Sara Thompson Cassidy
Occupation: Public Affairs Director
Mom to: Colin, Alexandria and Layne
If you want to test the theory of six degrees of separation, try it on for size with Sara Thompson Cassidy. Sara, a natural communicator, connector and lover of community, is one of those people that seems to know someone everywhere she goes. For more than 10 years, Sara managed public affairs at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce where she built relationships with business and civic leaders throughout the state, working on a variety of issues and policy initiatives.
She also served on city council in her community focusing on economic development -- putting policies in place to attract businesses to the area, including a major retail anchor to fill available space in the city. Currently, she’s putting her savvy public affairs skills to work at Union Pacific Railroad where she builds relationships with communities affected by the railroad, ensuring voices are heard and problems are solved.
In 2009, Sara and her husband Chris lost their two and a half year old son, Colin, in a tragic accident. Sara’s second child, Alex was barely a year old. After his death, Sara and Chris, as friends kindly put it, “courageously moved forward” with open hearts and intense intention to memorialize Colin. Thanks to generous friends, family, neighbors and colleagues, they set into motion the Colin L. Cassidy memorial fund, which provides scholarships to young people to help kids open doors for themselves through education and sports opportunities.
Sara and Chris went on to have Layne, their youngest daughter, and are fully aware of the preciousness of life. Sara is generous with her time as a volunteer at her church, at her kids’ school and in her community. She's also an advocate for health and wellness and a recreational runner, having completed dozens of races including two full marathons. There’s way more to this dedicated mom than described. Ask any friend or colleague who will gladly sing her praises of kindness, patience and positivity.
Best part about being a mama? "If you laugh, you think and you cry - that’s a full day. Do that seven days a week and you’re going to have something special." Coach Jimmy Valvano summed it up perfectly for me. That’s the best life and parenthood brings it into the sharpest focus.
Motherhood made me. Being a parent casts new light on literally everything. Acute appreciation for good health, kindness, the helpers of the world, as well as the grit and independence needed to grow and handle the hard stuff. All that, and other great things about being a mama are having Frosted Flakes in the house and nightly dance parties.
What does the “future is female” means to you? I haven’t heard that term but my first reaction is diminished gender stereotypes. Drop qualifiers in exchange for just plain qualified professionals. Pilots, firefighters, doctors and CEOs, not “female” pilots, “female” firefighters, “female” doctors or “female” CEOs. Families pull together, in whatever shape a family may take — no “mom” or “dad” roles, just everyone contributing to stuff we each enjoy along with the stuff that no one enjoys but has to be done.
How do you feel about women and aging? Healthy. I love when I see people decades older than me skiing, hiking, biking and running (hopefully I’m passing them!) We get better with age and experience. I’m claiming my miles and trials - although I do curse the wrinkles, color the grays and try not to be too vain about it. My mom took up cello lessons, golf and Tai Chi in her 50s and 60s. I love that example to keep learning, growing and doing new things - that’s my good lens on aging.
Any particular thoughts on the MeToo movement? My thoughts on MeToo are to teach my kids to value themselves and others - what can I do to help nip it in the bud? Model respect through actions. Guide kids - boys and girls - to know what to do, what’s okay and what’s not okay, how to set and hold boundaries, how to handle tricky social stuff. My kids’ school uses a great curriculum called Brain Wise, which has tools and common language for managing conflict and being aware of one’s own feelings and behavior, and impact on others.
There are simple things like “stop and think” before you react when you’re mad or hurt, and words and strategies to use to stick up for yourself. It’s a great building base. I definitely view learning healthy, confident emotional management and self control as skills as part of combating future MeToo. Not that the women coming forward didn’t have those skills, but their courage to stand up shows all the places we need to embolden and recognize.
What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about parenting? The most surprising thing I’ve learned about parenting is how smart my parents are. Appreciation for my own parents. Also, humility! I am bursting with pride, in awe over my girls one minute, and the very next minute appalled, harping on them to get their dirty socks off the table, or some such offense! It’s all in stride and combines for a sweet spot in life.
Your thoughts on raising resilient kids? If Plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet. With everyday little things, practice the perspective that things don’t always work out as planned. Have a Plan B, find another way, try another door, think up a solution. It’s okay to be mad or bummed when something doesn’t go right, just don’t get stuck there. Sometimes you need a rope to get yourself unstuck — ropes are everywhere. you can ask for help.
Best advice your mom ever gave you? Everything in moderation. Be responsible for your own stuff, plus do a little extra. And, always the Golden Rule - treat others with respect and courtesy, the way you want to be treated.