to describe you? I would hope people see me as someone who acts with authenticity, integrity and dedication.

What was your first job / worst job? Had a job that had a great deal of downtime, I was bored stiff! So I studied voraciously- turned out that it became the key to getting my next job.

If there were one thing you would change about yourself, what would it be? Life balance…doing things like exercise, leisure travel, learning about fine wines, spending more time with family and friends.

What is your greatest indulgence? Time at a spa, is total heaven and of course chocolate and champagne!

What is a 'perfect Saturday' for you? Doing an aerobic workout on the golf course (my heartbeat increases because I swing the club so much), followed by spa time and then off to a blacktie gala.

Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere I can have some adventure; it is a plus if there are historic ruins to explore.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you ever met? I used to be in law enforcement and occasionally served as a bodyguard. That is how I met Joan Collins, handling her security when she came to town for the Carousel Ball in the 80’s. She was a movie star in every sense of the word…glamorous, charming, and gracious.

Do you have any pets? Since I am not home much, I don’t have a pet. But, I adore my granddogs, Miss Dixie and Nestle, who live in Houston. Also, the dogs in the neighborhood all know me because I always have a treat for them.

Which talent would you most like to have? Would love to have a great singing voice. When I was a little girl I used to try and sing opera. It was so bad that my family still teases me about it today…and cringes at the thought that I might do it again.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My incredible daughter. I hope that she sees me as a good parent and friend.

What is your most treasured possession? The family cedar chest; it is filled with heirlooms and old photographs. It makes me feel connected to our family heritage.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Integrity, and humor. It also helps if they feel as comfortable in a tuxedo as they do in blue jeans and cowboy boots!

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Support and friendship during the good times and bad.

Favorite books / writers? Clive Cussler, Tony Hillerman and Robert Ludlum for sheer “mind candy." I also read a great deal of non-fiction about business and leadership.

Favorite CD / recent concert or show? I love attending the theater, symphony and opera. Also listening to about any kind of music!

Favorite restaurant Strings, not only for the great food, but also for Noel and Tammy Cunningham who do so much to make the world a better place.

For casual, it's the Blue Bonnet for great Mexican food and margaritas.

What is the best advice you have ever received? Be unstoppable.

What is your motto? Make a difference every day by giving your very best.