By: Deborah Breen
A year ago, I made the trip to North Carolina for a special birthday celebration with my sister Janet Nielsen. While we have made dozens of trips to NC over the past 33 years to visit my mom and sister in Elizabeth City, it was on this visit to my sister’s new home in Albemarle Plantation that I realized I needed to be closer to my family full time.
When I returned home to Aspen, Colorado, I dis-cussed things with my husband Mark and our two children, Olivia and Chloe. They all were on board. And in June, we closed on our new home in AP, officially trading our view of the snow-capped mountains for a waterfront view of the 18th green of the Sound Golf Links.
Prior to the move, I served as the Inaugural Presi-dent & CEO of Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation. I am an accountant by training and have spent the past 23 years as Chief Development Officer and CEO for two hospital foundations, one in Aspen and the other at Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation in Rhinebeck, New York. I have now started my own private consulting business and am also an associate with Aspen Leadership Group, a national executive search and talent management firm.
Mark is a retired sergeant and station commander with the New York State Police and spent the latter part of his career in New York’s lower Hudson Valley. During his tenure, he worked all over NY State, including time in New York City after the collapse of the World Trade Towers. He was also deployed in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He has received two superintendent commendations, one for courageous action in the line of duty and one for bravery in the line of duty. In Aspen, Mark worked as a firearms instructor and private bodyguard. He had many confidential clients that spanned everyone from Hollywood A-listers to royals, politicians, and elite billionaires who sought private security while in the area.
Mountain towns have been a thread for us since we attended high school in Saranac Lake, NY. We grew up just eight miles from Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, something that inspired Mark to become a competitive Nordic ski jumper, giving him opportunities to compete all over the world.
Although we attended the same high school, we actually only met and started dating when we were in college at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. We just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.
We have two children. Our oldest daughter Olivia lives in Savannah and is a producer for the ABC Evening News. Our younger daughter Chloe is an actress who resides in Los Angeles and has worked on several television pilots and films.
While we admit this move was a total Carpe Di-em moment, we enjoy being just a golf cart ride down the road from my sister Janet who is an incredible cook! We also own a rental property in Duck and en-joy spending time there when we can. While our travels, business, Duck property, renovations, and family time have taken the lion’s share of our time, we are hoping to soon be able to explore our new community.