Have You Met?

Talk about a perfect match, Mark & Courtney Messenbaugh were hit by Cupid’s arrow upon their first meeting (hanging around the food table) at a holiday party in 2002.

I first met this delightful couple by the “dessert table” at a recent reception. After chatting with them, I was impressed with how adorable, warm, and in perfect symmetry as a couple they were. They are both well-traveled and are already considered progressive, respected leaders in our community. Mark and Courtney share strong core values and are committed to being part of the challenging change process that can create a better environment and more opportunities for future generations. Mark fondly reminisces: “Our first conversation was about economic development in emerging countries which was of real interest to me too. I was pretty excited to see this lovely lady that shared these interests with me.”

When the Messenbaughs' and I got together again for our interview in the Belmar shopping area, close to their modern suburban town home, they became even more of the “dream couple” when I met their beautiful 16 month old “blonde” cherub of a son, Harrison – and their “blonde” dog, Aspen – a pound dog they rescued. What a lovely tapestry this young, thirty-something, stylish, and genuinely in love couple have created for themselves. Courtney says: “We continue to work on improving ourselves. Both of us are involved in making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. With the economy, health and environmental issues, we know we need to act now.”

With another (most likely blonde) bambino on the way making their family bond and commitment even stronger, the intelligent, captivating, and “on top of their game” Messenbaughs' are our “happily ever after” Valentine’s Couple for 2008!

How long have the two of you been married? It will be 4 years August 2008.

When you first met, what is the first thing you noticed about each other? Courtney: We met at a mutual friend’s holiday party. I was hanging out by the food table, as is my habit, and noticed this really strikingly handsome man was also hanging there, and we struck up a conversation. In addition to being devilishly good looking, he was really smart and we seemed to be interested in a lot of the same things. I think you could say it was as close to love at first sight as you can get – at least for me, though I, of course, played it cool.

Mark: I also gravitate to the food table at parties, so how good was it to see this lovely blonde there? We had a conversation about economic development in emerging economies. That might not sound fun to most, but it was music to my ears – this beautiful woman had smarts and global interests. I was smitten. I thought about her for weeks before calling my friend to get her number.

Tell us about your first date? Mark: When I finally did get her number, I also got a version of the “many have called, few are chosen” speech from my friend. I told him I would take a shot anyway. I called her from work on a Thursday. She said, good news, yes she did remember me from the party; bad news, she was planning to move to New York in three weeks. I said in that case we had better go out right away.

Courtney: And right away it was – we met up after work that night and went to Sambuca (which used to exist in the space currently occupied by Alto). Over wine and food and more wine with some live jazz thrown in as well, we talked constantly and might have done a little smooching in between. It was good.

Mark: When you meet the woman you will spend your life with, you know pretty quickly. I wasn’t shy about telling her I felt like I had met my other half. That line went over well – more smooching ensued.

As a couple, what's your first priority? Making time for each other, which is hard given work and travel and parenting, but we really are trying to work on making time for just us. Also, being kind to one another, and supportive.

What quality do you admire in each other? Mark: It’s a tie between her humor, and the wonderful way she mothers Harry.

Courtney: Mark is the most trusting and forgiving person I have ever met – I try to work on emulating his ability to combine those two qualities to see the best in things. What do you have most in common? We both have blonde hair. No, really – we share interests in current affairs, politics, travel, family, work, good food and wine, our home … just about everything.

They say sometimes opposites attract; what is the most different thing about the two of you? Mark: Courtney is hipper than I am. She’s introduced me to Kanye, Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani.

Courtney: Guilty as charged. I have a secret subscription to US Weekly and love it!

Where do both of you like to go for a romantic dinner anywhere here in Colorado? Sweet Basil in Vail (thanks for reminding us to go there SOON!); Grabbing some wine and appetizers at the bar at Vita; and sometimes for us, there is a lot of romance to be found over beers and burgers at My Brother’s Bar.

What is your favorite vacation spot? Tie: Paris and Kauai, Hawaii.

What do you plan on doing for Valentine's Day this year? We’re taking a tennis lesson and then going to dinner. Last year we got horrible food poisoning form a restaurant that we have not been back to (and shall remain nameless), so we have no where to go but up!

What sport do you both like to participate in together? Skiing, tennis, biking, hiking.

Mark, you have a family history of community involvement. Your mom started Third Way Center, and she has an amazing story of her own to tell. How does this influence you in your lives? Courtney and I share an interest and sense of duty to contribute to the well-being of our community. We try to satisfy those through our involvement in both politics and non-profits.

What is a charitable event(s) you look forward to attending each year? Third Way Center’s True Grit; The Jefferson Foundation’s Crystal Ball; & Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s “Youth of the Year” dinner.

In your opinion, what does it take to get to that special place known as "wedded bliss"? Lots of hard work, Compromise, Patience, Good humor - And mostly, commitment.

Tell us about a great Messenbaugh family tradition? Buying a load of MacDonald’s cheeseburgers on Christmas Eve and handing them out at the Denver Rescue Mission.

How can we get more of the younger generation involved in charitable giving? We think it’s a lot like all learning – it starts each of us setting a good example, and inviting the next generation to join us. Also, the more hands-on engagement people have in the actual mission of their charitable causes – working with kids at a Boys & Girls Club, handing out food and being a friend to talk to at the homeless shelter – the more likely they are to give financially.

What one word would describe your life right now? Full.

What charitable organizations are you both involved with? Boys & Girls Clubs, Third Way Center, and the Jefferson Foundation.

What is a treasured memory for both of you? Our wedding, and the birth of our son, have to lead the list. Lots more besides.

What are you most proud of about each other? That we survive hard times, share good times, and keep growing as a couple and a family.

If your house were up for sale and a prospective buyer did a walk-through, what would your home tell them about you? That we value our little family – it’s a sea of pictures and toys; that we like to travel and have global interests – with an array of artifacts from various trips around the country and world; that we appreciate art (though most of it is up high now, protected from our toddler); that we have an eclectic sense of style, but also a very comforting and welcoming demeanor.

What’s up in the future for Mark & Courtney Messenbaugh? A baby on the way, due in August. New professional horizons with lofty goals that we’ve each set out for the next few years.

How do you want to be remembered by future generations of Messenbaughs? As loving, kind and generous people, with a propensity for silliness. And as productive, creative, dynamic professionals who helped make their organizations and communities stronger.

You both are high-profile individuals in the civic community. When did you first get involved in the political world - and why? Mark: I worked for Sen. Tim Wirth in college, as well as for a couple of state legislators. I really got professionally involved for the first time during the 2000 presidential campaign, working for Al Gore in Nashville, and then on the Florida Recount litigation. After that debacle, I came back to Colorado and worked for Ed Perlmutter in the State Senate. After a couple years of law practice, I was asked by then-Attorney General Ken Salazar to start a partnership between his office and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. A lot of great experiences.

Courtney: I grew up in a family that always discussed current events and always had a sense of civic awareness and duty. Professionally, I didn’t start working directly in politics until I moved back to Denver in late 2003 to marry Mark. I began working as a fundraiser for economic development and infrastructure/nonpartisan issues in the metro area and then moved to more of a donor advisor role, which is where I now am, advising someone on their national political and managing those relationships. As much as politics can wear are me sometimes, I truly believe it is crucial for every person to get involved, educate themselves on the issues and candidates and do what they believe in.