Gillian McCarron is a woman of many hats. This year’s Arvada Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year is the owner of Lakeside Insurance, serves on the Arvada Economic Development Association’s Board of Directors, volunteers with the Arvada Vitality Alliance and is the Chairperson of the Arvada/Wheat Ridge Service Ambassadors for Youth’s board.
With all of those responsibilities, it’s easy to see why McCarron was named Woman of the Year, but hard to process how she manages it all. The answer, according to McCarron, is prioritizing things she’s passionate about.
“I think it’s picking and choosing. At first, I found it hard to say ‘no’ to people. Now, I pick where I want to focus my time and what I’m passionate about and where I want to be spending my time,” McCarron said.
One of those passions is the Arvada/Wheat Ridge Service Ambassadors for Youth, an organization which recognizes disadvantaged students in Arvada and Wheat Ridge schools and awards them grants and scholarships.
McCarron said she first became familiar with the organization when she and a friend attended an AWRSAY luncheon and McCarron was struck by the perseverance of the students the nonprofit works with.
“I was just moved by the stories of young students going through so much in their lives. Students who go to school and there’s so many things going on in their lives outside of school that most kids don’t have to deal with. Helping them graduate and go to college, it moved me,” McCarron said.
Years later McCarron serves on AWRSAY’s board and helps the organization award 15 scholarships a year to Red Rocks Community College. This year, she joined the board of another organization — the Arvada Economic Development Association.
McCarron had previously served on AEDA’s retention committee and said her position on their board helps her learn more about the city’s business needs and allows her to help direct those businesses to resources AEDA provides.
She said that the community support she and her husband, Mike, have received at Lakeside Insurance made it a simple decision to give back to the business community.
“This community allowed us to have a growing, thriving business. Being able to give back is a big part of that. That’s why it’s easy for me to give hack and help others,” McCarron said.
“It’s just the people,” McCarron continued when asked what makes Arvada special. “It’s such a great community of people who are active and involved and really want to see the community thrive. I always say, I’m surrounded by individuals who inspire me every day and you keep giving back because you see people doing good things and I want to help too.”
Arvada Chamber of Commerce President Kami Welch praised McCarron’s work in the community.
“(McCarron) is a passionate supporter of the Arvada community. She has dedicated her time and talent to serve on various boards and with local charitable organizations that directly impact the health of our community,” Welch said.
For her part, McCarron was in disbelief when she found out she won the award.
“It’s kind of crazy. When I received that call that I’d be getting that award, I was stunned. I didn’t feel like I do that much that I’d be recognized for that. It’s super humbling. I feel super honored to be recognized. I know so many previous Man of the Year and Woman of the Year recipients and it’s an honor to be recognized alongside them,” McCarron said.