Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

Perla Gheiler might be young but she sure has stacked a lot into those years. Not one to sit around and whine about the world, Perla sees an opportunity to make a difference and she goes right after it. She fits more into her days and evenings than most of us do in a week.

Raised by her grandparents in a strong, traditional Hispanic household, Perla knows the meaning of love and integrity. “My grandparents raised my brother and me after they had already raised a large family. They had very little, but always made sure we had what we needed.” I asked Perla to share a favorite childhood story. “I have so many; my childhood memories are filled with family stories. One time, when I was four years old, I was helping in the garden while my brother was talking with an older neighbor boy. He started throwing rocks at my brother and I ran over, stood in front of my brother, and told him to stop throwing rocks. The boy proceeded to throw a rock and hit me on the face. I had to get stitches on the bridge of my nose and had to wear an “X” bandage on my face for a while. They gave me ice cream for not crying and my brother was nice to me for a few weeks. Now, I have this little scar as a reminder and people are always asking me if I wear glasses. .

Perla considers herself a late bloomer. “After high school I wasn’t ready to go to college. I didn’t feel confident about going. At nineteen, I decided to move to New York City where I worked as a reservationist for a limousine company. In 1990, I came back to Pueblo because my grandparents health was deteriorating and I felt I should be closer to home. I was able to spend a year with them before they passed away. That’s when I decided to go back to school and I attended community college and then CUCS in Colorado Springs. When I moved to Denver, I switched to CU Denver. I can’t go around preaching how important education is if I don’t do it myself. Now, I’m hoping to go further and get my masters.” .

Tell me a little about your career. My marketing/advertising career began in 1990 at Graham Advertising in Colorado Springs as an account coordinator and then Senior Account Executive. I worked in newspaper and television sales for a while, then went to Burt Automotive as their Marketing Manager. Currently, I’m Emerging Market Development Manager for American Family Insurance at the Mountain Regional Office in Denver. I develop minority markets, African American, Hispanic and Asian. I travel a lot and cover Colorado, Nevada and Utah. It’s my job to get involved in the communities and partner with them on events and sponsorships. We look for opportunities in education, revitalization and rebuilding community. It’s not just about sponsoring; it’s about being involved. .

What’s important in your life? Family, friends and being able to share quality time with them. .

What’s in your future? To continue working with different communities and to help make a difference. To have a family of my own someday. .

What are your volunteer activities? I was active in more organizations before I took this job. Now, my whole life is wrapped around volunteering; everything I do has a hands-on approach and it’s part of my everyday life. I’ve been involved with Mi Casa and Cystic Fibrosis and I sit on the board of Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Audubon Board. I’m on the marketing committee for the Adoption Exchange and work on committees for LAEF (Latin American Education Foundation.) Many of my friends work for non-profits and I help wherever I’m needed. I’m there for support as well as doing any job that needs doing. .

Which social event is your favorite? I have enjoyed so many it’s very difficult to name a favorite. The functions are very similar; I think it comes down to the causes. The Adoption Exchange is at the top of my list. .

Favorite restaurant? Santiago’s is a favorite for Mexican take-out and Pasquini’s and Josephina’s for Italian. I love trying new restaurants and different cuisines, but I always revisit the old ones. I’m a huge fan of spicy food.


Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? I met Alec Baldwin in the late 80’s at an off Broadway theatre. He was the star in what later became the movie “Prelude to a Kiss.” I approached him for an autograph and he introduced himself to me as if I didn’t know who he was. It was very cute! .

If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Sophia Loren or Audrey Hepburn. I love the classics. AMC is my very favorite channel. .

Do you have any pets? No .

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? Cozy and comfortable yet organized.

What word describes you best? Generous, passionate.

How would you like others to describe you? That my heart was always in the right place.

What was your first job? I worked at Pizza Hut in Pueblo, Colorado. I made the pizzas. .

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I’m emotional but prefer the term passionate. It sounds better. .

What trait do you most deplore in others? Laziness. I really dislike people in planes that are sitting in the back but put their luggage in the front and the people who don’t put their shopping carts back. I don’t like condescending people. .

What is your greatest indulgence? Jewelry and art.

What type of clothes do you like? For work, I like the classic look with a little flair. A classic suit with a trendier blouse, mix and match. .

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I make coffee.

What’s the last thing you do before bed? I read when I’m not too tired.

Favorite comfort food? I love Mexican food. It’s my staple. .

Tell me something about yourself that people would be surprised to know about you. I can be really shy. Sometimes people think I’m aloof when it’s just shyness. .

What is the best gift you have ever given? I gave a girlfriend a group photo, which included her, me and another very good friend. She was thrilled. I think everything I give my three nieces is special. .

What is the best gift you’ve received? There have been so many it would be difficult to name one. One that stands out as very special was the gift of my first watch. It was a pretty Cinderella watch that my grandparents bought for me. .

What or who is the greatest love in your life? My grandparents were the greatest love of my life. .

What is your current state of mind? Happy. I could lose about fifteen pounds, but I’m happy. 2003 was a tough year for me personally, but I’ve overcome some of the challenges and I feel very grateful for what I’ve learned and where I am today. .

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My career. I’m happy where I’m at today. I have a very fulfilling job and I work with some incredibly talented people in the Denver community. I consider myself fortunate. .

What is your most treasured possession? I have a pair of earrings that belonged to my grandmother. They are gold dangling earrings with an amethyst stone, very vintage looking. Although I never wear them, they are a special keepsake. .

What is the quality you most like in a man? Someone who can communicate and has a great sense of humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Compassion and intelligence…it’s a great mixture.

Favorite books/writers? Isabelle Allende.

What is the best advice you have ever received? You can’t be everything to everyone.

Do you have a motto? This too shall pass.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you? Once I was shopping with a friend in Scarsdale, New York and had just purchased a new jacket. I wore the new jacket to the parking garage and a pigeon was nice enough to christen it for me…we laughed so hard….

If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be? And why? Audrey Hepburn. She lived her life to help others. Or maybe a monkey. I love monkeys. I could lead a secluded life, jump from treetop to treetop and eat bananas. .

What are your hobbies? Other interests? Running, climbing, hiking and traveling. I like keeping up with women and Latino issues locally and nationally. .

Who is your mentor? Patricia Barela Rivera, Denise Maes, Monica Pleiman, Elaine Torres. These women have not only been mentors but supportive friends. .

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? I would love to travel to other countries and explore them. I’ve often thought it would be fun to work for National Geographic and experience other countries and cultures. I’d move to Lugarno, Switzerland and open a little shop. .

What do you like about the town you live in? There is culture and diversity. Denver has the arts and theatre, the great outdoors and sports. Plus it’s a really fun place to live. .