Kris and Carrie Marsh at Kris’s home in Old Snowmass
The Marshes at a local food drive
Kris and Carrie Marsh seem very much at home. Lounging on the couches in The Little Nell lobby, they enjoy a Friday-afternoon cocktail while Carrie’s Bouvier golden retriever mix, Louis XIV, holds court. They look like any mother-daughter duo sharing an afternoon together, yet their relationship is far from average.
A Friday happy hour is welcome respite when you’re working tirelessly—not just lately, but for your entire life—to make the world a better place. Kris is the president and CEO of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation (AVMF). Since 1973, she has worked for the organization to help raise money and create resources for healthcare and human services for the Roaring Fork Valley community. Her daughter Carrie, 31, came on board in June 2010 as the vice president for advancement.
A typical workweek for Kris and Carrie may include contacting key donors to help launch a campaign to raise $50 million–$60 million (of the full $120 million) needed for the new hospital expansion; running the administration of the Aspen Homeless Shelter and Aspen Hope Center, which offers mental-health referrals, outpatient programs, community outreach and education programs, and suicide prevention training; and negotiating a land-purchase deal for a senior housing project called the Continuing Care Retirement Community.
The charitable gene in the Marsh family began with Kris’s parents. Her father, Leo A. Hoegh, was the governor of Iowa (1955–1957), and her mother, Mary Louise, would invite the public— which no first lady had previously done—to the Governor’s Mansion every Tuesday (she shook so many people’s hands over the years that she developed bursitis in her shoulder). “My parents gave me a legacy of wanting to make a difference in my community,” says Kris. “They did it in a variety of ways. It’s my calling to want to make a difference in society. At first I thought I had to change the world, but as I got older, I realized you need to do what you can where you are.”
Kris says she doesn’t mind the insane workload from the multitude of projects that demand her attention with AVMF—she thrives on it. “It turns me on, it charges me up, and keeps everything interesting. I’m not singularly focused on one thing. It’s the numerous projects that have value because every day is different. It gives me inspiration and challenge. It’s what excites me and makes this the best position I’ve had in my entire career.”
Carrie and Kris present plans for the $120 million campaign to expand Aspen Valley Hospital
Carrie visits with a patient at Aspen Valley Hospital
And Carrie is continuing the family tradition. She landed back home in Aspen after working for a slew of nonprofit organizations in New York City; Washington, DC; Paris; and Vail. “I realized I’ve never worked for a company, ever. Every internship or job I’ve ever had has been for a nonprofit or government agency. It’s a sense of commitment that runs through my blood—there’s no other way to explain it. Like my mom, I’m a doer. I don’t think you should sit around forever and wait. When problems happen, you should handle them urgently.”
Having your mother as your boss would be a challenge for most people, but Kris and Carrie thrive off their work dynamic. “We’re good at treating each other like professionals,” explains Kris. “It isn’t mother-daughter when we’re at work. At the same time, what I love about working with Carrie is we understand each other and work similarly. I love that she’s decisive and we can disagree over an issue and it’s not personal,” Kris says. “I’m blown away by her. I’m so thrilled and very proud of her. It’s a real joy to have this new kind of relationship. I feel really fortunate to have someone like her in a key role, [someone] I can trust completely and respect. It’s been a big deal for me and made me really joyful.”
“It’s not always easy; [there’s] been a learning curve,” Carrie says while petting Louis XIV who has taken up residence by her feet. “For both of us,” Kris adds. “But we’ve both done well and have accomplished a lot.”
Both women believe a measure of a community is how it treats those who are less fortunate. But if this mother-daughter duo is any indication, it’s also about how we treat our families. With the Marsh women at the helm of our valley’s healthcare, Aspen should consider itself in very good hands