Gossip: Dec. 28, 2012

Author: - December 21, 2012 - Updated: December 21, 2012


When last we saw former Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman, he and wife Kristen (and their young toddler Ava and new baby Colton) were hosting a fundraiser for then-presidential candidate Rick Perry at their very lovely summer home in Aspen, nestled in the mountains just outside of the tony ski town. Texas Gov. Perry’s presidential aspirations were soaring back in August of 2011, and with Perry pal and former Congressman Scott McInnis co-hosting the lucrative fundraising event (the three-hour informal get together reportedly brought in $175,000) it appeared at the time that Colorado could end up having some cozy connections in the White House if Perry could only hang on.

Well, we all know now that Perry’s path to the presidency proved problematic, and a year later — this past summer — Holtzman was one of several Aspenites listed on the invitation for another fundraiser in Aspen, this time for GOP nominee Mitt Romney which reportedly raised more than $2 million.

Now comes word that Pitkin County pol Holtzman has left Aspen and moved across the ocean to Hong Kong.
The former president of the University of Denver, who got his start in Colorado politics as the first Secretary of Technology under then-Gov. Bill Owens, became vice chairman of Barclays Capital a couple years after his aborted run for governor back in 2006. He recently transitioned into a senior advisor capacity at Barclays and has moved on to a new challenge as chairman of Meridian Capital HK, a private equity firm with investments in natural resources, real estate, food, agriculture and transportation. Holtzman explained his new position in a letter and holiday card adorned with photos of his precious young kids and wife, including a copy of the caricature of he and the family that hangs in the Palm Restaurant in his old haunts of London.

Holtzman tell us his family loved spending four years in London, but that his latest relocation to Hong Kong will place him in close contact with his dear friends Askar Alshinbayev and Yevgeniy Feld, co-founders of Meridian who have also relocated to Hong Kong together with their families. The Holtzmans live in a luxurious residential redevelopment with a spectacular sea view of the southern part of the island.

“My partners and I focus on identifying investment opportunities in the frontier emerging markets of Asia and Africa,” Holtzman says. “Having spent a good part of my business life in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia, I am especially eager to experience the new challenge of Asia’s and Africa’s dynamic growth markets.”

According to news accounts from a few months ago, when the sixth and current President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, met with members of the business community in Hong Kong to discuss the multiple business opportunities that Rwanda offers, it was Holtzman, a member of the capital city’s bank of Kigali’s board of directors, who introduced him. Holtzman referred to Rwanda as a miracle story and described President Kagame as “a man with the vision that transformed Rwanda.”

Holtzman explained that he first learned of Rwanda’s progress when President Kagame addressed the University of Denver during his time as President of the University in 2004. It is then that his vision of Rwanda changed from a nation marked by genocide to one of admirable socio-economic transformation.


RD Sewald, a figurehead at Denver City Hall and in the state Capitol, and Josh Hanfling, the latter fresh back from London, have recently launched the public affairs strategy, business development and government relations firm of Sewald Hanfling, LLC.

The Colorado based public affairs strategy firm will serve corporate, non-profit and political entities, drawing on the combined 40 years of government, business and community experience of the firm’s founders to help clients achieve their goals at the local, state and national level.

“RD has a keen ability to build relationships and move people toward consensus. We wish RD and his new business partner, Josh Hanfling, well as they start a new company and continue to serve the community,” commented Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“After over 20 years in city and state government, I am excited to join the private sector. I am eager to help companies navigate the city and state while continuing to work with candidates and initiatives,” says co-founder Sewald.

“I am eager to continue my commitment to ensuring Denver and Colorado are the best place to live in the country,” says Hanfling, “and to continue to help individuals, companies, non-profits and candidates.”

Prior to founding Sewald Hanfling, Sewald was the senior strategic advisor and director of government affairs for Hickenlooper. He served as one of the Governor’s primary relationship managers with respect to state and local elected officials, government agencies, community boards, business and community stakeholders, county commissioners, Mayor’s offices and city legislative affairs. He helped to ensure that the Governor and the administration’s legislation and policy priorities received attention at the state and local level. RD was responsible for trouble shooting political issues on major legislative efforts.

Prior to joining the Governor, Sewald was director of legislative services and city council liaison for Denver under Mayor Hickenlooper.

Hanfling, a former 2008 statehouse candidate, has been active in the Colorado political, business and non-profit communities for twenty years. Prior to co-founding Sewald Hanfling, he served as the founding CEO of an international foundation focused on health, education and culture.

Since moving to Denver from Washington D.C. in 1992, Hanfling has been active with a number of non-profits, political organizations and committees. He chaired the Denver Justice Council & Friends of the Denver Fire Department and worked with The Denver Hospice, National Jewish Health, Concerts for Kids, The American Transplant Foundation and a number of other community organizations.


Many folks in town, and probably in the entire metro area, know Norman Duncan, who for years has been a stalwart supporter of all things Democratic, with a capital ‘D.’ The one-time lobbyist for JC Penney (and former Statesman columnist) retired some years ago after having been a longtime worker bee for the Denver Democratic Party. He was instrumental on many campaigns and was a figurehead at many local political events after a career helping LBJ during his presidency in Texas and in D.C. In fact, we first got to know him several decades ago when he was married to Susan, president of the Denver Election Commission in the mid-1980s, and a fellow Democratic do-gooder herself. Susan passed away awhile back, but Norm continued on in valiant style. Now comes word that our buddy has moved to Illinois to be with family members there.

In a holiday letter and email to friends last week, Norm filled us in on his relocation. Until very recently, he explained, he had a happy life living alone in his apartment at “Berkshires at Lowry” in Denver, where he and Susan spent many wonderful years together. He continued to work part time at Williams-Sonoma in Cherry Creek. In July, Norm attended the wedding of his grand daughter Claire in Western Springs, Ill. “One of my favorite memories is a picture with the bride and groom,” Norm recounted. “They also dedicated the program to Susan, which caused a tear of memory and pride.”

Several months ago, Norm explained, he began falling during walks outside. He was diagnosed with a low sodium level and later with a lack of balance, and after another fall he landed in a rehab facility. “When dear Susan passed away, our daughter, Jennifer, and her loving husband, Dan, said they would always have a place for me to live in their home. When this time arrived, they welcomed me with open arms and converted a room for my living quarters. I came directly from the hospital in Denver to their lovely home in Western Springs, Illinois. The family’s 3-year-old golden retriever, Lucy, and I have become friends,” reports Norm. “She has even become respectful of my walker, which I use to get around, and am doing better every day.”

Norm mentions that with the assistance of Jennifer, a Presbyterian minister and Dan, an executive with the American Cancer Society, he’s been able to go shopping or almost anywhere. “I can always make it to the refrigerator,” he notes.

“I feel loved and comfortable here. Jennifer and Dan have been patient and loving in every way. God has truly blessed me,” Norm says.

We wish Norm well and look forward to keeping in touch with him. His subscription to the paper has been forwarded to Western Springs with our love.