2016 Honoree: Community Service
Merle Chambers pioneered women’s leadership in the oil and gas industry as one of only a few women CEOs in a male-dominated industry and was the first woman inducted into the Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Hall of Fame. She founded Chambers Family Fund to support the early care and education of children, women’s economic self-sufficiency, and justice, equality and opportunity. Merle devotes considerable time to philanthropy as President and Board Chair of the foundation. She defines her philanthropic philosophy as “seeking upstream solutions,” explained by this parable: “One day a woman was walking along a river and was astonished to see women struggling in the water. She noticed people pulling the drowning women out of the river. The woman thought for a moment, then ran upstream to find out why the women were falling in the water in the first place and to do something about it.”
Merle also believes that arts and culture institutions are important in creating and sustaining a vibrant and livable community, inspiring civic pride and providing educational and engaging experiences. For more than three decades, she has supported numerous arts organizations in Denver and her current priority is building a new home for Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. Her support is not only an investment in the future of Kirkland Museum, but also furthers the development of the vibrant Golden Triangle Neighborhood and Denver’s nationally important art scene.