As a girl, Sue Anschutz defied gender stereotypes by learning to wrangle horses, brand cattle, and bale hay from the ranch hands on her father’s ranch in South Park. In 1987, Sue Anschutz-Rodgers, now a divorced, single parent of three girls, took control of the family’s Crystal River Ranch near Carbondale, Colorado. She systematically learned the details of the cattle-ranching business, starting with just one bull and 33 cows, to grow it to a thriving herd of 1,700. She represents the long tradition of women operating ranching and agricultural businesses in Colorado, proving that women are men’s equals in meeting the formidable physical, financial, and organizational challenges posed by ranching.
Anschutz-Rodgers has parlayed her expertise in the cattle-ranching business into efforts to ensure not only the success of her own ranch but to save the ranching tradition throughout Colorado and the American West. She led the effort to develop an innovative agreement known as a conservation easement, which sets aside acreage on which development by future owners will be precluded, in exchange for tax incentives and estate-planning benefits. She helped establish and has continuously served on the board of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, the leading advocate and resource for voluntary preservation of ranchland for future generations.
As a professional philanthropist, Anschutz-Rodgers has made a permanent mark on Colorado communities, especially in underserved rural areas. She has served as Chair and President of the Anschutz Family Foundation since its inception in 1982. The Foundation “supports nonprofit organizations that assist people to help themselves while nurturing and preserving their self-respect,” funding more than 5,000 grants to organizations that include Denver Indian Family Resource Center; Special Olympics; Durango Latino Education Coalition; Cortez Cultural Center; Mile High Housing Fund; Women’s Wilderness Institute; and Meals on Wheels programs throughout Colorado. Anschutz-Rodgers instituted Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days to encourage other funders to contribute to rural nonprofits.
In 2006, Sue Anschutz-Rodgers became the first woman to win in her own right the National Western Stock Show’s Citizen of the West award, given to the person who “exemplifies the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer.” She continues to serve the people of Colorado and the world on boards such as the Colorado Conservation Trust, Denver Police Foundation, Jane Goodall Institute, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy of Kenya (USA), and Crow Canyon Archeological Center.