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Jeremy Duhon: 'Denver Is No Longer an Underdog'

Jeremy Duhon is TEDxMileHigh Founder and Portfolio Manager at Denver Investments.

Bara'h Odeh talks about opportunities to empower Palenstinian women at TEDxMileHigh talks in 2013.

Duhon thinks Denver should be louder in touting its strengths.

Duhon wants to play a role in this nationwide elevation of a city that has a lot of heart and ideas.

Jeremy Duhon of Denver Investments and TEDxMileHigh lives by a very Colorado adage: work hard, play hard. He says Denver has grown markedly in many different directions and the city needs to shout about its maturation for the entire country to hear. 
Jeremy Duhon doesn't hold back when it comes to talking about Denver and the city's potential. 

The 34-year-old TEDxMileHigh Founder and Co-Portfolio Manager at the financial firm Denver Investments is passionate about all things Colorado. He says the state's lifestyle -- revolving around his work-hard, play-hard mentality -- is the gateway into what makes Denver a creative and innovative modern city.

Gaining professional footingJeremy Duhon is TEDxMileHigh Founder and Portfolio Manager at Denver Investments.

In 2010, ColoradoBiz magazine named the Pueblo native one of the state's "Top 25 Influential Young Professionals" for his efforts at both Denver Investments and TEDxMileHigh.   

But financial and entrepreneurial work was not Duhon's original professional trajectory. 

Much of Duhon's family pursued a pre-medical educational track in college. He seemed destined to do the same and studied neuroscience at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Towards the end of his undergrad years, Duhon started taking extra psychology and economics courses, which sent him in a different direction.

"I realized I loved the social sciences," Duhon says. "So I didn't go to med school. In a few months, I started to learn about investing and completely nerded out."

As his interest in finance intensified, Duhon in 2002 landed an investment fellowship with the El Pomar Foundation, an organization based in Colorado Springs that focuses on funding nonprofits and government entities involved in charitable work. 

After two years as a fellow, it was time to make the next move in his career. "Towards the end of my time at El Pomar, I considered moving to a number of cities across the globe, but knew in the end that my place was in Colorado," Duhon says.

His colleague alerted him of an opportunity with Denver Investments, an employee-owned financial asset company that advises both organizations and individuals.

Ten years later, Duhon continues his work with the investment firm, managing a portfolio of smaller international companies. His work takes him around the globe, consulting with company managers and business partners to help them achieve long-term financial goals.

He notes many advantages to building his finance career in Denver versus Wall Street in New York City. "There's an advantage to being in a place like Denver," Duhon says. "You're away from the noise of a place like New York. You can focus on making long-term decisions."

Another advantage, adds Duhon, is the city's proximity to the great outdoors. "It's a work-hard, results-oriented culture at Denver Investments," Duhon says. "But one in which our professionals, after working 50 or 60 hours, escape to the mountains to hit the slopes or put on their running shoes to run a marathon."

Making an impact Duhon thinks Denver should be louder in touting its strengths.

Duhon says he continued to thrive on "the adrenaline that comes from when you're doing what you love" in his investment career. But he worked extensively overseas, and started to get the itch to make more of an impact back at home in Denver. 

He served as a director of the El Pomar Youth in Community Service Program in Colorado Springs. Duhon also was on the board of the Young Nonprofits Professionals Network (YNPN) Denver chapter, a program that develops leaders in the nonprofit sector. 

His community efforts make for a long list. But, in 2009, Duhon decided to ramp it up even more. 

At that same time, TED Talks launched TEDx, a means to enable communities and cities around the world to organize their own TED-Talk-like event. So he became a TEDx licensee and, a year later, hosted the first TEDxMileHigh event in collaboration with friends and community leaders.

TEDxMileHigh produces several events throughout the year, including ones directed at children, talks surrounding female values, and more.

An outlook on Denver

Through his professional life, Duhon says he's been able to spend a lot of time in the community and take a survey of Denver's progression. 

He's an enormous Denver advocate, and says it's a city on the cusp of moving towards the national forefront in terms of entrepreneurship, sciences, and arts.

He notes nonprofit Denver urban farm GrowHaus, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and entrepreneurial school Unreasonable Institute -- all homes to former TEDxMileHigh speakers -- as examples for this rapid growth in these respective fields.

"We are big enough here where we can hold our own now," Duhon says of Denver. "But we are small enough and far enough away from other cities that we create our own vibe."

While he mostly touts Denver as an upcoming and coming city filled with innovation and creativity, Duhon does share some criticism.

"We used to be an underdog, and we still have this attitude -- even though we no longer are," he says. 

He wants to see the city's artists, entrepreneurs and businesspeople own their progress and work to promote this maturation on a national level.

"We've urbanized and grown as a city," he continues. "So we have to ask, how can Denver better promote itself? We have to learn how to make these enterprises sustainable and be more vocal about what makes us special."

Duhon wants to play a role in this nationwide elevation of a city that has a lot of heart and ideas -- and it's difficult to doubt that he will.
 
This story was produced in partnership with The Denver Foundation as part of a series on giving and philanthropy. Read more stories from this series here.

Read more articles by Stephanie Wolf.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Stephanie has spent the past 12 years living out her dreams as a professional ballet dancer. In conjunction with her performing career, she's developed a varied writing portfolio.
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